By Diana Martin
Good food and good beer — what more can a daytripper ask for? Fortunately, you can find both just an hour away in Ithaca, N.Y. Dubbed the original “Collegetown,” Ithaca appeals to all walks of life — and they have gorges, in case you didn’t know. Whether you prefer pub crawling or taking shots of wheatgrass, there’s something for everyone to cheers about. To get in on the action, just hop onto Interstate 81 South and take Exit 12 toward Cortland. Then follow Route 281 until it turns into Route 13. It takes about an hour, so leave in time for happy hour.
For anyone looking to get out of Chuck’s and into something a little different, check out The Ithaca Beer Company (606 Elmira Rd.). It provides tours and tastings of homemade beers, including unique brews like Apricot Wheat, Flower Power IPA, Gorges Smoked Porter, and Outdoor Harvest Ale. The tour shows the transformation of malt to that final tasty product — including storing ingredients, stripping grains, adding hops, fermenting, and bottling the beer. It’s short and free, but only offered on Saturdays. Since you’d rather drink the beer than look at it, the Beer Co. offers tastings with four two-ounce glasses available for $2, with eight beers to choose from and specialty beers on draft. After whetting your whistle, head downtown to Kilpatrick’s Publick House (130 E. Seneca St.), an authentic Irish pub with a spirited atmosphere. With menu items like Bangers and Smashed, Kilpatrick’s Corned Beef and Cabbage, and Toad in the Hole, you’re bound to feel like a true Irishman. Plus, with booths equipped with flat-screen TVs, it’s a great place to catch a game.
If an Irish pub isn’t your scene, check out Maté Factor (143 The Commons), a cafe and juice bar with a unique ambiance. The cafe is run by a group that lives together in a commune and shares its wealth and property. The menu and drinks are combinations of organic products and other good-for-the-body treats. It offers a distinctive cuisine, including items such as the PBBH sandwich (peanut butter, banana, and honey on whole wheat) and the Essentially Green smoothie (blue-green algae, stirulina, banana, orange juice, coconut milk, and honey).
While enjoying a smoothie, check out the decor. The owners completely renovated the space so that only the original floor and ceiling are left. Tree branches and leaves sprout out above the handmade tables and chairs, local artwork and murals line the walls, and hammocks add a bohemian accent. There’s even a large harp resting in a corner. The menu is entirely hand-drawn on the walls. Don’t leave Maté without tasting the chai tea. Apparently, an acquaintance of the establishment spent seven months in India as a Buddhist monk in order to learn the recipe. Considering Ithaca’s weather is pretty similar to that of Syracuse, you’ll probably be in need of a hot drink and some meditation. So this time around, enjoy Ithaca for gorging, not just gorges.