Best of the Hudson Valley 2008
(page 8 of 16)
* denotes Readers' Picks
Hudson Valley Hospital Center
Room service in a hospital? The wildly popular “At Your Request” program offers patients a chance to have meals cooked to order and delivered to their bedside — within 45 minutes — whenever they’re hungry. As long as their medical condition allows, patients can order as much or as little as they want up to 6 p.m. The food is a step (or two) up from average hospital fare, thanks to the program’s three professional chefs, all trained at top cooking schools. “Patients are always saying that it makes them feel like they’re in a hotel, not a hospital,” says Jennifer Fell, clinical nutrition manager at Hudson Valley Hospital Center.
Customers of all ethnic backgrounds love this bakery’s challah, says co-owner Sal Battaglia. The secret? The challah (Jewish Sabbath bread) is still made by hand, using a traditional recipe — and customers can also opt for a tasty raisin version. With a booming wholesale business, the bakery, which has been around for 40 years, distributes close to 15,000 loaves of challah every week throughout the tristate region, and makes dozens of other kinds of breads as well as rolls, bagels, cakes, pies, and pastries.
Miss Lucy’s Kitchen
With an ever-changing fresh market menu and cozy, home-style setting, this country luncheonette warms its patrons’ hearts — and tummies — with tomato-topped tuna melts; thick, creamy chowders; and the like.
These nachos from Bomber Burrito Bar (Best Cheap Eats) really hit the spot
Poughkeepsie/Hyde Park (six locations)
The mark of a great deli is an unforgettable ham or turkey sandwich, and nobody does the basics better than these guys. With the Reuben as their masterpiece, K&D has made an art out of sandwich-making, and their macaroni and antipasto salads are nothing to sneeze at, either.
Boiceville, Woodstock, Rhinebeck
Customers clamor for Bread Alone’s acclaimed hand-shaped artisanal loaves. First, the grain is ground on millstones, then baked in traditional Old World, wood-fired brick ovens. With offerings ranging from brioche to spelt, plus perfect pastries and tasty sandwiches, this certified organic and kosher bakery (which also serves coffee, soups, and salads) elevates basic bread. Their products are sold in green markets and specialty stores from Albany to Manhattan.
Boiceville 845-657-3328, Rhinebeck 845-876-3108, Woodstock 845-679-2108; www.breadalone.com
New Paltz Bagel Café
Especially on weekends, eager eaters queue up for this café’s New York–style bagels (firm outsides, chewy insides, thanks to boiling), then top ’em off with one of more than 20 kinds of homemade cream cheese, including classics like salmon, vegetable, and spinach-dill, or more out-there blueberry, jalapeno, and tofu. “Strawberry cream cheese is a special favorite,” says owner Paul Kellerman. Come lunchtime, the café serves sandwiches and such, too.
The Eveready Diner
Miss Mom’s home cooking? This double winner offers a huge menu of comfort favorites like roasted turkey, Yankee pot roast, and no less than seven homemade pies. Yum!
*Cup of Coffee/Latté
This home-grown coffee shop chain, known for its comfy couches and cool lounge-like atmosphere, keeps opening outposts all around the region. Our readers really like them a latté.
Mediterranean-inspired dishes won over our readers as far as fork-able, twirl-able, and slurp-able carbs go. Handmade gnocchi, lasagna Bolognese, and wild green ricotta-filled ravioli top our list of pasta favorites.
*Early Bird Special (tie)
Though you don’t have to get there early to take advantage of the $11.95 dinner special at Riccardi’s (hey, it lasts all evening), you can arrive at 3:30 p.m. to enjoy their tasty homemade Italian specialties, accompanied by salad and cake.
From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday (and 1 to 7 p.m. on Sunday), savvy early birds flock to this restored Colonial mansion to feast upon salmon, chicken, shrimp, soup, salad, and dessert — all for the low price of $15.95.
Late-Night Snack for College Kids
Irish Nachos at Darby O’Gills
The ever-popular Friday night hangout for Poughkeepsie undergrads, Darby’s has a menu that provides plenty to party over. But it’s the Irish Nachos that really tickles their fancy: The mix of seasoned waffle fries, bacon, globs of melted Cheddarjack cheese — and your choice of chili, beef, or chicken — perfectly complements that well-deserved Guinness after midterms.
Old-Fashioned Hot Dogs
Noshi’s Coney Island
Noshi’s winning weiners are of the throwback variety, the kind that audibly snap when you bite into them. The recipe is simple: Take a beef or veggie frankfurter, throw on the works (different orders feature chili, loose hamburger, or bacon, as well as the usual veggies), name it after a blue-collar industrial city (Detroit or Chicago) and — voilà! — you’ve got yourself a Coney dog. Here, the boardwalk-themed restaurant decor matches the food’s old-time fresh taste.
Meaty, beany, hearty, and warming, Andy’s chili is made from a family recipe that’s been pleasing his customers as well as his relatives for years. Get the bowl size — it’s so good, if you order a cup, you’ll only have to order another one.
Bombers Burrito Bar
If you’re searching for a bargain, Bombers is da bomb in the Capital Region. With most items in the downstairs seating area priced under eight dollars, you can grab a giant burrito (stuffed with everything from jerk pork to barbecued tofu), a bowl of meaty Texas chili, or their famous loaded nachos without emptying your wallet. Nightly drink specials, too.
Comfort Mac and Cheese
Jackaroni-n-Cheese at Jackalope BBQ
Whether it’s for the ultimate summer BBQ experience or a soulful wintertime warmup, the Jackaroni-n-Cheese satisfies the most demanding appetite with its generous helping of soft noodles, smothered with melted Fontina and Jack cheese. Cooked to mouthwatering perfection, this hot, creamy dish oozes stick-to-your-ribs deliciousness, transporting you right back to Grandma’s kitchen.
Designer Mac and Cheese
Maine Lobster Mac and Cheese at Artist’s Palate
Envision steaming chunks of fresh lobster embedded in a maze of perfectly cooked noodles, blanketed in a scrumptious blend of sizzling gourmet cheeses, and topped with a Pedro Jimenez sherry drizzle. We can’t think of a more luxurious twist on this old-time American favorite.
Jack and Luna’s
“The public first loved the butternut squash with curry,” says owner Julie Bowman. “It was everyone’s favorite until they tried the tomato basil bisque. Then that was the favorite. Then I served the sweet corn chowder with crabmeat, and they all said ‘No, this is the best.’ Unless it’s summer, when the gazpacho goes out as fast as we can make it.” In other words, any choice is the right choice here.
Weir’s Dairy Bar
Since 1956 Valleyites have flocked to this roadside stand for immediate relief from the scorching summer sun — and to satisfy that sweet tooth. At this family-run ice cream mecca (open from April through mid-September), frozen favorites include homemade coconut Almond Joy and cherry vanilla fudge ice cream; old-fashioned floats; and milkshakes.
Readers flipped for Rino's in New Paltz — we think you will, too
In a landslide victory, readers declared this Ulster County joint the greatest dough-slinger around. And it’s no wonder — owner Rino Mazzella tops his gourmet pies to suit every taste: from flaming chicken fajita to the legendary Grandma-style pizzas. That’s amoré!
Elephant Wine & Tapas Bar
This bold addition to the Ulster County dining scene, housed in a handsome Victorian storefront on busy Wall Street, offers only small plates. But don’t worry, chef Rich Reeve infuses big, Spanish tastes into inventive dishes like chorizo and chocolate and Basque-style chicken with piri piri sauce.
New Zealand Green Mussels at Terrapin
Our readers told us that the very best appetizers in the land could be found at this classy converted church. But we editors want to let our readers know how we feel about some very amazing mussels. Don’t expect the usual topsy-turvy heap of mollusks in a bowl — this appetizer is a true delicacy. Nine or 10 juicy New Zealand green mussels (the very large ones) come daintily arranged on the half shell; lightly coated with a mix of finely chopped and sautéed leeks and mustard greens; then topped with a lemongrass beurre blanc that gets the subtlest kick from sake, white wine, rice wine vinegar, and Dijon mustard. Chef Josh Kroner’s duck quesadillas have been a hit at Terrapin for years, but this dish (which he created last spring) may soon knock them out of the water.
The Thayer Hotel
Year after year our readers salute the sumptuous Sunday champagne brunch in the Thayer’s luxurious dining room (it’s a National Historic Landmark). A lavish buffet, stunning river views — and cute cadets too — make us all want to march right over there.
Up next: Best of the Hudson Valley winners in "Fun"
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.