As you may or may not know from touring Cornell, Ithaca has more restaurants per capita than any other city in the country (my tour guide actually did inform me of this fun fact when I was touring). This means that there’s pretty much an endless supply of restaurants to choose from for brunch, so I decided to compile a simple guide to some of the brunch places most relevant to Cornell students. The nine restaurants listed below are by no means an exhaustive list of the brunching options in Ithaca, but hopefully they will get you started on your brunching adventures and help you match your mood to the right brunch spot.
The Quaint, Homey Classic
Collegetown (305 Stewart Ave.)
This is where you go for a fullout, no stops, painfully filling and decadent brunch of stuffed French toast and artistic espresso. To be honest, the first time you go to Carriage House, you’re likely to be astounded by the beauty of the building itself and by the interesting assortment of vintage decorations and electronics. The one drawback of Carriage House, other than danger of eating so much delicious food you feel like you’re going to burst, is the painfully long wait time that is pretty much a permanent fixture.
The One With the Quintessential Boozy Brunch
Near East Hill Plaza (381 Pine Tree Rd.)
Agava pretty much has it all. The fabulous food — everything from massive waffles to designyour-own flatbreads to traditional eggs Benedict — and the $4 coolers are a killer combo. It is normally so packed that the last time I went there, while there was no wait, despite the fact that it was a Saturday morning around 11, the hostess very pointedly told me that in the future I should make a reservation. If you’re thinking about going to Agava, I would definitely recommend making a reservation. Actually, one of the best things about Agava is that they’re one of the few restaurants that do accept reservations and that allow you to make reservations on Opentable.
Coal Yard Café:
The One that’s a Hidden Gem
Near East Hill Plaza (143 Maple Ave.)
The best way to describe this tiny caféis by saying that it’s probably like your grandmother’s living room. Warm, fresh homecooked meals are served to you as you wait in a small, cozy room with an electric fireplace. Though I might be a bit biased, as it’s my personal favorite and go-to Ithacan brunch spot, Coal Yard provides a lot that none of the other brunch spots can offer. For one, the service is fast — and when I say fast I don’t mean you sit down, order immediately and get your food in ten minutes. I mean you order at the counter and your food is ready in a flash. There have been times that my food was ready before I got a chance to pick a table and sit down. The rustic setting is a wonderful backdrop for a casual brunch with friends or even a quiet study spot. Plus, their food is unique and tasty. Coal Yard features classic eggs and bacon, breakfast Asian-style rice bowls, mouthwatering pastries and sandwiches with combos that have definitely never crossed your mind.
Monks on the Commons:
The New Modern One
The Commons (120 S Aurora St.)
Monks, located in the lobby of the Marriott Hotel, is a new addition to the many restaurants of Ithaca. They serve a fairly classic American brunch with a bit of a modern twist, meaning that the eggs are accompanied by a sweet potato hash as opposed to simple hash browns. Their breakfasts tend to be tasty but a bit expensive, so it might not be the place to go if you’re a college kid on a budget just trying to grab a quick breakfast, but it’s perfect if you’re looking for a place to go for an occasion.