Photo by Meghan Spiro
Looking for our Best of Hudson Valley food and drink winners in 2021? These chefs, restaurants, and businesses make the region delicious.
AJ’s Sushi and Cajun Seafood
We could only hope every sushi outing was all-you-can-eat. At AJ’s Sushi and Cajun Seafood, it can be. With two paper slips — one for kitchen and one for sushi — stock up on your staple rolls or test out new favorites. Start with kitchen faves like kani salad, shumai, and agedashi tofu. Then dive into dozens of sushi and sashimi such as squid, red snapper, and eel, or classics like Boston, Philadelphia, and yellowtail jalapeño. Finish the night off with massive special rolls. We especially like Crazy and TNT.
Trust the historic home of legendary bootlegger Dutch Schultz to ooze craft alcohol coolness. Inside the renovated barn, the bar stocks top-tier Hudson Valley liquors, with a focus on New York State-produced beer, spirits, and wine. No matter what you try, be sure to sample the brand’s very own Sugar Wash Moonshine, a twist on the original 1932 recipe.
Pine Plains; dutchsspirits.com
Seven Lakes Station
Are we in Brussels, or Sloatsburg? After snacking on these traditional, twice-fried Belgian fries — you won’t be so sure. You’ll want to pile on this potato goodness, so stick with the hearty portion served with mayo (the traditional condiment in Belgium and Amsterdam) or one of the delicious sauces like house-made truffle, lemon dill, or roasted garlic aioli. Really hungry? Get a B.E.C. burger or Cubano with a necessary side of frites.
The Roosevelt Bar
Make room in your coolers. From the ever-popular Hudson Valley Food Hall, The Roosevelt Bar creates sophisticated beverages ready to elevate any cookout or tailgate. Their Old-Fashioned blends bourbon and cinnamon syrup with three styles of bitters. Manhattans and gin Negronis round-out their canned exports.
Beacon; find them on Facebook
Tommy Keegan passed away this year, leaving behind a powerful legacy. Keegan Ales has been a favorite hangout of Kingstonians (and the Valley in general) since its founding in 2003. Keegan’s motto “Have Fun, Play Nice” is immortalized on the label of FUN IPA, but you’ll have fun sipping any of the ales including Mother’s Milk (milk stout), Joe Mama’s Milk (coffee milk stout) and Hurricane Kitty Copper IPA (named after Tommy’s grandma). Keegan helped mentor several of the Hudson Valley’s most notable breweries and supported many local musicians and artists over the years.
BEST SMALL PLATES
Flores Tapas Bar
Looking for great Spanish tapas? Head straight to this Wappingers Falls hotspot. Austin and Danielle Flores turned their popular food trucks into a gorgeous restaurant where guests truly “eat with their eyes.” Come with a group and try the colorful pulpo a la pancha (grilled octopus), brisket empanadas, or bountiful paella.
Wappingers Falls; florestapasbar.com
BREWERY FOR LIVE MUSIC
Tin Barn Brewery
Sipping on some of New York’s best hazy IPAs while surrounded by green rolling hills makes Tin Barn’s good live music sound even greater. With over 8,500 square feet of seating, including a huge sun deck with picnic tables and lounge chairs, visitors can jam to music and enjoy a beer or two (or three) accompanied by well-executed brewery standards like poutine and pizza.
Mama’s Boy Burgers
Who knew a small roadside ice cream stand could serve up some of our favorite burgers in the region? Grass-fed local beef is smashed on a griddle until crispy and served with mighty fixings (we’re talking jalapeño bacon, sautéed mushrooms, and pico de gallo). Anything sandwiched between Mama Boy’s squishy rolls hits the spot. Don’t miss out on the truffle mayo.
If a croissant and a muffin had a baby, it wouldn’t begin to describe the wonder that is a Breadfolks cruffin. Crafted by famed photographer-turned-baker Norman Jean Roy, this Hudson bakery’s cruffins combine flaky exteriors with lusciously layered centers. P.S. If you spot a baklava cruffin behind the counter, you better order it.
CREATIVE FROZEN DRINK
Valerie’s Ice Cream
For a sweet and spicy treat, head to Valerie’s Ice Cream in Newburgh for a mangonada — a signature Mexican frozen drink. These frozen smoothies are made with fresh mango, chamoy sauce, and a few secret ingredients (their lips are sealed). Each cup is topped with diced mangoes and a tamarind paste-wrapped straw rolled in chili powder.
Newburgh; @valeriesicecream on Instagram
Kingston Bread + Bar
If ever there was a croissant we’d drive through a snowstorm for (yes, this is something our former dining editor actually did), it would be this one. Deeply caramelized layers of pastry form a shatteringly flaky exterior that gives way to an irresistibly buttery, tender interior that’s every bit as good as a trip to Paris.
DINNER AND A MOVIE
Story Screen and Wonderbar
Nothing beats the classic date-night combo of dinner and a movie. Nestled in a historic 1920s building along Beacon’s Main Street, Story Screen Theater is a one-of-a-kind destination for indie flicks and blockbusters alike. The adjacent Wonderbar crafts Hollywood-themed cocktails in a speakeasy atmosphere. Dig into delicious small plates, like the incredibly satisfying cauliflower pizza, topped with fresh ricotta, fennel pollen, blackberries, and a beetroot pesto.
DIRTY CHAI LATTE
A favorite pitstop on Millbrook’s Main Street for over a decade, this small storefront serves a mean cup of joe. Their espresso is smooth and strong, but the chai latte is what keeps us coming back. The perfect mix of cloves and your milk of choice creates the most comforting cup you’ve ever tasted. Ask for our favorite, the dirty chai — a combo of chai and espresso that gives you the best of both worlds.
Sloop Brewing Co.
Despite a push for more inclusive hiring across industries, women and people of color remain significantly underrepresented in brewery ownership. Enter Sloop’s diversity-and inclusion-focused Open Waters internship program, which encourages women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and POC to apply and learn the ins and outs of the brewing business.
East Fishkill; sloopbrewing.com
Not too far from Harriman State Park, this rustic café specializes in unique eats. A BB breakfast bowl makes a perfect marriage of eggs, black beans, farro, spinach, shimichi, and pickled carrots. Other classic egg-and-meat go-tos include a frittata sandwich and Colcannon potato cakes and eggs. Don’t miss out on their handful of quiche and omelet options (especially the crab and cheese).
Tuxedo Park; dottieaudreys.com
EVER-CHANGING COCKTAIL MENU
Gaelic for “sustenance,” Bia features modern Irish cuisine that transports you straight to the Emerald Isle. There’s a creative dinner menu, plus beer, wine, and must-try seasonal cocktails. We recommend the Buck Mulligan — a blend of apple brandy, small-batch Irish rye, lemon, orgeat syrup, Angostura, and Cynar— named for a character in Ulysses. Love Irish coffee? This is the place to get your fix.
If you thought frosé season was only in summer, think again. Nostrano Vineyards serves sensational frozen wine slushies all year long. Paired with Nostranos’ wines, the rotating menu includes delicious options like the Red Moon over Milton in the fall, featuring Minard’s apple cider, dry Riesling and bourbon topped with a maraschino, and springtime’s strawberry frosé with mint garnish.
GLOBAL GROCERY STORE
Old World Market
Decorated with hanging metal wheels, wrought iron, and lanterns, this massive market offers an eclectic, around-the-world shopping experience. You’ll find unique Italian pastas — like radiatore and creste di gallo — kimchi, and freshly-made sushi. Lose yourself in the impressive cheese section with over 250 varieties plus pairings of fig jam, quince, and specialty crackers. There’s also an excellent produce section, prepared food bars, and an in-house butcher and fishmonger.
Whitecliff Vineyard & Winery
Uniquely tailored to customers’ personal tastes, Whitecliff’s guided tasting is offered every weekend on a first-come, first-served basis. After a chat about your wine preferences and interests, the staff will select six of Whitecliff’s 30+ wines for a uniquely customized experience.
HOMEMADE POTATO CHIPS
Nooch’s Pub & Grill
The little brother of Salt Point favorite, The Fireside BBQ & Grill, this family-owned watering hole serves up pub-style fare that keeps the crowds coming back. One bite of their homemade potato chips will have you hooked. They’re served hot (i.e. freshly made) with sandwiches, or order separately as a side.
Peekamoose Restaurant and Tap Room
Trust us, you’ll be swiping food off your children’s plates. Peekamoose makes an extraordinary grilled cheese, and their pasta with butter and parm is a delicious upgrade for mac and cheese fans. Older kiddos will love the grilled steak with veggies and fries and the wood-grilled, grass-fed burger.
Big Indian; peekamooserestaurant.com
What started as a quarantine project for professional pastry chef Kevin Halim is now Kelly’s Bakery in downtown Poughkeepsie. The spot is a local hit for classics like croissants and sourdough, but it also steals hearts with unconventional treats like maple-sesame cookies and avocado toast with furikake.
NEW CUBAN RESTAURANT
The Cube Inn
This new eatery on Tarrytown’s Main Street is earning acclaim for their “killer Cuban cuisine” and Taino African, Creole, Spanish, and Caribbean influence. Start off with empanadas (there are many kinds), or the refreshing ceviche. You’ll be tempted to order their classic Cubano, but there are other worthy ham and cheese combos including the Midnight and the Flying Saucer.
The mojitos are a must. Tarrytown; thecubeinn.net
NEW BUTCHER SHOP
The Meat Wagon
Fleishers and Marbled Meat Shop alum Stefano Diaz recently returned to Kingston and opened The Meat Wagon, a nose-to-tail craft butcher shop, in Midtown. This is more than just a place to pick up chops and steaks; Diaz has created a community gathering point where curious carnivores can pick up a few tips and educate themselves on the ethics of meat consumption.
Yes, it’s a deli… but it’s so much more. Miles Crettian, the butcher behind the counter, serves up delicious sandwiches plus salads and vegetables sourced from local farms. At night, this Kingston hotspot turns into a popping dive bar.
NEW DINING AND EVENT DESTINATION
City Winery Hudson Valley
City Winery Hudson Valley officially has it all: two spacious patios offering views of the Wallkill River and the beautiful, historic property; a massive amphitheater that hosts big-name artists like Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes; and a 1920s barn loft that is ideal for weddings. And, of course, the wines are excellent.
Go for Sunday brunch and stay for a show.
NEW DONUT SHOP (WEST OF THE HUDSON RIVER)
Hole in the Wall Donuts by The Anchor
The owners of The Anchor restaurant in Kingston have turned a former laundry room into a donut bakery. Seriously! Hole in the Wall Donuts serves handmade, old-fashioned sour cream donuts in a variety of unexpected flavors like salted caramel with black Hawaiian sea salt, or blueberry lemonade glazed with candied lemon peel. There’s even a dill pickle donut.
NEW FOOD MARKET
The Farmhouse Market
In a charming storefront on Cornwall’s Main Street, The Farmhouse Market features the very best dry goods, produce, and cheese from local farms and suppliers. Their meat, charcuterie, beer, and cider are perfect for at-home parties. Order a curated picnic basket for a special post-hike lunch.
NEW DONUT SHOP (EAST OF THE HUDSON RIVER)
After five years of pop-ups and markets, Peaceful Provisions opened a storefront in Beacon in April. The artisan doughnut shop specializes in small-batch and scratch-made vegan doughnuts that taste just as good — or better — than regular doughnuts. Every week visitors are treated to new flavors like peach fritter, s’mores, raspberry lemonade, cinnamon sugar twist and so much more!
NEW FOOD TRUCK CUISINE
Alima’s African Cuisine
Food trucks are a game changer — and so is Alima’s African Cuisine. Cruising around markets throughout the region, this truck offers up authentic Burkinabé dishes (the cuisine of Burkina Faso) you can’t find anywhere else. Munch on the peanut butter stew with lamb or black-eyed peas with plantains. Owner Alima Bonsa also grows many of her own ingredients.
Chatham; find them on Facebook
NEW GATHERING SPOT
This is the sort of place that exudes cool. The sister location to The Mud Club in Woodstock, the venue turns on right when the club transitions from an a.m. bakery and coffee stop to a p.m. sourdough pizza joint. Order a cocktail or glass of wine, then grab a seat at any of the highly Instagrammable spots on the yard.
NEW MOBILE FOOD EXPERIENCE
The Bus at Salinger’s Orchard
Dobbs Ferry chef David DiBari (The Cookery, The Parlor) launched a school-bus-turned-food-truck on the grounds of Salinger’s Orchard in 2020. The result goes beyond the traditional cider-and-donuts experience with chef-driven sandwiches, like chili-honey-doused fried chicken and an upmarket BEC — a side of smashed, beef-fat fries is strongly recommended.
Brewster; find them on Facebook
NEW PIZZA RESTAURANT
Hudson & Packard
Detroit-style pizza has officially arrived in the Hudson Valley. The folks over at Hudson & Packard made their operation a permanent pillar of the Poughkeepsie community with a variety of statement, square slices. Each heaping slice is named after famous American automobiles, like the Hudson Hornet (pickled jalapeño, pepperoni, Mike’s Hot Honey) and the Ford Funghi (roasted mushrooms, goat cheese, caramelized onions, truffle oil).
NEW WINE BAR
If wine bar chic was a term, Sonder would have coined it. This small but mighty spot brings together subway aesthetic — think tiles and sticker collages — with bohemian vibes. Turn to the roll paper for the current drink rotation; chilled white or red, pét-nat, and rosé make frequent appearances. Pair your BTG (by the glass) orders with a snack of snap peas with ricotta, pickled shallot, and mint, or local beets with spicy mayo and furikake. Pro tip: ask for bottles beyond BTG and you may just get to taste the owner’s local favorites.
NEW GOLF COURSE RESTAURANT
From the masterminds behind The Dutch Ale House and Windmill Wine & Spirits comes Millstream Tavern, a newcomer that locals love. The restaurant sits on the grounds of the Woodstock Golf Club, and its seafood-centric, farm-to-table fare makes it a dream destination for lunch before hitting the green or dinner after day tripping.
ONE-STOP SHOP FOR STREET FOOD
Hudson Valley Food Hall
Beacon is one of the most walkable cities in the Valley, and visitors definitely work up an appetite. To the rescue: Hudson Valley Food Hall. Miz Hattie’s BBQ hands out pulled pork sandies and brisket bowls, while Barb’s Fryworks does loaded French fries like no other. Finish off with ice cream sundaes and loaded Liège waffles from Schmuck’s Sweet Stuff.
Beacon; find them on Facebook
ORGANIC WINE SELECTION
Kingston Wine Co.
At this Rondout shop — one of the first to emphasize natural wines in the Hudson Valley — owner Michael Drapkin fills the shelves with more than 600 intriguing, diverse bottles. Roughly 75 to 80 percent fall into the organic, biodynamic, and natural categories, like a dry German Stein rosé and the shop’s private label Riesling.
OLIVE OIL AND VINEGAR TASTING ROOM
The Blue Olive Shop
If our associate editor’s mom drove 45+ minutes to buy out a shelf of Blue Olive’s specialty oils — you know it’s good. The shop’s goal is to bring the purest vinegars and olive oils from around the world to the Hudson Valley, and you’ll want to taste them all. We recommend the pesto or Italian lemon infused EVOO.
Pawling and Cold Spring; theblueoliveshop.com
PLACE TO GET A PIZZA OVEN
Did you know that the Hudson Valley is also home to a global leader in Italian-manufactured pizza ovens? Whether you’re an aspiring food truck owner or want to elevate your backyard kitchen, Fiero offers high-end Neapolitan, traditional rotating, or Roman ovens to craft the pizza menu of your dreams. The Parlor and Sloop Brewing Co. are just two of the many regional restaurants with Fiero-crafted ovens.
Il Figlio Enoteca
After closing Il Barilotto in 2020, restaurateur Scott Rosenberg opened Il Figlio Enoteca in Fishkill embodying many of the qualities regulars loved about the previous fine-dining experience (doting service and fabulous Italian fare, including luscious fresh pasta) in a new, beautifully designed, much larger space with an all-new cocktail program.
REIMAGINING OF CLASSIC RESTAURANT
Fifteen years ago, owner Jessica Reisman was a Beacon pioneer due to the immediate success of Homespun Foods, her fresh, casual fare restaurant with a big backyard. Now it’s in the capable hands of sommelier Joe Robitaille, who brings an impressive wine list to pair with a fun salad and sandwich menu. Craft beers and ciders are also available.
Milea Estate Vineyard
We can rosé all day, and so can Milea. This 2020 Rosé Winery of the Year — awarded by the International Wine Competition — isn’t here to play. The vineyard’s rosés attract loyal customers and newcomers for their easy-to-drink, non-intimidating qualities. Its popular 2019 Rosé is made from Merlot grapes that bring forward crisp white cherry and peach notes; the recently released (and best-selling) 2019 Rosé of Pinot Noir is a cherry extravaganza.
SMALL-BATCH HONEY PRODUCER
Phoenicia Honey Co.
Rebecca Shim knows the buzz when it comes to honey. As the queen bee of Phoenicia Honey Co., Shim works with local beekeepers and apiaries to source small-batch honey for her culinary and wellness products. The raw blends of chocolate and bergamot or earl grey really hit the spot. The wellness honey is highly recommended to soothe your winter cold.
Smoky Rock BBQ
Priding itself on authentic New York Style BBQ, Smoky Rock turns out killer brisket, all made with Prime Black Angus Beef and flavored with an artisan spice blend. It’s slow smoked and hand-carved to eat alone or on a delicious sandwich.
SPICY CHICKEN SANDWICH
While you’ll be hard pressed to find an item on Lola’s menu that disappoints, their hot chicken sandwich is something to write home about. Tender chicken is dipped in buttermilk and fried to perfection and topped with pickles, romaine, and sriracha ranch. Need we say more?
Poughkeepsie and New Paltz; lolascafeandcatering.com
Get down with a funky brunch every Sunday at Mama Roux. With blues and soul music filling the air, this brunch menu features classic dishes and seasonal specials inspired by New Orleans and French cuisine. Look for standout dishes like snow crab benedict, shrimp and grits, and Korean fried chicken and waffles. Don’t miss the outstanding cocktail menu and mouth-watering desserts like French cruller and crème.
Pawling Bread Co.
What started as a basement operation is now a staple storefront in the heart of Pawling. While the folks here serve pastries, cheese, and coffee, it’s the bread that’s all the rage. Their sourdough is perfectly tangy with a crisp crust. You’ll be tempted to pick up a fresh loaf every week.
SPICY CREAM CHEESE
West Haverstraw Bagels
We New Yorkers know that the best bagel joints are always the unassuming ones and this one is no exception. Although they offer many cream cheese flavors, the standout is their savory and spicy jalapeño bacon cheddar. We love it on a toasted everything — but honestly, any bagel will do it justice.
West Haverstraw; whbageldeli.com
SPOT FOR A ROMANTIC SUSHI DATE
With twinkle lights in the windows and a cozy ambiance inside, Sushi Bada is a dream for date nights. The menu features highly craveable rolls like the Salmon Love, made with spicy salmon and tobiko, not to mention staples like seaweed salad and gyoza. The sake and imported beer offerings are top-notch, too.
Cinnamon Indian Cuisine
Naan is, of course, a staple in Indian cuisine, but when you stuff it with tangy goat cheese, you’ve got something new — and delicious. Dutchess County foodies are in for a treat with Cinnamon’s naan upgrade, filled rich, organic Acorn Hill Farm goat cheese and a chaat masala spice mix. There is no better accompaniment for a bowl of Murgh Shahi Korma.
This Warwick eatery is small, but mighty. With just six indoor tables and one coveted perch on the front porch, the food is more of what you’d expect at a fine dining restaurant: farm-fresh vegetables, wild-caught fish, grass-fed burgers, local duck, and more.
TO-GO CRAFT COCKTAILS
The Spirits Lab
At this newbie Newburgh distillery, our favorite way to sample the superlative spirits is to take home a large-format bottle of creative craft cocktails. Options run the gamut from the twist-on-a-classic blood orange Old Fashioned or hibiscus Cosmopolitan to a refreshing Southside, made with Spirits Lab’s signature East End Gin.
Roe Jan Brewing Co.
This brewery is the latest tenant of a 170-year-old building that’s been home to numerous operations — from general stores and shirt factories to lumber storage and even a pop-up gallery. What keeps us coming back for more are the wood-fired burgers, all served on a brioche bun with the works. Patty options include beef, salmon, turkey, and veggie legume.