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Eating in Ithaca, NY?

Hey Chow folks, I'll be spending the weekend in Ithaca and am wondering if anyone has dining recomendations. Am already familiar with Moosewood, of course, so no need to mention that fine establishment. I'll certainly be hitting the farmer's market too but beyond that, I'm curious what your favorites are. Thanks!

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  1. Hello-

    A few personal favorites:
    -Dijon Bistro- Nice plats du jour. Every time I've been there, the portions have been quite big, so something to consider if you don't have a fridge.
    -Just a Taste- Tapas and great brunch menu.
    -Willow- Upscale American. They do a great promotion Tuesdays-Saturday with Fall Creek Cinema next door- early 3-course dinner (5-6 PM) and a movie ticket for $25
    -Taste of Thai on the Commons is my favorite Thai place

    If you're willing to drive a little out of town:
    -Dano's on Seneca is a beautiful place to unwind and enjoy food. They are closed this Saturday for a private event, but you may want a reservation if you do plan to go.
    -Doug's Fish Fry in Cortland has really fresh seafood in a casual atmosphere.
    -Dinosaur Barbeque is about an hour out near Syracuse, but they're quite well-known for food (though ambiance is a little biker-bar- that doesn't scare me away from good food :)

    Have heard mixed reviews on Olivia's (focus on local foods) and Smart Monkey Cafe (focus on organic foods). Sarah's Patisserie in Community Corners might be a nice stop to pick up something sweet. Someone the other day mentioned to me that there's a decent Mediterranean place and pizza place in Community Corners as well, but I haven't investigated.

    Note that Cornell's move-in weekend starts tomorrow (maybe that's why you're in town? :) so it's going to be a little crazy. Wegmans (if you aren't familiar with them, they're a great grocery store chain based out of Rochester) has decent prepared foods. You may want to sample some of those while in town or pack some up for a picnic or eating in....though they're likely to be slammed this weekend as well.

    Good luck deciding and getting around town! Almost all these places have websites so you may want to check out their menus and also call ahead in case there are closings for special events.

    5 Replies
    1. re: 4Snisl

      Excellent! Thanks for the tips, and for the heads-up about Cornell move-in days. That's not why we'll be there, my partner and I have friends in Ithaca and try to make it out there once a summer or so. I'm familiar with Wegmans. The super Wegmans in Ithaca is one of the biggest grocery stores I've ever been in! It's mind-boggling.

      1. re: lescaret

        Oh, one more thing....buses of students will be shuttled to and from the Farmers' Market starting at 11 AM Sunday morning, just as a more specific heads-up. (Sunday's usually the quieter day, but maybe not this week ;)....)

        1. re: 4Snisl

          Ditto 4snisl's recommendation on Just a Taste. Tasty food and great wine list that offers very affordable flights of wine. They have nice outdoor seating in the back. I particularly like this place for Sunday brunch. Casual, affordable, tasty.

          I've always liked Viva Taqueria for casual, lively Mexican and good cocktails. Likewise, The Nines up on the Cornell hill has great pizza and beer. If you are a beer fan, don't miss the Chapter House. If you like dive bars, don't miss the Chantecler. It's not nearly is scary as it looks, has a couple of good pool tables and decent beer given the price/general atmosphere. If you want a burger with your beer head to the Pines, just outside of town on Cayuga Lake.

          4Snisl may know better, but John Thomas's Steak House was a favorite of mine before I moved out of Ithaca a few years ago. I still live in the area and eat in Ithaca often but haven't hit JT's in awhile. It used to be first rate.

          I also agree with 4Snisl on Dano's if you are looking to travel into wine country. Also on Seneca Lake are the Stone Cat Cafe and Red Newt Bistro, both of which are excellent. In Skaneateles, about 50 minutes away and an adorable town, there are several great restaurants, most notable Mirbeau (high end but fairly casual atmosphere with an amazing tasting menu of New American delights) and Roselli's, a lively, upscale and very tasty Italian restaurant.

          1. re: gmunno

            Wow, how have I not heard about John Thomas's Steakhouse until now?! Well, it's on my list of places to try- I hope it's as good as you remember! Glad to know of some other good options around Seneca Lake, too. Thanks gmunno!

      2. re: 4Snisl

        Was there a few months ago for a wedding and had lunch at the Smart Monkey Cafe. I really liked the vibe and the selection was great. Food was quite good (veggie wrap and a smoothie), but a bit expensive.

      3. Shortstop deli for pizza subs.
        The ice cream shop at cornell is awesome and cheap.
        Fried fruit pies and breakfast burittos at farmers market.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jmax

          good call on the Shortstop and the ice cream, although Purity is pretty good too. The Shortstop is 24-hours, and after a night in Ithaca my friends and I usually grab a sub there before heading back to Auburn, NY. Good Chicken parm sub.

          1. re: jmax

            I haven't tried the fruit pies at the Farmers' Market yet...maybe this weekend! Glad to see another fan of the Cornell Dairy.....I also like to buy cheese from there. Not really remarkable, very basic selections but decent and nicely priced.

          2. Aside from the already mentioned Moosewood and Taste of Thai, I've had 2 wonderful meals at Pangea. Also, at the Farmer's Market, there's a macrobiotic stand that makes amazing corn fritters.

            1. Boatyard Grill--dinner starts at 5 pm--get there early--fills up fast!

              1 Reply
              1. re: lnearth

                lnearth, I've heard mixed reviews on the place....but I'm glad you've had good experiences there, and I should try it out before winter sets in so I can enjoy outdoor eating by the water! ')

              2. I suppose you've already gone and come back, but I can't resist adding to an Ithaca food thread!

                My favorites: Taste of Thai, Maxie's Supper Club (Cajun/seafood cuisine), Viva Taqueria (relatively cheap and everything always tastes delicious and fresh), The Nines, Just A Taste, Collegetown Bagels or Shortstop Deli for a sandwich, Sangam (Indian in Collegetown), Aladdin's (also in Collegetown, many delicious pasta dishes, Greek dishes as well, lots of vegetarian options)...those are just the first few that come to mind! I miss Ithaca restaurants so much...apparently I have a lot of favorites!

                7 Replies
                1. re: Solstice444

                  Solstice444, just wanted to say your posts were a good guide for me when I was moving the area and dipping my toe in the dining scene! Any other decent Indian places in Ithaca? Maybe I went to Sangam on an off day, but it wasn't the best IMHO.....

                  1. re: 4Snisl

                    I've had so-so meals recently at Moosehead, I think their better days may be behind them. I would second Collegetown Bagels and Shortstop for carry out sandwiches (Shortstop has good soup, too, as well as macaroni and cheese right next to the soups) and I liked Just a Taste. I also am a big fan of Gimme Coffee, and while they don't have much food, just a few sweets, they make a dynamite Macchiato, the real way, not the Starbuck's way.

                    1. re: 4Snisl

                      Glad to hear it! :) Embarrassingly, I never made it to other Indian restaurants in Ithaca. I have heard that New Delhi Diamond's is good, 106 West Green Street. Not sure if there are any others.

                      1. re: Solstice444

                        I like New Delhi Diamond's.

                        I think Moosewood is overrated (soups and desserts were good, but I can make their main courses better at home using the cookbook).

                        Best ice cream I've found in the area is north out of town on Rte 89 at Cayuga Lake Creamery (www.cayugalakecreamery.com). It's richer and less oversweet than what you get at the CU Dairy Bar and at Purity.

                        Just my 2 cents.

                        1. re: origamifreak

                          Mmm, those flavors at Cayuga Lake Creamery look amazing! I'll be in Ithaca in a couple of weeks, and just might have to drive up there to try some!

                          1. re: Solstice444

                            I live nearby and find it hard to drive by Cayuga Creamery without stopping!

                            1. re: MaryishSally

                              I JUST went there this weekend! Took me over a year to finally stop there, but I made it. The people who I assume own/run the place were very friendly and helpful. I had the Ultimate Chocolate Brownie (maybe it was Ultimate Fudge Brownie?) in a homemade waffle cone, and it was delicious! I hope people will continue to stop there on their tours of the wineries.