Eat like an Ithacan

In Ithaca, the Commons is the way to go! The Commons is a mini downtown area where all of the cool places to eat are located. It’s also the home of the movie theater (Cinemapolis) and the annual events which college students love to participate in.  This downtown area is easily accessible and less than 2 miles from campus. It’s a place for all people to feel welcomed; not just college students! 

Viva Taqueria (Credit: tripadvisor).

Caffeine Fix

Alleycat Cafe

One of my favorite places in Ithaca to venture to  is the Alleycat Cafe! Located right in the Commons, this wonderfully unique cafe serves beverages such as loose leaf tea and coffee, while also providing a home for alley cats! It’s a go-to brunch spot with friends, and their toast is amazing!

How it works is you can sit down for a brunch date with some friends or a significant other, and then for a small fee of $5, you can pet the cats! I’ve been there quite a few times, and all the people I have brought along the way were super excited to share a delicious meal and spend quality time with cats that didn’t have a home. 

Left: Enjoy cute lattes at Alleycat Cafe (Credit: Instagram @alleycatithaca).  Right: The cats are rescues, too! (Credit: the Alleycat Cafe, featured blogpost from the Sophie Fund, 2019 )

Panda Tea Lounge

Fun fact: Panda Tea Lounge is actually on Cornell’s campus! It has great bubble tea, and there is always  pop music playing and tv show music videos.. It’s in such a cool part of town, and proves there can be really cool places where we tend to look the least! The lounge has fun chairs and couches so you can relax while sipping your delicious tea. The overall aesthetic is something lots of college students would find pleasing. They have bright colors on the walls and the furniture, to make the place pop and welcoming to the young adults that tend to gather there. 

Breakfast & Brunch

Waffle Frolic

This one is a MUST for anyone visiting IC, or someone who just wants a fun little place to spend their morning/ afternoon! Waffle Frolic is a delightful restaurant in the Commons (the downtown area that lots of Ithacans visit for restaurants/ entertainment),  where you can order any type of waffle concoction you want, ranging from sweet cinnamon and cream cheese to peanut butter spread and banana toppings. 

Waffle Frolic is every Ithacan’s go-to place to enjoy a nice brunch with friends! If you do wish to go, make sure to get there a bit early, as the lines are already out the door by 10!  

Sweet waffles topped with chocolate, bananas, and whipped cream (Credit: Waffle Frolic menu).

Lunch & Dinner

Viva Taqueria

My next favorite place  for a casual dinner or even celebrating a birthday is Viva! It’s the go-to Mexican place, and they also deliver to campus. I love getting tacos there, and I even went to Viva on my 21st and got a fun little drink! 


Luna is such an amazing place for so many reasons. They have a wide selection of food for everyone; I usually decide between the Mexican tacos or mac and cheese. They are big in the delivery business, so Luna is perfect for your Friday through Sunday night dinners. It’s made to look like the restaurant is set up inside a small garage, and it even sells sweets. Sometimes. when I’m with a group of people and I can’t decide what to eat, I automatically think of Luna’s fried oreos, and my heart is set! 

Left: Bulgogi bowl. Right: Chicken and waffles. (Credit: Instagram @lunastreetfood)

Red’s Place

Red’s Place is very popular in  Ithacan culture. It has everything from shrimp to cheese fries to fried chicken mac and cheese. A lot of my friends have been here and they think it’s great so this is definitely a place to check out for any first-time visitor. 

Kilpatrick’s Pub

This is a fancy restaurant, perfect for a Valentine’s Day dinner or a family gathering. It has amazing flatbreads  and burgers. It’s also a perfect destination for late-night drinking  after the restaurant has closed. Kilpatrick’s is great, because it holds the interest of college students while also maintaining a classy feel – it’s perfect for families, too. 

Left: Go for a drink with friends after the kitchen has closed down (Credit: Facebook @KilpatricksPub). Right: Kilpatrick’s famous loaded fries and juicy burgers (Credit: Instagram @ithacaeatz). 



The most popular bar in Ithaca has to be Moonies. This is a bar that I’d heard of ever since Freshman year.  Moonie’s is a go-to Friday night bar for those who wanna get out and dance off a hard week of work! Also, if it’s your birthday and you’re lucky, you may get a free shot or two (I know from experience)! Moonies is a great pick for a first-time bar, but there are also other local bars that cater to folks older than 21 and would like a nice change of scenery.

If Someone Else is Buying

Boatyard Grill

The Boatyard Grill is one of my favorite places to go after a special celebration. The scenery is absolutely amazing. Taking pictures out here is stunning, and the food is spectacular.  I’m a cheese connoisseur and the mac and cheese here is remarkable. I’ve also been here with others who have ordered steak, and it actually comes with a cool fire show! Dinner here is quite entertaining, and definitely a go-to for all things special and tasty. 

The Boatyard Grill offers many places to take  beautiful photos (Credit: website).


Insomnia Cookies

Insomnia Cookies is a great late-night snack, especially for incoming Freshmen. This little cookie-shop is only deliverable, and is a real big excitement for anyone who is new to the area! Insomnia has a wide variety of yummy cookies, but beware that the delivery time is sometimes a bit longer than usual. This should not deter anyone from wanting a delicious Insomnia cookie: it is part of the Ithaca College experience!

Purity Ice Cream

Purity Ice Cream is every Ithacan’s go-to for a nice (and large) ice cream dessert. This place isn’t as close to the Commons, but it is great if you have access to transportation. You can even find Purity Ice Cream flavors on Ithaca’s campus. But there is something quite special about being able to go to the shop in person and choose from an even bigger selection! 

Left: Eggnog brioche donuts at One Ring Donuts. Middle: At One Ring, you can order a “donut wall” for events (Credit: Instagram @oneringdonuts). Right: Purity recently started offering breakfast, too! (Credit: Instagram @purityicecream). 

One Ring Donuts

One-Ring Donuts is a new addition to Ithaca’s dessert stops. It’s a tiny, cute place that makes donuts from locally-sourced ingredients, with vegan and gluten-free options. This way, everyone is included, and the vegan donuts are just as delicious!