The Coal Yard Café is a small eatery located on East Hill in Ithaca. The location is off the main path, meaning it is not located in The Commons or in College Town, making the café a hidden gem for sure! The café offers espresso drinks, homemade pastries, and a delicious and expansive breakfast and lunch menu. The breakfast, lunch, and drink specials change daily, with the exception of the Friday lunch special–Fish Fry Friday, which remains a consistent and popular draw. Other popular specials include the Bleus House Burger, Fried Calamari, and Eggs Pesto. I know these specials well because until very recently I was employed at the café! Sadly, I won’t be working there regularly anymore (I’m now learning a bit about wine and am employed at a winery up the lake), but I will be returning often to the Coal Yard for my favorite item, a dish the café is quite well-known for–the Rice Bowl.
The Rice Bowl consists of a fried egg, pork (or tofu), avocado, cucumber, carrots, peanuts, jasmine rice and sweet chili sauce. It’s a terrific mix of hot and cold and sweet and salty. The fried egg adds a unique twist and the vegetables make for a fresh finish. If the weather is nice, I like to order my rice bowl and enjoy it seated outside. The café has a little patio deck area with tables and an umbrella. Although, if it’s too hot outside, there’s air conditioning in the café dining room, and in colder weather a woodstove keeps the place toasty and cozy. As a patron now, and not an employee, I feel I can shamelessly promote The Coal Yard Café. Mike, the chef, is excellent at what he does, and the food reflects it. The atmosphere is pleasant and the music being played is always changing! I’m sad to be leaving my job at the café, but I’m happy to continue returning as a customer.