Helen Wong standing in her restaurant, Hai Hong. (Michael Wenye Li / Sun Senior Photographer)

Hai Hong: The Steamboat to Freedom

The entrance to the Collegetown favorite is recognizable by its yellow signage. Customers pass through its black doors into the eatery, arriving at wooden tables that stare into the restaurant’s open kitchen. A side wall divides the restaurant into two dining rooms co-serving Cantonese-influenced cuisine and Vietnamese specialties, and frequent patrons to the restaurant cross-order dishes from the two menus. The sidewalls are simply decorated with a Southeast Asian influence, exemplified by the woven bamboo patterns and the floor’s turmeric colored tiles. Here, owner Helen Wong serves a variety of authentic Vietnamese specialties created from her memories. Helen had left her home country of Vietnam to come to Ithaca as a refugee in 1979.

Atrium Cafe on September 23rd, 2019. (Boris Tsang/Sun Photography Editor)

Atrium Cafe: Off the Beaten Path

If you ask any undergrad here what their favorite campus eatery is, they’ll likely say Terrace, Trillium or Zeus. Each one is delicious in their own right, but let’s be real — making it through the lines at these places is hard work. Even in the late morning, you’ll find long lines filing out of most popular campus eateries. Although no eatery could ever replace my beloved Terrace salad or Zeus soup, I’m getting a bit tired of spending my entire lunch break waiting in these lines, leaving me to discreetly eat my lunch in the back of the lecture. My solution? The Atrium Cafe.

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Boatyard Grill: Any Person, Any Fish

Moving back to Ithaca can be frightening. Many anticipate the hours of work and long nights spent in Uris. Others, like me, dread trading the variety of food a city like NYC has to offer for Cornell Dining and CTB every day. By no means am I complaining about CTB though — I can eat their Santa Fe bowl every day. But still, as a foodie, I have a desire to try out new restaurants and cuisines every week, and Ithaca has limited options. It is always a treat to find food that reminds me of NYC-quality restaurants, so I didn’t mind the trek to Boatyard, where superb seafood and juicy steaks are served in an inviting, marine-themed setting.

Dining

Hakacha: A New Hidden Gem in the Ithaca Dining Scene

Hakacha is an Asian fusion restaurant that has recently opened on 311 Third Street, near the DMV and across from Aldi. When I read ‘fusion’ online, I audibly groaned. When a casual dining restaurant claims to provide fusion cuisine, I’ve come to expect nonsensical combinations of foods from various regions, haphazardly slapped together on a board with little to no regard for actual gastronomical composition. Therefore, most of the time, ‘fusion’ food falls short of any claims to innovation. Nevertheless, my dedication to my fellow foodies is the reason why I decided to visit this place anyways.

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Coltivare: Brooklyn Vibes in Downtown Ithaca

Brunch is the most exciting part of any weekend because a fresh cup of steaming coffee, sweet, flaky pastries and some beautifully runny eggs are the perfect remedy to the Sunday scaries. I especially love taking an hour on the weekends to try new restaurants in Ithaca with friends, where we can relax and enjoy good food before heading back up the hill to the library. I was excited to find Coltivare, a New American restaurant located in the Commons. Its chic atmosphere was the perfect getaway from campus.

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Thompson and Bleecker: Neapolitan With a Twist

What Thompson and Bleecker has to offer surely goes beyond its creative artisanal pizza. Gazing around this vibrant Ithaca Commons spot on a Thursday evening transports me; I am no longer in Ithaca, but in New York City, almost. Perhaps this feeling is evoked since owners Milly and George named Thompson and Bleecker after the intersection of their first apartment in the city. The candles on each sleek, wooden table twinkle. Milly makes her rounds, ensuring all guests are having a wonderful time, which is an easy feat. Patrons sip on red wine while simultaneously biting into doughy crust and cheesy goodness.

Image from iOS (6)

Coal Yard Cafe: Warming the Soul

For decades, 143 Maple Avenue served as the business office for a series of companies tasked with distributing coal to the city of Ithaca. Today, it continues to warm the bodies and souls of students and residents, albeit in a far more tasty manner.

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Soak Up the Sun with Some Ithacan Ice Cream

As spring progresses and we are blessed with continually warmer weather, my longing to go out on a 70-degree day and enjoy some ice cream beneath the sunshine has only intensified. As a graduating senior, I’m already beginning to miss certain ice cream establishments that can only be found in Ithaca. Below are three recommendations (in no particular order) based on my research during my past four years at Cornell.

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But First, Breakfast: Trying the New and Improved Suna Breakfast

The next morning, I rolled out of bed and awaited a text message from Suna. Sure enough, a text came precisely at the beginning of the 10-minute delivery window notifying me that my order was ready! All I had to do was step outside of my dorm building to retrieve it. As someone whose breakfast typically consists of scarfing down overnight oats or eating a sugary muffin from a campus eatery, getting a beautifully packaged breakfast delivered directly to me felt uber-luxurious. I was already giddy about Suna’s seamless delivery process, so could hardly wait to dig in and try what I ordered.