You’ll fall in love with Ithaca Falls and the surrounding area. It’s “gorges.” Located on Cayuga Lake, which is the longest lake in the Finger Lakes region of New York, are gorges and waterfalls, including Buttermilk Falls.
Discover Ithaca Commons, a downtown pedestrian center featuring shops, galleries, and restaurants housed in historic buildings.
There are trails to hike and places to explore. Ithaca, NY is home to Cornell University, art, fabulous food, festivals, and watersports. They have more restaurants per capita than New York City.
Visiting other destinations in the region? Check out our other delicious guides:
- 5 Must-Try Vegan Pizza Brooklyn
- 10 Must-Try Jersey City Restaurants
- 10 Must-Try Restaurants In Rochester NY
- 5 Best Restaurants in LeRoy, New York
- 7 Must-Try Batavia Restaurants
- The 7 Best East Tremont Restaurants
The Seven Must-Try Ithaca Restaurants
525 Taughannock Boulevard, Ithaca, NY 14850 // 607-256-2628
One mile from the Ithaca Commons on the Cayuga Waterfront is The Boat Yard Grill. This is one of the Ithaca restaurants that is especially enjoyable during the summer months. There is outdoor live music, cocktails, and dancing. Sit back and relax in an Adirondack chair by the outdoor fire pit.
That is the perfect setting if you ask me. Live music by the lake makes the food taste great.
Suggested starters are the clam chowder soup or coconut shrimp appetizer. Add some sizzle and order the Sizzling Garlic Sirloin Steak with cipollini onions, blistered tomatoes, rosemary roasted potato, and roasted garlic for your entrée.
Peruse these Boatyard Classics…
Surf and Turf, grilled Maine lobster tail, sliced NY strip, lemon Chardonnay, a fresh vegetable, and rosemary mashed potatoes.
Seafood Fra Diavolo, jumbo shrimp, calamari, bay scallops, spicy arrabbiata, toasted capers, and linguine.
Sticky Halibut, Jasmine rice, orange segments, rice crisps, fresh vegetables, and orange glaze.
This one sounds like a dish of the South. Georgia Peach Grilled Chicken, sweet potato mash, peach chutney, and a fresh vegetable.
Sip on a Godiva Chocolate Martini made with Godiva dark chocolate liquor, crème de cocoa, and Absolut vanilla.
If you dare to indulge in dessert, the Key Lime Pie is a good choice. For the chocolate lover, the Molten Chocolate Cake is the one. You know when you’ve found “the one,” right? Deep chocolate cake with a warm dark chocolate truffle center with Purity vanilla ice cream is so satisfying. Purity ice cream has been the “Ice Cream of the Finger Lakes” since 1936, founded by Cornell grad Leo Guentert.
903 Hanshaw Road #13, Ithaca, NY 14850 // 607-288-3472
Greeted with genuine hospitality and an inviting atmosphere, you’ll be glad you came here. If that’s not enough to get the place among the best Ithaca restaurants, here are some more reasons for that.
The brunch menu is bursting with creative flavor. French Toast “éclair” with vanilla mascarpone, Belgian chocolate, and fresh raspberries. Lemon Soufflé Pancakes with raspberry compote and maple syrup. More choices include Quiche Lorraine and Eggs Benedict.
I agree with these customers who said, “It’s a fantastic little restaurant. The small kitchen puts out some amazing food. The poached eggs were perfect. The espresso was wonderful, and it had nice dark chocolate flavors. The Belgian hot chocolate was the best. It is extremely dog friendly.”
Another customer said, “Alléchant is a memorable experience. The food is delicious and sophisticated. The service is impeccable and accommodating. The atmosphere is charming and mid-century modern. The Francophile host was friendly.”
2 Hickory Hollow Lane, Ithaca, NY 14850 // 607-257-2233
Ciao is a casual family-style restaurant with Old World tradition that offers wood-fired pizza, pasta, and more. Specializing in Italian food with an authentic Tuscan flair, it was the perfect place to eat after hiking and then an amazing massage by Bec Haley at Ithaca Massage Station. Thanks for the recommendation, Bec. It’s definitely one of the best Ithaca restaurants.
This appetizer made my mouth water. Grilled Chicken Wings served with caramelized onions and Parmesan cheese. I could have stopped there but I didn’t.
My server suggested a Ciao original, the Chicken Parmesan over angel hair pasta, which was tempting. The artisan, hand-crafted pizzas are cooked to order. The Pear and Gorgonzola with freshly sliced pear, caramelized onions, bacon, and gorgonzola looked intriguing.
I peeked at the plates on the neighboring tables and saw a Tenderloin Steak with caramelized onion aioli, roasted peppers, gorgonzola, and mixed greens. The other plate had Ciao Lasagna, layered pasta sheets, meat sauce, and bechamel.
Since I already had the chicken wings, I simply ordered a meatball for this meal. That way, I had room for dessert. The decision wasn’t easy. A slice of Limoncello or Tiramisu? Tiramisu won.
1159 Dryden Road, Ithaca, NY 14850 // 607-273-9725
Antlers is tucked away in the hills surrounding Ithaca, NY. It started out as a watering hole for locals, hunters, and stray college students and became one of the best Ithaca restaurants.
Fresh out of college in 1972, Bill and Toby bought the building and adorned the interior with equestrian tack and gear. They started out with a minimal menu. Years later, they transformed the building and the menu. The Antlers’ fieldstone hearth is now the heart of the building.
Antlers is the oldest restaurant in Ithaca NY that has sole proprietorship. Bill and Toby are dedicated to serving delectable food for all.
The atmosphere begged me to choose the Baby Back Rib Appetizer slow roasted in their own BBQ sauce. They were finger-licking good. After that, I picked up my soup spoon awaiting the Lobster Bisque soup with generous chunks of lobster.
Another decision-making moment of which steak to claim. Porterhouse, NY Strip, Antlers Prime Sirloin, or a Delmonico? They are all certifiably superior after observing other orders and the aroma permeating the air. Delmonico was my tender, tasty choice.
Seafood is also offered. Glazed Salmon or Scallops Au Gratin are two of the many options.
The meal isn’t complete without a sweet treat. This was a unique dessert, New England Indian Pudding, warm cornmeal flavored with molasses, cinnamon, and ginger served with vanilla ice cream. OMG!
215 North Cayuga St., Ithaca, NY 14850 // 607-273-9610
Moosewood Restaurant was founded in 1973 in Ithaca, NY and is located in The Dewitt Building. Featuring Finger Lake Wines and New York State craft beers and cider, they provide dishes made of local, sustainable food with an emphasis on vegetarian dishes. Definitely one of the best Ithaca restaurants.
They source seasonal lunch and dinner ingredients from local Ithaca farms.
Relationships with local cheesemakers, growers, and honey suppliers allow Moosewood to feed people good food.
Moosewood has always been a big part of the Ithaca community. There is a collection of published Moosewood cookbooks. Maybe you own one.
The daily special of Soup, Salad and Bread for lunch sounded good to me. I ordered the Creamy Corn Chowder Soup and Moosewood Tossed Salad with mixed greens, shaved root vegetables, red onion, and sunflower seeds drizzled with creamy spinach and basil dressing. The special is served with Gary’s bread from Wide Awake Bakery.
The legend continues at Moosewood with good people and good food.
2079 East Shore Drive, Lansing in Ithaca, NY 14882 // 607-533-0400
Along the Cayuga Wine Trail encompassing Ithaca, Lansing, and Aurora you’ll find The Corner Pub at Rogues. It has a sports bar feel with booth-style seating and is open seven nights a week. Outside seating on the porch is available if you prefer.
I was seated in a cozy booth. I ordered the pulled pork special with a flavorful homemade sauce and Crème Brulee for dessert. The bar crowd was watching sports on the big screen TV. One guy was sitting there with his puppy in his pet bag. I got in the puppy petting line. So cute. You don’t see that every day.
Food for thought and food to fill you up is a juicy burger. The Rogues Burger with cheddar, bacon, and homemade barbeque sauce, or the Bleu Burger with bleu cheese and bacon are popular.
Sandwiches and dinner plates are available like a Reuben, Rachel, or Fish Fry. You can just order a beer with a basket of steak fries or onion rings if you want a munchie instead of a meal.
It was the perfect recommendation for this weary traveler. The Pub is right at the historical Rogues Harbor Inn Bed & Breakfast. This was a great place to stay, and a fresh, homemade breakfast is included. I was able to accessorize the next day with a beautiful turquoise necklace from Stouthearted Jewelry ,also located at the Inn. Now, I was ready for my next dining experience at The Pub next door. One of the best Ithaca restaurants for sure!
903 Hanshaw Road, Ithaca, NY 14850 // 607-257-4144
Reach new heights and enjoy tasty bites at Heights Café. Known for being one of the standout wine restaurants in upstate New York and all around the best among the Ithaca restaurants, pick a beverage from their award-winning wine list, a specialty cocktail, or craft beer.
This casual, contemporary restaurant in Ithaca, NY features Mediterranean-inspired American cuisine with locally sourced and seasonal menu items.
It was the perfect season to dine on the Tuscan-inspired outdoor patio. The Bounty Harvest was a good starter with Brussels sprouts, roasted carrots, crispy broccoli, sriracha honey, candied nuts, beets, and bleu cheese.
When you’re ready for the main course, choose a Handcrafted Pizza, Grilled Atlantic Salmon, or Brazilian Skirt Steak. Hang onto your skirt or loosen your skirt or belt if you decide to make room for dessert.
The Lava Cake “Soufflé” is a decadent chocolate dessert to die for.
It was a lovely restaurant tour in Ithaca, NY. Before heading back to Rogues Harbor Inn Bed & Breakfast, I stopped at Myers Park to watch the sunset. I captured colorful pictures on my camera and in my mind that will last a lifetime.
Ithaca Restaurants Wrap-Up
There is a vibe in Ithaca, NY unlike anywhere else in America. Experience it and get a taste for yourself in this quaint area along Cayuga Lake.