4

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

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

Cafe Dewitt

215 North Cayuga Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-273-3473

In the basement of the Dewitt Mall, this tiny cafe offers breakfast, lunch, and Sunday brunch featuring lots of local food and creative recipes. Enjoy a cup of soup and a sandwich, or creative breakfast platters available any time. It gets crowded fast, especially on weekends, so be prepared for a wait -- both before and after you're seated.

4

Carriage House Cafe

305 Stewart Avenue
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-645-0152

This restored old building in lower Collegetown has been turned into a beautiful eatery with gorgeous event space upstairs that features live music on some weekends. During the week, stop in for breakfast, brunch, or lunch Tuesday through Sunday, but be prepared for a long wait on weekends. The brie stuffed french toast is decadent, the steak and eggs the best in town, and the burgers, made from local beef and served on ciabatta with homemade sundried tomato puree, are out of this world.

4

Collegetown Bagels

415 College Avenue
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-273-0982

This legendary College Avenue eatery moved to much roomier digs on their current corner in the mid '90s, and has expanded way beyond their bagel roots. With a wide variety of sandwiches handmade to order from fresh ingredients, including many vegetarian options and lots of top-notch bread, this flagship CTB location also makes fancy espresso drinks, serves brewed fair-trade coffee, offers smoothies, and has a bar at the back with a few draft beers and carafes of sangria.

0

Creekside Cafe

4 West Main Street
Trumansburg, NY 14850
Phone: 607-342-8145

This new cafe on Main Street in Trumansburg offers breakfast and lunch Thursday through Sunday, with a farm-to-table ethos bringing locally sourced food to their menu. They have soups, salads, and sandwiches, with plenty of vegetarian options.

4

Crystal Lake Cafe

4367 East Covert Road
at Americana Winery
Interlaken, NY 14847
Phone:

This small cafe adjacent to the tasting room at Americana Winery does a fantastic Sunday brunch, and it's well worth the wait for a table. They offer a great brioche french toast, shrimp and cheddar grits with eggs, oatmeal pancakes, and other decadent breakfast items, as well as burgers, hummus wraps, and other lunch choices. Lunch and dinner hours vary seasonally; for winter and spring, they're open Thursday through Sunday.

5

Daño's Heuriger on Seneca

9564 Route 414
Lodi, NY 14860
Phone:

Amidst our favorite Seneca Lake wineries, Daño's offers freshly prepared European delicacies in a relaxed, attractive setting. The food includes simple charcuterie and a mouth-watering array of spreads along with freshly baked breads, and there's a broad selection of Finger Lakes and European wines.

4

Felicia's Atomic Lounge

508 West State Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-273-2219

Felicia's has a very simple menu and a very straightforward lounge philosophy that says a lounge is for lounging. The funky decor, with metal panels and velvet couches, fits nicely. There are usually personal-sized flatbread pizzas and pastries available, they serve "drunken" hot dogs and "not dogs" on Friday evenings, and they've just added Sunday brunch.

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.

3
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Hal's Deli

115 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-273-7765

Serving Ithaca for over fifty years now, Hal's has offered inexpensive breakfasts and overstuffed sandwiches to countless generations of students and locals. Hal Kuntz, the original proprietor, passed away years ago, but his memory lives on in the tasty food, and his wife, Sandy, still presides most mornings.

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

Ithaca Bakery

400 North Meadow Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-273-7110

When I told a friend in Florida I was going to visit the Ithaca Bakery, she exclaimed, "Oh, I love bakeries!" I had to stop and think for a moment, then explain that our Meadow Street "bakery" doesn't just do bread and pastries. They do bake the fresh bread, rolls, donuts, cookies, and cakes for a number of hotels, stores, offices, and other eateries around the region, but I was there to visit the eatery part of the business. Any time of day, you can satisfy your appetite at the Ithaca Bakery for just a few bucks for a bagel sandwich or deli sandwich, or spend $8-12 for a full meal.

5

John Joseph Inn & Elizabeth Restaurant

813 Auburn Road
Groton, NY 13073
Phone: 607-533-0097

In a beautiful country setting on Route 34 between Lansing and Groton, the John Joseph Inn is a marvelous bed & breakfast on the former site of the Rose Inn. Elizabeth Restaurant is in the refurbished 1852 barn that the Rose Inn called "The Carriage House," and they offer some truly outstanding meals. Breakfast for inn guests changes daily, and there's no menu -- but they'll adapt to dietary restrictions. Dinners are much more flexible, and are often an inspired and inspiring tasting menu showcasing local produce and meats. Reservations required.

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.

3
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Loco Margarita Bar & Grill

308 Stewart Avenue
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-273-5626

The longtime home of ABC Cafe (briefly the Giving Tree Cafe) has been spruced up and reopened as a California-style Mexican bar and grill, featuring burritos, quesadillas, wings, and margaritas, with great happy hour deals and nightly specials. Monday is 25-cent wing night. It's not fancy, but it works.

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.

3

Manos Diner

357 Elmira Road
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-273-1173

Dubbed "The Diner of Fate" by those who know, Manos offers the usual diner fare, from breakfasts 24 hours a day to sandwiches, burgers, and entrees, plus a full bar (and a nearly identical food menu) in the attached Ichabod's. Manos is perfect for an inexpensive but filling breakfast. Later in the day, try the fries with a side of gravy, and if you’re in the mood for a big meal, the turkey dinner can’t be beat. Ichabod's also features a nice, fresh salad bar, great with your dinner. The downside of a decades-old diner is that the building is showing its age.

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.

0

Orange Blossom Pancake Company

423 Franklin Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-273-3428

[This eatery is closed, but the page is left here for archive purposes.]

3

Rulloff's


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411 College Avenue
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-272-6067

We have fond memories of a truly great burger, decadent and relaxed weekend brunches, and stellar service at Rulloff's. We wish this eatery, with decades of history, still had any of the above. Instead, it's a shadow of its former self. The food is all OK, but just OK; and the service, even though sometimes well-meaning, rarely exceeds "confused."

3

State Diner

428 West State Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-272-6189

The State Diner opened in 1936, and has expanded from their early lunch car days -- with lots of booth seating as well as counter seats along the grill. When I think diner, I think breakfast, so an early morning weekday visit or even a late-morning weekend visit probably means blueberry pancakes, or even an omelet. Diners also draw us in late at night, and the State Diner gladly serves up plenty of 2am greasy goodness. We were surprised that a friend's "cheese fries" were really a plate of french fries with two slices of American cheese on top, slightly melted.

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

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 Ginny Lee Cafe

9322 Route 414
Lodi, NY 14860
Phone: 607-582-6574

On the Finger Lakes Wine Trail, the Ginny Lee is the cafe at Wagner Vineyards. They offer freshly made salads, sandwiches, wraps, and flatbread pizzas, and a surprisingly limited selection of wines by the glass. Open daily for lunch and Sunday brunch, May through October.

0

The Waterwheel Cafe

2 Main Street
Freeville, NY 14850
Phone: 607-844-4499

We've heard great things about this family-run restaurant along Fall Creek in Freeville, at the corner of Routes 38 and 366 in the Town of Dryden. Try the salmon topped with shrimp, crab, and hollandaise, a bacon-wrapped filet, local elk burger, or vegetable provencal. 

3

Waffle Frolic


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146 East State Street
NY 14850
Phone: 607-319-0999

Is it the simplest restaurant concept ever? In the space best known as Juna's, Waffle Frolic features handmade waffles, from basic to buckwheat to gluten-free, with a wide variety of toppings including fruit, Nutella, bacon and eggs, and even all-natural, free-range fried chicken. There are also variations on the grilled cheese sandwich theme. A meal gets expensive fast, but it's a fun treat. The coffee, roasted by Coffee Labs in Tarrytown, is top notch. Our biggest concern is that the often-confused service better matches the food's simplicity than its price.

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