Best Of The Hudson Valley 2007 (Part 1)

Our readers (and we editors) have spoken. From restaurants and wineries to historic sites and arts venues; day spas and drive-ins to boutiques and bookstores, our 21st annual guide gives you the low-down on all the people, places and things that make the

Best of the Hudson Valley 2007


Welcome to our 21st annual roundup of the region’s finest. For a full year, we’ve been out and about noshing on pizza, downing margaritas, sampling steaks and delighting in new delicacies from Putnam County all the way to Albany. And it’s not all food. We’ve uncovered hundreds of tantalizing things to do, mountains to hike, new museums to tour and shows to see — right here in your own backyard. But part of the fun is seeing how you, our readers, will vote. This year, there were some surprises, while other choices were as predictable as the fantastic foliage that appears in our area every fall. So read on, the best is yet to come.


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By Richard Buttlar, Ian Crovisier, Lynn Hazlewood, David Levine, Ann Morrow, Ed Murr, Rita Ross, Polly Sparling, Thomas Staudter, and Elizabeth Stein


Best Restaurants by Cuisine


Secret Sushi (above) Tokyo Express



American Bounty Restaurant

Hyde Park

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With New American specialties (think poached wild salmon, braised short ribs, and free-range chicken) prepared using ingredients grown or raised here in the Valley, it’s no wonder that this student-staffed restaurant at the Culinary Institute is a perennial favorite with our readers. u845-471-6608;





Southern comfort: This popular city spot cooks up authentic Cajun and Creole dishes like jambalaya, gumbo, crawfish, fried oysters — even “voodoo pasta.” It’s a regular fais do-do in Potown. u845-485-2294;

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French (tie)

The French Corner

Stone Ridge

Le Petit Bistro


Although located on opposite sides of the river, these two highly regarded restaurants both serve authentic (and delicious) French fare. From the escargots to the crème brulée, diners dub these bistros “très magnifique.” uThe French Corner 845-687-0810; uLe Petit Bistro 845-876-7400;



Tanjore Fishkill

Although tucked away in a Fishkill strip mall, Valleyites have quickly discovered this relative newcomer to the dining scene, which
specializes in intensely flavored curries and other Indian fare. Best bet: Try their lunch buffet for signature dishes at a great price. 845-896-6659;



Julie’s Restaurant


A favorite spot for Vassar students, this no-nonsense diner has a variety of omelettes, breakfast wraps, pancakes, and French toast, as well as hearty sides like corned beef hash, Canadian bacon, and homemade muffins (the Sunday brunch is always tasty too). Julie’s popular gyros — lamb and beef, or chicken — are garnished with homemade Tzatziki sauce; the Greek salad is full of feta cheese and kalamata olives; even the meatball sandwich uses Greek-style meatballs. Zorba would be proud. u845-452-6078



Neko Sushi

New Paltz, Wappingers Falls

With a menu as long as your arm, sushi and sashimi lovers can choose from among tuna, salmon, octopus, squid, eel, herring roe — you name it. And there’s tempura and teriyaki dishes for the meat lovers, too. uNew Paltz 845-255-0162; Wappingers Falls 845-298-9869



Café Maya


Maya Café


These sister cafés burst with colorful décor and equally colorful food. Fantastically fresh guacamole made at the table, tantalizing tacos, and reasonable prices keep the customers cheering “olé!” uCafé Maya 845-838-4901 uMaya Café 845-896-4042



Machu Picchu


Peruvian cuisine runs the gamut from seafood to steaks, and Machu Picchu dishes it all up in generous amounts. Their famous rotisserie chicken is tender beyond belief and easily feeds two people. We also love the Loma Saltado — beef with potatoes for $10.95. There are no gimmicks here, it’s the real deal — that’s why you’ll often see local Peruvians chowing down right next to you. u845-562-6478;



The Brickhouse


The newest version of this Marlboro village eatery, which opened earlier this year, serves up full-flavored Greek Mediterranean fare. The names might confuse you (stifado, anyone?) but, according to readers, the food will delight you. Grilled calamari and flaky, buttery baklava get the international thumbs-up. u845-236-3765



Bonefish Grill


We don’t normally allow national chain restaurants in our Best Of listings, but readers overwhelmingly voted for this Poughkeepsie newcomer anyway. And who can blame ’em — the bar area is beautiful, and the fish is fresh. Bang Bang Shrimp, anyone? u845-432-7507;



Mill House Panda

Poughkeepsie, Rhinebeck

It’s Panda-monium: These two outposts of the area’s most lauded Chinese restaurant serve all our favorite dishes — prepared with the freshest ingredients — in a relaxed, Zen-like setting. uPoughkeepsie 845-471-9533; Rhinebeck 845-876-2399


Vegetarian Bistro

Aroma Thyme Bistro


The homey interior of this Ulster County gem includes wainscoting on hand-painted harlequin walls and red tin ceilings. The upscale fare — billed as “healthy New American” — runs the gamut from wheatgrass juice and seitan cutlets to Kobe skirt steak and Berkshire pork. Vegans, carnivores, and everyone in between can find a satisfying meal here. u845-647-3000;



Lemongrass Grill

New Paltz

This busy restaurant, a favorite among SUNY students, rock climbers, and anyone else who is lured inside by the appetizing aromas, serves up a wide variety of traditional Thai fare. We hear the Lemongrass Chicken Garlic Black Pepper is one exotic mid-Valley meal. u845-256-0161



Castillo Español


The name means “Spanish castle,” and the décor is slightly medieval, with crossed beams, wooden shields and Crusades-themed artwork. The food, from tapas to paella, is Old World as well. Down it with a glass of Sangria, enjoy the flamenco music in the background, and you’ll feel like you’re in Seville. u845-452-5924



My Brother Bobby’s Salsa


Brothers do come in handy, especially when they’re whipping up several varieties of the freshest, tangiest salsa we’ve ever tasted. Flavors include Original Red (circa-1993), Hot Tomotillo with Corn, Tropical Black Bean, and Fresh Bruschetta. And say good-bye to preservatives: Bobby’s tasty concoctions are all made from fresh ingredients, many of which are locally produced. u845-462-6227



Sapore Steakhouse


Carnivores unite! Those famous big-city steakhouses have nothing on Fishkill’s very own meat-lovers lair. Hand-selected, dry-aged beef — cooked to perfection at your discretion — makes for a meaty night out. u845-897-3300;


Breakfast Deal

The Main Street Bistro

New Paltz

Two eggs cooked any way you like, hot home fries, and a side of whole-wheat toast — all served seven days a week for just $1.95. Enough said! u845-255-7766;



Jack’s Meats and Deli

New Paltz

Jack’s free-range, organic, and 100 percent grass-fed meats are perfect for the eco- or health-conscious carnivores among us. Grab something simple, like turkey or beef, or venture further afield with buffalo or guinea hen. u845-255-2244


All-Natural Smoothie

Karma Road

New Paltz

“There is nothing artificial in our smoothies,” says Seth Branitz, the co-owner (with his wife) and chef at this new vegetarian/vegan eatery. “These are all organic, made with real fruit, soy milk or apple juice and no ice filler.” As a result, Hudson Valley residents are downing these thick and delicious treats — available in Mango Stinger, Cherry Vanilla, and eight other yummy flavors — for breakfast, for lunch, as a snack or as a super-healthy dessert. The brightly decorated shop also has a vegetarian/vegan deli, juice bar and bakery. Karma never tasted so good. u845-255-1099;


Portobello Mushroom Sandwich

Beech Tree Grill


You don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy this ’shroom sensation. Grilled to perfection and topped with fresh Parmesan cheese and garlic, this savory sandwich has been a favorite since the Beech Tree opened in 1991. The storefront bistro near Vassar College caters to an eclectic crowd of students, academics, and local business folk. u845-471-7279;


All-Natural Condiments

Wild Thymes


The mother-daughter duo behind this Greene County company is taking the condiment world by storm with their wildly fresh, healthy, and downright delicious line of gourmet dipping sauces, relishes, chutneys, and marinades. Not only is everything 100 percent kosher, without any artificial preservatives or additives, but all the products are packaged so attractively! With their innovative recipes — the Mango Papaya Chutney tastes terrific — and a popular new line of “salad refreshers,” light dressings with flavors like Meyer lemon and passion fruit, we can’t wait to see what these pioneers come up with next. 518-966-5990;


Dining Events



As if we needed an excuse to sample his innovative cuisine, Terrapin chef Josh Kroner is “kicking it up a notch” with a new series of monthly special-event dinners at the restaurant’s banquet hall in nearby Staatsburg. Each evening includes a unique menu, appropriate libations, and music, all of which relate to a central theme. So far, Terrapin has hosted a New York State Beer Expo (July), a Spanish Fiesta in August (with music by the popular local band Soñando), and a French Soirée (September) featuring wines from various regions of France. On tap for October: Terrapin Bandstand, with an all-American menu, wines from California, and swinging big-band music. u845-876-3330;



Thayer Hotel

West Point, Highland Falls

Sure, the food is wonderful, but that’s not what makes the Champagne Sunday Brunch so special. As you gaze out the Gothic-style windows of this National Historic Landmark’s main dining room, through the trees, down to the Hudson River and across to the hills beyond, your made-to-order omelette becomes almost an afterthought. u845-446-4731;


Cheese Shop

The Cheese Plate

New Paltz

Say cheese! Imported cheese, domestic cheese, local cheese — it’s all here at this welcoming fromagerie. You can get the stuff by the pound, purchase take-home cheese plates with your favorites, or choose from a wide array of cheese-related items, including cutting boards and knives. u845-255-2444



Hopewell Hot Bagels

Hopewell Junction

These authentic New York-style bagels (firm on the outside, nice and chewy on the inside) come in a wide variety of flavors. Order yours with lox (yep, they’ve got it) or one of their signature cream cheeses (strawberry, scallion, veggie). Together with a cup of fresh java, it’s almost enough to make you want to get up in the morning. u845-226-4594



Rossi’s Deli


Combining traditional Italian staples with constant experimentation, this bustling family deli has been wowing customers for almost 30 years. An ever-evolving daily menu — with imported meats and cheeses and freshly baked breads and desserts — helps keep this place packed. u845-471-0654;


Pork Ribs

Big W’s Wingdale

“Gigantic, insanely moist and tremblingly tender.” “A perverse amount of meat.” That’s the New York Times talking about Big W’s in a recent rave review. Since that article — and their reincarnation from roadside grill into a new, year-round restaurant — they’ve actually been running out of food. So get there early and indulge in pork ribs so tender they fall off the bone quicker then you can take your next delicious bite.u845-832-6200;



Main Course Catering

New Paltz

CIA trained chefs, veteran event planners, and exceptional food are just a few of the reasons our readers are so fond of Main Course. Bruce Kazan’s company works with clients to incorporate family tastes and traditions — as well as top-notch local produce — into each menu. u845-255-2600;


Selection of Latin Food



Selection is the key word here. An ample wine list representing Spanish, Portuguese and South American vintages; more than a dozen tapas; and at least as many platos principales take you on your Latin culinary journey. We like to order some items just because they’re fun to say: Who can resist yucca frita with tomato mojo? u845-876-8688;


Late-Night Dining

Eveready Diner Hyde Park

With its retro checker-tile floor and vinyl booths, this ’50s-style diner finds travelers and locals alike stopping by for breakfast, lunch, dinner — and to satisfy those late-night munchies. Open 24/7, the Eveready offers traditional diner favorites and lots of comfort food that runs the gamut from fluffy buttermilk pancakes to flaky chicken pot pie. Plus they can whip up more than a dozen varieties of old-time milkshakes, malts, and soda floats. u845-229-8100;


Fresh Produce Gourmet Shop

Adams Fairacre Farms

Poughkeepsie, Kingston, Newburgh

This one-stop shop for foodies who are freshness fanatics is legendary in the Valley. They have a butcher, a fishmonger, gourmet cheeses and chocolates, and the biggest selection of fresh fruits and veggies (most locally grown) around. uPoughkeepsie 845-454-4330, Kingston 845-336-6300, Newburgh 845-569-0303;


Jalapeño Shrimp

Armadillo Bar & Grill


Fresh and spicy, these treats are always made to order. The jalapeño peppers are seeded, deveined and then brined to bring down the heat just a notch. But once they’re stuffed with jumbo shrimp and cheese, then coated and flash fried, there’s still plenty of fire. Cool down with a dunk in sour cream and a beer chaser. u845-339-1550;



Double O Grill

Rhinebeck, Wappingers Falls

Sure, you can order Buffalo wings, nachos, and pot stickers at this recently opened hot spot. But the extensive appetizer menu also features blackened ahi sashimi, roasted vegetables and Brie, oysters on the half shell, and other similarly exotic fare. uRhinebeck 845-876-0800, Wappingers Falls 845-297-7625;



Bread Alone


What’s the secret behind the home-baked taste and texture of Bread Alone’s European-style breads? Using organic grains, and shaping the loaves by hand, is certainly important. But everything from the brioche to the sourdough is baked in wood-fired brick ovens specially built by a third-generation Parisian oven builder. Can’t get more authentic than that. u800-769-3328;



Hickory BBQ Smokehouse/Hickory Uptown

Kingston (two locations)

Devised by Doc Hickory (aka Michael Slutzky, family scion and father of the owners), this homemade recipe combines “ground beef, beans, onions and over half a dozen spices, which cook in a kettle for three or four hours,” says owner and general manager Steve Slutzky. The result: “A good, dense, meaty chili — but not too spicy,” Slutzky confirms. Want to turn up the heat? A dash of Hickory’s house-made jalapeño hot sauce should do the trick. u845-338-2424 (Smokehouse) or 845-338-8315 (Uptown);



Max’s Memphis Barbeque

Red Hook

Finger-lickin’ good takes on a whole new meaning at this down-home eatery. Based on family recipes, Max’s barbecued meats — pulled pork, beef brisket, chicken and ribs — are hickory smoked from four to 15 hours, and paired with sides like collard greens and Ozark cheese grits. The cozy atmosphere and reasonable prices also help keep Max’s the area’s top grillmaster every year. u845-758-6297;



The Palace Diner


The top of the heap for the past nine years, the Palace keeps doing what it does best: offering a huge menu of stick-to-your-ribs fare at reasonable prices (and they’re open all day, every day). u845-473-1576;


Well-Kept Dining Secret

Miss Lucy’s Kitchen


With its red-brick interior and traditional American-style cuisine, this storefront restaurant on Partition Street is about as unpretentious as you can get. But the daily-changing menu relies on local farm produce, so the food — from French onion soup and grilled hanger steak right through the to-die-for house-made desserts — is stick-to-your-ribs delicious. u845-246-9240;


Cheap Eats

Andy’s Place Poughkeepsie

A Potown landmark since 1948, this casual waterfront eatery is the place for burgers and dogs, salads, sandwiches and the talked-about chili — and nothing on the menu is more than $16. 845-452-2525;


Meat Loaf

Blue Plate Chatham

Is it the crispy bacon piled on top? Or the heaps of garlic mashed potatoes smothered in gravy? Either way, Blue Plate’s meat loaf is so delicious that patrons happily hop on the Taconic time and again to seek out this comforting treat. We tried to get the secret recipe from the chef, but all he’d say is that there is mustard and nutmeg mixed in to the pork-beef combination. Whatever; it sure works for us. u518-392-7711;


Cup of Coffee

Jack & Luna’s

Stone Ridge

Whether you like espresso, cappuccino, or regular ol’ joe, you’ll savor every drop of your morning caffeine fix at this Stone Ridge hangout. The secret? They serve Monkey Joe’s coffee, which is roasted right down the road in Kingston. u845-687-9794;


Exotic Cuisine

Serevan Amenia

Serge Madikians is head chef and owner of this stylish eatery with a super-creative kitchen that’s become a Valley favorite for dinner and Sunday brunch since it opened two years age. Madikians masterfully combines elements of Armenian, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern cuisine in delightfully eclectic dishes (think couscous-crusted Chatham cod, for example). And since Madikians loves to create unique dishes that rely on fresh, seasonal ingredients grown in the Valley, the never-boring menu changes every week. 845-373-9800;


Deal on Fish & Chips

Sea Deli


Yes, the outside of the Sea Deli could use a little freshening up. But don’t worry — fantastically fresh seafood is being served up inside. Since 1974, John and Frank Piccoli have been doing their thing — offering good food at good prices — for happy and hungry locals. While it looks like a crab shack, you’ll appreciate the $5.95 fish and chips — fried in vegetable oil that is cholesterol- and trans-fat free. And their weekday all-you-can-eat deals — Tuesdays it’s fried clams for $7.95, Thursdays it’s shrimp for $9.70 — means there’s no more fishing around for your casual seafood. u845-338-5522

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