We spent July 4th, admiring grape vines, finding a cool coffee place, eating the best sandwiches, getting drenched in the falls, and watching amazing fireworks. But in between this little vacation visiting a best friend in Niagara Falls, I had a cultural moment in history.
We drove down to the Silo in historic Lewiston, New York to grab a haystack, a beef on weck, and a burger.
The haystack was featured on Man vs. Food. Adam Richman called this concoction of steak, mozzarella and crispy hashbrowns the holy trinity for dude food. I ordered a small size and ate every bite. Mr. ST had the burger of the day, with peppers and onion, and our friend had a beef on weck, a local signature sandwich. She said it wasn’t as good as it usually is that day, but we can highly recommend a trip to the Silo for a burger or a haystack and the scenery.
The restaurant is built around an old coal silo and offers a beautiful view of the Niagara river and Canada.
We love our burgers, as you may already know. You cannot go wrong with burger and the sweet potato fries. They use local, freshly ground, grass fed, lean ground chuck. As most subs and sandwiches in the area, they use a fresh locally baked Italian hard roll with no preservatives. The cheese is aged cheddar, not processed American. Mr. ST said it was one of the best burgers he’s ever had.
I wrote about the local signature sandwich called a BEEF ON WECK in my post on the Taste of Buffalo. The weck roll is short for a kummelweck roll, crusty on the outside, soft on the inside, topped with salt and caraway. The weck is filled thin slices of rare roast beef and topped with au jus and horse radish.
The Secret to the Sandwich is in the Bread
One thing that stands out in the Niagara Falls and Buffalo area is their love for sandwiches and the quality of the rolls used. I don’t know which bakery supplies the Silo with their bread, but I do know that Di Camillo bakery, operating since 1920, has the most amazing Italian bread and rolls, and should be a stop when you are in this area.
I purchased weck rolls, Italian bread sliced and non-sliced and sausage rolls. I know now why my friend would bring this bread back home to California when she visited her home for the holidays.
Freedom Crossing Monument
We loved the food and our view of the Niagara river, but I was captivated by the Freedom Crossing Monument, positioned at the last stop of the underground railroad. When I was eleven years old, I was escaping from something myself and found my safehouse in books. I read 30 female biographies that year, including the life of Harriet Tubman.
Harriet Tubman, mother of the underground railroad, stands out the most as an important and heroic figure in that movement. It was not an actual railroad, but made up of large farm wagons, a connection of underground tunnels, back country roads, and a secret system of folks helping slaves make their way to freedom across the Niagara River into Canada. The statue (based on a fictional book, Freedom Crossing) is breathtaking, because a character from the book, Laura, is disguised in men’s clothing and pointing to Canada, a real life hero, is helping a husband, wife and child onto a boat. This statue nearly left me speechless, as it tells one of the most profound stories of our history. During some point in Harriet Tubman’s life she helped slaves get to Canada across this same river as it became legal for southern states to seek out runaways in the north. This is a history that shames our nation to this day, and it was ironic to discover this statue on July 4th, celebrating our freedom. I’m reminded that we are a flawed country, always striving to get to “fair and just,” but having to work very hard at it.
The expression of this mother grabbing for her child as freedom waiting across the river waiting for her family was stunning.
Another piece of interesting history: The falls originally began in Lewiston, 12,000 years ago and have eroded south. The Falls are trecherous, but there are always rainbows.
Tell me, what’s the best sandwich you’ve ever eaten? That’s a tough one for me to answer, but it will always have to do with how good the bread was.
Next time you get to Niagara Falls, head north a few miles to Lewiston, and visit the Silo, the Freedom Crossing Monument and stop by Di Camillo’s bakery.