There are many fine restaurants in the area, and you can check out Finger Lakes Feasting to learn about some of the best of them. In the interest of full disclosure, Finger Lakes Feasting is a blog authored by the landlord's sister, who is one of Ithaca's most serious "foodies."
There are quite a few local places worth mentioning, though.
Just down Rte 89 about halfway to Ithaca is the Glenwood Pines Restaurant ("the Pines"), with good fish fry and burgers.
Our favorite nearby take-out Pizza place is Paradise Cafe on Route 96. It seems there's no mass-market brick-oven pizza in the Ithaca area - a business opportunity for someone?
Adjacent to the south edge of Taughannock Park is Taughannock Farms Inn, which has a good, though pricy, restaurant. Views are almost as good as at Cliff House, and you don't need to cook or do the dishes.
In the little village of Trumansburg there are a few restaurants. For the classic small-town diner experience, especially at breakfast or brunch, try out the Falls Restaurant on Main St. at the Southwest end of town. Other restaurants seem to come and go fairly often, so we don’t have any other recommendations, currently.
In Ithaca itself turnover is also high. The section of Aurora St between State and Seneca is littered with good restaurants; there's enough competition there that all of them are quite good. For Italian, Joe's is an Ithaca landmark, and very good, more upscale is ZaZa's. Finally, there is the world famous Moosewood Restaurant, home of one of the first cookbooks to popularize vegetarian cuisine.
No Ithaca visit is complete without a stop at Purity Ice Cream, which claims to be the inventor of the ice cream sundae. Regardless of the truth of that, they do make fine ice cream.
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