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Western Ranch Motor Inn

You work hard all year and now we are finally in the season where what should be valued most is time spent together. This is a sentiment that might remind you of Christmas from a bygone era, an era maybe we should all strive to return to when family and friends were more important than things. Right now you might be asking, “but Keri, how do we go back in time?” and although I don’t have a time machine I can tell you about a place that will help you return to yesterday in an instant. I am, of course, referring to the most famous (more on this later!) place to dine in all of Central New York – The Western Ranch Motor Inn! Let me explain, the Western Ranch Motor Inn is absolutely stuck in the past; and they intend to stay that way! The Western Ranch Motor Inn is a blast from the past, the décor is authentically retro and their menu is full of homemade comfort food. I don’t know how exactly they pull it off with this theme but they absolutely do; it’s the perfect mix of warm and inviting and interesting. This time of year also boasts perfect seasonal holiday décor, just like you remember!  The Western Ranch Motor Inn is conveniently located at 1255 State Fair Blvd. in Syracuse with easy access from the fairgrounds, I-690, and the Thruway.

Now, let me get back to the thing about this being the most famous place in Syracuse. The thing is, whether you are driving past or stepping into the Western Motor Ranch Inn you might find yourself thinking “Man, this sure looks like the set of a movie.” And it turns out movie producers have felt the exact same way about this location! As of right now, The Western Ranch Motor Inn has been used as the setting for not one but FIVE movies! It was also used for filming a Nike commercial. Not only have famous people come to the Western Ranch Motor Inn to shoot movies, but celebrities have also been known to stay at the motel and enjoy a meal in the restaurant. The star studded list of patrons have included Patton Oswald, Jeff Goldblum, Whitney Houston, and the band members of Three Dog Night. Most recently Patton Oswald shot a film called “I Love My Dad,” in various places in Syracuse, including the Western Ranch Motor Inn. You can see the Western Ranch Motor Inn for yourself as this movie, filmed in 2021, is now streaming.

In addition to their brushes with fame, I would submit that the food that they serve at the Western Ranch Motor Inn should also be famous. This is because pretty much everything served is made in-house and using only the freshest ingredients available! I also love that the nights have weekly themes and specials: Monday is burger night, Tuesday is wing night, Wednesday is Cans and clams, Thursday is Steak night, these steaks are cut and aged in-house and only the best cuts are used so be sure to order the prime top sirloin or the black angus rib eye; Friday is Seafood night with amazing specials on fresh, never frozen, fish, so the menu changes depending on what is available each week; and be sure to stop in on Saturday for Beef,  Reef, & BBQ. One other cool note about the Western Ranch Motor Inn is that they strive to use only the best ingredients; things are bought local whenever available and when it comes to meat and fish, if it was ever frozen it’s not on the menu! Most items are made in-house and they go above and beyond to do things like hand bread their chicken tenders! They take time to actually make each dish as it’s order and you can really taste it!

We arrived on a lovely November evening and we just knew we were in for a treat. We were seated at a table in the kitschy dining room. The atmosphere is just so cozy and inviting! To begin our meal we absolutely had to order the butternut squash pierogi. These handmade pierogis tasted like fall in all the best ways possible. We especially loved the maple butter glaze drizzled on top. We also couldn’t pass up an order of the stuffed and bacon wrapped jalapenos, as this is one of my favorite dishes of all time. Since we were with the littles, we had to order some chicken tenders. Who am I kidding; I would have ordered them anyway! Because it was wing night I also asked the chef to send me out some homemade wing sauces to try and with 7 little cups of sauce to sample he absolutely delivered. The sauces I tried were Honey Hot, Medium, Bourbon Everything, Garlic Parmesan, XXX (hot), Mild Boss sauce, Spicy Asian sauce. I really liked them all and had a lot of fun with different combinations. I liked the following combos the best: Honey Hot and Mild Boss, Garlic Parm and medium, and the Bourbon Everything and Spicy Asian. For an entree I just couldn’t pass up the fresh haddock, served Nantucket style with Ritz crumbs and butter. It came with an amazing salad and fries and it was a rich and delightful meal. Kyle strongly considered one of the elk or bison burgers but ultimately couldn’t pass up open-face Angus sandwich, which was cooked to perfection and served with fries and onion rings. It is probably the best deal in town. He enjoyed every last bite! We ended our sweet meal with something sweet: a perfect slice of cheesecake and a generous slice of pecan pie.

Tonight is time to skip the meal prep and skip the dishes because after all it’s the most wonderful time of the year to treat…yourself! One tip I can certainly give you is that when you come to the Western Ranch Motor Inn you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu!  Be sure to check out their homemade special each and every night! They also feature events like live music, darts, and trivia in the bar. Meals are available for takeout, just give them a call at (315) 457-9236 and be sure to stop in as soon as you can and see for yourself how fun and flavorful it is to be stuck in the past – on purpose!

Kerilyn Micale
Kerilyn E. Micale is a Cicero native.