Ithaca Food, Ten Years Later

Ithaca Food, Ten Years Later

This weekend, we were at Just a Taste in Ithaca and we thought we recognized our waitress.

“Have you worked here for a while,” I asked.

“Yeah. A loooooong time,” she said.

“Like ten years? We haven’t been here for ten years and you look familiar.”

“Longer than that,” she said. I knew it!

One of the most fun parts of being back in the area is sampling our old favorites. Christ, though, it’s been ten years. Well, 9 and change. Whatever. Minus our wedding weekend, of course. I’m not counting that. Ten years! Rounded up, a little.

We’ve only been back a week, but we’ve covered some ground. Here’s where we’ve been.

Viva Cantina

Viva Cantina is the place that started Lisa’s love-affair with Mexican food. I can still remember the conversation we had when she told me she didn’t like Mexican food. Blew. My. Mind. Luckily, I didn’t believe her back then and took her here. We had lunch at Viva the day we thought we were going to move into our new place. When it wasn’t ready, we retreated to Ithaca for margaritas. It was a good call. This place still rocks.


This grocery store was our first stop after our drive in from Chicago. Sounds weird, I know. It’s a grocery store, but it’s amazing. You kinda have to see it. It was late, but the food court was still bustling. It’s still good and still expensive. We haven’t been back for groceries … yet. I need Dashi for a noodle dish I want to make. Wegmans will have it.

A beacon for weary travelers.
A beacon for weary travelers.

The Chapter House

We stopped at the Chapter House after signing our lease. It’s still a pit. The bathrooms, I don’t even know how to describe the bathrooms. The men’s is dark and dank and at the bottom of a deadly staircase. It’s a wonderful bar. They still have tons of beers on tap. They still have popcorn. It’s still mostly an older crowd instead of undergrads. Some of our other Collegetown favorites have gone under. Johnny O’s, the bar my engineering buddies and I went to after nearly every Thursday exam, is no more. The Palms, where we’d go to play pool, is shuttered. Rulloff’s is still around. We’ll have to do a Collegetown bar crawls for old time’s sake sometime soon. Maybe during the summer.

Just a Taste

Just a Taste, the place where we had our first wine flights and Spanish tapas, is more popular than ever. They open at 5:30PM and there was still a line shuffling in when we arrived at 5:32PM (yes, we’re old now). They were turning people away by 5:40PM. The food is still awesome, though we did have a mediocre dish that seemed to have been made with frozen broccoli. That one was a bust. Then the next dish blew our minds — pecans and Brussels sprouts. Delicious.


Simeon’s is still a great place to get a drink, and now they have oysters. We’ll be back for the oyster happy hour, 3-6PM, Monday through Friday. Suck on that, Willapa. (I miss you, Willapa!)

We’ve still got ground to cover. We have to go back to the Moosewood Restaurant and Cafe Dewitt. There’s Mama T’s Pizza in Collegetown and the Vietnamese place and Valentine Cafe (I hope it’s still in business). We still haven’t been to the Ithaca Chipotle. We did stop at the new (to us) Five Guys.

Meanwhile, we haven’t exhausted the Trumansburg options, though we will shortly (it’s a small town). We’re in love with the local pizzeria. We are spoiled by the 2-for-1 drinks at Little Venice (our tab the other day was $9 — we had three drinks apiece) and need to try Ron Don’s. We’re looking forward to eating at Hazelnut Kitchen, the pricey place in town.

So things have turned around, I guess. We’re still a long way from settled, but we’ve got pictures on the wall and Trumansburg is starting to feel like home.