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February 13, 2023

Top 5 Restaurants for New Students

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Fun fact: Ithaca, NY has more restaurants per capita than New York City. You know what that means? It’s time to explore, Cornellians! 

As a new student to Cornell, I was very excited to write this article because it gave me a reason to get off campus and explore different restaurants. I had the opportunity to try a variety of different restaurants in Ithaca and came away with a top 5 (in no particular order):

  1. Bickering Twins Restaurant
  2. Asia Cuisine
  3. Ithaca Beer Co.
  4. Collegetown Bagels
  5. Bibibowl Asian Grill Ithaca.

To start, Bickering Twins Restaurant, located in the Ithaca Commons, offered a great ambiance and excellent service. The chips and guacamole are a must-have. I also recommend getting a taco platter as it gives diners the opportunity to try various tacos and sides. I got the chicken tinga tacos plate which came with a side of rice. It was the perfect combination of avocado, cheese and chicken. I enjoyed my meal and definitely recommend what I got. While I didn’t get the chance to try one, my waiter insisted their margaritas are one of a kind. So if you are of age, you should give them a try.

Asia Cuisine is another great restaurant located in the Ithaca Commons and has a cozy environment that makes new students feel comfortable and welcome. One thing to note is that they close at 8 p.m. so make sure to get there before then. They offer a wide variety of dishes, from sushi to Korean and Chinese options like jjajangmyeon and jjamppong. When I went, I had the chicken yakisoba and it was probably one of the best noodle dishes I have ever had — I’ve been counting down the days until I can go back ever since.

To be honest, I was not sure what to expect from Ithaca Beer Co. – I had walked around Collegetown a bit before going and it seemed like a bar. I then found out it was a restaurant after being invited to eat there and I am glad I took that invitation. There were a surprising amount of menu options and I had trouble deciding what to order, eventually going with the Cornell Chicken Sandwich. Being a new student at Cornell, I felt eating this Cornell-named sandwich was, in a way,a right of passage. With the Cornell Chicken Sandwich came a side of some of the best french fries I have ever eaten. I finished the whole basket after telling myself I wouldn’t — it was that good. The atmosphere was also vibrant and modern which I appreciated. Like at Bickering Twins Restaurant, I did not get a drink at this restaurant, but I am assuming that Ithaca Beer Co. has a handful of good selections considering Beer is in the name. 

My next restaurant is a Collegetown and Cornell classic: Collegetown Bagels. When I visited for the first time, I was expecting the fun and fresh location to only serve bagels, but quickly found out this is not true. Collegetown Bagels exceeded my expectations more than I could have imagined, offering not only bagels but sandwiches, baked goods, smoothies, avocado toasts, salads and grain bowls. I tried the Zabs panini sandwich consisting of roast turkey, avocado, chipotle aioli dressing and sliced mozzarella on ciabatta just because it was the first thing I saw on the slightly overwhelming menu. Everything sounded very tempting and I will have to go back to try all the different offerings. The location also offered various cute places to study, perfect for any student looking to grab a bite and stay a while. They made the food fast for anyone in a rush, as well.

Bibibowl Asian Grill Ithaca was a unique fast-casual spot – the perfect place for a student. I was able to select from different options, choosing a base of purple rice, a protein and different vegetables and sauce to complement it all — a similar setup to Chipotle. Despite not being a well-known option according to my peers, I think it deserves to be put on the map. My meal was very flavorful and I’d recommend trying a bowl from them. 

It was difficult to make this list as I have eaten such great food since being at Cornell over the past few weeks. Of course, I had to include a few honorable mentions: Taverna Banfi at the Statler Hotel is not a typical place for students, which is why I did not place it on my list, but it is definitely a must-try. The dishes there tend to be a little more expensive, but they are worth it. If I could eat there every day, I would. A few additional places I wish I had the chance to visit are Simeon’s American Bistro and Thompson and Bleeker. I have heard great things about these two restaurants and as a new student, these are on the top of my list of  places to try. Feel free to email me any recommendations you might have — I am always looking for new places to try.

Jake Fishman is a sophomore in the Nolan School of Hotel Administration. He can be reached at [email protected].