There is no place more beautiful than Chautauqua County, New York in the summer. Smack dab in the center of the county is magnificent Lake Chautauqua. On one side of the lake there is the revered Chautauqua Institution. In the summer you can take the ferry at Stow across to Bemus Point, Midway State Park, and Long Point State Park. There is also the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge when the ferry is closed. From June through September the choices for places to eat are plentiful. Prices range from very cheap to extravagant.
Ye Old Hare ‘n Hounds restaurant in Bemus Point has a wonderful dinner menu at reasonable prices. The food is excellent. The menu is traditional American cuisine with homemade bread and desserts. The Olde English decor sets the mood for an exquisite dining experience. Hare ‘n Hounds is one of the few restaurants open year round in Bemus Point. After dinner, you can take a short walk to the Hotel Lenhart and watch the sun set on Chautauqua Lake while enjoying a drink in one of the rocking chairs on the grand Hotel Lenhart porch.
Near Findley Lake, NY and near the Peak ‘n Peak Ski Resort is The French Creek Tavern. This place is very difficult to find, as it seems to be out in the middle of nowhere. I got lost the first few times I went there. The little town of French Creek has nothing but this tavern and a store. This place is worth the trip. Everything on the menu is delicious and prices are cheap. Buffalo style chicken wings are the best. In the summer all of the golfers seem to find the place, and in the winter between the skiers and the snowmobilers it is sometimes a significant wait, particularly on a Friday or Saturday night.
The Taco Hut in Jamestown has the best Mexican food anywhere. The prices are more than reasonable. The staff is friendly (most have worked there for years), and there is a great selection of draft beer. The restaurant offers a full bar with great Margaritas and Sangria Coolers. The Taco Hut is a Jamestown staple, as it has been serving great Mexican food since the early seventies.
One block down from the Taco Hut, beside the Reg Lenna Civic Center is Forte the Restaurant. Forte is eclectic, with an avant-garde feel. It caters to upscale professionals and young inspiring artists. Forte has a great wine list, as well as micro brewed beer from the local Southern Tier Brewing Company. They have a great local DJ, at least once a month, and local bands on occasion.
The best place for breakfast is in Lakewood on Fairmount Avenue. The Diamond Café offers breakfast and lunch seven days a week. It offers the most inexpensive and great tasting breakfast anywhere. The Diamond Café does not accept credit cards. You must pay with cash or a personal check.
Chautauqua County has some of the best arts, culture and music anywhere. In the summer, there is the lake and the beautiful weather. And of course, if you can afford it, there is Chautauqua Institution. In the winter Chautauqua County has some of the best skiing and snowmobiling anywhere. Whether you are traveling through Chautauqua County, or are one of the fortunate locals that live there year round, there is definitely not a shortage of great places to eat.