Did you know that Ithaca has more restaurants per capita than NYC? And that Cornell has the best dining halls in NY? Well if you didn't, now you know! Food is a huge part of the typical Cornell student's college experience (the freshman 15 is real, even with the uphill walks to class), as is exploring nearby restaurants in Collegetown and the Commons.
When friends and family come to visit, I want to make them wish they went to college here by showing them the best food Ithaca has to offer. But not everyone will appreciate every restaurant equally. So I've come up with the perfect guide of restaurants near Cornell suitable for all the people in your life.
Your Parents: Mahogany Grill
Mahogany grill is one of my personal favorite restaurants in downtown Ithaca, and if I had a car on campus and was in the mood to spend money on dinner, I would go all the time. They have the best fried calamari, spaghetti and meatballs, and burgers.
Also, don't skimp out on dessert; they have creme brûlée, cannoli, and berry cobbler. You'll probably see other Cornell students and their parents eating here as well; it's the place to bring the 'rents. Your family will love you more for introducing them to this incredible restaurant, and will probably end up loving it so much that they visit every weekend to eat here.
Your Family Friend: Just a Taste
Just a Taste is the perfect place to bring a family friend. It's a tapas-style restaurant in the Commons, so you order a bunch of different plates and share with the table. Your family friends know you better than most, and can easily share different dishes with you! They have so many amazing options, from their house-made focaccia to the Brussels sprouts, farfalle, and molten chocolate cake. The more people, the more fun, so go when you have a lot of visitors.
The Potential Student: Collegetown Bagels
CTB is the place to go. If you want to get someone excited about Cornell, take them here. There are probably over 100 different sandwich options, from breakfast sandwiches to paninis, vegetarian, turkey, chicken, and more. You can have any sandwich on a bagel, croissant, or focaccia.
They also have a huge array of desserts and pastries in addition to their smoothies, coffees, teas, and hot chocolates. If you went to CTB every day of the semester, you could get something different each time and never repeat an order. And everything is fantastic.
Your Party Friend: Nasties
The party friends have priorities, and food is not one of them (I know, how is that possible?). After a long night of fun, Nasties will still be open to satisfy your late night cravings. It's right next to the Cornell dorms on north campus, so it's quick and easy. From mozzarella sticks to chicken parm sandwiches, chicken nuggets and pizza, they have everything a drunk or hungover fast food lover could ever want.
Your Home Friend: Souvlaki House
My home friends are used to the best Italian food, coming from NJ. However, Souv will give all of the best places in my town a run for their money. They have the best pizza, pasta, chicken dishes, and they also have a section of the menu filled with Greek favorites. Italian and Greek is an odd combination, but Souv makes it work. Your home friends will appreciate the wide range of options and how amazing everything is.
Your BFFL: That's How I Roll
If you're my best friend, then you better like sushi. And the sushi burrito truck is the most amazing invention Cornell has ever had. They have all different combinations, from the Out of Control (with spicy tuna, shrimp tempura, kani, cucumber, avocado and a lot of spicy mayo) to the Sumo (with spicy salmon, deep fried cream cheese, cucumber, avocado, lettuce, and eel sauce).
The truck is on North Campus some days and in Collegetown on other days, but no matter where it is, the trip to get there is so worth it. Your best friend will forever appreciate you for introducing them to the Cornell sushi burrito. If your BFF happens to not like sushi (which would be insane), check out the many other food trucks on campus!
Your Camp Friend: Ithaca Farmers Market
The Farmers Market is almost as magical as camp. There are tons of different options to choose from, so everyone will be satisfied. There's coal oven pizza, crepes, Indian food, breakfast burritos, omelettes, and so much more. It's so fun to go back to the camp days and explore all of the different food with your adventurous friends.
The view of the lake is really pretty, and on nice days you can sit by the water while you indulge the amazing food. There's also a farmers market that comes to Cornell every Thursday when it's nice out, which is a super fun way to stay on campus and have a little picnic.
Your Friend Who Has Homework: Mac's Cafe & Terrace Restaurant
Mac's is in Statler Hall on Cornell's campus, where there is also a library, so it is a perfect place to grab a quick bite. And the food is incredible. Your friends from other schools will be so jealous that you can use your BRBs and eat here every day.
They have the best wraps, chopped salads, naan flatbreads, sushi, and homemade cookies (chocolate chip and s'mores are my personal favorites). Yes, the lines do get pretty long during lunch rush, but the employees at Mac's have a good system and it doesn't take too long.
Your Friend From Preschool: Waffle Frolic
Waffle frolic makes you feel like a kid all over again. There's literally nothing better than a waffle bar with endless toppings. You can go savory, and get your waffle with eggs, bacon, hollandaise, and even fried chicken. Or you can really be a kid and go the sweet route: Nutella, strawberries, bananas, ice cream, whipped cream, peanut butter, caramel... the list goes on and on and on. It's perfect for any time of the day too.
Your Significant Other: Carriage House Cafe
Carriage House is the cutest brunch spot ever. And I personally think that brunch is the most romantic meal. Brunching is the best part of the week, and who better to share it with than your significant other (and if you're single, your BFF will do just as well)? The atmosphere inside is adorable, and they have the best food. Their pancakes, Brie-stuffed French toast, breakfast sandwiches, and home fries are amazing, plus their hot chocolate is so rich and comes with a foam heat at the top (so romantic).
There you have it. The best places to take anyone and everyone in your life if you want them to love you a million times more. So start inviting people to Ithaca and making reservations. And if you run out of restaurants, follow @bigredbites on Insta for the best food Cornell has to offer.