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AGAVA Restaurant

381 Pine Tree Road
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-319-4366

This southwest-themed eatery opened this spring near East Hill Plaza in the former home of Coyote Loco and Olivia. They've done a lovely job renovating the building with reclaimed wood from a local barn, and they serve good food and drinks at reasonable prices. The signature margarita is just $5, and the proverbial "$10 burger" is actually still $10, complete with fries. We hear good things about the tacos and the woodfired-oven flatbreads, and we look forward to trying brunch.

4

Antlers

1159 Dryden Road
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-273-9725

With its rich green and dark wood interior, accented with polished brass rails, the Antlers offers a comfortable and attractive atmosphere reminiscent of a good English countryside inn, but with classical American cooking. Known for their weekly prime rib and lobster nights, the Antlers is good any night of the week, suitable for a casual meal out or a special occasion.

3
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Asia Cuisine

126 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-256-8818

This small eatery specializes in Korean and Japanese cuisines, including sushi, salads, bento boxes, and bibim bap. They excel in both hot and cold weather, with a cold sashimi variation of bibim bap, which is normally served hot. For winter, try the bibim bap served in a hot stoneware bowl. The food is good, but service can get slow when they're busy.

4

BoatYard Grill

525 Taughannock Blvd
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-256-BOAT (2628)

This restaurant was opened by Mark Campagnolo, a former partner at Joe's Restaurant. The beautiful building with its nautical theme is a great setting for the exceptional, hearty food at this comfortable restaurant. Naturally, there's lots of fresh fish and seafood (brought daily from Boston), but the Texas Cowboy Steak (a porterhouse with a chipotle glaze served on the bone) and Boatyard Angus Sirloin (smothered with fresh roasted garlic) aren’t to be missed. Be prepared to wait for a table, and we keep hearing horror stories about iffy service.

4

Booker's Backyard

1638 East Shore Drive
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-319-0351

We love the attitude at Booker's as much as we love the menu, which offers a broad variety of comfort food prepared in creative ways. (There's a whole menu section just for macaroni & cheese variations.) There are burgers, brisket, and meatloaf; lobster rolls and scallop-laden sandwiches; and even an impressive array of vegetarian dishes, including roasted beet ravioli.

3

Chili's Grill & Bar

608 South Meadow Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-272-5004

This national chain restaurant in Ithaca's southwest serves up American grill-style fare and southwest-themed food, ranging from their famous baby-back ribs to Mexican-style fare like quesadillas and tacos, as well as burgers and sandwiches. The burgers are overcooked as a matter of policy, but we've loved the Cajun tuna sandwich and the country fried steak. The bar specializes in decent margaritas, and it's always buy-one-get-one-free "happy hour" no matter the time of day.

4

CIAO Wood-Fired Pizza & Pasta

2 Hickory Hollow Lane
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-257-2233

CIAO is a new Italian eatery in the former home of Watercress and Billy Bob Jack's, off North Triphammer Road. Opened by owner Mark Campagnolo, formerly of Joe's and now a co-owner at the BoatYard Grill, they feature brick-oven pizza, as well as Tuscan-style dishes. They're off to an excellent start.

5

Doug's Fish Fry

206 West Road (Route 281)
Cortland, NY
Phone: 607-753-9184

Doug's Fish Fry is worth the drive from Ithaca. It's a small privately owned Central New York chain with restaurants in Skaneateles, Cortland, Mattydale, and East Syracuse, that prides itself on simple, quick food, with no table service, no wait staff, and no tipping. Yes, a lot of the food is fried, but not all of it.

5

Fine Line Bistro

404 West State Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-277-1077

This relatively new west-end eatery features gorgeous exposed-brick decor surrounding an exposed kitchen, and lots of tasty and creative food, ranging from an excellent $10 burger (that's still "just" $10) to vegan tofu curry and a rack of lamb. There's lots of fresh seafood, fish, and tender pork and beef on the menu, as well.

4
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Gorgers Gourmet Subs

116 West State Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone:

Now open across from the State Theatre, in the former home of the Prize Diner, Gorgers offers soups and gourmet subs on homemade bread, with locally sourced ingredients wherever possible. At $3 for soup, $6 for salads, and $7 for subs, the price is definitely right. Try the coconut shrimp po'boy, served with pickled vegetables and a Thai sweet chili sauce on a homemade sub roll, or make any of the subs vegetarian with eggplant instead of meat. The potato salad, made with a balsamic vinegar reduction, is a tasty side dish. Ready for a challenge?

4

Heights Cafe and Grill

903 Hanshaw Road
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-257-4144

One of Ithaca's fanciest restaurants, The Heights has offered cozy fine dining for fifteen years. The menu ranges from comfort-food variations such as braised beef hash with a poached egg to gorgeous pan-roasted fish dishes and generous steaks. There are vegetarian offerings, including some of the handmade pizzas, and the Heights takes the gourmet burger prize with their $18 Brie Burger, featuring an entire pound of grilled sirloin. It's an expensive place to dine, but worth the occasional splurge.

5

Ithaca Ale House

111 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-256-7977

This downtown eatery on "Restaurant Row" quickly became a favorite, sporting fresh salads, crisp flatbreads, creative appetizers, soup and seafood, and what consistently gets our nod as the best burger in Ithaca. The outdoor seating and big french doors are great on summer evenings, and a variety of seating from barstools to booths to big tables indoors can handle just about any group.

4

John Thomas Steakhouse

1152 Danby Road
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-273-3464

This classic American steakhouse dry-ages its own top-notch beef and offers very thorough, very decadent dinners. It's a special-occasion sort of eatery, thanks to the price if not the decadence alone. In addition to the wide variety of steaks, John Thomas offers several fish and seafood dishes, as well as chicken and (limited) vegetarian entrees. We love sharing the Porterhouse for Two, along with a side of creamed spinach, or you can build your own surf & turf by combining a steak with a whole or half lobster.

5

Just a Taste

116 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-277-9463

Catering to an interesting mix of business owners, college students, and everyone in between, this wine and tapas bar offers an ever-changing menu of creative food, and a broad array of wines to sample. Since the menu changes every night we can't suggest a specific dish, but we'll tell you that if it sounds like an odd combination, it's probably exquisite. Try the sangria.

3

Kelly's Dock-Side Kafe

319 Taughannock Blvd
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-273-9642

Kelly’s, opened in a 28-seat trolley car over thirty years ago, is famous for its omelets and crab legs, and has outdoor seating that’s perfect for a pleasant Saturday morning. The owner, whose full name is Albert Kelly, though everyone just calls him Kelly, does most of the cooking. Try the spinach, mushroom and cheese omelet, with a side of crisp bacon and some home fries. Even the toast was done to perfection.

5

Le Cafe Cent-Dix

110 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-319-0750

This new French bistro, developed by the owners of Mercato Bar & Kitchen, is finally open! The menu offers such French staples as frisee salad with a perfectly poached egg, steak frites, roast chicken, mussels, and bouillabaisse, and our mouths are watering just thinking about it. The full bar offers signature cocktails, a deep selection of French and other wines, including a few wines "on tap" by the glass, half-liter carafe, or liter carafe.

4

Madeline's Restaurant

215 East State Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-277-2253

Best known, and deservedly so, for its decadent desserts and creative cocktails, Madeline's is also an upscale dining destination at the east end of the Ithaca Commons. Many of the dishes display an Asian influence, and the menu ranges from steaks and seafood to vegetarian and gluten-free dishes. The full bar has an enviable whisky selection, among its various strengths.

4

Mahogany Grill

112 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-272-1438

This beautiful space on Restaurant Row has good fare from sandwiches and salads to steaks and seafood, with quick and attentive but not overly pushy service. A wine list includes some decent Finger Lakes offerings, and the bar makes a great mojito. Try brunch, as well, for a good variety of omelets and eggs benedict variations, and either brandied french toast or a stuffed french toast. We'd provide a link to their web site, if it didn't start spewing unsolicited music at you. We won't do that to you, but we have faith you can find them if you so choose.

5

Maxie's Supper Club

635 West State Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-272-4136

It’s worth putting up with the cramped feeling and excessive noise in this marvelous oyster bar and Cajun eatery. The food is almost all spicy, and you’ll need to go again and again to try everything that tempts you on the menu. Happy hour until 6 pm means half-price oysters and clams from the raw bar. For a good sampling, try the Cajun Mixed Grill and a side of fresh corn bread with tasty orange-honey butter. Vegetarian options are limited; go for the veggie jambalaya.

5

Mercato Bar & Kitchen

108 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-319-5171

On "restaurant row" in the former downtown home of Ragmann's, Mercato Bar & Kitchen offers crostini and charcuterie, pasta and pastry, steaks and seafood. They serve an extensive and affordable wine list and a creative cocktail menu, and they're always near the top of our list of area favorites.

4

Mia Restaurant

130 East State Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-277-2000

Twenty years after opening his first restaurant, Just a Taste, Lex Chutintaranond has opened Mia on the Ithaca Commons, featuring pan-Asian cuisine embodied in a variety of fresh and interesting dishes. It's a very seafood-heavy menu, but there are also lots of meat and vegetarian dishes. We were impressed with the friendly and helpful service, and the delicious food. Be warned: when they say spicy, they mean it! (Try the spicy saketini cocktail.)

4

Miyake


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416 Eddy Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-277-6767

In the former location of Kayuga, Miyake features attractive new decor and an expanded menu. After we were seated at our table, we were greeted with a small dish of edamame to nibble on, and served hot green tea. The steamed gyoza is a bit wilted, but the calamari tempura is exceptional and the sushi very good. Lunch box specials include cooked dishes or plenty of sushi. There's nothing extraordinary here, but the food's good and the service is good.

5

Northstar Public House

202 East Falls Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-216-8580

A fun neighborhood pub in Fall Creek with a creative menu full of small, medium, and large plates, featuring massive chicken wings (available Baltimore-style), tofu "wings," and an always-different macaroni and cheese of the day. We also love the garlic burger. The bar features a ridiculous number of beers, both bottled and on tap, ranging from Utica Club to Ithaca and Ommegang offerings to O'Reilly's stout, plus wines and tempting cocktails. Stop in on Saturday or Sunday for brunch.

4
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Plum Tree Japanese Restaurant


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113 Dryden Road
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-256-8212

This Japanese restaurant at the "kneecap" bend of the lowermost block of Dryden Road offers good sushi and sashimi and a plentiful variety of cooked meals with very nice presentation.

3

Red & White Cafe

402 West Court Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-273-5233

Formerly the Corner Store, this unassuming, little red shop on the edges of Ithaca's downtown neighborhood is a deli and convenience store, but they also serve foot-long hot dogs, 1/3 pound burgers, and a seriously good fish fry. Stop in and grab a freshly fried haddock dinner, served with fries and cole slaw for less than ten bucks, or just have a fish sandwich for under $5.

5

Rosalie's Cucina

841 West Genesee Street
Skaneateles, NY 13152
Phone: 315-685-2200

This bakery and Tuscan-themed Italian restaurant was opened in 1995 by Philip Romano, the restaurateur who's also responsible for the Macaroni Grill and Fuddrucker's chains. He built it for his ill sister, Rosalie, but she unfortunately passed away about a year after the restaurant opened. A meal here begins with freshly baked, hot Italian bread, with olive oil and a plate of oregano, grated cheese, hot pepper flakes, and minced garlic to mix into your oil as you see fit.

3

Stella's

403 College Ave
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-277-1490

Stella's is attractively decorated, has a fantastic bar selection, and offers a varied and creative menu. If the prices, portions, and service better matched the atmosphere, it would be a favorite. The burger, made with local beef, feels overpriced except when it's half price for "happy hour," and the $10-12 sandwiches feel skimpy, too. The fancier entrees head north of $20. The food's pretty tasty, so we wish we felt the portions and prices were better matched. The coffee shop side is much simpler and a better bang for your buck.

4

Sunset Grill

823 Danby Road
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-272-1986

This new eatery on South Hill at Rogan's Corner features a full breakfast menu that's a good value, and we especially love the "breakfast sides" section of the menu, which lets you add a single pancake for about two bucks, or a single egg for a dollar, to whatever you're getting. This is a very customer-friendly way of letting you build the breakfast you want, instead of having to order two $6 breakfasts if you want corned beef hash and pancakes. It's a typical but solid American-style lunch and dinner menu, with good food and reasonable prices.

4
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Taste of Thai Express

209 South Meadow Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-272-8424

This west end eatery, just east of Route 13 on State Street, features fresh and tasty food, and  delivers as well as having eat-in service. Our food arrived far faster than the promised 40-45 minutes, and everything was correct, fresh, and hot. The cashew chicken, a Vietnamese-style dish, was a delightful surprise, with a marinated wood-grilled flavour and crunchy strips of onion and green pepper.

5

Taughannock Farms Inn

2030 Gorge Road (Route 89)
Trumansburg, NY 14886
Phone: 607-387-7711

Built 135 years ago as a private summer home, Taughannock Farms has spent about the last seventy years as a restaurant and inn, adjacent to the state park. Dinner here has an elegant feel, and virtually every table enjoys a nice view of the park and the lake, thanks to a tiered dining room whose walls are mostly window.

Each course was plentiful without being huge, so we left feeling well fed but not stuffed. We also felt well taken care of; our server was friendly and answered questions as they came up, always available without hovering.

4

Taverna Banfi

130 Statler Drive
Statler Hotel
Ithaca, NY 14853
Phone: 607-254-2565

On the second floor of the Statler Hotel on the Cornell campus, Taverna Banfi (formerly "Banfi's") is known for a solid lunch buffet, an exceptional and decadent Sunday brunch buffet, and a Tuscan-themed menu, with unrivaled views of campus. Much of the staff is from Cornell's School of Hotel Administration, learning how to operate a restaurant, but they're working with pros. For a casual visit, we love the simple tapas menu in the Banfi wine bar, set up nightly in the same room as the midday buffet.

3

The Rose Tap Room & Grill


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2255 North Triphammer Road
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone:

The Rose, in northeast Ithaca's Triphammer Marketplace, offers an ever-changing lunch buffet, a salad bar that's included with dinner entrees, a full bar with TVs for enjoying the game with a cold beer, and expanded space that's a nice change of pace from their former cramped quarters. It's straightforward American pub fare, featuring burgers and fish fry, but also broiled haddock, pasta dishes, and a tasty and generous chicken parmigiana.

4

The Westy

516 West State Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone:

Primarily a full bar, the recently opened Westy has a casual outdoor happy hour on Thursday through Saturday evenings, and sometimes brunch on Sundays, while the good weather lasts, provided by "Stan and Dave's Backyard Grill." Try the pulled pork or smoked sausage, Thai beef and shrimp noodle salad, steamed mussels, hummus with pita and poppadom, a fish taco, or the eggs and smoked pork hash or blueberry focaccia french toast for brunch. (The menu changes weekly.) Have a cocktail or explore the good beer variety.

3

Viva Cantina

103 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-277-1752

Added next door to the Taqueria, Viva Cantina offers a similar, slightly deeper, burrito-and-taco menu plus a great selection of tequilas and some excellent margaritas at the full bar. The food's all pretty good, but we have trouble justifying the $1.50-$3.00 price hike from essentially the same items if ordered next door. (It would make more sense if a sit-down meal came with complimentary chips and salsa, as at pretty much every other Mexican eatery on the planet.)

4

ZaZa's Cucina

622 Cascadilla Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-273-9292

Since ZaZa's opened, we haven't heard anyone comment that they didn't like the food; at worst, people felt it was a bit pricey, or that the portions didn't match the prices. There's no question the experience is worth the price for a special occasion such as a birthday or friends visiting town, or just a relaxing mid-week treat. The food is very good, the presentation beautiful, and the service expert and attentive.

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