An abbreviated guide to dining around the Greater Apple.
Idyllic and easily accessible for nature-starved New Yorkers and scores of other tourists, the Catskills and the Hudson Valley are home to a bounty of exceptional restaurants, more and more of which seem to come from NYC expats who’ve chosen adorable main streets, rolling hills, and secluded country roads over noisy subway commutes. From nostalgic stalwarts dishing out old-school Americana to dramatic foraged-ingredient tasting menus at the boutique hotels and inns that have replaced the Catskills’ once-prolific Borsch Belt resorts, it all amounts to some of the best eating north of the five boroughs.
So, whether drawn in by autumn’s kaleidoscope of changing leaves, the promise of fireside snuggles in a snowy winter lodge, or a warm-weather upriver excursion, here’s where you’ll want to stop while taking in some of New York State’s most scenic routes.
Lil’ Deb’s Oasis
Artists and chefs Carla Perez-Gallardo and Hannah Black are behind this tropically inclined, psychedelically neon-lit party bus inside a former lunch counter, which sits somewhat discreetly next to an old-fashioned candy shop, away from Hudson’s bustling main drag. The duo’s menu is a miracle of modern Ecuadorian-inspired cooking that’s as colorful and compelling as their eye-catching visual aesthetic. Pay special attention to the day’s rendition of ceviche or aguachile, which might pair scallops with melon and fermented chiles or shrimp with avocados and kumquats; the hot tamale, also a daily-changing special; and snacks like llapingachos, egg-topped, cheese-stuffed potato cakes drenched in peanut sauce. Looking for some natural wine to go with your mojo chicken or whole-fried fish? The list’s idiosyncratic tasting notes read like avant-garde poetry (“decorative soap, paddle board, cumulonimbus, clitoris” for an amphora-aged rosé from Spain), often prompting discussions with the knowledgeable staff.
Lil Deb's Oasis, 747 Columbia St, Hudson, NY 12534 (518) 828-4307
Pete’s Hot Dogs and Tony’s Newburgh Lunch
New York State abounds with classic restaurants holding their own against the creeping onslaught of avocado toast, like Ghent’s 82-year-old supper club Kozel’s. In Newburgh, across the river from Beacon, you’ll find two such gems within blocks of each other. Pete’s Hot Dogs has been slinging its namesake sausages from the same low-slung building since 1932. They specialize in the upstate New York specialty known as “Texas weiners,” anointed with diced onion and sweetly spiced meat sauce, as well as chili dogs ladled with a thick and peppery bean slurry. Mustard, sauerkraut, relish, and red onions round out the toppings. You can also find Texas-style franks at Tony’s Newburgh Lunch, which are proudly cooked on a griddle stationed by the vintage wood-paneled luncheonette’s front entrance. Here, brazen customers can add cheese sauce and crumbled bacon to the mix, or ditch the dogs altogether for a gloriously messy Tom Tom patty melt, the griddled sandwich overflowing with chopped hamburger, Texas meat gravy, bacon, onions, and cheese.
Pete’s Hot Dogs, 293 S William St, Newburgh, NY 12550 (845) 561-0211;
Tony’s Newburgh Lunch, 348 Broadway, Newburgh, NY 12550 (845) 562-9660
There’s a real sense of community at Sarah and chef Nick Suarez’s rustic chic eatery Gaskins in Germantown, and not just because so many locals regularly find their way to the wife-and-husband team’s sprawling dining room come suppertime. Besides their welcoming disposition and relationships with area farmers and food producers, the duo offers beers on tap from nearby Suarez Family Brewery, owned by Nick’s brother Dan. The kitchen is full of surprises, and the cooking is hearty and straightforward, yet thoughtfully composed. Grilled radicchio comes lashed with roasted grape vinaigrette, while a wood-roasted chicken gets a parade of daily-changing accompaniments – one night it could be freekeh and pole beans, the next, squash purée, escarole, golden raisins, and pine nuts. Another mainstay, the grass-fed beef burger comes with fries and an optional draping of cheddar, served on a bun that Nick and his crew bake fresh every morning.
Gaskins, 2 Church Ave, Germantown, NY 12526 (518) 537-2107
East of Hudson in the village of Philmont, chef-owner Josephine Proul has run her farm-to-table restaurant set inside a renovated gas station for more than a decade, attracting valley denizens and visitors alike with comforting fare that takes exciting twists and turns. Think pork belly garnished with strawberries, peas, and hakurei turnips, and lamb ragu-smothered squash hash browns, plus vegetarian plates like aged cheddar risotto and charred carrots next to yogurt and candied beet relish. Proul also wears the hat of pastry chef, devising zucchini bread doughnuts, rhubarb pavlovas, and cornmeal shortcakes hidden under a cloud of whipped cream and syrup-macerated berries. Sit near the windowed sliding garage doors to get a glimpse of the 19th Century church across the street.
Local 111, 111 Main St, Philmont, NY 12565 (518) 672-7801
At the restaurant inside luxury hotel the Hasbrouck House, a converted 18th Century estate built on 50-plus acres of verdant Stone Ridge countryside, chef Aaron Abramson – a veteran of bucket-list places like Noma, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and The Willows Inn on Lummi Island – cooks with ambitions (and prices) to match the storybook setting. Bonticou ducks are aged for up to two weeks to concentrate their flavor, venison is served just past rare to accentuate its sweetness, and radishes get plucked from the chef’s garden to join wild salmon tartare and horseradish crème fraiche; trout and ham are smoked on-site. If you haven’t booked a stay, show up early to walk the grounds, enjoy a cocktail at the bar, or lounge by the sitting room’s fireplace.
Butterfield, 3805 Main St, Stone Ridge, NY 12484 (845) 687-0736
Meyer’s Olde Dutch Food & Such
A cheery neo-retro burger joint and cocktail bar in the heart of Beacon, Meyer’s comes from chef Brian Arnoff, who also owns the regionally-driven Kitchen Sink Food & Drink down the block. It’s no surprise, then, that the roster of burgers, hot dogs, and chicken sandwiches is made using locally sourced ingredients. A “New York State Special” enrobes beef in extra-stretchy Muenster cheese and garlic aioli, while a quarter-pound pork-and-bacon patty receives a barrage of melted cheddar, grilled onions, and chipotle barbecue sauce. Vegetarians aren’t left out, either: Arnoff’s meatless patty blends mushrooms, onions, and pecans. Make a beeline for the backyard when the weather’s nice or grab a seat in the color-splashed dining room, and don’t overlook the list of “three ingredient cocktails” (try the Card Trick, with aquavit, ginger liqueur, and blanc vermouth).
Meyer's Olde Dutch Food & Such, 184 Main St, Beacon, NY 12508 (845) 440-6900
Rivertown Lodge Tavern
With Gabriele Gulielmetti at the helm, the tavern inside 1920s-cinema-turned-boutique-hotel the Rivertown Lodge merits a special trip. Co-owner of beloved area bakery Bonfiglio & Bread (which supplies the restaurant with artisanal loaves), Gulielmetti puts out an eclectic ensemble of globally-inspired New American food in one of the handsomest cedar plank-ceilinged rooms in town. During dinner, seek out dishes like pasta in smoked tomato puttanesca and shrimp pancakes with fermented broccolini and fava leaves, or splurge on steak or a whole fish. Brunch pulls zero punches. If the Calabrian chile-spike breakfast sandwich doesn’t tempt you, spiced carrot pancakes, house-smoked trout toasts, and kuku sabzi, a vivid green Persian frittata scattered with pistachios certainly will.
Rivertown Lodge Tavern, 731 Warren St, Hudson, NY 12534 (518) 512-0954
In the husk of an old laundromat, Trish and Phil South’s modish Narrowsburg wood-fired pizzeria perches above an especially picturesque bend in the Delaware River. The view is almost enough to distract from another beautiful sight: the puffy, char-speckled pies coming from the kitchen’s tiled Italian oven. There’s a textbook margherita, and other pliant sourdough crusts are strewn with creative combinations of market-driven toppings, including roasted squash with pistachio pesto and shaved celery root with gorgonzola and black garlic. Seasonal vegetables also get some time under the flames, ending up as part of a selection of appetizers, like salads of burnt sunchokes and shaved raw radishes dressed with tangy bagna cauda. Desserts (cakes, tarts, cupcakes) are made in-house, and there are local and European brews and wines to drink, plus proprietary cocktails.
The Laundrette, 20 5th St, Narrowsburg, NY 12764 (845) 588-2004
Brushland Eating House
Backdropped by rolling hills in quiet, tiny Bovina Center, Brushland is the realized dream of former Brooklynites Sara Elbert and chef Sohail Zandi, who live upstairs and also Airbnb two apartments above and behind the restaurant, turning this eating house into a sleeping house. The restaurant’s menu is a mix of comfort food (cast-iron chicken with Syracuse-style salt potatoes, pork schnitzel over buttermilk-dressed salad) and small plates showcasing enviable local produce, like a simple bundle of roasted carrots over coarse-grained honey-almond dressing. Amazingly, despite word getting out, Elbert and Zandi have kept prices down, making dinner here something of a steal.
Brushland Eating House, 1927 Co Hwy 6, Bovina Center, NY 13740 (607) 832-4861
If it’s pancakes you’re after, look no further than Sue Taylor’s quaint café, which opened more than three decades ago in Phoenicia and only operates for five hours a day during breakfast and lunch from Friday to Monday. Filled with fruit or chocolate and made from buttermilk, buckwheat, whole wheat, or cornmeal; no matter which kind you choose, the cakes seem to hit the table fluffy and judiciously browned without fail. French toast and egg dishes (including huevos rancheros and a breakfast burrito) are also on offer, though whatever you do, don’t miss the kitchen’s homemade chorizo hash and turkey sausage patties.
Sweet Sue's Restaurant, 49 Main St, Phoenicia, NY 12464 (845) 688-7852
Big Kev’s BBQ
Head to the hamlet of White Lake to find Kevin Monahan (the eponymous “Big Kev”) and his brother Donovan smoking dry-rubbed pork, beef, and chicken over cherry wood out of a charming wood cabin trailer on the side of the road. In addition to cornbread, coleslaw, and baked beans, corn on the cob is available as a side when in season. Beat the crowds and arrive before 11 a.m. Wednesdays through Sundays to take advantage of their breakfast offerings, which include egg sandwiches and wraps loaded with bacon, sausage, or the Monahans’ smoked brisket, which sells out pretty much every day.
Big Kev's BBQ, 350 Royce Rd, White Lake, NY 12783 (845) 798-7395
At this luxe hotel overlooking the Willowemoc Creek, chef Aksel Theilkuhl orchestrates elaborate multi-course meals that often feature mushrooms, herbs, and other ingredients foraged each morning from the surrounding fields and mountains. Vacationers can even join the chef on his culinary field trips to get a glimpse into the evening’s menu. On any given night, diners can expect to encounter things like stinging nettles, snail caviar, strawberry tartines with wild black locust flowers, and venison tartare theatrically mounded onto giant antlers. Dinner and a simpler breakfast are included with overnight stays, while walk-in guests have the option to lay out $125 for the prix-fixe or enjoy a lighter meal in the basement barroom, which is outfitted with a stone fireplace and repurposed flooring salvaged from one of the long-extinct Catskills resorts.
The DeBruce, 982 Debruce Rd, Livingston Manor, NY 12758 (845) 439-3900