With graduation fast approaching, it is time to start thinking about the most important part: where you eat afterwards. This article will help you narrow down the many choices you have, based upon interior space, level of dining, and type of food.
Most Basic Pick: John Thomas
Everyone knows John Thomas is the “go to” graduation dinner hotspot. But it comes with limited seating and the need to make a reservation legit two years before you actually graduate. Of course, it is a classic for a reason: the steaks are made from organic feed beef born and raised just down the road, and it costs a pretty penny. If you want to be basic, but have a delicious meal, John Thomas is the place to go.
Best View: The BoatYard Grill
Situated basically on Cayuga Lake, this is a grad favorite. The views of Cayuga’s waters are great reminders of your ol’ alma mater during your celebration. Larger interior space allows for larger parties, but The BoatYard Grill is sure to be packed full graduation night. With that said, the menu is fantastic with lots of fish and seafood dishes and a great bar to have a little fun at.
The Most Well-Rounded: AGAVA
If you are Cornell student, you have either heard of or been to AGAVA before. They have great authentic, local foods for brunch, lunch, and dinner. The atmosphere is comfortable and small and also provides great outdoor seating if the weather is nice, but don’t count on it since we do go to school in Ithaca.
The Most Unique: Coltivare
This farm-to-table style restaurant is located a bit farther down in the commons, near the Ithaca Police Station. The interior decor and style is so home-like and welcoming, from the comfortable chairs, unique bar, to the trendy, white washed brick. The menu has an amazing vegetable lasagna as well as fabulous brunch menu, if you want to switch it up from the tradition grad dinner. Another plus: large, interior space for bigger parties and they take reservations!
The Most Likely to Make You Wait 2 Hours: Just a Taste
Tapas, tapas, and more tapas. This place is all around amazing! The menu changes so often that there is always a new dish to try, and there’s an fabulous wine sampler on the menu. The downside: the place is tiny, like Harry Potter’s Cupboard-Under-The-Stairs tiny. Basically, the food is amazing but this restaurant is more suitable for a small graduation party. There are no reservations, but if you book it down the slope and to the Commons you might just make it.
The Most Underrated: Ithaca Beer Company
The word “beer” obviously doesn’t automatically make you think of “dinner,” but the Ithaca Beer Company has an amazing menu and extremely interesting atmosphere. If you wanna be ~trendy~, the Ithaca Beer Company is a great place to memorialize your college days with family (and maybe some fancy beer), and take pictures of you parents enjoying a beer tasting plate a.k.a a flight. The space is large enough to hold a big table of friends and family!
The “Casual But Cute” Choice: Ciao!
Contrary to popular belief, pizza is NOT just for late night drunk food, it can be fancy and delicious. Ciao’s menu is complete with amazing, “gourmet” pizza as long with an expansive list of Italian favorites like chicken parmigiana and fettuccini alfredo. Ciao! does not take reservations, but you can call ahead to guarantee a shorter waiting time.
The Fanciest: Le Cafe Cent Dix, in the Commons
This one of Ithaca’s only French restaurants and it is so fancy and so good. Honestly, this place is one of the best I’ve ever eaten at. The truffle french fries are to die for and I even tried the escargot! Like many restaurants in the Commons the inside space is limited, but if you can definitely check this place out for graduation dinner! It sure to impress.
The Most “Under the Radar”: La Gola Osteria
Located inside the Quarry Arms building, La Gola Osteria is truly a hidden gem. This restaurant serves up authentic, homemade Italian pastas and sauces. There is also a full bar stocked with Ithaca and the Finger Lakes’ finest wines.
The Best Italian: Mercato
Located next to Le Cafe Cent Dix and Just A Taste, this once again, is another small spaced restaurant. Though what they lack in interior space, they make up for in delicious food! The menu is traditional Italian, homemade food that is mouth-wateringly good. Large portions of pasta, wine, and bread are the key to any successful graduation celebration, and Mercato is just the place.
The Alma Mater Pick: The Antlers
Owned and operated by two Cornell Alums, this place is true Cornell vibes. While not the ~fanciest~ restaurant on this list, The Antlers offers a more private, low key space. Savoy dishes like El Diablo Salmon and Smoked Trout comprise the menu and if your looking for casual home-style meals, Antlers is the place to go for your special graduation dinner.
Most Vegan-Friendly: Moosewood
Moosewood has become famous as a staple in the Ithaca restaurant scene. They serve up vegetarian and vegan dishes made from local foods and farms. This restaurant changes their menu every single day! Talk about dedication. If you want a unique dining experience to commemorate your unique Cornell experience, Moosewood is your best bet.
Overall, we place a lot of focus on where to go out to eat and try to make graduation perfect. While it is great to make sure you have a wonderful place to celebrate, the friends, family, and loved ones you celebrate it with are truly the most important part. Our time at Cornell is short, so while we stress about the details of graduation, it is wise to keep in the back of our minds that our Cornell experience is coming to a close, and we should enjoy the few moments we have left and always cherish them. Hopefully this list helps you choose the perfect place to end your college journey. Happy graduation Class of 2016, may the waiting time be ever in your favor!