Mill House Brewing Company, Poughkeepsie
With consistently good and inventively conceived country-roaming menu items (see: New England Lobster Roll, Louisiana Drunken Shrimp, Grilled NY Strip, et al), a preference for Valley-made ingredients, and house-brewed beers on tap, Mill House has the whole “regional US” thing down pat. You must know what we mean, given they won so many readers’ picks both this year and last. The crowning achievement: The All-American Burger. Consider this place a grand slam.
Pure City, Pine Bush
This vegetarian eatery is small in stature, but big on taste. Trust us: you won’t miss the meat. Customers rave about General Tso’s “veggie nuggets” (made with soy protein) and the sautéed eggplant in brown sauce. Miso soup is chock-full of veggies, with a slick of spicy chili oil. Iced drinks are super-fresh (ginger tea has that minced-ginger snap), while loose-leaf hot tea is served in cute little pots. Good-for-you never tasted so good!
Point number one: bacon. Number two: sweet peach. And number three: peppery heat. (Did we really need all three?) The Peach Habanero Bacon at PAKT is sliced and baked in-house, using the scraps from their braised greens and bacon jam burger. Then the kitchen masterminds here mix Exec Chef Niels Nielsen’s peach habanero hot sauce with fresh peach preserves, and let it melt into the meat as it sizzles its way to bacony perfection.
Hudson Valley Dessert Company, Saugerties
Sweet tooths, rejoice! We’ve found your go-to gathering spot (and trust us, we have high standards). This small-town bakery will woo you with everything from customized, homemade cakes, to old-fashioned, double-baked biscotti, and sugar cookies of all shapes and decorations (perfect for kids or party favors). We’re not sure what their secret is, but we do know they use the best quality ingredients, and are sure to please any audience.
Brian’s Backyard BBQ, Middletown
When a place gets inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame, you know it’s gotta have some cred. The fact that this authentic, Southern-style joint serves smoked pork and meats that go above and beyond any average chop, well, that’s a bonus. Tender ribs, barbecue chicken, and mind-blowing brisket — prepared with made-from-scratch rubs and sauces — will fill your plate while a darkened stage comes alive with raw and moody music to move your feet. The whole experience is flavorful.
Hudson’s Ribs and Fish, Fishkill
Sure, this Route 9 stalwart serves hand-cut steaks and fresh seafood, but what really makes this nautical-themed restaurant a place to remember is their complimentary popovers (which come in place of the standard bread basket) — towering, supple, and melt-in-your-mouth good. Fresh out of a hot pan, they are crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, with a hollow-ish center perfect for filling with the whipped strawberry butter they serve alongside. (Are you drooling yet?)
AJ Cafe Bar & Restaurant, Wappingers Falls
Operating as a speakeasy at the turn of the century, this cozy bar and restaurant has roots in killer pub food. You’ll find all the normal grub (cheesy mac, fries, and burgers), just turned up a notch or two, like the great breakfast-dinner mash-up that is the Bacon Egg and Cheese Burger, or the California Burger, topped with guacamole, bacon, ranch, lettuce, tomato, and mozzarella. Mounted TVs ensure you won’t miss the game, there’s an outdoor bar and dining with a fire pit, and community events and pool tables provide plenty of other beer-side entertainment.
Jones Farm & Country Store, Cornwall
Grandma Phoebe’s Kitchen, the in-house bakery here, is known for its homemade, fresh-baked treats, but one item in particular takes the cake — the Deadly Carrot Cake with sweet cream cheese frosting. Cakes feature decadently moist, dense texture unlike any other you’ve ever tasted, thanks to their special ingredients: crushed pineapple and tons of freshly grated carrots. But a head’s up to you nut-haters, these slices are also studded with walnuts.
Billy Joe’s Ribworks, Newburgh
Legendary smoked meats and fall-off-the-bone barbecue. Substantial serving sizes. Excellent service. The only way left to up the ante? Spectacular views. It all converges here, at this popular spot sitting right on the waterfront. You can dine outdoors — which, let’s face it, is the best place to enjoy this sort of food — on a spacious patio affording gorgeous river and mountain views while you chow down on St. Louis-style ribs, dry-rubbed and pit-smoked brisket, or piled-high, pulled-pork sandwiches. Napkins not required, but highly recommended.
Communal Kitchen, Nyack
The ingredients are simple enough — roasted carrots, feta, local honey, and pistachios — but when the plate arrives? A huge mound of beautiful rainbow carrots, dressed with heavenly who’d’ve-thought-of-whipping-it feta, honey that complements the carrots’ sweetness, and the delightful crunch of pistachios. Careful: it will ruin all other carrots for you.
Stock Up, Beacon
Strike down all thoughts of the big, yellow bird you know: This Big Bird will blow your mind. Sandwiched between house-fermented pickles, crisp lettuce, and Stock Up’s spicy, signature Russian dressing sauce, sits some of the most tender chicken breast you’ve ever tasted. It’s slow-soaked in buttermilk, dredged in Chef Adam Sternberg’s top-secret spice recipe, and then fried fresh to order. Plus, it’s all piled high on rich, buttery brioche. It’s enough to make you sing and dance up any street.
Northern Smoke BBQ, Carmel
Filled with whole chunks of corn and served with maple butter on the side, the mildly sweet, golden cornbread comes gratis with every main course at this bastion of barbecue — but that still doesn’t keep people from ordering extra. Try dunking it in any of the 15 different house-made sauces and leave your diet at the door.
Beacon Pantry, Beacon
Beacon Pantry offers a smorgasbord of cuts and cures that’ll compose a board any meat-lover would be hard-pressed to resist. The wide variety of cut-to-order, imported charcuterie includes the usual suspects, like Spanish chorizo, serrano ham, pate, slab bacon, and truffle salami, but this beloved Main Street spot also features a spread of local, Hudson Valley Harvest grass-fed beef and pork, and fish that arrive fresh every Thursday. (Pro tip: their Prosciutto di Parma and sopressata are seriously not to be missed.)
Something Sweet Dessert Café, Middletown
This little jewel is tucked into the brick hubbub of downtown Middletown’s historic district, lending it a Soho flair. Enjoy freshly made delectables including their chocolate truffle tart, or cranberry pear galette, in one of three ways: relax in the intimate dining room; go up the steps in the back and — surprise! — enjoy an airy atrium; or linger outside with a glass of Chardonnay (and a must-have petite gateau) on the backyard patio.
All You Knead, Beacon
The staff calls them “puffs,” but these delectable coffee klatch treats are really Danish at heart, minus the sticky glazed icing. Fresh peaches and cherries are nestled in flaky, buttery dough along with a velvety cream-cheese-based filling, similar to cheesecake in consistency and taste. Scoop them up early at the tiny takeout storefront or find them at farmers’ markets.
Cafeteria Coffee House, New Paltz
Imagine a Harry Potter-style common room, minus the actual magic, but with enchanting espresso beverages, WiFi, and a hip, New Paltz attitude. The menu features freshly roasted americanos, macchiatos, and cappuccinos — often touted as the greatest in town — plus iced coffee creations and specialty lattes, too. Drinks are created by friendly baristas who never rush you, so you can feel free to linger at the tabletops or sink into the comfy vintage couches. Live music and open mic nights add additional entertainment.
Frank Guido’s Little Italy, Kingston
Grab the kids, pick up Grandma, and order oversized portions of classics like chicken and eggplant parmesan, veal marsala, and pastas topped with killer Bolognese and white clam sauces. The restaurant is run by the gregarious Guido family, boasting years in Hudson Valley hospitality, ensuring your gang will feel right at home in their cozy dining room.
PHOTO BY KENNETH GABRIELSEN
Grazin’ Farm-to-Table: Direct, Hudson
Most restaurants that go the grass-fed route head to the farm. With Grazin’ Farm-to-Table: Direct, Dan and Susan Gibson started out on a 500-acre farm full of grass-fed and -finished Black Angus cattle, and then opened this organic burger joint, with their son-in-law (and Head Chef) Andrew “Chip” Chiappinelli. The burgers are juicy and flavorful, served on custom-made Hawthorne Valley organic buns, and come with an assortment of local and organic toppings. It’s also the first completely Animal Welfare Approved restaurant in the world.
Off-Shore Pier Fish Market & Restaurant, Rensselaer
You can almost feel a sea breeze when you drift into this casual seafood spot — unusual for the landlocked area — that’s kept filled to the gills by the adjacent fish store. The best part? For one low price, you can chow down on flaky, golden-fried haddock served with potato wedge-cut fries and tangy-creamy coleslaw. If you don’t believe us, just ask their over 40-years’-worth of loyal customers.
BV’s Grill at The Time Hotel, Nyack
Lightly floured and flash-fried tilapia is what makes these fish tacos — served at this elegant eatery housed in a hipster hotel — so sublime. Served with sweet onions, red pepper coulis, and spicy purple cabbage slaw, this dish hits the spot as a lunchtime appetizer or light meal.
Cosimo’s Restaurants, Poughkeepsie, Middletown, Woodbury, Newburgh
You’d better be hungry (or ready to share) if you order the flatbread here: This wood-fired, rustic loaf is so loaded with ingredients that you need a knife and fork to navigate it. Served on a long wooden plank — which is completely necessary just to accommodate the size of this thing — the warm bread manages to be irresistibly crisp and chewy at the same time. It’s the perfect platform for house-made mozzarella, roasted portobello mushrooms, or any of a number of other enticing toppings.
845.485.7172, Poughkeepsie; www.cosimos.com
Ms. Fairfax, Newburgh
We’ve never met a grilled cheese we didn’t like, but we did find one we love. The Trois Fromage Grilled Cheese with Prosciutto at Ms. Fairfax stole our hearts and we are so okay with that. The perfect blend of three cheeses — Comté, yellow cheddar, and Gruyère — mixed with the salty goodness of prosciutto, and served on a buttery, flat-toasted baguette is sure to please even the toughest cheese-loving critic.
Essie’s Restaurant, Poughkeepsie
You’ll visit for the exceptional execution of worldwide flavors you keep hearing about, but you’ll discover that the best part of coming here is the personal touch they put into the experience. Expect a visit from the man behind the whole operation, Chef Brandon Walker, who often checks on guests during dining to ensure they’re enjoying the modern menu he’s poured his heart — and family history — into. Walker’s hospitality-oriented approach is further echoed in the food itself, utilizing seasonal and area ingredients to support the local economy.
phoenicia diner photo by kevin trageser
’50s Style Diner
Johnny B’s Glenmont Diner, Glenmont
Decked out in pastels and adorned with records and retro memorabilia, this old-school, roadside diner (formerly known as Miss Glenmont Diner) is fit for a king — the king of rock ’n’ roll, that is. It’s not all show, either: service is reliable and friendly, the large portions are as good as they are filling, and the prices are wallet-friendly.
518.434.3761; find them on Facebook
Diner: Locally-Sourced Food
Phoenicia Diner, Phoenicia
Danny Meyer alum Chef Chris Bradley turns classic greasy spoon specials into something fresh and, well, actually special by using meat, eggs, and poultry from regional farms and seasonal fruit and vegetables when available. The Salisbury steak platter, for example, is composed of beef from J. Conover Farms in Craryville, mushrooms from J. Bulich Mushroom Farm in Catskill, and wax beans from Winter Sun Farm, in New Paltz. (Bonus points for their bar, parked Airstream trailer/food truck, and outdoor dining area called “The Lot,” which has a separate menu with equally delicious items.)
Tried and True Diners
Daily Planet, Red Line Diner, & Table Talk Diner, Lagrangeville, Fishkill, Poughkeepsie (Respectively)
Open early, open late, hearty and wide-ranging diner classics, and if you’re in the right spot, chicken pot pie. The Vanikiotis family, who owns these three standouts, has been in the Valley restaurant biz since 1981 and has diner-ing down to a science. Highlights include breakfast specials, mini-burgers, and a wide variety of fountain delights.
Double lamb dishes do triple-duty here, where inventive cookery and quality ingredients make this Best Of win a no-brainer. There’s the melt-in-your-mouth tender Grilled Colorado Leg of Lamb, made even better with a tricolor Caesar salad, asparagus, and garlicky baguette, but also a feast of Lamb Two Ways, a double-cut chop and braised leg with fragrant, buttermilk-poppy seed spaetzle and kumquat mostarda. Wow.
At this authentic Dominican and Puerto Rican eatery, you’ll find the day’s selections — like tender stewed chicken, two kinds of rice (white and Spanish), pernil (slow-roasted pork shoulder), and fried plantains — presented in hot plates at the counter and served cafeteria-style. Consider yourself lucky the cheerful servers are bilingual — you may need help figuring out what to order. Don’t miss dessert: island-style mango and passionfruit shakes.
845.486.5166; find them on Facebook
Hacienda Restaurant, Goshen
We’re digging the authentic Mexican food — don’t miss the homemade guacamole, prepared tableside — and attentive service, but everything about Hacienda screams a good time: from the carved and colorful chairs and artwork inside, to the wraparound porch festooned with flags, pierced star lanterns, and funky statuary. Plus, you can linger in the cocktail area for mariachi and karaoke on alternate Thursdays. Olé!
Schatzi’s Pub & Bier Garden, New Paltz & Poughkeepsie
This is like the German redux of the mac ’n’ cheese you already love. Instead of boring elbows, the inventive chefs here incorporate an herby spätzle (a soft, egg-based noodle) into a luscious Mornay sauce made with Gruyere. As if that wasn’t irresistible enough, they then go ahead and add bacon.
Feel free to ask for it with a protein of your choice — like pork belly or bratwurst — but on its own, this dish is still the ultimate comfort food.
New Paltz, 845.255.1203; Poughkeepsie, 845.454.1179; www.iloveschatzis.com
B-Balls Meatballs, Suffern
If every Sunday dinner at your Nonna’s could be made into a meatball, it would taste like the meatballs served here. These babies are made from a blend of beef and pork (plus all the classic seasonings), bound with egg and breadcrumb, and then covered in a tomato gravy that’s been slow-cooked for 8 to 12 hours. Guests can choose to enjoy them on a variety of sandwiches with witty names — like the classic Schweaty Balls — all of which are served on bread straight from Arthur Avenue.
photo by dawn sela photography
Glazed Over Donuts, Beacon
Enjoy warm, freshly made donuts any way you like them. Start with an old-fashioned style donut, then choose from a menu of homemade glazes, toppings, and drizzles to make your perfect treat. Too many choices? Opt for the DOTD — donut of the day — that features a mix of unique sweet or savory toppings not typically found on the menu.
Garden House 12472, Rosendale
Serving Arabic/Mediterranean cuisine with Israeli-inspired specialties, this understated eatery is an outdoor-dining Eden. Traditionally prepared plates like moussaka and Egyptian ful medames are offered alongside authentic flavors twisted to appeal to modern tastes — like wood-fired pizzas prepared on Turkish pide flatbread. If you’re overwhelmed by the bounty of options (admittedly easy), visit on Wednesday night for their buffet.
Caked Up Café, New City
The confectionary creations made by owner Denise Byrnes and her “Instagram mastermind” teenage daughter, Francesca, are not just delicious, they are downright photogenic (even attracting eye-catching celebrities like Robin Thicke and Rihanna). Sure, you’ll spot dreamy drip cakes and wedding cakes that’ll take your breath away, but you’ll also find creative specialties, like a breakfast cake topped with a short stack of miniature pancakes, a teeny butter pat and, yes, bacon(!), or cakes designed to look just like sushi. They’re in such demand, New York City customers rent Zipcars to pick them up on weekends.
Gardiner Liquid Mercantile, Gardiner
Bartenders at the Farm Bar at Gardiner Liquid Mercantile (there’s a shop, too) are handcrafting incredible cocktails from regionally produced spirits and hyper-local ingredients (really, they aim to keep within a 20-mile radius). This means the sip menu changes seasonally, but with a nano-distillery on-site, area farmers bellied up to the bar, and a dedication to serving the bounty of the Valley, even the classic cocktails you may order are destined to be high-quality.
The Local Restaurant and Bar, Rhinebeck
The Local is a favorite watering hole for weekenders, celebrities, and, well, locals — for good reason. Whether you’re in the mood for a house favorite like the South St. Bandito made with reposado, local honey, lemon, and volcanic black salt, or a classic beverage not found on their menu, like a Manhattan, the welcoming barkeep has got you covered. Not sure what to order? Tell the fellow what you like and it’s sure to be something special.
Baja 328, Beacon
Sure, this Main Street outfit has an unrivaled tequila selection — more than 130 top-shelf varieties, and growing every month — but it’s the other ingredients that caught our attention. Bartenders here always use juice from fresh-squeezed limes and the menu is constantly given new life with seasonal ingredients: In spring their spicy cucumber won a Margarita Showdown, and this month you’re sure to find a pumpkin spice margarita on the lineup.
Two Ravens Tavern, Kingston
The staff may not know you by name (yet), but this Stockade standout fits the bill for classic community hangout. Beyond its physical location in a closely-knit neighborhood, the keys here are comfort and hospitality — for anyone, in any mood. Friends can enjoy beers and laughs over pool or bubble hockey; couples can indulge in delectable Eastern European cuisine; and lone wolves can sit in peace over an austere meal of kraut, kielbasa, and vodka. However they come, they’ll surely leave with full bellies, good memories, and new acquaintances.
845.383.1462; find them on Facebook
Place for a Fireside Cocktail, West of the Hudson River
Huckleberry, New Paltz
Forget any winter-weather association you have to fireside sipping: Huckleberry has an outdoor fire pit that’s prime for enjoying a drink on any warm evening. Their patio is cute, cozy, and eclectic — a perfect match for New Paltz — and the flames here are flanked by comfy lounge chairs. Oh, vand the cocktail list is on-point, too, featuring unique combinations of liquors and local flavor as well as the classics we know and love made with a fresh perspective.
Place for a Fireside Cocktail, East of the Hudson River
The Roundhouse, Beacon
The bar at this anchor of the east end of Beacon is everything you’re looking for when it comes to cozying up to a fire with your favorite or new-favorite drink. Housed in a historic building (a former manufacturing company), it features lounge chairs and loveseats, massive windows overlooking Beacon Falls, an impressive cocktail menu (get the Beacon Bourbon Manhattan, why don’t you), and food by Michelin-starred Chef Terrance Brennan.
Suarez Family Brewery, Livingston
Opening just last June, this Columbia County brewery has already snagged Best New Brewery in New York and 10th Best Brewery in the World awards from the reputable ratebeer.com — might as well add a Best Of. These folks focus on unfiltered lagers and mixed fermentation ales (including dry, fruited beers) that are delightfully tart, refreshing, and crisp, and have recently rounded out their offerings with a farmhouse style brew that’s inspired by Belgian saison tradition. That’s not even mentioning the tasting room: family-friendly, with authentic German pretzels.
Place to Drink, Dine, and Type
Brasserie 292, Poughkeepsie
Sometimes you want to hole up with your computer in a coffee shop. Other times, you want to work in a place where you can feel like a classy “grown-up” — with a cocktail. If you’re looking for the latter, head here, where delicious bistro fare and well-crafted, classic drinks converge with patient service and free WiFi, starting as early as 11 a.m. at lunchtime. Type away while munching on steak frites and sipping a French 75, and suddenly, tackling your campaigns and completing mindless data entry seem that much more enticing.
New Craft Vodka
Peony Vodka from Three Meadows Spirits, Millerton
Just imagine: 200 flowing acres of sunshine, pastures, and peony flowers. Sounds heavenly, doesn’t it? Leslie Farhangi, who owns this property, thought so, too, and the brilliant lawyer-turned-farmer channeled its spirit into an actual spirit. The result is Peony Vodka, a lovely, light, and smooth taste with subtle floral essence (totally mixable; totally better tasting than the other stuff on the market), created using a proprietary blend of natural ingredients, like geranium, jasmine, white pepper, gardenia, green tea, vanilla, and — of course — tincture of peony.
Rebellion Rosé from Tousey Winery, Germantown
Hands down the best reason to say, “Yes way, rosé” made in the Hudson Valley. The wine is a vibrant blush color, with a taste that gently mingles rich fruit flavors like cherry and strawberry that are swiftly tempered by a slight spice. Unlike a lot of other local pink drinks, this pour also has a pleasant-on-the-palate dryness and long finish.
Underground Coffee & Ales, Highland
The tap list changes regularly (one reason we love it!), but you’re sure to find locals, like Mamaroneck’s Decadent Ales, semi-locals, like Ommegang in Cooperstown, and national brewers, like Piperworks from Chicago, too, all chosen for the sake of seasonality, drinkability, and sheer breadth of intriguing variety. Plus, between bottles, cans, and what’s on draft, you can typically sample 80-plus beers and ciders of all sorts — and wines — on any given visit. All that’s left to say is, “bottom’s up!”
Il Barilotto, Fishkill
Don’t get us wrong, the traditional red stuff is great, but the Parmesan-truffle cream sauce — which coats its way across pillows of homemade gnocchi and roasted forest mushrooms, mind you — is what we really crave. The Parmesan and cream marry into a delicate balance, while the truffles work to cut the richness and amplify the dish’s earthiness. It’s no coincidence that this is one of the most popular items on the menu. Simple and beautiful.
Villa Nigrelli, Hopewell Junction
Think of the TSP, and three things come to mind: trees, traffic, and diners. This is the exception. Take a break from the grind and stop at this roadside spot for authentic Italian cuisine made with the Nigrelli family’s heritage recipes. Here you can indulge in handmade risotto balls, dive into customer-favorite Zuppa Di Pesce, or twirl your fork through basic — but well made — plates like angel hair pasta with
garlic and oil, all while sitting mere feet from the unlit parkway that causes so much traveling turmoil.
Dottie Audrey’s Bakery Kitchen, Tuxedo Park
Time to carbo-load and caffeinate! The off-the-beaten-path location of this from-scratch bakery makes perfect sense for Harriman State Park-goers planning to hit its 200 miles of trails. Since opening in 2015, owners Jan and Pat Jenkins have been drawing customers from far and wide with myriad pastries and breads complemented by freshly brewed coffee, cappuccino, and espresso. If you’re looking to go the protein-packed route (or just looking for a good meal, really), the menu also offers breakfast plates, salads, sandwiches, and other delicious lunch options.
Gypsy Donut & Espresso Bar, Nyack
All donuts are made fresh daily, with plain and creative flavors (like maple bacon and salted caramel) sharing the menu with weekly specials. The ringer, though? That you can pair your choice with an incredible cup of joe from Stumptown Coffee Roasters, made the way you like it: pressed, drip, cold brew, nitro, and more. The only question now is whether or not you’ll dunk.
The Bocuse Restaurant at the Culinary Insitute of America
The Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park
From the delicious and expertly prepared cuisine in the five restaurants to the professionalism and efficiency of the student staff, the CIA is not only the world’s premiere culinary college, but one of the best places to show off to your Hudson Valley visitors. We don’t know what will cause a bigger jaw-drop: the view of the Hudson River from the school’s main entrance or the preparation of the liquid nitrogen ice cream tableside at The Bocuse Restaurant.
Ella’s Bellas, Beacon
This quiche could just be the ideal lunch. The egg is airy and soft, with a texture that perfectly hovers between omelet and set custard. Fillings — such as the garlic and arugula, or Swiss chard and ricotta offerings — celebrate seasonal produce, and the delicate flakes of crust will knock your socks off (impressive, given it’s completely free of gluten!).
Tipsy Moose Tap & Tavern, Latham
The poutine here is nothing short of a work of art; a savory collage of french-fried potatoes, gravy, and cheese. The fries are nice and crisp — so they don’t turn to mush in the face of the cascade of slow-cooked beef gravy — and the curds are ultra fresh, a nice contrast to all the ooey-gooey goodness that lies below. You can take it to the next level of decadence by adding pulled pork, fried chicken, or bacon.
McKinney & Doyle, Pawling
With a dinner menu that features Hudson Valley brook trout and barbecue Muscovy duck breast, plus an on-site bakery, an old-fashioned soda fountain, and a solid mahogany-marble bar, this popular village establishment is pretty gosh-darn spectacular. Owners Shannon McKinney and Brian Doyle have taken what started out as an old-fashioned bakery and turned it into one of the Valley’s go-to places for everything from a morning treat to an anniversary dinner.
New Restaurant, East of the Hudson River
The Amsterdam, Rhinebeck
Focusing on Valley ingredients and quality service, The Amsterdam opened its doors to much success this April, with James Beard-nominated Chef Sara Lukasiewicz at the helm. Dishes range from the best of the basics, to remarkable preparations of produce, to house-made charcuterie and snacks, all of which are served in a masterfully renovated historic building in the heart of Rhinebeck. The convivial feeling of the restaurant will reverberate through your entire experience, ensuring your return visit(s).
New Restaurant, West of the Hudson River
Liberty Street Bistro, Newburgh
Contemporary American cuisine and French-inflected dining meet at this Newburgh standout, which opened last June. A hallmark (and cheerleader) of the city’s march toward restoration, the restaurant is led by Chef Michael Kelly, a CIA-educated, Valley local, who deftly prepares a menu based on what is seasonally available. Personal touches — like a sweet treat served with your bill and cocktails expertly infused with smoke — make the experience here truly exceptional.
gracie’s luncheonette photo by kenneth gabrielsen
Gracie’s Luncheonette, Leeds
Maybe it’s because they started out as a food truck, but Gracie’s really knows how to get road-chow right: they mix their own sodas, make their own donuts, and even craft their own American cheese. When it comes to comfort food, these guys go above and beyond to not take the easy route. You can enjoy it all with a drive-by view of the Catskill Creek; no giant tubs of potato salad or towering golden arches in sight.
Outdated Café, Kingston
Buttery, cheesy, and with just a bit of a sweet-hot bite, the Jalapeno Jack Scone here is no average pastry. These house-made treats are more dense than you’d expect — like a biscuit — but still irresistibly crumbly. Enjoyable on their own or split into an egg sandwich, regulars know the ones to really seek out are those that couldn’t hold all their cheese in while being baked (i.e. it’s crisp and oozing out the sides).
Cheryl’s Fried Fish & Soul Food, Middletown
Decorative fish motifs adorn tabletops at this tiny-but-mighty eatery in the heart of downtown, serving the most heartwarming, spirit-comforting, down-home food around. Fried fish and chicken are the main draw, along with vegetarian-friendly side dishes like collard greens, cabbage, and plantains. Patrons also demand the oxtails, curried goat, and BBQ ribs. Is it sweets that soothe you most of all? Grab a slice of raisin-packed carrot cake for the road.
Pawling Bread Co, Pawling
Between rearing a starter, fermenting, and baking, sourdough bread just takes more time and attention to develop and bake. Something that makes these loaves all the more distinguished, given they’re made by a single baker — in her basement. Slices have that characteristic tangy taste, but are also slightly sweet with a buoyant crumb and crackly crust. You can find plain white, country, and sesame varieties on rotation at the Pawling Farmers Market or one of their off-season pop-ups, but don’t miss special flavors — like cranberry walnut — when available.
917.968.2782; find them on Facebook
Hidden Gem Bistro
Le Express, Poughkeepsie
Who would expect a real French bistro in a strip mall? Parisian faves like duck confit, escargot, and steak au poivre are on the menu. Come in for $1 Wednesday Oyster Nights and sip a glass of Prosecco (or two) while you admire the brasserie-style, penny-tile bar floor, and don’t skip vanilla bean crème brulee for dessert. And look at that, this back-road, shopping plaza restaurant just made you say, “Ooo-la-la.”
Hidden Gem Burger Joint
Just behind the village’s main drag, and secluded on a back street, exists this industrial-looking little eatery. Step up to the counter and choose your burger fate: grass-fed beef, lamb, chicken, or veggie, accompanied by spicy and tangy sauces that put ketchup to shame. You’re guaranteed farm-fresh ingredients — cooked to order — and served on a pillow-like bun grilled to perfection. Crispy, hand-cut fries, Adirondack Creamery milkshakes, and a small but sassy wine list, too!
Hidden Gem Café
Sugar & Spice Café, Poughkeepsie
You know the Poughkeepsie Plaza, one of the ho-hum plazas on Route 9? No? With limited signage and just a handful of stores (Marshall’s is the biggest) we’re not too surprised. But set into its north-most corner is this place, serving delicious salads and sandwiches, crispy and addictive fries, homemade baked goods, and a surprisingly ample dining room. Break out the GPS and get there — now.
Diego’s Taquiera, Kingston
Owners and former Chopped competitors Isaac and Elena Cruz are thinking outside the shell at this Kingston favorite, offering a generous selection to taco lovers of any sort (yes, even those who are gluten-free or vegetarian). You’ll find classics, of course, pork-, chicken-, fish-, and beef-loaded types galore, and inventive options, like the smoky beet, made of brined and grilled beets, caramelized onion, arugula, and a cilantro yogurt crema, too. With so many to choose from, you’ll definitely be back for more.
The Tavern at Diamond Mills, Saugerties
Chef Giuseppe Napoli has combined his Italian heritage with a world-class, CIA education to craft an extraordinary menu of dishes that keep us coming back for more. We still swear the gazpacho we had on our first visit is the best we’ve eaten yet, and the Tavern skillet burger continues to knock our socks off every time we order it. There’s also the salumeria, and the shrimp risotto…heck, you might as well stay at the hotel so you can eat here again and again.
Garden Café, Woodstock
Go meat- and dairy-free and never look back, at this charming outpost hidden in plain sight just off the famous hippy-happy village green. You’ll enjoy good-for-you dishes — like noodle-less lasagna with homemade cashew ricotta, or a “Macro Meal” of brown rice with seaweed — among actual vegetation on the pebbled patio or in the shabby chic dining room. (Don’t worry, virtuosity is not mandatory: try a sake Bloody Mary.)
Park Falafel & Pizza, Hudson
They bake their own pitas at this unique kosher and halal-friendly fast-food hangout that proves you don’t need meat to make a satisfying meal. Must-tries: cucumber-packed falafel, and a beet-root salad that’s pepped up with tangy pomegranate vinaigrette. Oh yeah, and pizza: giant traditional cheese, white ricotta, and vegan slices and pies leave you sated, not stuffed.
Main Line Diner & Pizza Company, Maybrook
Walk into this neighborhood favorite and you’ll immediately notice order upon order of waffle fries lined up across the dining counter. Delicate, crisp, and served nice and hot, these above-average bites are already seasoned to perfection, but no need to stop there: the five-star staff is happy to help you customize them (hello, cheesy, gravy heaven).
Riverfront Bar & Grill, Albany
Scratch that — forget waterside dining, try eating literally on the water. The name of this venue is no ruse: you’ll board an actual (stationary) barge to enjoy stand-up food, live musical entertainment, and, well, river views. The menu is seafood-slanted but also offers a variety of terrific landlubber-type options and kids’ choices. Seating, meanwhile, is split between two levels — an open upper-deck, and an enclosed area down below that’s perfect for private parties (or those prone to seasickness). Consider this your new warm-weather hangout.
Hudson Hil’s Café & Market, Cold Spring
This local staple offers made-from-scratch options to appeal to any breakfast taste at any time of day — or at least until close. Classics like Eggs Bennie share the menu with sweet updates (like chocolate babka French toast), alternative tastes (such as huevos rancheros), and smaller plates (like pastries), too. Made with as many local ingredients they can get their hands on. A head’s up: although breakfast is available all day, lines tend to stretch down the porch, so you may still want to show up before noon.
Art Café, Nyack
Break away from the ordinary toast with eggs over easy: Inspired by the cafes in Tel Aviv, this breakfast menu features traditional Israeli recipes that will wake up your taste buds and ease you through the morning. The Shakshooka, two organic eggs baked in spicy tomato sauce with Bulgarian feta and Mediterranean herbs, is a standout — full of spice and flavor. You can’t go wrong with a Sabich either; a fresh pita filled with eggplant, hummus, pickles, and boiled egg.
Main Street Bistro, New Paltz
If you couldn’t guess it from the lines that wind out the door on weekends, this spot is a local legend for breakfast. The menu features healthy portions of eclectic American and vegetarian cuisine to fit any budget (especially famous with the college crowd for the $1.95 breakfast special of two eggs, home fries, and whole-wheat toast), all made with fresh ingredients and enjoyed in a comfortable, unfussy environment. Find standouts like frittata, flapjacks, and stir-fries, too, or, like any solid morning spot, design an omelette just for you.
Brunch in a Historic inn
Borland House Inn, Montgomery
Originally built in 1789, the historic Borland House Bed & Breakfast (which opens brunch up to the public) offers a mid-morning meal of wholesome comfort food, made from scratch, with locally sourced ingredients. Enjoy dishes like a skillet frittata with seasonal vegetables and buttermilk ricotta donuts tossed in sugar alongside classic architecture and preserved designs — including the original kitchen, where cooking classes are held.
Brunch with a View
Pamela’s on the Hudson, Newburgh
What’s better than brunch? Brunch with Hudson views, that’s what. Visit Pamela’s on a Sunday and enjoy intriguing dishes (like a breakfast sandwich served between two pancakes) while gazing out at our favorite river. And you don’t have to head to the outdoor deck either: each seat in the house offers a pretty panorama.
Ama Cocina, Albany
The Churros Mexi-Toast, served at this modern Mexican street food restaurant’s brunch, is actually more of a dessert. Composed of house-made churro bites baked in flan batter with a cinnamon-ancho sugar, chocolate sauce, fresh whipped cream, and topped with powdered sugar, it’s sure to give your system an instant jolt. Our suggestion: balance it out with a more protein-rich item on the menu, such as Cheesey Street Fries made with chorizo. Hey, we didn’t say it was health food!
The Poughkeepsie Grind, Poughkeepsie
The coffee will draw you in. The bacon will get you to stick around. But the waffles are what will make you write home to Mom. Both light and fluffy, and crispy and hot, these Belgian beauties are made to order on the spot. The plain waffle is a winner in itself, but don’t miss variations like blueberry, apple cinnamon, or (of course) with fried chicken. A rotation of unique specials — like a Fruity Pebble Waffle with fresh berries and raspberry whipped cream — keeps things interesting.
Mill House Brewing Company
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Angela Joy Wilbur
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Crossroads Brewing Company
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Aroma Thyme Bistro
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Max’s on Main
Chocolate Chip Cookie
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Mudd Puddle Coffee Roasters & cafe
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Rosticceria Rossi & Sons
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Frites of NY
New World Home Cooking Co.
Beacon Bread Company
AJ Café Bar & restaurant
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Mill House Brewing Company
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Mac n cheese
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Armadillo Bar & Grill
Henry’s at the Farm
Liberty Street Bistro
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Schatzi’s Pub + Bier Garden
Outdoor Dining (waterside)
Shadows on the Hudson
Cosimo’s Brick Oven
Cosimo’s Brick Oven
Place to Eat with Kids
Double O Grill
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Armadillo Bar & Grill
Restaurant with a View
Mohonk Mountain House
Mohonk Mountain House
Rosticceria Rossi & Sons
Yum Yum Noodle Bar
AJ Café Bar & Restaurant
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New World Home Cooking Co.
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