September 14, 2005


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Ever looking for something to eat at 4 a.m., in Ithaca, and Shortstop Deli just won’t satisfy the urge? Well I recently stumbled upon Manos Diner, located past Wegmans and Wal-Mart, on Elmira Road, an area off-the-main-college-path. But, if you have a car, you might as well head on down. On Saturday morning, the place was packed; it seemed to be a real local hangout. Inside, were two dining rooms, with only a few empty tables left. I was seated right away, received prompt service, given a menu and asked my drink order. The waitress immediately brought out my hot chocolate, and, although polite, she was neither personable nor smiley.

With chocolate in hand, I began to notice the ambiance of the place. Clean. Tidy – especially for a diner. Typically there were leather seats and booths, as well as the classic diner counter. Surprisingly, the wall decor was a dark wood with marble floors and a fireplace in the dining room – providing a homey feeling. Some enclosed booths had wooden bar backs that separated them from the next table for private conversations – a nice touch. Glass lighting fixtures kept the place well lit and welcoming, and the country music playing in the background added something -though I could barely hear it! There was a lot of noise coming from the kitchen; yet not enough to destroy the experience.

The Manos menu was extensive. For lunch, there are many kinds of sandwiches and salads Dinners include old standbys like chicken parmesan and delmonico steak. The breakfast section was basic: omelettes, pancakes, French toast, and every day there are also specials, typical to diners. The menu is a little disorganized however. The sections are not clearly labeled, and it is hard to distinguish dinner and lunch menus. In fact, “breakfast” is strangely placed in the center of the menu.

When the waitress arrived shortly, I ordered the ham, French toast, fried eggs over-easy, and home fries combo meal for $5.95, and she asked all of the appropriate questions regarding how I wanted my eggs cooked.

As I was waiting, I reviewed the prices, which were fairly reasonable for a 24 hour menu. The breakfasts at Manos range from about $2.00 to $10.00. The lunches range from $3.00-10.00, and the dinners range from $7.00- 16.00.

My food came out within 10 minutes of ordering it, and while a lot of 24 hour diners will hand you the bill right away, I was pleasantly unrushed. The eggs were done correctly and the yoke broke perfectly. The ham was a little fatty and chewy but it was still a nice-sized serving piece of ham steak. The potatoes were soft, not crispy, and a little bland. The French toast, however, was perfectly cooked and had just the right amount of cinnamon in it. The hot chocolate was flavorful and not watery – even though it came from a machine.

All in all, the food was not great, acceptable for a 24 hour diner. Manos Diner may not be the greatest restaurant in Ithaca, but they have good service, a homey atmosphere, and are open all night. So, if you are looking for somewhere to have breakfast on a Saturday, or just looking for a late bite, it’s definitely worth a try.

Archived article by Rachel Sayet
Sun Contributor