With spring comes new beginnings –– and a chance to try new things.
As friends, family and new associates join together, food is one medium through which memories are formed, palates expanded and the warmer weather celebrated in colorful, beautiful scenery.
From dine-in to on-the-go meals, from Cayuga Heights to Ithaca Commons, this roundup provides a range of restaurants, dessert shops and drink spots to try.
This spring, check off the stops on this list — we’re arranged it in alphabetical order — one by one.
Where to find savory eats this spring
Boat Yard Grill
For diners looking for a beautiful waterfront view as the weather warms, this restaurant gives exactly that, along with inviting foods.
With surf and turf offerings, this menu includes a classic Seafood Fra Diavolo (jumbo shrimp, calamari, bay scallops, toasted capers, spicy arrabbiata sauce and linguine), a Filet Mignon 8-ounce steak, wines, locally sourced beer and cocktails, as well as succulent desserts, such as the molten chocolate cake.
Location: 525 Old Taughannock Blvd., Ithaca.
Hours: 4-9 pm Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday; 4-10 pm Friday-Saturday.
Hawaiian Ethiopian Cuisine
As the sun comes out and more gatherings are planned, Hawi provides large portions and combos for friends, families and individuals to enjoy –– from their vegetarian meal Misir Wat (split red lentil in onion and tomato sauce and Ethiopian spice, berbere) to their Yebeg Alicha (a halal meal with lamb in an onion and turmeric stew).
As the only Ethiopian restaurant in Ithaca, this 113 S. Cayuga St. location is home to tasteful foods for a range of palates and dietary needs, including for meat, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free eaters.
Location: 113 S. Cayuga St., Ithaca.
Hours: 3-9:30 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday.
Mama Said Hand Pies
These sweet and savory pies are a delicious hand-held option for people to bring along with them on their spring adventures, work breaks and dates.
From their best selling potato and New York Cheddar pie to the tempeh patty (tempeh, coconut milk, scotch bonnet peppers, sofrito) and their blueberry hand pie, Mama Said Hand Pies, located at the Press Bay Alley, has flavors from around the world in one small business.
While the storefront is open and available to all from 11:30 am to 6 pm Tuesday through Saturday, pre-orders on their website are recommended to ensure you get to enjoy the particular pies you crave.
Location: 118 W. Green St., Ithaca.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.
With its colorful exterior, Maru Ramen specializes in home-cooked broth curated with time and care for ramen lovers. The restaurant also serves appetizers like seaweed salad, rolls including the Spicy Crab sushi roll, savory dishes like beef Bul-Go-Gi (marinated beef, rice and salad) and desserts for diners to enjoy.
Pickup and delivery are available.
Location: 512 W. State St., Ithaca.
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday.
Looking for vegetarian options and a chance to try a new seasonal menu?
The classic, renowned Moosewood Restaurant is open and with an outdoor seating space for when the warm weather permits. You can reserve a table, order for curbside pickup and delivery.
Location: 215 N. Cayuga St., Ithaca.
Hours: 5-9 pm Wednesday-Sunday.
Previous coverage:Ithaca staple, Moosewood Restaurant, returns with new leadership and menu
Silo Food Truck
For Ithacans on the go this spring in search of food from locally sourced ingredients, the Silo Food Truck is the place to go.
They serve their signature fried chicken (a half pound of fried chicken, cornbread and honey butter, gravy and coleslaw), mac and cheese (served with extra sharp cheddar béchamel sauce) and sides like vegan green coconut curry (green curry with purple coconut sticky rice, greens from Remembrance Farms, cashews and pickles), along with other variations to create a full meal to share or to enjoy alone.
Location: 620 W. Green St., Ithaca.
Hours: 4-9 pm Wednesday-Thursday; 4-10 p.m. Fridays; noon to 10 pm Saturday; 2-8 p.m. Sunday.
The Greenhouse Cafe and Cocktail Lounge
With its beautiful interior, honey-colored lights, greenery and large windows, the Greenhouse Café and Cocktail Lounge brings in the springtime with a great atmosphere for fresh beginnings.
Whether in the mood to read a book, meet with a friend or complete some work, customers can tailor their experience with an assortment of appetizers, meals, desserts, wine, beer and lattes.
Personally, the chai tea latte, chicken sliders and peanut butter cookies, along with a book at the bar make for a refreshing experience. If you can’t decide on something or are looking for a drink that isn’t on the menu, ask at the front for suggestions.
Location: 320 E. State St., Ithaca.
Hours: 1-9 pm Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday.
The Heights Restaurants and H Bar
Are you looking for outdoor scenery, a place to treat yourself, to celebrate life? Or do you want to try Mediterranean-inspired American cuisine? The Heights Restaurant does all of that.
Some of their main courses include grilled Atlantic salmon, braised beef short rib, seasonal vegetarian (squash, asparagus, cabbage, broccoli rabe, potato masala and rice “cake”), handcrafted pizzas, starters and noteworthy wines. While dining inside is an option, curbside pickup is available, as well as private events.
Reservations are highly recommended.
Location: 903 Hanshaw Road, Ithaca.
Hours: 5-9 pm Monday-Thursday; 5-10 pm Friday-Saturday.
Curbside: 4-8 p.m.
Where to satisfy your sweet tooth
From ice cream to donuts and creamy cheesecake, there’s something sweet to offer at each of the local spots we’ve found for you to try this spring.
One Ring Donuts
Located in Press Bay Alley, this pickup and go donut shop is perfect for a warm spring day. The fresh, tasty flavors include vanilla and chocolate glazed, Thai tea, cinnamon sugar, strawberry jam-filled, chocolate iced with sprinkles and sour cream.
Location: 114 W. Green St., Ithaca.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday-Sunday.
Purity Ice Cream
As the sun starts to come out, Purity Ice Cream houses delicious, thick ice cream with generous portions, milkshakes, sundaes, baked goods and savory meals including chicken sandwiches and veggie burgers with outdoor seating.
Location: 700 Cascadilla St., Ithaca.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Sunday.
Rashida Sawyer Bakery
Creamy cheesecake, carrot cake, pound cake and other decadent desserts reside at Rashida Sawyer Bakery for those with a sweet tooth to enjoy.
Location: 110 W. Green St., Ithaca.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday.
For subscribers:Loraine Rashida Sawyer retired from baking professionally. Then her family got involved.
Where to enjoy flavorful drinks this spring
Whether you’re looking for the perfect sip to pair with lunch on a spring afternoon, the most creative latte or tea to get you through the day, we’ve gathered your options here.
Ithaca Beer Co.: Collegetown
Now with outdoor seating, this new Collegetown location of Ithaca Beer Co. provides a range of beers, from fruity finishes to refreshing and light ones, along with an array of foods.
Location: 409 College Ave., Ithaca.
Hours: Noon to 10 pm Wednesday-Sunday.
Want to try out a new flavor of latte, an espresso or just a creative and zesty combination by local artists? Try out Nothing Nowhere located in the front of Home Green Home.
Location: 126 E. State St., Ithaca.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday-Monday.
Panda Tea Cafe
For the Boba tea lovers, this Collegetown location houses black teas, green teas and milk teas with a range of flavors, available to order in person or online and to accompany any meal you choose.
Location: 407 Eddy St., Ithaca.
Hours: 2 pm to midnight Monday-Thursday; 2 pm to 1 am Friday-Saturday; 2-11 p.m. Sunday.
Through the spring, tell me what you’ve tried and what your experience was like. Have a suggestion? Email email@example.com and look out for a new “Caroline Eats” column with some of your previous recommendations listed there.
Caroline Johnson is a food, dining and culture reporter at the Ithaca Journal. Email her from her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on @carolinewrites2 on Twitter for more stories and graphics.