Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Quick Guide for Visitors to Real-Life Ithaca

With a few hundred teachers visiting Ithaca for the "Winter Recess" promotion, Ithaca Blog offers now a quick tutorial on some nitty-gritty Ithaca offerings the official brochures might not cover. Not in any particular order, not even alphabetical. Sorry, teach. No extra credit for us.

Drinks: Maxie's is always an attractive and friendly place for a good drink, but this week even moreso, as the loosely New Orleans themed nightspot celebrates Mardi Gras. Maxie's is on the corner of W. State and S. Fulton Streets.

Coffee: Gimme Coffee is possibly the best, and definitely the most up-to-date-Ithacan in character. There's one branch in the 500 block of West State Street, a block east of Maxie's, and another at the corner of Cascadilla and N. Cayuga Streets. Ithaca Bakery is an Ithaca institution, with 5 branches, at last count, with good coffee, and good deli-style food.

Music store: Small World Music (sponsor of this site) features local and world music, as well as rock and pop, blues, jazz, folk, bluegrass, gospel, and other styles - the kind of music you hear at festivals; the new releases you hear on NPR, for example. Located at 614 W. State St., down the driveway. Between Gimme Coffee and Maxie's, now that we think of it.
Special offer: mention this posting, and Small World Music will take 20% off any purchase this week.

Pizza: Pizza Aroma is the most NY style, and the best. Never gloppy, always folds, with a good cornmeal-flecked crust. Good selection of varieties, including vegan. The proprietor, Mauricio, is our pal. He's from El Salvador and you can catch up on international soccer or Spanish-language soaps on his new TV. At the corner of Green and S. Cayuga Streets.

Library: If you are a library-interested kind of person, Ithaca has a splendid one, befitting a college town, which is open every day. It's right across the street from Pizza Aroma.

Bookstore: The Bookery is the hometown bookstore that fastidious locals love. It's in the Dewitt Mall, which also has a branch of GreenStar natural foods co-op (the main branch is on the West End, at the corner of Fulton and Seneca), and the renowned Moosewood Restaurant, home of many a visitor photo-op.

Radio: WHCU-AM, 870 has an old-fashioned local news show each morning from 6 to 10 a.m. It's fun, if a little heavy lately on the regional high school sports results. WEOS-FM, 88.1 is the hippest of the NPR stations, with Amy Goodman at 9 a.m., after Morning Edition, which broadcasts from 5 to 7 a.m., and re-broadcasts from 7 to 9. WICB-FM, 91.7 has locally-made specialty music shows each morning from 10 until noon.

Restaurants: Maxie's is always good, but so is Just A Taste, on the other side of town, on N. Aurora Street, with an inventive menu with a ton of great choices, and a good wine list, with flights available. The dessert of choice is the warm chocolate souffle cake, mit schlag. Trust me.

ABC Cafe is a hip joint half way up the hill to Cornell, on Stewart Av., just off Buffalo (the Cornell side). Great vegetarian and vegan items, and a different ethnic menu each night, and a great breakfast, too. Beer and wine available. And they take 100% Ithaca Hours, the local money. You can find out about Hours, if so inclined, with a Directory (2007's is imminent; 2006's can still be found around town), or at, or by visiting Small World Music, unofficial HQ of the community cash.

Viva Tacqueria has good, cheap Mexican-style food, and a lot of tequilas. At the corner of E. State and N. Aurora Streets.

You probably didn't come to Ithaca for french fries, a hamburger, and sports TV, but if you did, Benchwarmers on the Commons is pretty good for such indulgences.

Diner: The State Diner is the quintessential small town 24 hour diner. All-day breakfast. In the 400 block of West State Street.

Gifts: You can find nice, affordable gifts on the Commons, at 10,000 Villages and Habitat, and just off the Commons, at Handworks, an artists' co-operative.

Have fun -

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

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