In all the classic movies about families and summer, there’s always the gorgeous scenery framing the center of the action — often a country club or special dining room. Think Dirty Dancing, Goodbye Columbus, etc. The theme you’re meant to think of is, “A place where our family has enjoyed itself for generations.” There’s a place where you can feel part of that scene, maybe even make your own traditions! On a hill in Elmira, New York with the same view as where Mark Twain wrote his timeless stories, is Hill Top Inn. This wildly popular restaurant has been family owned and operated since 1933. I was happy to be hosted to experience it!
There is a sizeable outdoor dining area that looks onto the whole valley . . . you can even see Pennsylvania! There was a live piano and violin duo playing soft pop and Irish tunes.
Through special events and when practical on the regular menu, they love to include local food and drink products. There’s a whole list of mules, made with Ithaca ginger beer.
The menu is wide ranging, but leans on comfort food faves. On Tuesdays, they even serve liver and onions for those who grew up on it. You will also find steaks, seafood with all kinds of preparations, tacos, burgers and flatbreads.
There are a couple of specialties that would probably cause mayhem if they took it off their menu: their ultra cheesy potatoes gratin — remember, this Finger Lake region prides itself on its cheddar! — and their Hilltop Mud Pies. The original has a house-made chocolate cookie crust and coffee ice cream.
They say that the outdoor patio is popular year round, especially the larger than life Christmas wreath that when lit, can be seen across the valley.