One of my favorite things about the start of a new school year — besides returning to our beautiful campus, reuniting with friends and beginning new classes — is going out to eat at all of my beloved Ithaca restaurants. I have my old standbys for every cuisine, but I always get excited about new restaurants opening or happening upon a place I’ve never tried before. When I learned that Luna Inspired Street Food would be opening this summer, I was eager to return to town to give it a try.
A short walk from my apartment, Luna is located next to Loco on Stewart Avenue. My roommate and I arrived early on the Friday evening of Homecoming weekend, when there were only a few other customers eating. The space was very open, with a casual feeling created by the menu written on the walls and the mix of high top tables and plush white lounge seating. Luna would be a great place to meet up with friends for a unique and comforting meal, whether for lunch or just to grab a bite to eat at the end of the night.
Luna’s menu features a mix of comfort food classics with a fusion twist. While reading the menu, it was clear that this restaurant offers something for everyone, whether you’re seeking a light snack or a filling meal. Partial to all kinds of Asian cuisine, I decided on the Banh Mi sandwich. On the sandwich, guests are offered a choice of either roast pork or ginger lemongrass chicken; I chose the traditional pork. But instead of the thick slices I’m used to having in Banh Mi, the pork was shredded and slightly crispy. It was accented by thinly sliced pickled cucumber, carrot and daikon radish, copious sliced fresh jalapeños, cilantro and a sriracha mayo spread on soft but substantial buttery bread. I loved the crunch that the vegetables added to the sandwich, but the jalapeños combined with the sriracha sauce were fairly spicy, even for someone with a high heat tolerance.
My roommate ordered the smoked Gouda mac-and-cheese, which came served in a large to-go style box similar to what is used in many on-campus cafés. The tender cavatappi pasta was thoroughly tossed in the béchamel and cheese and topped with a sprinkling of crispy panko bread crumbs and bacon pieces. Extra thickly-sliced chunks of smoked bacon contributed an additional salty bite of indulgence. This dish would provide the perfect, comforting meal once the weather turns cold and snowy, and the substantial portion would surely satisfy even the most ravenous of appetites.
Though our dishes were filling, we decided to finish off the meal with a dessert. The sticky bun we ordered came to the table warm, emitting the delicious fresh-baked aroma of toasty cinnamon and buttery dough. The breakfast pastry was large enough for us to share, and the dough was slightly crispy on the outside while maintaining the gooiness of the inside. It was topped with caramelized nuts and baked apples, but not enough for my liking.
With so many offerings, I know I will be back to Luna soon to sample more indulgent treats. The combination of tacos, bowls, pizzas, sandwiches, specials and sweets will keep guests coming back for more and always provide for something new and exciting. I look forward to returning for a pork belly bao bun or duck fat French fries in the future.