Friday, September 18, 2009

New Restaurants Opening in Ithaca - REVISED!

In our most recent episode of the podcast, we mentioned a surprisingly long list of new restaurant openings that we were expecting to see open in the coming weeks. Since then, I’ve had a chance to talk with some of the people involved and I’m happy to provide this update of some exciting new dining options about to hit Ithaca in the coming weeks (REVISED 9/21/09):
  • On the East Hill, the Queen Of Tarts on Maple Ave. has officially become the Coal House Cafe under its new owners. They’re working on expanding the menu of fresh daily sandwiches and soups, but be aware that street work is expected to cause closures at different ends of Maple Ave. in the coming weeks so you'll need to plan accordingly. You can get further updates on Twitter at
  • Just down the street on Dryden Road in Collegetown, Xeo’s Cafe (pronounced SAY-ohs) is now open in the space vacated by Cà Phê House last winter. The owner, Sebastian, is preparing authentic Vietnamese bánh mì sandwiches and noodle bowls fresh every day, and is committed to using local or handmade ingredients as much as possible, which he updates on a list next to his menu board. We can’t wait to give it a try! UPDATE: I tried his special bánh mì for lunch today. Really tasty and spicy, packed with layers of contrasting textures and flavors. He's still setting up the place and doesn't yet have beverages for sale, but even just picking up a sandwich or noodle bowl to go is worth the trip for now. -Dave
  • Five Guys Burgers and Fries has told us they’re still on track to open on Sunday, September 20th in the Ithaca Shopping Plaza on Elmira Rd (MAP). Regular hours will be 11:00am - 10:00pm every day. Some may wonder why so many of us are making a big deal about this opening. The best answer I can give is that they have a product that is uniquely delicious, an old-fashioned, no-nonsense approach to making and serving the best of only three things: burgers, hot dogs, and fries. And they make all of those things really, really well, fresh to order, with the best ingredients. We’ll have a full review of Five Guys in our next podcast, but if you can’t wait until then, head on down and get in line. You’ll be glad you did. UPDATE: Five Guys told us they served approx. 2,000 people on their opening day in Ithaca! Check out our photos of the first 1/2 hour on our Flickr page:
  • Sammy’s Pizzeria says they hope to open the new Sammy’s Italian Buffet & Grill on or near September 20th October 1st. They’ve been renovating the space formerly occupied by King Buffet in Tops Plaza (722 S. Meadow St. next to Gnomon Copy), installing a new pizza oven and grill, and the updated dining room includes a simulated "starlight" ceiling that will also provide a regular "fireworks" show each night. You can check out a video preview for the new restaurant on YouTube here:
  • Wildfire - An American Bistro is currently on track to open the first weekend in October, taking over the former Ithaca outpost of the Lost Dog Cafe on South Cayuga Street. When I stopped by to peek at the renovation work, owner Teresa Miller told me they’re looking forward to starting some training runs for their staff in a couple weeks, but they’re still testing the menu for now. If the work in progress I saw continues, the space will have a new lighter color and warm feeling that could make it more appealing for brunch hours than the moody darkness of the old Lost Dog. You can find the original announcement about the opening here:
  • Just down the street, Bandwagon Brewery is also nearing completion of their new underground brewpub. Not underground like a secret, but literally underground, as they’ll be in the space below street level on N. Cayuga Street next to the Clinton House that used to be home to the Jamaican restaurant Yah! Mon (formerly Jamaica Pat’s) but has been vacant for over a year. I met one of the owners putting some finishing touches on repainting the space and he said they’re hoping to open in mid-October, perhaps as soon as the 15th. They’ll have a full menu of simple comfort foods, and they’ll also be brewing their own beer onsite. If it lives up to its promise, it will likely become a popular spot to cozy up to the bar and escape from the approaching winter chills.
Other openings are still to come, including the highly anticipated relaunch of the vegetarian/vegan restaurant on Stewart Ave. formerly known as ABC Cafe. The new owners, all former ABC Cafe staff, are still working on renovations behind papered windows and no opening date has been set. In fact, they’re still working on what to call the new place due to the financial troubles associated with the ABC Cafe name. For now, you can follow their progress via their new website and their Facebook group page, or follow them on Twitter at

We’ll keep you posted on these and all other new restaurant openings or closings to come. In the meantime, we hope you’ll get out there and enjoy some of your favorite dining spots as we head into Fall. If you discover something you love, let us know about it. Together, we can all be Eating Ithaca!



Anonymous said...

The Sammy's Italian Grill sign got put up today.

Anonymous said...

Did you happen to go to the Ellis Hollow Festival? I had some amazing sausage and corn-on-the-cob there.

The cherry pie I tried was a bit underwhelming, but that may have just been the luck of the draw (I think it was a community pie-making effort.)

A good thing to mark on the calendar for next year!


Anonymous said...

New info: Sammy's Italian Buffet & Grill now has a sign up saying they're opening Sunday, Oct. 4!



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