It’s no secret that the Hudson Valley has a seriously excellent food scene. Each year, we happily welcome dozens of spots to an already stacked roster of restaurants. But nine standouts that opened in 2023—from Provençal cuisine in North Salem to a taste of Jalisco in Leeds—define the difference between good meals and those that are truly memorable.
BLACKBARN Hudson Valley
When John Doherty graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1978, he was voted the “most likely to succeed.” And after becoming the youngest ever executive chef at the Waldorf Astoria (at age 27) and opening his first solo restaurant, BLACKBARN, to critical acclaim in Manhattan—you could say he’s made his mark. Doherty’s latest venture is a sister concept at the Diamond Mills Hotel on the Esopus Creek in Saugerties, where the elevated American farm-to-table menu blends BLACKBARN’s signature dishes with Hudson Valley ingredients.
Chef’s notes Our food is “simple, rustic, and comfortable,” says executive chef Marcos Castro. “My philosophy can be best described as seasonal with a special emphasis on local and sustainable ingredients,” he adds, “Some of the best food comes from right here in our own backyard and I’ve spent a lot of time building relationships with local farmers.”
Order this The roasted Faroe Islands salmon is a bestseller (and Castro’s favorite): it’s topped with a sweet pea purée, herb couscous, citrus, and Fresno chilis. “The plate is very light and bright,” he says. But what’s so appealing about the menu is that “we keep the same core items and switch out the preparation based on what’s in season.” The crab cakes, for example, can go from summer to fall by serving them topped with a cranberry pear compote in place of summer’s mustard hollandaise.
Shake it up The old fashioned was an instant hit. It’s made with a Maker’s Mark bourbon that was bottled exclusively for the restaurant and mixed with amaro del capo, house made brown sugar-honey syrup, and blackberry bitters.
Sweet endings The rum butterscotch bread pudding is amazing, especially with the house vanilla ice cream and generous pour of toffee sauce. But you’d also be very happy with the baklava cheesecake—with orange zest, phyllo, toasted pistachios, candied walnuts, and honey.
25 South Partition Street, Saugerties • 845.247.0700 • diamondmillshotel.com
Some of the best food comes from right here in our own backyard.
In 2017, wunderkinds Andrea Calstier and Elena Oliver left the Michelin-starred restaurants they worked at in France to open Papilles, their own fine dining establishment in the East Village. Then in 2021, when they heard that Elizabeth Miller bought Vox (a former French bistro in North Salem) and was looking for experienced partners, the husband-and-wife team set their sights on Northern Westchester. After two years of gut renovations and menu brainstorming, Cenadou opened—with Calstier as executive chef and Oliver as general manager—to offer locals an escape to Provence.
Chef’s notes “We want to educate our customers on the dishes from our region,” says Oliver. The menu is one you’d find at a typical brasserie in Provence, with flavors from the rural countryside (charcoal-grilled rack of lamb with aubergine and charred red peppers) to the streets of Marseille (crispy-but-light chickpea panisses with smoked espelette coulis).
Order this Aïoli is a dish that everyone eats in Marseille, says Oliver. The classic appetizer pairs poached seasonal vegetables with a warm aïoli emulsion and soft-boiled quail eggs. It’s flavor-packed but won’t leave you too full to enjoy the popular baked black sea bass with grilled fennel and sauce vierge (tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice, basil). The entrée comes with a side of saffron potatoes that you’ll no doubt find addictive. Come late fall, Calstier will introduce entrées with heartier braised meats.
Shake it up “We wanted to showcase the region—and since there is a huge horse community here we thought it would be fun to name all the cocktails after famous horses from North Salem,” says Oliver. Of the seven signature drinks, we think Nougat—made with St. Germain, vodka, crémant de Bourgogne, and strawberry—takes the triple crown.
Sweet endings The crispy profiteroles are the “star of the show,” according to Oliver. The buckwheat puff encompasses hazelnut praline and is paired with homemade ice cream made “with the best Tahitian vanilla,” says Calstier. It’s prepared tableside, where staff will pour warm Guanaja chocolate (crafted with 80 percent cacao from Honduras) sauce over the dessert.
721 Titicus Road, North Salem • 914.485.1519 • labastidebyac.com
Pretty To Think So
Come for the seafood and stay for, well, everything else. After The Dutchess hotel in Staatsburg quietly closed in 2021, the team behind its restaurant—Madeline Dillon, Mark Margiotta, and Eric Mushel—was ready to make a comeback. Enter an artfully presented raw bar, plenty of oysters à la carte, and a host of other dishes that celebrate hyperlocal sourcing and an unmatched dining experience in the heart of Rhinebeck.
Chef’s notes What’s in a name? Pretty To Think So is a reference to Hemingway’s line “‘Yes,’ I said. ‘Isn’t it pretty to think so?’” from The Sun Also Rises. The phrase “recognizes beauty and happiness can exist in a world” that isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, says Mushel. “We wanted to offer a place where people could at least pretend they just might.”
Order this A surprisingly popular item is their homemade gluten-free bread, says Chef Margiotta. “It’s interesting how people have fallen in love with it, as there is nothing sophisticated or glamorous about it. It’s a true crowd-pleaser that continues to win hearts. It’s just damn good,” he says. Trust us and try the butter-poached turnips, which remind Margiotta of his childhood favorite fettuccini alfredo. “We cut turnips into thin sheets, resembling delicate pappardelle,” he explains, “The remaining turnip scraps along with shallots and garlic are caramelized and puréed into a creamy sauce.” Other standouts are nettle risotto with truffle; crispy duck confit; and caviar frites.
Shake it up The signature cocktail is The M, a dirty martini washed with goat cheese. “The martini is equally traditional and inventive, which makes it approachable and evocative,” says bar director Dillon. It’s served in a vintage glass with a goat cheese-stuffed olive and a sidecar (a carafe with more of the cocktail)—making it a “whimsical” pouring experience.
Sweet endings We suggest ordering the apple and thyme tartine topped with stone fruit compote whipped honey and consider pairing it with an Irish Eye. The Irish whiskey and coffee blend is elevated with buckwheat honey and coconut-vanilla whipped cream.
6417 Montgomery Street, Rhinebeck • 845.516.4556 • prettytothink.so
When you escape to the Catskills, you’re looking for comfort and laidback living. And chef Daniel Cipriani is serving up just that—a style he calls “mountain cuisine,” that’s unpretentious yet refined, simple but delicious. What shines at Dandelion (a restaurant at Eastwind Hotel’s newest retreat in Oliverea Valley) is its commitment to using nature’s bounty, with dishes often featuring foraged ingredients and edible art designs.
Chef’s notes Cipriani wants Hudson Valley readers to know that he loves all his dishes equally and can’t recommend just one. “It’s like you’re asking me to pick my favorite child,” he says, noting that only the best of the best earn a spot on his rotating, plant-forward menu.
Order this Everything is seasonal, so the offerings are hard to pinpoint from week to week. But if you see anything with mushrooms—like crispy oyster mushrooms with Sriracha aïoli or the house-made cavatelli with wild fungi—order it. (Foraging is Cipriani’s expertise.) Fall and winter will bring heartier fare, like gochujang short rib with baby bok choy and lohikeitto, a Finnish stew with steelhead trout.
Shake it up Dandelion’s cocktails “combine our love of foraging, crafting, and the outstanding Hudson Valley distilleries,” says Cipriani. You can’t go wrong with the Taconic negroni made with Taconic Distillery bourbon, Campari, and sweet vermouth.
Sweet endings “We have a lovely apple tree on the property and can’t wait to make apple galettes,” says Cipriani.
212–220 McKenley Hollow Road, Big Indian • 917.528.0989 • eastwindhotels.com/oliverea-valley
Several years ago, Reid Kendall and Jason Seiler purchased an outdated motel once owned by Copake native Nancy Fuller in the ‘80s. (You may know her from the Food Network’s “Farmhouse Rules” or “Holiday Baking Championship.”) The motel had a country restaurant and decades after it was shuttered, “we are honored to finally bring her back to life,” says Kendall. Seafood is a highlight—thanks to chef Daniel Clifford’s Cape Cod roots and 30-plus years of experience in New England restaurants—but after just one visit, we promise you’ll want to sample the entire menu.
Chef’s notes While coastal cuisine is at the forefront, Clifford highlights “a little bit of everything” in his cooking techniques. Throughout the menu, you’ll find hints of Japanese, French, and Thai flavors, which represents Clifford’s philosophy of avoiding boundaries in the kitchen and having fun.
Order this The menu rotates seasonally, but past dishes like sesame-crusted ahi tuna (with sticky rice cakes, baby bok choy, and a sweet-spicy glaze) and grilled swordfish (with smoked bacon potato hash and a lump crab sherry sauce) are excellent. The clam chowder tastes exactly like it would on the Cape.
Shake it up The eau du Copake is a “hyper local” cocktail that changes with the seasons of Columbia County, says Kendall. As autumn progresses, expect local maple syrup and apple to sub in for summery mint and honey.
Sweet endings “Our crème brûlée is always a top seller,” says Kendall. “We repeatedly have guests who claim it’s the best they’ve ever had.” After torching its crunchy shell, Clifford adds a dollop of freshly made whipped cream.
7519 Route 22, Copake • 518.329.3000 • thealander.com/northstar
Nat’s Mountain House
Make food fun again. That’s the mission of Natalie “Nat” Freihon, founder of NYC-based Strange Bird Hospitality Group and an esteemed restaurateur. Though Nat’s Mountain House is Freihon’s 20th restaurant—it’s her first in the Hudson Valley and may be the most fun spot yet. The menu is packed with comfort food (like fried halloumi, spicy spaghetti, and a three-cheese fondue) that keeps you coming back for more. Bonus: there’s an all-you-can-eat brunch on weekends that’s perfect for days of leaf-peeping around Hunter Mountain.
Chef’s notes You won’t find anything too complex here—chief culinary officer Jonah Eagen belives in simple eating. “I always try to showcase the ingredients that I’m working with. I never put something on the plate that isn’t necessary,” he says. “If a tomato is a great tomato, why add too much to it?” A little salt and great olive oil goes a long way.
Order this What’s Eagen’s favorite dish? Nat’s cheeseburger—which he rubs au-poivre style (aka coated in peppercorns), smashes the patty, and steams the cheese with Worcestershire sauce. Add some lettuce, red onion, pickles, and secret special sauce and you’ve got a winner on your hands. The whole-fried trout tacos for two are great too: the trout is cooked until perfectly golden, tucked into corn tortillas, and topped with cabbage slaw and pickled vegetables.
Shake it up Just because no one wears skinny jeans anymore doesn’t mean you can’t drink one. The Skinny Jeans cocktail is light and zesty with tequila, cucumber, ginger, and lime. Espresso Myself martini—vodka, amaro, cold brew liqueur, and espresso—is also delicious.
Sweet endings Freihon pays homage to her mom Mary Ann with a rich devil’s food cake dusted in powdered sugar. (It’s Mary Ann’s original recipe.) It’s easy to share, though we’d understand if you chose not to. The build-your-own sundae is just as good—but a little bit more fun.
6589 Route 23A, Tannersville • 518.628.4478 • natsmountainhouse.com
You can’t leave Bimi’s without sampling the palm-sized macarons.
Once Ellen Waggett and Christopher Landy hooked the Chatham community on Bimi’s Cheese Shop—where they sell a variety of excellent fromage, provisions, and addictive grilled cheeses—they knew it was time to think bigger. Their new bistro, Bimi’s Canteen, is all about presenting local ingredients in inventive ways. And true to their roots, many dishes incorporate delicious seasonal cheeses.
Chef’s notes “My mission is to seek out beautiful local products, fantastic cheeses, and the freshest meats and fish, and to use them to rotate the menu every few weeks in a way that is creative, unexpected, and a celebration of the Hudson Valley,” says chef and Hudson native Jesse Curtin (who has cooked at restaurants across the country). That said, there are a few standards including a creamy mac ’n’ cheese with tomato and green onion chutney and bacon lardons, and the signature Canteen burger with Challerhocker cheese.
Order this “The bouillabaisse is always in demand,” says Curtain. The traditional French stew is packed with mussels, fish, and langoustine in a rich saffron-tomato broth that bursts with garlic, tomato, fennel, and pernod. It’s paired with a thin, toasted crostini that customers often order seconds of “to soak up every last drop,” he adds. The fondue special is a perfect choice for cooler weather and features Alpine cheeses, baguette cubes, and Hudson Valley apples.
Shake it up Master mixologist Andrey Matseyev (formerly of NYC’s Café Boulud) whips up a mean rye whiskey cocktail. Head down to the lower-level speakeasy (complete with a full bar, snacks, and music) and order the perfect-for-fall 111 Miles North of Manhattan—made with applewood rye, chartreuse jaune, crème de cacao, Aztec chocolate bitters, and a spiced slow-poached strawberry.
Sweet endings You can’t leave Bimi’s without sampling the palm-sized macarons. They’re baked for the restaurant by Claire Raposo, a Le Cordon Bleu grad and owner of The Lost Lamb Patisserie in the Berkshires. Curtin also highly recommends the lemon tart as “a refreshing and beautiful end to a great meal.”
19 Main Street, Chatham • 518.938.1415 • @bimiscanteen
When you first walk into this Mexican restaurant at Camptown, a hotel in the Catskills, you wouldn’t expect it to be dedicated to authentic Jaliscan cuisine. Though the interior is minimalistic, the menu bursts with flavor. You won’t find the usual burritos and chimichangas, however—the dishes here represent a modern take on wood-fired Mexican classics inspired by executive chef Efrén Hernández’s Jalisco roots and the local farm scene.
Chef’s notes Hernández prides himself on the restaurant’s masa—house-made red, blue, and yellow corn flour tortillas—that elevate the flavors of each dish. Honoring tradition while keeping it fresh is at the core of Casa Susanna. “I want to do it big and do it right,” explains Hernández, “I want guests to come with friends and family, order lots of dishes and a basket of tortillas, have a great night, and learn a little bit about me, where I come from, and the diversity of Mexican cuisine.”
Order this Start off with vegetable escabeche and a blood sausage tamal—they balance one another beautifully. Then buckle up for the flavor bomb that is the smoked goat birria tatemada; the meat is marinated in a spice blend, slow roasted until tender, and shredded. “It’s a traditional dish from the region of Mexico I’m from. Growing up, my family would always go to this one place where we would eat it as a family on Saturday or Sunday for lunch. My brother sampled the Casa Susanna recipe and told me it was better than the one we grew up eating,” says Hernández.
Shake it up The elote sour pairs well with most of the entrees. It’s made with jalapeño-infused blanco tequila, corn liqueur, strawberry, and fresh lime juice. There are plenty of beers, mocktails, and spirits (over two dozen) too.
Sweet endings We’re still dreaming of the arroz con leche (rice pudding) with horchata and brown butter ice cream topped with crushed macadamia nuts and a caramelized white chocolate.
800 Co Road (Route 23B), Leeds • 518.719.0097 • camptowncatskills.com
I want guests to come with friends and family, order lots of dishes and a basket of tortillas, and have a great night.
Mill & Main
Who has 40-plus years of industry expertise, owns a fast-casual café in downtown Kerhonkson, and somehow has room on her plate to do more? Meet chef Claudia Sidoti—a chef, caterer, restaurateur, and former test kitchen and culinary director at the Food Network and Hello Fresh. Her motto is “family is what roots us; food is what inspires us,” and she does just that alongside co-chef and son Christopher Weathered.
Chef’s notes At its core, Mill & Main is rustic. “We’re not fussy, but we care very much about flavor—flavor first is our philosophy,” says Sidoti. This means seasonal specials that are cooked to order, weekly deliveries of fresh produce and meat, and utilizing local purveyors like Veritas Farms in New Paltz, La Salumina in Hurleyville, and Kingston Bread + Bar.
Order this The Caribbean codfish fritters are easily one of the “top three” most popular dishes, says Sidoti. Flaky, light, and a touch umami, the fritters are even better dipped in pickapeppa (Jamaican hot sauce) lime mayo. Two plates you can’t miss: Colombian-style wagyu hot dog sliders (with spicy slaw and potato chips) and Sidoti’s twist on trout almondine, a pan-seared brook trout limoncello with roasted leeks and toasted almonds.
Shake it up The tamarind margarita, made with tequila, tamarind simple syrup, and lime, is by far the bestselling cocktail. But the aguardiente sour—orange juice, lime, and a Colombian-style liqueur that “has a little bit of a licorice profile,” notes Sidoti—is equally refreshing.
Sweet endings Regulars rave about the caramelized banana split. Three different scoops of Jane’s Ice Cream are topped with bananas, fresh whipped cream, chocolate and caramel sauce, and a cherry. The seasonal bread pudding, which is prepared Caribbean style (aka cutting it like French toast and searing it in butter), is also excellent.
317 Main Street, Kerhonkson • 845.626.1255 • eatmillandmain.com