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Ithaca, New York - Recommendations


pax
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I did a quick search here, but I didn't find much and I'm about to check out of this hotel and start on my way to Ithica, where I'll end up tonight.

Any suggestions for dinner? I'd like to sit down somewhere nice with my husband for a change. And maybe breakfast on Sunday?

Totally flexible on price and cuisine (except I don't eat much from the sea) but limited by mostly casual clothes.

Any suggestions appreciated.

“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”
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I just realized I didn't find much because I spelled it incorrectly. I'm sorry.

But please do give me suggestions! It's early for me and this hotel coffee isn't cutting it, obviously.

“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”
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The owners of a fabulous French bistro in Montclair, NJ, relocated to Ithaca two years ago and opened a restaurant there, though I can't remember the name of the new place. The place in Jersey was called Epernay, and their names are Marc and Courtnay Papera. You should be able to track the place down from that information, and it would be a must-go.

Edited to add: And it was very simple to track down! It's Dijon Bistro and you're guaranteed a great meal. Tell them Markk from eGullet sent you!

Edited by markk (log)

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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I second the Dijon Bistro recommendation! It's in the middle of a sad looking strip of shops, but once you're inside it's warm and comfortable. I don't think I've had a bad meal yet, and some have been extraordinary. Little touches that I've seen there, like room temp butter for bread, are nice to see. I've gone there in jeans and a sweater without feeling out of place.

Another place you may want to consider in Willow- been there once, but I remember nicely presented food and pleasant service. http://www.willowithaca.com/

For Thai food, Taste of Thai on the Commons is my favorite place. http://www.tasteofthaiithaca.com/ They will actually make your food spicy if you ask nicely :smile: . Owne by another family member is Taste of Thai Express (http://www.tasteofthaiexpress.com/), which is still good, but I tend to prefer the food at the original on the Commons.

Also on the Commons is Just a Taste- a tapas and wine bar. http://www.just-a-taste.com/

Some of the items have been misses to me (a few seafood dishes have tasted less than fresh to me)- but some of them are extraordinary! I think they actually do a nice job with vegetables- 2 of my favorite dishes from the menu is their greens with blue cheese and their roasted Brussel sprouts with pecans, brown butter and Parmesan. (menu changes, though)

My favorite places for brunch thus far have been the Carriage House Cafe ( http://www.carriagehousecafe.com/) and Cafe Dewitt (no website- phone # (607) 273-3473). Nothing mind-blowing, but very good when they're on. Just a Taste used to offer a great brunch, but they recently stopped.

You may also find more Ithaca recommendations lumped in the Upstate NY dining thread: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=8841&st=0

Enjoy Ithaca, and hope you have safe travels! (Bundle up- it's cold this weekend!)

ETA: Website links. Also, I forgot- I've heard nice things about the restaurant Pangea- fusion-y food, but I've heard that's not a bad thing when done by this kitchen. http://www.pangearestaurant.com/

Edited by Sony (log)
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I spent wonderful two weeks in Ithaca last summer, and we LOVED this place. After trying a few other places, we ended up going there almost every night. It has a Southern relaxed theme to it, and the food was great. Seemed to be the "happening spot" with the locals, and it was FUN! :)

But it's not white tablecloth or aloof in any way. If you are looking for a super "Romantic" spot, this isn't it. But my wife and I found it very relaxing and really enjoyed the vibe there (we're in our mid-40s).

Maxie's Supper Club (and Oyster Bar)

http://www.maxies.com/index2.html

Edited by Batard (log)

"There's nothing like a pork belly to steady the nerves."

Fergus Henderson

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I can't tell if this place reopened, it had a terrible fire a few years ago, but the Rose Inn outside of town in East Lansing, Rte 34, is fabulous. The place is gorgeous, the food superb. You can get by not dressing up.

Bliss

I spent wonderful two weeks in Ithaca last summer, and we LOVED this place. After trying a few other places, we ended up going there almost every night. It has a Cajun theme to it, and the food was great. Seemed to be the "happening spot" with the locals, and it was FUN! :)

But it's not white tablecloth or aloof in any way. If you are looking for a "Romantic" spot, this isn't it.

Maxie's Supper Club (and Oyster Bar)

http://www.maxies.com/index2.html

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I want to thank you all for you help. We ended up at Moosewood, for old time's sake. I hadn't been there in a long time. Also, *ha* because the GPS couldn't find Cafe Dijon.

I used to live in Westchester Co., and made my way to Cornell many many times on my way to the veterinary hospital. They are the premier institution on the north east coast for horses.

We're looking to retire up there so I am looking forward to finding all of these places and trying them out as we house hunt.

(Cutesy old farm house, 100+ acres, must have pasture. Non-dairy barns a plus. In-law flat for my ex also a plus. Nothing falling in. Liberal politics. Health food store or Weggie's. Decent public schools if possible and if not, then a private non-religious one.) Half hour-ish to a reasonable city. :laugh:

Now, are you ready for a giggle? I had the best omelettte I've ever had at the Courtyard's breakfast buffet. I ordered a western omelette and engaged the very young "chef" in discussion as she stood there cooking it. She was so sweet, she explained to me *exactly* how she'd been taught to make it and why! And it was perfect. Hie thee to the Courtyard for breakfast, I say. :laugh:

“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”
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  • 2 weeks later...

go to a place called "vietnam restaurant" on dryden street in Cornell's collegetown. get number 23. i think i use to eat that dish twice a week when i was up there.

also, although a shell of it's former self, go one night and get some hot truck . . . located on stewart ave behind the dorms. they also serve the hot truck food now at short stop deli. although it's not quite the same thing, you can approximate hot truck food by asking them to run it through the conveyer heater twice.

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  • 1 month later...

I don't know if you remember but a few months back I posted to ask for restaurant recomendations, because I was going up to house hunt. I ended up at Moosewood for old time's sake. I wish every restaurant had a wall of cookbooks to browse while you were waiting for your table/meal.

We've made an offer (hope to hear today) on a place ten minutes north of town. I am so excited I can't stand it.

I had fun this time when I was there. The Ithaca Coffee Company over by the icky icky Ramada has a serious barista in the guy who was there the morning I went in. My breve latte was a work of art and you know what a pain half and half is to work with. The Smart Monkey (moved to the Hampton, much cleaner) has good coffee, too, but they don't really seem to have the system down pat, there's a lot of kind of floundering around behind the counter. I'd have been more patient if I'd ordered a cup of the stuff out of the thermos for the wait. :laugh: The western omelette I had was wonderful, the veggies still had some crisp to them it was just delicious. We hit a pizza place in Groton that will forever go down in my memory books because it was the first NY style pizza I've had in a long, long long time and I'd forgotten how good it can be, foldable, crispy, gooey, with extra grease. Oh baby. :raz:

We went into the Green Star (?) co-op to the sandwich counter and they were really really good, too. When I go back in there I need to ask what kind of peanut butter they use, because my 6 yo ordered pb & honey and it was the best peanut butter I ever tasted.

I'd love to make a list of cheep and cheerful favourites for every day, and some nice things for special occasions.. best bagels, pizza, Mexican...I didn't see any Indian.

Just to amuse my kid, I took her to the A&W Drive-through in Cortland. A blast from the past, they served my root beer in a glass mug. :biggrin:

It is maybe a little sad that I love food so much I enjoy almost everything. I am not a good critic.

ETA: The Ithaca Coffee Company has a balsamic vinegar on offer on an end cap, there are "tester" bread slices and some olive oil, it is aged and so sweet that after I tasted it I didn't want to drink my coffee, I wanted to linger on the vinegar. Go try it! :biggrin:

Edited by pax (log)
“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”
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Congrats on your new home (I hope!) It just so happens that I was downtown today and picked up a few groceries at Greenstar. I asked the person behind the prepared food counter what peanut butter they used for their sandwiches, and it's Once Again brand (produced in nearby Nunda, NY).

They sell it at the store (it's actually on sale this month for $3.50/jar), or, if she REALLY likes it, you can order it in 9 # tubs :wink: :

http://www.onceagainnutbutter.com/

A few other favorite local spots:

Ned's Pizza, right by the Cayuga Heights police department. Interesting pizzas for about the same price as crappy chains.

Sarah's Patisserie, in Community Corners shopping center- wonderful pastries/sweets/confections, great coffee, and friendly, helpful staff.

As a Greenstar alternative, try Ludgate's on Hanshaw Road- quite a bit smaller (all their meats are frozen and bulk items are pre-packaged), but the nicest people you'll ever meet.

If you're into ice cream, I have a hard time deciding who has better ice cream- Cornell Dairy or Purity on Rt. 13. I suggest you try both of them to form your own opinion. :biggrin:

In Cortland, Doug's Fish Fry has fresh seafood, great ice cream, and super friendly staff. I think the only disappointment is their fries- fresh cut, very potatoey, but I'm guessing they're single-fried, not twice fried, so they don't have the crisp exterior/fluffy interior texture I idealize.

Indian...well, there's Diamond's on the Commons and a place in Collegetown. Neither is particularly good. My favorite place to eat in Collegetown these days in Aladdin's (mostly Mediterranean fare).

Takeout from Wegmans is quick and can be surprisingly tasty.

Tacos....nothing fantastic, but Viva Taqueria on the Commons is fairly standard Tex Mex- no huge disappointments, but nothing fantastic.

Bagels...well, you might be inspired to make your own if you want really good ones.

Oh, and I always forget about Hope's Way (in the Triphammer Mall) and Ithaca Bakery (on Route 13, northbound Meadow Street side). Don't go to their locations too often, but they've done a nice job catering a couple of business lunches I've been to.

Please, if you remember the name of the pizza place in Groton, let us know! And welcome to the neighborhood!

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  • 1 month later...
Indian...well, there's Diamond's on the Commons and a place in Collegetown. Neither is particularly good. My favorite place to eat in Collegetown these days in Aladdin's (mostly Mediterranean fare).

I like the place inside the mall on the commons where the theater is if it's still there, cafeteria style Indian.

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  • 4 months later...

If anyone is interested in trying someplace new, I would like to suggest East Shore Cafe on East Shore Dr. in Lansing, NY. I know these folks, and I am confident they will be successful with the Lansing clientele. No pretension, just good homemade food.

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  • 2 weeks later...

FYI to the person who posted months ago about the Rose Inn, it was purchased last year by two CIA grads and locals who got married there, and they turned it into a decent (from what I recall a year ago) new american sort of deal with lots of stuff rasied/grown in the backyard.

jjande.com

Rico

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Thanks for the tip, I'll check them out asap.

“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”
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  • 1 month later...

Hello,

We're headed to Ithaca for a rare mid-week getaway in March. Please pass on any recommendations / experiences that would lead us to a special restaurant for dinner during our stay. We're looking for excellent food and a welcoming atmosphere.

Previous postings have praised Dijon Bistro, Willow, & Rose Inn - any recent reports?

Thank you in advance for your ideas!

Edited by Refinnej (log)
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