Being Vegan in Ithaca is so easy. There is a large vegan/vegetarian population, animal rights groups, animal rescues, the famous SPCA was turned into a NO KILL by Nathan Winograd and the T. Colin Campbell Foundation has an office downtown. Print or bookmark this guide to eat your way around Ithaca.
RESTAURANTS WITH VEGAN OPTIONS
TIP: Keep in mind that no matter where you’re eating, always tell the person you’re ordering from that you need your food to be vegan to ensure that items are veganized.
SAHARA MEDITERRANEAN RESTAURANT – located on Restaurant Row (the 100 block of North Aurora Street) off of the Commons (the pedestrian area of East State Street). They serve Lebanese food in a date-friendly, loungey atmosphere. The staff allow you to take your time and really enjoy your food, which is always fresh and flavorful.
BONUS: Outdoor seating.
CIAO WOOD-FIRED PIZZA & PASTA – located by the Ithaca Mall and is a unique experience for vegans, as they have a separate menu for us. Really good Vegan Ravioli, deep-fried Gardein Chik’n Strips, Polenta Fries w/ Roasted Red Pepper Ketchup, Bruschetta, Minestrone, Daiya Mozzarella and Wood-fired Pizza. They also have salads and pastas, as you would expect.
BONUS: They also offer gluten-free pasta and pizza.
TASTE OF THAI ESPRESS – located on the 200 block of South Meadow Street (aka Rte 13) and they have the best Spring Rolls – golden, crispy and flaky on the outside with firm noodles and fragrant veggies on the inside. Nearly all of their dishes can be veganized. They offer vegetables, tofu or mock chicken – which absorbs the sauce well.
BONUS: You can order on their website or via their app. They deliver for free in record time and have large portions.
AGAVA – located on Pine Tree Road (next to East Hill Plaza, adjacent to the Belle Sherman neighborhood), in a repurposed train depot decorated with a Southwest vibe. Date-friendly and loungey. Vegetable dishes and wood-fired flatbreads can be veganized. Daiya cheese is available upon request. They’ve cleverly set up their menu in a way where you can order several “small plates” in the spirit of tapas.
BONUS: Outdoor seating.
WAFFLE FROLIC – located on the Commons (across from Home Dairy Alley) and my favorite place to eat in Ithaca. You can take your animal-eating sister, your gluten-free father and your picky children for a casual meal that will satisfy everyone. They serve gourmet vegan grilled cheese on rustic french bread, stuffed with Daiya, and offer an abundance of filling options such as kalamata olive spread, artichokes, and roasted red peppers. The also vegan Ice Cream, Waffles, Tomato Soup, and Waffle Dogs. Additionally, they make delicious espresso drinks, smoothies and milkshakes with soy or hemp milk.
BONUS: Waffle Frolic has also cleverly partnered with Ithaca To Go (read about them below).
ITHACA BAKERY – two locations – on Meadow Street and in the Triphammer Mall. (They also own Collegetown Bagel — known as CTB) Saturday/Sunday mornings fighting the crowds at the Meadow Street Ithaca Bakery is a true Ithaca tradition and worth it for vegan sausage gravy and biscuits. Their sandwich “Susie’s Garden” has Susie’s Seitan (an amazing local Seitan company – more below in groceries section) and Daiya cheese on it. There are several other vegan, and veganizeable, sandwiches on the menu and they usually have at least one vegan soup option. They even offer Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese with bagels. They usually have vegan cupcakes, other assorted pastries, and delicious vegan coffee drinks.
BONUS: Free delivery weekdays 11AM-2PM
CHIPOTLE – located in the portion of Rte-13/South Meadow Street where all the chain stores are. Order a burrito, tacos, salad or a bowl. Most of their ingredients are already vegan, so you have a lot to choose from, and they even have an easy to understand vegan ingredient section on their site.
TIP: Chipotle is usually swarmed with a line out the door of hungry students and you can end up waiting up to 30 minutes. Take my advice, unless Cornell and Ithaca College are both on break, order-and-pay ahead via their website so you can jump the line upon arrival. You still have the option to sit down there to eat if you want to.
CORELIFE EATERY – located next to Chipotle, on Rte-13/South Meadow Street, and opening April 21, 2017, CoreLife has a similar vibe as Chipotle in terms of their ordering set up. Choose from a grain, greens or broth bowl. They actually have vegetable broth, which is very cool, and vegan items are marked with a V on their site. Beyond the bowls, they have handcrafted artisan beverages like Beet Lemonade and Tropical Green Tea, which are Instagram-worthy.
BONUS: They have proper seating with actual booths which is rare for quick service.
PURITY ICE CREAM – located on Cascadilla Street (between North Meadow St and North Fulton St) this is the place to go for vegan brunch on Saturday or Sunday (menu here). They serve amazing vegan pancakes, french toast and scramble. They also have a nice vegan lunch menu (here) with items like Miso Teriyaki Seitan Sandwich (made with Susie’s Seitan, an amazing local Seitan company – more below in groceries section). As the name implies, they also have ice cream. Their soy-based vegan ice cream and shakes with flavors like Fair Trade Chocolate and Cookie Dough.
BONUS: Dying for vegan ice cream and don’t want to leave the house? You can order via Ithaca To Go to have it delivered to you. (see below)
HIVE 45 – Technically not located in Ithaca, but located in Trumansburg (aka T-Burg), which is basically a satellite version of Ithaca and 20 minutes Northwest of town. Everything on Hive 45’s menu can be veganized, if it isn’t already vegan. The owners are great about tailoring to your needs. They bake legendary vegan cupcakes (check out the flavors here) and other treats like sticky buns and chocolate ganache tarts. It’s worth the Ithaca CarShare fees just to drive there for the vegan cupcakes. But while there you may also want to try a vegan pot pie or a brunch bowl.
BONUS: T-Burg is the home of Taughannock Falls State Park which has frontage on Cayuga Lake, a gorge, and a 215′ drop waterfall (the largest east of the Mississippi). T-Burg is also home to Grassroots music festival.
LUNA INSPIRED STREET FOOD – located downtown on South Cayuga Street (just off the commons) and in Collegetown. They have a separate menu for vegans/vegetarians (menu here) with items like Beefless Grilled Cheese, Tofu Kan Tacos (Tofu Kan is made by Ithaca Soy – a local Tofu company – more below in groceries section), and Cornell Chick’n Quesadillas. The include Daiya cheese and Gardein in dishes. You can order on their website or via Ithaca To Go (see below).
BONUS: Their menu shows you exactly how to modify items to make them vegan. Love!!!
DOUBLE BONUS: They serve daily from 11AM-1:30AM.
ITHACA TO GO – A godsend of a company! Order from local restaurants, which don’t offer delivery, via the Ithaca To Go website. For only $4, plus a tip for the driver, they will pick up your order and rush it to you. The food always arrives hot and sooner than expected. You can even set up a profile and earn points toward free delivery. They deliver lunch, dinner and weekend brunch from an ever-growing list of restaurants. Check their list as a lot of the restaurants on this blog post offer delivery via Ithaca To Go.
BONUS: They send you email updates from the time you order until the time they deliver. If you order from their app (yes they have one!), they will send you text alerts right up until the driver arrives at your door.
PIZZA AROMA – located on N. Cayuga Street, just off the Commons. They prepare delicious gourmet Vegan Pizzas and Calzones with Daiya Cheese and loads of fresh veggies (menu here). They emphasize “nothing fried” and an “unwavering commitment to flavor”.
TIP: Ask them to go light on the fresh garlic.
GORGERS – located on W. State Street (just off the Commons). This gourmet hand-crafted sandwich shop emphasizes fresh housemade ingredients like their fluffy delicious bread rolls, breaded eggplant medallions (yes, they’re vegan), hand-cut fries, and house-made seitan. They will veganize any of their sandwiches (menu here).
WEGMANS MARKET CAFE – located inside of Wegmans grocery store on South Meadow Street. I know it sounds like an odd location to eat, but Wegmans has the atmosphere of a Whole Foods, but three times the size. The Market Cafe has a vegetarian bar, multiple hot bars (including Indian and Asian food), a salad station, a pasta station, sandwiches, grab-n-go, and a really good coffee bar which offers soy and almond milk. Wegmans is very onboard with vegans. All vegan items in the cafe are clearly marked, as are Wegmans brand items for sale throughout the grocery section. They have two levels of seating and outdoor seating.
TIP: The Veggie “Egg” Rolls from the Asian Hot Bar, contain no eggs and are made with wheat.
GREENSTAR CO-OP – the main store is located on the corner of West Buffalo Street & Fulton Ave/Route 13, which is part of the West End neighborhood. They have a deli, hot bar, fresh juice, and bakery all with vegan options. They coffee bar offers soy, almond, rice and hemp milk. The bakery offers vegan half-moon cookies, cakes and cupcakes, mini bundt cakes coated in chocolate (tip: try the orange flavor…tastes better than it sounds). The deli usually offers vegan pizza by the slice, topped with Daiya cheese, and the hot bar has vegan breakfast wraps in the morning.
TIP: If you can get there when they open in the morning, you may be able to snag vegan donuts or vegan donut holes from the bakery.
STAR TRUCK – An all vegan food truck with amazing drool-worthy food (see my Star Truck Haul here), usually parked in Press Bay Alley (on the 100 block of West Green St – Press Bay Alley doubles as Diagon Alley during the annual Harry Potter festival). Check Star Truck’s FB page first, as they are occasionally in other locations for the day. What’s amazing about Star Truck, besides the obviousness that they’re all vegan/plant-based, is that their food is high-quality, nutritious, and not oily, despite being cooked on a griddle. They serve amazing vegan mac and cheese which is heated on the griddle. Check out my in-depth review which includes mouthwatering pics of their food.
BONUS: The best part is that if you don’t feel like venturing out, you can have Ithaca To Go deliver their food to you. Think about the luxury of that. Someone in a car will drive to a food truck to pick up your order and then drive it to you, and it can all be done via an app.
TEN FORWARD – located on the commons, in the loft of Autumn Leaves bookstore. Owned by the same owner as Star Truck, but with a more low-key menu of salads, wraps, sandwiches and grain bowls. They also offer banana-based smoothies, breakfast sandwiches and pastries.
COFFEE SHOPS WITH PLANT MILK
GIMME! – Soy Milk, Almond Milk
ITHACA COFFEE COMPANY – Soy Milk (They also have a micro-brew selection and a tavern on premises.)
GREENSTAR CO-OP MARKET – Soy Milk, Almond Milk, Hemp Milk, Rice Milk
STARBUCKS (by the Commons and another inside Barnes & Noble) – Soy Milk, Coconut Milk
WAFFLE FROLIC – Soy Milk, Hemp Milk
DUNKIN’ DONUTS – Almond Milk
WEGMANS MARKET CAFE – Soy Milk, Almond Milk
WHERE TO BUY GROCERIES
GREENSTAR CO-OP – three locations around town with many options produced by local companies such as Tofu and Tofu Kan from Ithaca Soy, a wide selection of Susie’s Seitan, Emmie’s Organics, and Peanut-Lime Noodles and Macro Bowls from Macro-Mamas. The bakery always has vegan brownies, cookies, cakes, cupcakes, and mini-bundt cakes. The deli always has vegan dumplings, marinated tofu, vegan sushi, pad thai, and macro options. They also stock all the vegan brands you love like Gardein, Daiya, Beyond Meat, Field Roast and Chao, So Delicious, Follow Your Heart, and more. Many vegan options in the bulk, grocery, cold, and frozen sections.
BONUS: Membership is not a requirement to shop.
WEGMANS – located on South Meadow Street, with the atmosphere of a Whole Foods, but three times the size. The heaviest concentration of vegan items are located in the Nature’s Market Section, but you’ll find them throughout the store. Wegmans brand items are labeled with a v for vegan. They even have their own brand of frozen vegan meat alternatives made by Gardein, which are delicious and lower cost. They also have the produce section of your dreams. Wegmans is also the best location in Ithaca to buy vegan ice cream and ice cream treats.
TIP: Wegmans is extremely popular, and you’ll immediately see why, so go with patience. Try to do your shopping on a weekday morning, if possible. If not, go early in the morning on the weekend or after 7PM. People become very stressed in Wegmans and are not always their best selves.
BONUS: Be sure to check the mainstream frozen section as they often have vegan items there too, like vegan meat alternatives and Ben & Jerry’s Almond Milk Ice Cream.
ALDI – located on the corner of South Meadow and 3rd Street. If you’re low on money Aldi can really save you. Items at Aldi cost roughly 40% of what they would cost in regular stores. They have a surprisingly good produce section. Their nut selection is great as is their hummus and almond milk. They occasionally have vegan specific items and even gluten-free.
TIP: The produce sits out all day refrigerated, as they stock fresh deliveries each morning. So if you’re planning to buy a lot of produce, go early in the day to ensure it’s in the best condition.
DOLLAR TREE – located in the portion of Rte-13/South Meadow Street where all the chain stores are. Like Aldi, this is a good option when you’re low on money. Obviously there is no fresh produce here but they do have a good seleciton of frozen veggies, like asparagus, and frozen fruit, like mango and berries, which is perfect for smoothies. They also have some really good frozen munchies like battered mushrooms and green beans, samosas, and fries.
TARGET – located at the Ithaca Mall. This Target carries Califia Farms, Ben & Jerry’s Almond Milk Ice Cream, Gardein, Sweet Earth, and they carry a variety of Hampton Creek items such as all of the Just Mayos, all of the Just Dressings and Just Cookie Dough.
ITHACA FARMER’S MARKET – located at Steamboat Landing (at the end of 3rd Street) on the weekend. A great way to eat local, hear fiddlers and participate in an Ithaca tradition on the waterfront.
TIP: The best time to go is Saturday so you can shop at the booths below.
FAT BOY BAKERY – The booth for Fat Boy Bakery is picked clean by Noon, which gives you an idea of how legendary their artisan breads and baked goods are. (The baker trained at King Arthur Flour in Vermont.) They always have phenomenal vegan bialies and chocolate chip cookies. I highly recommend their Kalamata Olive bread and Semolina bread.
MACRO MAMAS – Macrobiotic, all vegan and all delicious! Their is always a long line at their booth so get there early so you don’t miss out on peanut-lime-noodles and macro-bowls (remember they also sell them at GreenStar’s deli). Their Corn Fritters are legendary and totally worth the wait. Everything else is a revolving menu of delightful seasonal discoveries. Their desserts are creative works of art bursting in flavor. If I could eat exclusively from Macro Mamas for the rest of my life I’d be incredibly happy and healthy.