Cornellians know there is no shortage of restaurant choices in Ithaca. We all have our favorites and the usual spots we frequent, but sometimes we want change. An underrated, off-the-beaten-path option, Coal Yard Cafe is not your average breakfast place. You can get good food and excellent service without the hustle and bustle, and catch a little break from the typical Ithaca dining experience.
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. So when a friend raved about her recent visit to Coal Yard, I knew I needed to try it for myself. I nearly drove past the quaint little house on the street without realizing I was passing a breakfast eatery. Inside, I was surprised by the limited seating and setup of wooden chairs and window seats, but the intimacy and homey look gave me a comfy, rustic vibe.
My brunch experience at Coal Yard can be best described as ~chill~. The place may be small, but the menu most definitely isn’t. You can get your classic eggs, omelet, and toast, but can also try the famous sweet potato hash, rice bowls, and endless sandwich choices. I had fried eggs with some veggies on top and a side of toast, which was very filling and very delicious.
The food is high-quality and very reasonably priced. The portions are solid and will definitely hit the spot when Saturday morning hunger strikes. Also, the fresh pastries, eggs made to order, and a variety of coffee and tea drinks are all very insta-worthy.
The service is impressive–even if you come at peak brunch hours. You order at a counter and wait for your food to be brought to your table, or your name called out if you ordered to go. The food is brought out so quickly; it might be ready before you even find a table to sit at if it’s a busy day. You could easily be in and out in less than half an hour, hardly taking any time out of a busy morning (or afternoon) for a bite to eat.
Coal Yard’s location is key–right off of Dryden Road, it’s a quick drive but also an easy walk from anywhere in Collegetown. Walking might be best, as parking could be an issue, and you’ll feel good walking off at least a little of your big brunch.
Coal Yard Cafe is very small, which has some downsides especially when the place gets crowded. If you don’t like being cramped or eating close to others, this place might not be for you. It’s not the ideal place for a large group of friends or your whole family, because of the limited seating. It also isn’t the best place to take your parents or visiting relatives who are looking for an upscale brunch, because while the atmosphere is quiet and relaxing, it’s not fancy per se.
You might need some patience while waiting for a table and when placing your order. When dining at Coal Yard, it’s also helpful to have a knack for spotting people who are about to get up and hovering over their table until they leave.
Overall, Coal Yard Cafe is a great place to go with friends to have a quick breakfast or lengthy brunch and to get food that’s well worth your money and time. When you’re looking for a distraction from school work, brunch is always a great option. Coal Yard is only open Monday-Saturday, until 3pm, so it can’t be your lazy Sunday spot, but could become your new weekday staple. Try branching out from your usual breakfast and brunch staples in Ithaca–you won’t be disappointed.