It’s great and all that Cornell has 10 all-you-can-eat dining halls and is ranked #3 for “Best Campus Food” in the country, but I know sometimes we all want to treat ourselves and eat out for a change. Ithaca is home to many locally owned restaurants and offers a variety of options from Chinese to Greek food. There’s definitely something for everyone, and here are just 15 of the places to eat near Cornell University, in no particular order.
CTB has 3 locations throughout Ithaca, but the one most popular amongst Cornell students is the one in collegetown. It can be crowded sometimes but it’s a great place to grab breakfast before class, and even if you don’t like bagels, CTB has an amazing selection of wraps, sandwiches, salads, pastries, and coffee.
Saigon Kitchen offers good Vietnamese cuisine and is a small, quaint, family-owned restaurant located in the heart of Ithaca. Unfortunately it is a little hard to get to by bus, but if you have access to a car, then definitely pay this place a visit!
The Carriage House Cafe is located in lower college town, and while I have yet to visit, it’s one of those places that is on my bucket list. It’s a fan favorite for brunches and oftentimes feature live concerts of students, staff, and Ithaca locals in the evenings.
Koko’s features reasonably priced and tasty food, and if you’re feeling up to some Korean food on a particular day, you really can’t go wrong with going to Koko’s.
Located in downtown Ithaca, Moosewood is a vegetarian restaurant that has been in business for 40 years. It features clean food options and food sourced locally. Even if you aren’t vegetarian, you will still enjoy the many healthy and delicious options there!
Cafe Pacific is a quaint little Japanese restaurant located in the heart of collegetown. This is one of my favorite places to eat simply because the owner of the restaurant is so nice–she would often treat me and my friends to some free snacks while we wait for the food, a free dessert or smoothie. In addition to good Japanese food, they also serve bubble tea, ice cream, desserts, and of course there is a variety of Asian snacks for purchase at the counter.
Sangam has great food and great service, as well as a variety of food options. I enjoy coming here because they are really receptive and flexible to requests regarding dietary restrictions (especially if you are vegetarian/vegan! But there are also tons of options here for those who enjoy meat and seafood).
Formerly called The Old Teahouse, Panda Tea Lounge is one of the student favorites for getting bubble tea (sorry Kung Fu Tea fans!). They have a large selection of teas and they also sell icecream, waffles, and Asian snacks. The best part? Panda Tea Lounge closes late most nights so you can get your bubble tea fix as late as 2am in the morning.
Did you know Ithaca has some of the best Thai restaurants? Not to be confused with Taste of Thai express, Taste of Thai is located in the Ithaca commons and features authentic Thai cuisine, a good ambience, and plenty of options for those who are vegetarian/vegan.
If you’re looking for something to grab and go for lunch (or dinner), Oishii Bowl is a great choice. They don’t offer a ton of options for vegetarians but they do exist. The downside of Oishii bowl is probably that there usually isn’t a ton of space to sit inside due to how small the store is, but that said, it is quite cheap compared to other collegetown food options!
11. Louie’s Lunch
A food truck that’s been serving Cornellians since 1918, Louie’s Lunch is a student favorite for those late night studying sessions or post-party muchies on the weekends. They’re open for most of the day and until 3am most days. They serve 6 different kinds of fries, cold and hot sandwiches, subs, burgers, wraps, milkshakes, and salads–it’s probably not the healthiest choice but if I must say so myself, the food tastes pretty good and there’s a huge variety.
If you’re craving Greek food, you can’t go wrong with Aladdin’s. It may be a little pricey, but I feel like they do have a decent portion size and the restaurant is nice and clean with plenty of options for those with dietary restrictions.
Yes, I know, a grocery store? But since the bus only runs every hour from Cornell to Wegman’s, you may one day find yourself in a position with some time to kill in the grocery store. Fear not–plenty of food options around Wegman’s including subs, pizza, and coffee.
Another place where it’s hard to get to unless you have access to a car–but totally worth if you ever get the chance to go. The good thing is that they do delivery if you’re not looking for the restaurant experience, and hands down, probably the best Szechuan Style Cuisine in all of Ithaca.
Mandible is a cafe on campus but isn’t part of the Cornell Dining system–yes, that means that although it’s located inside Mann Library, they won’t take your BRBs. However, this is easily one of the most underrated places on campus (because nobody besides Human Ecology and CALS student visit Mann apparently…) featuring great coffee, burritos, pastries, and on Fridays, curry bowls!
Those are 15 of the best places to eat near Cornell University–I know several places that didn’t quite make it on this list, but that just proves that even for a small college town, Ithaca still has plenty to offer!