There’s something about longstanding, locally owned restaurants that make me gravitate toward them.  I’ve found that there’s a bit of magic to these places. They've got a certain warmth that others don’t, and the stories they hold are simply amazing.

Whole in the Wall Restaurant on South Washington Street in Binghamton has become something of a Mecca for those in search of satisfying and healthy food. Restaurant founder, Eliot Fiks shared with me the story of how one celebrity came to love Whole in the Wall and what a story it is! The celebrity was in town for a concert, arriving a few days before the show and set out in search of something to eat. He landed at Whole in the Wall where Eliot was about to close up for a break between the lunch and dinner crowds. The celebrity walked up to the counter and asked if the restaurant served vegetarian food (it does). Eliot explained that he was about to close for a few hours, and asked if the celebrity would mind if he wrapped up a meal to go. The two got to chatting and it was then that Eliot realized just who was standing in front of him- it was none other than world renowned saxophonist, Kenny G. According to Eliot, Kenny G returned to the restaurant for all of his meals while he was in Binghamton and was so impressed with the food and the service that he gave Eliot and the staff free tickets to his concert, and even name dropped the restaurant in the middle of his show.

Kenny G isn’t the only big-name celebrity to have fallen in love with Whole in the Wall. The restaurant has fed the likes of John Mellencamp, Stevie Wonder, Tom Petty, Phish, Def Leppard, Busta Rimes and dozens more. If that doesn’t say something about the flavor and quality of their food, I don’t know what does.

Traci Taylor

My little family visited Whole in the Wall for our first time during Binghamton Restaurant Week and we were treated to something called a garlic ball. As much as we love garlic knots, I don’t think there’s any way we’ll be able to go back to them after sampling this delicious treat. You know when you get a roll, fresh from the oven and it’s got that perfect amount of doughiness to it? The garlic ball has that quality. This morsel of goodness is made from wheat and is smothered in a fresh garlic sauce. If heaven had a taste, I’m pretty sure this would be it.

Traci Taylor

My three course Binghamton Restaurant Week meal started with made from scratch mushroom soup, unlike any other that I’ve ever tasted. I followed that up with a basil pesto pita pizza. I should mention that I’m a bit obsessed with pesto. I put it on anything and everything and this pita pizza didn’t disappoint. Whole in the Wall makes their own pesto and not only do they serve it in their restaurant, but they also sell it in 125 stores in 19 states. Impressive, right? That’s how good it is.

Elliot gave me a sample of their tomato pesto, something I’m not usually a fan of, but this pesto was the best I’ve ever tasted. I finished my meal with a raspberry chocolate chip big tease brownie sundae. I wish I could say that I devoured the entire thing because I definitely wanted to, but my toddler took it upon himself to grab a spoon and claim the dish for his own. By the time he was done, John's sweet face was covered in raspberry juice and a huge smile.

Traci Taylor

Whole in the Wall is the kind of restaurant that makes a person feel right at home. I’m always apprehensive about trying out a new place with my family because my son is two-years-old and I never know if the dining experience is going to be a great one, or if it’ll end miserably because we all know how toddlers have a knack for going from an angel to a terror in seconds. I also never know if the restaurant will have a high chair or not. My son should definitely be able to sit at a table on his own, except that he's a bundle of curiosity, and physically unable to sit still. We like to use a high chair for meals so that John will stay put actually eat instead of wandering. If left to his own devices, John would never eat, he'd just wander.

Eliot, Stacey (Whole in the Wall's junior founder), and our server, Katie were nothing short of welcoming. They were sweet and so understanding when my little guy started to lose it because it was nearing his nap time. As I was leaving, I saw another mom enter with her little one and I smiled, knowing she was about to having an amazing experience with truly genuine people. Oh, and yes- Whole in the Wall has high chairs!

Whole in the Wall isn’t just the kind of place where celebrities and neighbors can enjoy a  delicious and healthy meal in unison- it’s also the kind of place that is invested in our community. As a matter of fact, Whole in the Wall was the recipient of a National Humanitarian Award for their work with Stone Soup. Stone Soup is a program started by Eliot in which food organizations donate food that they might usually throw out at the end of the day. This food is turned into soup which is donated to the poor and the hungry and the biggest benefactor of Stone Soup is the Salvation Army who picks up the soup and serves it for free every Thursday through Monday at their Washington Street shelter.

The next time you’re looking for a friendly place to enjoy a bite to eat, definitely consider this Binghamton gem!

[via Eat Bing/Whole in the Wall]