Travel

A Food Tour through the Hudson Valley and the Catskills

Photo Courtesy of Christian Harder for Brushland Eating House.

A Food Tour through the Hudson Valley and the Catskills

For goop food editor Ana Hito, New York’s Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains are a culinary paradise.

Since moving from New York to LA last year, I’ve realized the one thing I miss the most: my weekend trips to the Hudson Valley and the Catskills, about a hundred miles north of Manhattan. This part of New York is one of my favorite spots on earth, partly because—unlike most of California—there’s something unmistakably different up there every season. It’s the epitome of four seasons: crisp and cool in the fall, humid and thunderstorm-prone in the summer. It’s satisfyingly snowy in the winter, and come spring, it’s that delicate shade of green that only exists in this part of the world. It also has some of the best restaurants, cafés, bars, and markets you’ll find anywhere, thanks to the super conscientious organic farmers and restaurateurs who call the area home. My trips here over the years are what inspired my love of cooking.

Upstate New York can be hard to navigate because of the vast geography it covers and the endless little towns it includes. But growing up in the city gave me plenty of opportunities to discover those under-the-radar places that are so good, they keep me coming back. Even from the other coast.

Ana's Picks

  • Brushland Eating House

    Brushland Eating House

    Bovina is a tiny gem of a town with one small main street. Which is where you’ll find Brushland Eating House, opened by ex-Brooklynites Sohail Zandi and Sara Elbert. They’ve somehow managed to nail the small-town, mom-and-pop-restaurant atmosphere that feels totally authentic, and everything is locally sourced from within thirty miles (starting with the eggs, which come from the chicken coop in the back). Be sure to drive around Bovina for a while before or after your meal to get a sense of the beautiful surrounding countryside.

  • Butcher & Bar

    Butcher & Bar

    During the summer, Hasbrouck House (a small country inn in Stone Ridge) hosts a weekly outdoor movie night. Bring a picnic dinner, or grab a bite from Butcher & Bar, the hotel’s outdoor restaurant. It serves a great burger made with locally raised, grass-fed beef, as well as smoked trout croquettes with sauerkraut and yogurt. Check the website for movie lineups and schedules, and make sure to call ahead if the weather looks a little iffy.

  • Foxfire Mountain House

    Foxfire Mountain House

    Tim Trojian and Eliza Clark turned an old schoolhouse into an inn in 2013—and it’s been one of my favorite hangouts ever since. It is incredibly decorated with vintage artwork, antique furniture, and old Moroccan tiles, and there’s also a restaurant and bar for visitors who aren’t staying overnight. It’s worth coming for Sunday brunch, dinner, or even cocktail hour. I like to bring cards or a book to the glassed-in sitting room and lounge there for a bit with an old-fashioned. The opening hours change with the seasons, so check the website or call before heading out.

  • Frogs End Tavern

    Frogs End Tavern

    A treasure in the Hudson Valley town of Chester, Glenmere is a Gilded Age mansion built in 1911 that’s now a luxurious eighteen-room hotel. Frogs End Tavern is the on-site restaurant, which has a cozy tavern room with cowhide chairs and terra-cotta floors, as well as an outdoor courtyard for warm-weather meals. (And since the house was built in the style of an Italian villa, you could almost imagine you’re in Tuscany on sunny summer afternoons.) The menu changes with the seasons, but there’s always some version of a house-made pasta and classics like oysters on the half shell, chicken potpie, and deviled eggs. Reservations are definitely recommended. In fact, they’re essential.

  • Gaskins

    Gaskins

    Nick and Sarah Suarez have created a restaurant that feels like a real community gathering place, where the dining room is always full of happy locals. I usually go with a group and order a bunch of starters to share (my all-time favorite is the fish tacos). They also have some great regional beer and spirits at the bar, and Germantown is a real charmer for some post-lunch exploring.

  • Grazin'

    Grazin'

    It might look like an old-school diner, but Grazin’ is anything but. Located on Warren Street (Hudson’s main drag), Grazin’ makes the most exceptional burger you’ll ever have. My favorites are the classic and the lamb burgers, but there are also outstanding bratwurst, hot dogs, and salads—not to mention a mean veggie burger. It’s an extra special place for an animal lover like me, because it’s the first completely Animal Welfare Approved restaurant in the world. That means using only livestock that comes from small family farms that are held to the highest animal-welfare standards. As the name suggests, everything you’ll order here is as fresh, local, and well cared for as possible. Image courtesy of Michael Altobello.

  • Livingston Manor Fly Fishing Club

    Livingston Manor Fly Fishing Club

    More than just a fishing club, this five-acre wooded retreat hosts weekend getaways on a property that includes a clubhouse, cottages, 600 feet of private riverfront, and four tepee-like tents. When you want an entire weekend of cooking fresh-caught trout and relaxing with friends in nature, I can’t think of anywhere better. There’s also a wood sauna, fire pits, and lawn games—plus all the fly-fishing you’d want in Willowemoc Creek.

  • Phoenicia Diner

    Phoenicia Diner

    Typically, when going to a diner, you lower your standards a bit for that order of two eggs over easy with bacon and hash browns (and chocolate chip pancakes with a milkshake, or even a grilled cheese for breakfast—a personal favorite). At Phoenicia Diner, the bar does not need to be lowered, as it uses some of the best ingredients from the surrounding area. It’s glorified diner food in the best way. I try to get there every time I go fly-fishing or skiing in the Catskills. I’m always shocked at how it makes classic diner food taste so fresh and thoughtfully prepared.

  • Quinn's

    Quinn's

    If you think jazz, ramen, burgers, and an old ’70s diner seem like a weird combo, then you’ve probably never been Quinn’s. It all somehow works here at this Beacon spot. Go with friends, grab a booth, and order a bunch of things to share. I’ve had everything on the menu at least once, and I’m not mad about anything. Like a well-orchestrated mess, the live jazz music always seems to begin right as the food has been dropped on the table. And there’s something about slurping ramen while listening to rhythmic saxophone and trumpet-y jazz that feels so right.

  • Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture

    Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture

    Stone Barns, in Pocantico Hills, is not only a beautiful farm; it’s also an enlightening educational experience. You can learn about farming practices, beekeeping, and gardening; explore the greenhouses; and visit the goats, pigs, and guinea fowl that call this place home. Stop by the shop and pick up some candles or gardening equipment, and for one last treat, pick up a tartine from the on-site café. If you can manage it, a weekday visit is far less crowded.

  • Talbott & Arding

    Talbott & Arding

    If you’re looking to up your cheese board game, Talbot & Arding in Hudson is your place. It has many locally made cheeses, preserves, crackers, and cookies, and the friendly staff can help assemble a perfect board.

  • The Grange

    The Grange

    A converted post office in Warwick, this small, off-the-beaten-path restaurant is great for a leisurely lunch. I’ll call ahead and, if I’m lucky (and the weather cooperates), snag one of the porch tables. I always savor and remember what I have here—because the menu is always changing and rarely repeats, chances are it won’t be offered again. The Grange has its own farm nearby for all of the produce it serves, which makes everything feel a little more special. I dream about the house-made bread and the dipping oil infused with garlic, herbs, and chilies. Come on Monday nights for some live piano playing.

  • The Kaatskeller

    The Kaatskeller

    A roaring fire is one of my favorite things—maybe one of everybody’s favorite things—and I’m always guaranteed one at this Livingston Manor restaurant. The place is buzzing with locals no matter the season, and it is just as much fun on hot, humid summer evenings as it is on cozy winter ones. I love the wood-fired pizzas, craft cocktails, and local beer.

  • Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery

    Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery

    Take a tour or grab a cocktail at this old-fashioned distillery in the middle of rural Gardiner. It’s hard to leave without buying a bottle or two of the whiskey or bourbon, and the restaurant, Char, is great for flatbreads and fried chicken sandwiches.

  • Wayside Cider

    Wayside Cider

    New York is famous for its apples, and lately I’ve been really into hard ciders. A great cider is hard to come by, as they’re usually too sweet. But if you’re looking for a great cider and a great drive, check out Wayside in Andes. It makes its own, and a visit makes you feel like you’ve tapped into a local secret (call ahead to make sure it isn’t closed for a private event). Tiny Andes, meanwhile, is charming, and if you decide to hang around, take a spin through the fun vintage clothing store, Clementine

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