Pumpkin Hill Bistro: 30 Minutes from Ithaca but a Million Miles Away



Drive up Route 34 to Route 90 toward Aurora, NY, and you’ll pass two exceptional wineries as you come up on a bistro unlike anything you can experience anywhere else. Pumpkin Hill Bistro and Vineyard, a 30-minute drive from Cornell Campus is situated on a grassy hill and vineyard overlooking Cayuga Lake. The old farmhouse is welcoming with its outdoor, indoor, upstairs and downstairs seating.


Jen decided to take us there for the first time for a very special occasion … it was Sunday and we were hungry and wanted to try something new. She called ahead and found out that the Executive Chef, Cookie, would accommodate our gluten-free and vegan diet. And she did. She really did.


Our meal was comprised of a starter of hummus and olive tapenade with homemade fresh out of the oven gluten-free vegan toasted bread triangles. This was one of those moments when I asked the server 5-6 times if they knew what gluten-free vegan meant … because this bread was that good.


I ordered a black cup of coffee that was also delicious and our main course consisted of black bean burgers stacked high with vegetables on Cookie’s homemade gluten-free vegan buns that were so good … I had to ask the server 5-6 times again if she knew what “gluten-free vegan” meant. She did.


The entire meal was fantastic. Truly beyond anything we could ever get in Ithaca (which is known for its amazing restaurants for omnivores). Besides the ambiance, the flavors, the company, and the location … what made this trip so special and this meal so memorable was, Cookie.


She takes such pride in what she is preparing. She later mentioned to us that she believes everyone should enjoy what they are eating and not be limited by what they can/not eat. She is what every chef should be … passionate about her food and focused on the patrons.


The entire day was so great, we vowed to return and return we did. Calling the morning before we left lets Cookie know to pre-make the gluten-free vegan rolls and to let the servers know we’re coming. We asked her to make extra rolls this time so we could bring a half dozen home. This time I ordered the grilled portobello burger and a side of rosemary-infused gluten-free pasta and Jen got the black bean burger again with homemade kettle chips. All of it was so good. I also love that these vegan burgers are served with a steak knife and homemade vegan mayo.  Every item offered on the menu is made from scratch.


The meal was just as delicious on our second visit and the waitstaff just as attentive. There are very few restaurants we have visited that are this accommodating and generous with their time. While Ithaca may boast an incredible diversity of dining options for omnivores, we were hard-pressed to think of one place that would put this much effort into two (and a half) gluten-free vegan patrons. I cannot recommend Pumpkin Hill Bistro and Vineyard enough.

One other important thing to note: the owner is vegan. Boom.


We’ll go back.

Go vegan.

5 thoughts on “Pumpkin Hill Bistro: 30 Minutes from Ithaca but a Million Miles Away

  1. This sounds like a great place! My favorite Ithaca restaurant is Agava…however I work at CTB when I’m home from college so that to me will always have the best breakfast!


    • Agava is nice. We had an “issue” there once (which is exactly what this blog post is about). They raved about their guac and served it to us in a bowl and when we asked what can we put it on … the said, my kid just eats it with a spoon!

      They had no gluten-free chips or bread for the guac (and the grocery store is 200 feet away). I’m not saying that every restaurant needs to accommodate our diet …

      I’m just saying IF the accommodate our diet, I’ll blog about them and say amazing things!

      Thanks for commenting.


  2. fred

    here in naples the restaurants are all pretty much the burger, steak, chicken types. there is a semi-fancy italian place that advertises gluten free pasta, so mike and i went there for dinner one night and i told the waitress i was vegan, so no cheese, she said she would make an extra nice meal with lots of veggies, and when she brought out the meals, wasn’t my plate of veggies and gluten free pasta piled high with shrimp! i got quite the hmmpphh! from her when i told her vegan means no flesh of any kind. we haven’t gone back.
    there is a small place where we are going tonight called ‘jules southwest diner’, for taco tuesday. a friend said they make really good vegan tacos. the owner is very nice and wants to be vegan friendly. i pointed out some ideas one evening after our meal how to go about this, and as one example told him the chalkboard wall where he writes out each days specials was completely vegan unfriendly. there was nothing there for me and it made me feel completely unwelcome.
    our favourite restaurant in rochester is a vietnamese place called ‘mamasans’. her menu is laid out with everything they offer, and you pick your protein choice, either tofu, chicken, pork or shrimp. i think this is the best idea i have ever experienced in a restaurant.
    thanks for the heads up on the bistro. we will be trekking over to ithaca soon for the greatest farmers market in the country.


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