There’s a cornucopia of culinary bargains to be found in the Valley, and we’re here to help you track them down
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Poughkeepsie’s Melting Pot
If you have a yen for ethnic food, head on over to Poughkeepsie’s Arlington neighborhood, where you’ll find a cluster of inexpensive eateries offering cuisines from around the globe. Lucky for us, the HV offices are right around the corner; here’s what our editorial staffers had to say about five of these storefront restaurants.
805 Main St., 845-452-9704
Looking for south-of-the-border cuisine without leaving southside Po-town? This little tienda — easy to spot with its lime-green storefront and orange roof — is more than your average taco joint. Patrons enjoy their grub to fast-paced Latin tunes; colorful posters and doodads fill each nook and cranny; and little bottles of hot sauce sit on every table, just waiting to burn your taste buds off. The menu’s loaded with stuff to make mouths water: tamales in corn husks, marinated “shrimp loco,” even veggie chimichangas for herbivorous types. We especially love the chili verde: grilled pollo accompanied by black beans, rice, tortillas, and slathered with spicy tomatillo sauce. Chow down under the umbrellas out front, or emigrate to the northside locale across from Marist College. Muy delicioso! — Jessica Friedlander
28 Raymond Ave., 845-486-8888
Tucked between an art gallery and a sushi spot, Thai Spice is a casual, cozy eatery offering such standards as pad thai (a rice-noodle dish sautéed with eggs, scallions, bean curd, ground peanuts, and bean sprouts) and chicken satay (grilled chicken marinated in Thai herbs and served with peanut sauce). Among our favorites is kang massaman, a curry dish made with coconut milk, potatoes, onions, peanuts, and your choice of chicken, beef, pork, vegetables, tofu, shrimp, or squid. Lunch specials (served with salad and soup) are just $6.96 and $7.95. The décor — which includes kalaga wall hangings, elephant-themed artwork, and strings of Christmas lights — isn’t fancy, but the atmosphere is warm and welcoming. — Valerie Havas
48 Raymond Ave., 845-471-8838
This family-run spot offers Middle Eastern fare. The spacious interior seats about 60; the décor includes a traditional dining table — low to the floor, covered by a tapestry, and surrounded with cushions — and a TV tuned to an Arabian channel. The menu has all the dishes you’d expect (hummus, shish kebab) as well as less familiar ones. For diners new to this cuisine, the $9.99 “mixed sampler” allows you to choose five items from a list of 14. Our personal favorites: tabbouli salad, bulgar wheat tossed with finely diced cucumbers, tomatoes, and lots of parsley in a lemony vinaigrette; and shawarma, marinated broiled chicken strips scented with cumin and coriander. Not that adventurous? They do burgers and wraps, too. — Polly Sparling
6A LaGrange Ave., 845-473-1392
Vietnamese fare features raw vegetables and salads to a greater degree than other Asian cuisines, and the freshness of the food is what stands out most at Saigon Café. Husband-wife team Hung and Hue Truong run the restaurant by themselves — Hue in the kitchen, putting the catering experience she picked up back in Vietnam to excellent use; Hung in front, chatting up customers in a cozy space full of the stunning photographs he’s snapped on return trips to his native land. We especially recommend the flavorful lemongrass beef over vermicelli and the perfectly crisped spring rolls. — Greg Ryan
50 Raymond Ave., 845-473-5850
This traditional Indian restaurant is sure to be easy on the wallet. Lunch is just $4.95, and dinner costs around $10. Upbeat music and flowing curtains lend an air of Bollywood to the small space. We sampled the lamb vindaloo, a spicy staple of Indian cuisine. Another favorite, doi murghi — chicken curry with yogurt and coriander — is a mild dish, perfect for newcomers. One item on the menu is sure to please even the most picky palate — hot naan bread, served fresh from the oven. Another plus — each dish can be prepared mild or spicy on request. — Lindsay R. Brown & Tiffany Riccio
» We voted Kismat “Best Indian Buffet You Don’t Know About” in 2008!
» Next stop: Meal Deals