Best of the Hudson Valley 2008


(page 7 of 16)

Food & Drink (continued)

* denotes Readers' Picks


More Food...


Skytop Steakhouse and Brewing Company
Our readers say that the perfectly prepared steaks and house-made brews taste even better because of the panoramic views from this chalet-style stone building perched high above downtown Kingston.


Mama Theresa’s Italian Specialties
New Windsor
The DeStefanos, Jim Sr. and “Mama” Theresa, offer more than 20 overstuffed specialty sandwiches with such irresistible names as “The Don” and the “How Ya Doin’?” They all feature the finest domestic cold cuts and imported Italian meats, homemade sausage, and fresh mozzarella (you can watch them make it throughout the day). “Very few people can finish them in one sitting,” says Jim proudly.


Raccoon Saloon
Our readers have said it before, and they’ll probably say it again: The juicy burgers here are tops. Slather on some house-made ketchup, get a side of sweet potato fries — aaah, burger bliss.


Gadaleto’s Seafood
New Paltz
This perennial favorite first opened in 1945, and deserves kudos for their environmentally friendly selection of wild-caught and sustainable farm-raised seafood. Steve Gadaleto heads to the Fulton Fish Market just about every morning to hand-select the day’s catch. Cook it yourself at home or sample their treats right in their restaurant.


My Brother Bobby’s Salsa
Insanely flavorful, full of zest, and tantalizingly tangy: This bro has a winning blend, made with the freshest tomatoes, onions, basil, and... well, we don’t want to give away any more of the secret formula. All in all, there’s no better way to top a fresh slice of crusty baguette.

Rack of Lamb

Grilled New Zealand Rack of Lamb at Wildfire Grill
The key to a perfectly grilled rack of lamb is to cook it just long enough to get a crispy exterior, while maintaining a juicy center. Luckily, the chefs at Wildfire have it down to a science. The generous portion of New Zealand lamb is encrusted with herbed goat cheese and topped off with a balsamic demi-glace. Roasted plum tomatoes and rosemary risotto make the ultimate accompaniment.

Big Menu

Double O Grill
Rhinebeck, Wappingers Falls
Feast your eyes on this. At Double O, hungry customers open the (25 page!) book of a menu and face the challenge of making a choice from over 100 selections — Mexican, Italian, Asian fusion, good ole’ American favorites like baby back pork ribs, and lots more. Looking for classic comfort appetizers? They’ve got a range of finger-lickin’ starters like fried chicken strips and calamari. Searching for a healthier option? Try the poached pear salad. Or perhaps you’re hankering for something a bit more gourmet. Try panko-crusted crab cakes, filet mignon tacos, or blue cheese–crusted sirloin.
Rhinebeck 845-876-0800, Wapppingers Falls 845-297-7625;

Thing to Happen to the Port Jervis Dining Scene

20 Front Street
Port Jervis
Since its opening a year and a half ago, this elegant eatery in an old bank building has turned Port Jervis, tucked away in Orange County’s far western corner, into a hot spot for foodies and fun-seekers. Patrons enjoy flavorful American Regional dishes, excellent happy hour specials, live jazz every Friday and Saturday, a Sunday brunch (at which kids under 12 eat free), and a wine list with more than 100 wines from all over the world. What more could we ask for?

Greek Salad

Four Brother’s Pizza
(Nine locations)
The salad itself is composed of the usual ingredients — lettuce, tomato, cucumber, red onion, kalamata olives, and pepperoncini peppers — generously topped with feta cheese. But it’s the dressing that makes this dish fit for the gods. Four Brothers makes and bottles their own Greek Salad Dressing, a mild, creamy vinaigrette mixed with just the right amount of spices. Try it at the restaurant, then take a bottle home for your own table — but be warned, it’s addictive.

Indian Buffet You Don’t Know About

This tiny restaurant on Poughkeepsie’s Raymond Avenue seats only about a dozen diners, but it’s certainly worth squeezing in for the freshly prepared, aromatic goodies on the buffet. At both lunch (when it costs $9.95) and dinner (a dollar more), the buffet offers five or six main dishes (lamb curry and chicken tikka masala are popular) and several vegetable sides (we like govi — potatoes and peas in a fiery masala sauce). Don’t miss their home-baked naan, hot from the tandoor. (Locals can get it to go at


Max’s Memphis Barbecue
Red Hook
The hickory-smoking process used for barbecue at Max’s takes up to 15 hours, and the melt-in-your-mouth results are out of this world. Check out the chili with smoked sausage, hand-rubbed pulled pork, hickory-smoked chicken, or smoked beef brisket — add garlic mashed ’taters, baked beans, or Ozark cheese grits, and you’ll feel like you’ve left Dutchess County to dine in Dixie. Adding to the illusion is the white building with oversized columns that looks just a wee bit like Graceland, if you squint.

*Best-kept Dining Secret

Busy Bee Café
Tucked away on a downtown side street, this culinary treasure has become a word-of-mouth favorite. A former deli turned into an intimate restaurant with just 13 tables, the Busy Bee dishes up sophisticated New American bistro fare like pork tenderloin with celery root and apple purée, or tasty lamb and duck specialties. The filet mignon sandwich is a lunchtime favorite; the rice pudding draws raves all the time.


Le Petit Bistro
This très French, très petit eatery has been delighting Francophiles for years with classic dishes like escargots and French onion soup (so Parisian, n’est-ce pas?), and entrées ranging from frog’s legs to lamb’s ribs Provence-style (so Provencal). Many ingredients come straight from the nearby Rhinebeck Farmers’ Market, and specials du jour are usually modern takes on old favorites. No wonder satisfied diners exclaim, “Formidable!”


Julie’s Restaurant
A favorite hangout for Vassar students, this Greek diner’s diverse menu of pancakes, omelettes, breakfast wraps, and homemade muffins offers a great way to energize before hitting the books, the office — or whatever else the day has in store. Diners especially love to linger over Sunday brunch.

*New Restaurant

Xaviar’s X20
He’s done it again. Culinary wiz Peter X. Kelly — whose venerated restaurants dominate the lower Hudson Valley — delights his fans with this newest arrival. Situated on a Victorian pier, the restaurant has gorgeous 25-foot-high vaulted ceilings, three walls of glass for stellar Hudson views, and (not least) an exquisite American menu. It may be the most extraordinary of his mini empire.

*Place to Eat With Kids

Soul Dog
This quirky cafeteria is best known for its outrageous toppings and herbivore-friendly menu (nearly all franks and baked goods are gluten-free). Oversized drawing paper and crayons adorn each table, making this the perfect lunchtime treat with the kids. But please, we’ve been telling adults to go there for years. They’re top dog with us.

Old-fashioned Brunch

McKinney & Doyle Fine Foods Café
Maybe it’s the way “Judge Malone’s Corned Beef Hash” comes to your table in its own cast iron skillet. Or maybe it’s dining in the 120-year-old building with original tin ceilings while you look out at one of the most charming little main streets in the Valley. Maybe it’s delicious down-home cooking (we’re still talking about the strawberry-cream cheese pancakes) that makes you think someone’s grandmother has to be back there flipping griddlecakes. Whatever it is, expect a wait on weekends at this one-of-a-kind, takes-you-back-to-better-days brunch experience.

Shrimp-stuffed Jalapenos

Armadillo Bar and Grill
There’s no skimping with these made-from-scratch appetizers — at Armadillo, they pick the same jumbo shrimp used in their entrées to concoct the shrimp-stuffed jalapenos. A touch of Monterey Jack cheese, then the shrimp is tossed in a coating and crisp-fried to order. “Some people dip them in sour cream to cut the heat a bit,” says Merle Borenstein, the live-wire owner who has presided over her domain for 21 years. Choose a small order of three jalapenos, or bravely opt for a serving of five. “Some people even order 10 at a time,” marvels Borenstein. Just be ready with a cold beer or frozen margarita to wash ’em down. We also give a big thumbs-up to the oversized, overstuffed burritos.

Moules Frites

Le Bouchon
Cold Spring
Plump, fresh, Prince Edward Island mussels come steaming in a fragrant broth (mariniere, curry, or Provencal), along with a mountain of crisp, golden, delicious fries piled so high you think you can’t possibly eat them all, and yet... Add a glass of something dry and white, and it’s a heavenly little taste of France — prepared by English-American chef Joseph Barlow, who says there’s no secret: the trick is simply “technique and love.”

Thing To Happen To Salad

Going green was a great idea for Butch Casale, who opened this specialty café two years ago. At lunchtime, customers line up for a dazzling variety of fresh salads — and “it’s not your typical iceberg-lettuce salad,” says Casale, who offers five different greens. Customers can choose from a mind-boggling 50 toppings and mix-ins — everything from apples to white beans, chicken, cheese, and nuts. The biggest seller is the Cobb salad, Casale says, made with lettuce, marinated chicken, egg, smoked bacon, avocado, tomato, and bleu cheese. Another favorite: the Mexicali with mesclun greens, Cajun chicken, avocados, corn, onions, tomatoes, white beans, green peppers, and cheddar. Add a homemade soup, and you’ve got a hearty, healthy meal.


You're reading about the crème de la crème of the Hudson Valley, as voted by your fellow Valleymen and loyal Hudson Valley magazine editors. Do you agree with us? Disagree? Tell us your top picks in the comments box below — and be sure to check out our favorite places, shops, and people throughout the region that we call the best.


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