If you’re considering Clarkson but aren’t from the North Country, chances are you don’t know a whole lot about the area that surrounds the University. I come from a town that is known for its incredible restaurants, so I was definitely interested in seeing what options were available in Potsdam and the surrounding areas when I was considering Clarkson. I have not been disappointed!
Despite its small town feel, Potsdam has a number of restaurants (over 40!) — and good ones at that. I’m here to help you navigate the food scene based on what you’re looking for.
Best for Brunch — Jake’s on the Water, 5726 NY-56
Overlooking Hannawa Pond, Jake’s is a great place to enjoy a nice Sunday brunch and take in the lovely scenery of the North Country. The menu changes by season, so you can always count on fresh, local ingredients that fit the way you’re feeling.
Best Pre- and Post-Hockey Game Spot — Eben’s Hearth, 115 Maple St.
Located just across the street from Clarkson’s main entrance, Eben’s serves up big beers, wings, burgers and sandwiches named after local legends. It’s often taken over by Golden Knights fans during weekend hockey games.
Best for Date Night — Mama Lucia, 1 Constitution St.
Enjoy some delicious Italian cuisine paired with quiet seating that makes for a perfect date night (that won’t break the bank). Dishes come individually or family-style for sharing. Plus, it’s in a renovated train station, so that’s pretty cool too.
Best View — Cactus Grill and Cantina, 11 Raymond St.
Aside from the fact that the Cantina has great Tex-Mex and margaritas, it also offers outdoor patio seating overlooking the Raquette River AND a rooftop dining area overlooking all of Potsdam! Bonus: Down on the first floor, Geeks Who Drink trivia night happens every Wednesday!
Best Lunch Spot — Crush Bistro, 32 Market St.
If you love a great panini, a fresh salad and a rich dessert, be sure to enjoy your lunch break at Crush. Not only is the food amazing, but the bistro itself is super chic and cozy. Perfect for a quick date or an extended lunch with the girls (or gents). They also serve Starbucks coffee if you are missing that fix.
Best Happy Hour* — Maxfield’s, 15 Market St.
Perhaps Potsdam’s “classiest” establishment, Maxfield’s is known for hosting Friday evening happy hour events with complimentary eats like carved roast beef and bruschetta. Local musicians are also often featured at the restaurant. *21 and over for happy hour
Best for New York Style Slices — Little Italy, 30 Market St.
If you’re craving pizza but could do without all the crust, check out Little Italy, which serves New York style pizza (thin crust) in a variety of options. My personal fave is the buffalo chicken. And of course, they’re open late, late night just for college students.
Best Comfort Food — McDuff’s Pub, 59 Market St.
If you haven’t stopped into McDuff’s for one of their signature grilled cheese sandwiches with dipping sauce, you are missing out! I recommend the Nick’s Grilled Cheese, which features homemade mac and cheese inside a grilled cheese sandwich, served with tomato bisque dipping sauce.
Best Sports Bar — ½ Ton’s Bar & Grill, 141 ½ Market St.
Whether you are looking for a quick snack, some of the best wings in town (try the tiger wings) or a full sit down meal, all while watching your favorite team, ½ Ton’s is the place to go. It’s considered a “local” hang out, but that doesn’t stop the Clarkson crowd from enjoying it.
Best International Cuisine — Thai Cuisine, 29 Maple St.
For the full experience, enjoy a quiet sit down meal at Thai Cuisine, perfect for lunch and dinner. With the huge menu of Thai options, your taste buds will think they have traveled across the world! They also offer quick takeout if you can’t stay.
Best Memorable Food Item — Sergi’s Italian Restaurant, 10 Market St.
Sergi’s has been a family establishment in the North Country for over 50 years, and one of the most memorable food items in Potsdam for college students is definitely their deep-fried pizza rolls. Picture this: a pizza folded in half then fried and served with your favorite sauce. Hopefully you’re not calorie counting the day you encounter it!
Best Locally Sourced Food — 1844 House, 6885 US-11
Want to impress your family while they’re visiting? Then the 1844 House is the place for you. Located just outside the village toward Canton, this quaint, country-chic spot has the perfect atmosphere. If you’re on a budget, I recommend checking out the Early Bird Special, which gets you a three-course meal for $20!
Best Gluten Free — 3 Bears Gluten Free Bakery & Café, 51 Market St.
Okay, technically they’re the ONLY gluten-free restaurant, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t great in their own right! Nothing in the restaurant contains gluten, so even the most allergic will be able to enjoy this café. I recommend trying their famous cupcakes for dessert — even gluten lovers can’t resist.
Best Place to Learn Something — Jernabi Coffeehouse, 11 Maple St.
Jernabi Coffee is not only a great place for getting away from campus and relaxing with the laid-back, coffeehouse vibe, but is also host to Clarkson’s monthly “Science Café,” where faculty from the four colleges in the area talk about interesting topics for all to enjoy.
Best Indoor Scenery — Park Bros. Coffee Lab, ½ Main St.
If you want to feel like you’ve walked through the doors of a hip and trendy NYC coffee shop, then Park Bros. will be your favorite spot, complete with jazz streaming from the speakers and leather chairs. Try one of their daily made scones to dunk in your coffee or tea.
Best Food Challenge — Village Diner, 22 Depot St.
Pancake lovers will appreciate the annual competition that takes place throughout the school year between the four local colleges to see how many students can complete the “Flapjack Attack,” in which participants must eat an entire pancake the size of two dinner plates! Those who finish get a T-shirt, bragging rights and the knowledge they are helping their college win.
Best Unique Restaurant — Soul Waffle, 57 Market St.
Who would have thought you could make waffles out of tater tots, stuffing, cornbread and more? The makers of Soul Waffle, with sweet and savory waffles, bring all our favorites (poutine, Tex-Mex, etc.) to life in waffle form. A must try!
Best “Fast” Food — The Bagelry, 9 Market St.
The concept is pretty simple here — everything is made on a bagel! The bagels are baked fresh every morning (Clarkson’s bagels on campus are from here) and served sandwich style or with homemade cream cheese spreads. Try the Northern Delight spread — it features local maple syrup.
Best New Restaurant — Marigold Kitchen & Bakery, 21 Market St.
This is your spot for a wide ranging selection of sweet and savory baked goods right in downtown. You can stop in for coffee in the morning, grab a healthy lunch option (including vegetarian and gluten free choices), or treat yourself with something sweet! Marigold has new stuff all the time, and you’ll definitely find something you enjoy.
Best Hidden Gem — Barking Dog Saloon, 495 West Parishville Rd.
If you’re looking to find a place where the locals hang out that’s a little off the beaten path, head to Barking Dog. I love their soups, salads and sandwiches, and they also have a great selection of local brews* and wines*.
Best Hometown Diner — Foxy Roxy’s, 124 Market St.
Get off campus one weekend morning and head to Foxy Roxy’s to experience quintessential diner food. Delicious breakfast items served until closing, good portion sizes and reasonable prices make this a happy place for both your taste buds and your wallet.
Best Late Night Snack — Hot Tamale, 34 Market St.
This local chain will instantly remind you of a bigger chain — Chipotle. Head in and have your burritos, quesadillas or tacos made to order with fresh ingredients. It’s open late night and is conveniently located in the heart of Market Street.
Best Baked Pizza Rolls — Josie’s Pizzeria, 13 Market St.
If Sergi’s has the best deep-fried pizza rolls, then Jessie’s has the best made-to-order baked pizza rolls. What I love about them is that you can have just about anything put in them — ham, pineapple, spinach, alfredo, whatever!
Best North Country Chain — Jreck Subs, 61 Market St.
A North Country tradition, Jrecks Subs is the favorite sub shop of many, both locals and college students. No one can quite put their finger on what makes this relatively small chain so unique. We just know we love it!
Best Organic Selections – Potsdam Food Co-op, 24 Elm St.
If you’re looking to shop for organic/local/specialty foods AND grab a bite to eat, head to the Potsdam Food Co-op, where they have a variety of grab and go items like wraps, salads, and baked goods. Their curried chickpea salad is heavenly!
Closest To Campus — Blue Line Brewery, 43 Maple St.
For those looking to try some local craft brews* while in Potsdam, Blue Line is the place to go. They opened their Potsdam location in the spring of 2017, and their selection of over a dozen craft beers made right in Saranac Lake, New York, go great with their pizza and wings. It’s also just a short walk from campus.
*21 and over to enjoy craft brews and wine