Best of Hudson Valley 2009

It’s that time again, folks. For 23 years, we’ve brought you the Best of the Hudson Valley, soliciting your take on the region’s finest restaurants, shops, services, and people — and offering up a few choice picks of our own. Conjure up a category and you’ll likely find it somewhere on the following pages, from the tastiest shrimp-stuffed jalapeños to what you, dear readers, believe to be the greatest thing about living here. (Hint: it’s big, it’s blue, and it flows in two directions.) So without further ado, we present to you the biggest, the brightest, and the best our region has to offer

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Old-fashioned Brunch

McKinney & Doyle Fine Foods Café
There’s a reason this charming hideaway brims with belly-patting, back-slapping regulars every weekend morning. Actually, there’s quite a few reasons: the famous strawberry cream cheese pancakes; the exquisite sugar- and walnut-coated Bananas Foster on toast; the first-rate Bloody Mary, topped off with fresh horseradish. And here’s yet another: Every item on the menu is made from scratch, right in the restaurant. • 845-855-3875;

Appetizer Sampler

Double O Grill
Wappingers Falls, Rhinebeck
Any one item in this often-busy restaurant and bar’s appetizer sampler would be a feast in itself. But all together, its appetizer combo is out of this world. It includes Santa Fe rolls, a big-time treat made of egg-roll wrappers stuffed with cheese, chicken, corn, cilantro, black beans, peppers, and onions – delish. But save room – the $13.95 platter also offers four other grazing goodies: Buffalo wings, fried mozzarella, chicken strips, and onion strings. Can you say “I’m stuffed?” • Wappingers Falls, 845-297-7625; Rhinebeck, 845-876-0800;

Gnocchi with Peas and Prosciutto

Gino’s Trattoria Mahopac
Run by the Barbaro family (dad Vito immigrated to the U.S. from Italy in the 1950s), Gino’s is the kind of Italian restaurant we love: It has a casual atmosphere, great service, and a menu full of our favorite dishes. Our “most favorite” favorite is gnocchi (Italian dumplings made with potatoes and semolina flour) bathed in a rich cream sauce that’s punctuated with green peas and prosciutto. It’s a creamy, sweet, salty, calorie-laden bit of heaven. • 845-628-1911;

New Diner with a Twist

Another Fork in the Road Milan
Billing their restaurant as a “finer diner,” chefs Natalie (Figgy) DiBenedetto and Jamie Parry are serving up breakfast and lunch dishes that are far removed from standard roadhouse fare: house-cured corned beef hash; sweet and savory crêpes; organic free-range turkey breast sandwiches with mushrooms and bacon. Sure, you can get a burger here, too — made with locally raised beef, and topped with an oven-roasted tomato. The well-executed menu should surprise no one: DiBenedetto — who owns the place — is a CIA grad and formerly ran Mina in Red Hook, while Parry once served French cuisine at swanky Montrachet in Manhattan. The duo’s insistence on using ingredients from local farms whenever possible seems to have caught the attention of the locals — the restaurant is often full for breakfast, especially on weekends. • 845-758-6676


My Brother Bobby’s Poughkeepsie
The key to this local company’s sensational salsa? Fresh, all-natural ingredients. Since they launched in the ’90s, they’ve been committed to using seasonal local tomatoes, red and green peppers, and jalapeños when whipping up mouthwatering salsas that draw intense raves. The lineup — My Brother Bobby’s products are sold mostly in local specialty stores — includes the original Red Salsa, plus variation salsas such as Hot Tomatillo with Corn and Tropical Black Bean; their outrageously tasty bruschetta topping has won awards, too. • 845-462-6227

Culinary Kickback to the ’50s

Sonic Drive-In Kingston
Talk about tantalizing: For years, Sonic ran nonstop advertisements in our region showcasing its juicy burgers, luscious slushes, and tasty toaster sandwiches. But the fast-food chain didn’t operate any franchises in New York State, let alone the Hudson Valley. Then in May, Sonic opened a location in Kingston. The verdict? It was worth the wait. Not only is the guilty-pleasure grub scrumptious, but the restaurant’s setup allows customers to sit comfortably in their cars while a roller-skating server delivers their meal. It’s a scene straight out of Happy Days. And with a second location set to open in Wappingers Falls this fall (with whispers of even more spots to come), there will be plenty of happy days ahead for the Valley’s fast-food fans. • 845-336-4140;

Treat You’ll Crave for Weeks

Chocolate Bomb at Babycakes Bakery Café Poughkeepsie
This funky spot next to Vassar College serves tasty and unusual fare (including vegetarian and vegan entrées) from breakfast through dinner. But we suspect it’s the huge pastry case — which is full of luscious goodies, all made from scratch by the pastry staff — that keeps the college kids (and us) coming through the door. One spoonful of their Chocolate Bomb, a cupcake-sized mound of light-as-air chocolate mousse surrounded by a soft chocolate ganache, and you’ll be addicted. (They make cakes for special occasions, too.) • 845-485-8411;

Restaurant Cheesecake

Nina Middletown
This Zagat-rated downtown restaurant draws loyal customers who savor its gourmet meals served in a relaxed setting with brick walls and gentle lighting. Lunch and dinner options range from seafood crêpes to veal Budapest, plus the eatery boasts an award-winning wine list. But customers especially swoon over the homemade Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheesecake, which chef/owner Franz Brendle describes as “New York-style, and made with a generous amount” of tasty Bailey’s booze. Some foodies swear the first mouthful is akin to a religious experience. • 845-344-6800;

Southwestern Restaurant

Stone Creek Ranch Restaurant and Bar Hopewell Junction
It feels like Texas here, from cowpoke-style décor to barbecue-inspired dining. Customers clamor for smokehouse-cooked dishes such as baby-back ribs and beer-can chicken (it’s specially marinated in brew). There’s seafood, too, including shrimp sautéed in tequila, fresh lime, and Triple Sec, topped with spicy mango. The menu is chock-full of Tex-Mex favorites like fajitas, burritos, and quesadillas; side-order goodies include honey-molasses baked beans and cactus salad. Kids can gobble from the “Young Rattlers” selections, and there’s a $10 menu with budget-happy choices like taco salads and Arizona-style wraps. Wash it all down with a lip-smackin’ Margarita – choose from nearly two dozen brands of tequila. • 845-227-2338;

Homemade Sausages

Quaker Creek Store Goshen
Loaded with prosciutto, Swiss, mushrooms, and spinach, you better believe this deli’s chicken saltimbucca is no ordinary stuffed sausage. Then again, the entire menu of meats and accompaniments is mouthwatering. Manager and CIA grad Bobby Matuszewski, whose grandparents started the business in 1947, says great sausage is made with great ingredients, including the wines. “If you’re not going to drink it, it’s not going into the sausage,” he boasts. In addition to the luscious links, ’wursts, steaks, and kielbasy, the charcuterie produces a mighty fine selection of side dishes — sauerkraut, baked beans, homemade pierogies, and stuffed mushrooms, to name a few — that draws hungry fans from miles away. • 845-258-4570;

Shrimp-stuffed Jalapeños

Armadillo Bar and Grill Kingston
This tasty appetizer beautifully fuses the refreshing quality of jumbo shrimp with the spiciness of the jalapeño. To make the treat, Armadillo owner Merle Borenstein dabs on a touch of Monterey Jack cheese, then crisp-fries the concoction in a bread-crumb covering. To cool the zesty appetizer down, dip the jalapeño in some sour cream before digging in. Dios mío — just thinking about that wonderful confluence of flavor has us salivating. • 845-339-1550;

Southern-style Takeout

Cheryl’s Fried Fish & Soul Food Middletown
It’s a small storefront eatery, but Cheryl’s is gaining a big fan club, thanks to made-from-scratch, Southern-style dishes that nix the traditional grease and deliver delicious, home-cooked taste. Favorites for takeout (or you can eat on premises; they have a few simple tables) include Cheryl’s signature fresh fried fish, as well as fried or smothered pork chops, grilled salmon with rice and beans, stewed-down steak, and curried shrimp or chicken. Side dishes — especially the yummy collard greens or cabbage — are splendid, and vegetarians rave about the mac and cheese, yams, and plantains. Plus, the portions are big and the service is friendly. Yum. • 845-343-5565;

Biscuits and Gravy

The “Historic” Village Diner Red Hook
A village landmark, this classic 1920s-style diner serves genuine home cooking at retro prices. The menu offers everything from Philly cheese steak to homemade chili. A longtime customer favorite: For less than three bucks, tickle your tummy with country-style sausage gravy served over a biscuit; add about $2 more and ramp it up with two eggs and toast — you’ll get a sticks-to-your ribs hearty meal. • 845-758-6232;

Trail Treat

La Stazione New Paltz
A large menu featuring 30 kinds of pasta, plus some non-Italian specials, makes for the perfect pit stop at this renovated Main Street train station right along the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail. The view — along with a full bar — delights bicyclists stopping for a break on their way through Gardiner and New Paltz. Save room for homemade tiramisu, cheesecake, gelato, fruit di bosco cake, and other yummy desserts to fuel the rest of your ride. • 845-256-9447

Interactive Dining Experience

Amici’s Poughkeepsie
Amici’s, a popular eatery near the railroad station in the city’s waterfront district, offers delicious Italian fare with a personal touch. On busy days, chef/owner Joel Trocino will step out of the kitchen to help serve — and even bus tables when needed. For a nifty twist, Trocino also offers a monthly “interactive chef” night: He sets up shop in the dining room and cooks a five-course Italian meal right there, chatting with customers about ingredients and answering their “burning” culinary questions. “It’s a lot of fun for everybody, myself included,” he says. • 845-452-4700;

Place for Jazz and Food

Turning Point Music Café Piermont
Named after a John Mayall album — yes, the British blues legend has performed here — this renowned and rustic venue has featured top-notch music since 1976. Its intimate stage has so far hosted 35 members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — ranging from Odetta to Herbie Hancock. Monday is usually jazz night, with added shows planned for the fall. Here’s what’s really neat: you can combine a meal with an evening of super music — enjoy light fare such as sandwiches, salads, crab cakes, and more, just a few feet from the stage. • 845-359-1089;

Jazz Brunch

The Rhinecliff Hotel Rhinecliff
Once a neglected eyesore, the Rhinecliff is now a beautifully transformed hotel just outside of Rhinebeck that recently underwent an ambitious $5 million renovation. It draws visitors from near and far who stay overnight, then explore the Valley — plus locals who stop by for tasty meals and linger for drinks at the brasserie-style bar. The hotel’s Sunday jazz brunch — running from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a choice of a $19.95 prix-fixe meal or à la carte dining — is a great way to hear super music and enjoy a kick-back weekend. In warm weather, savvy brunchers make a beeline for the hotel’s bluestone patio overlooking the Hudson River. • 845-876-0590;


Sweet Sue’s Phoenicia
The line can be out the door on busy weekends, and some loyal customers admit they drive miles out of their way for this café’s super home-style breakfasts and lunches. Owner Sue Oakley-Taylor says she’s stopped counting the varieties of pancakes they serve; it now hovers around 22. Big hits include the Blueberry Monkey flapjacks, made with banana and blueberry; other pancake options include buckwheat, whole wheat, raspberry, cornmeal, buttermilk, and chocolate chip. “Another popular one is our Pancake Sundae,” Sue says. It’s a colossal combo of buttermilk pancakes, with peaches, strawberries, and blueberries, topped with fresh-made raspberry sauce... talk about flapjack heaven. • 845-688-7852

Local Ice Cream

Jane’s Homemade Ice Cream Kingston
“I’m a coconut freak,” says co-owner Bob Guidubaldi, so coconut Almond Joy is among his faves. But partner and wife Amy Keller likes all 80 flavors sold to 70 shops, restaurants, and hotels from Manhattan to the Berkshires. The ice cream and sorbet is made in Kingston with lots of local products. Temptation awaits in a dish of cappuccino Kahlúa calypso, lavender, or Triboro — a nod to NYC made with vanilla ice cream, caramel swirl, and chocolate-covered peanut butter pretzels. • 845-338-1801;

Taste of Chile

Los Hornitos Bakery Wappingers Falls
Chow on some South American fare and meet a “nice Chilean lady who takes care of everybody,’’ invites owner Monica Lorca. Besides an assortment of South American pastries, breads, and sweets, don’t miss her Cuban pork sandwich, the Chilean churrasco sandwich made with sirloin steak, and other Chilean gourmet specialties. Tres leches (three milks) cake is worth the trip alone. Open for breakfast through dinner. • 845-298-8683;

Spanish Dining Experience

Castillo Español Poughkeepsie
It feels like you’ve stepped into a classic restaurant in Spain when you enter this eatery, with its high, whitewashed ceiling and airy feel. The authentic Spanish cuisine is based on fresh ingredients in dishes ranging from chorizo appetizers to paella valenciana and mariscada. Seafood, beef, chicken, and vegetables are all done up in large servings with Spanish flair. Sip a glass of their renowned homemade sangría and listen to nightly live Spanish guitar music as you dine — they also offer occasional performances by Flamenco dancers. Olé! • 845-452-5924;

Old-school Pizza

Emiliano’s Pizza Poughkeepsie
If you crave a New York-style thin crust pie — topped with broccoli, bacon, or anything in between (they’ve got 15 toppings in all) — then this family-owned landmark on Main Street is the place for you. Looking for something a little fancier? Check out their lineup of gourmet offerings, such as Hawaiian (pineapple and ham), clams oreganato, even salad pizza. • 845-473-1414;

French Country Feel

Café Les Baux Millbrook
We’ve never been to southeastern France, but if it’s anything like the bistro chef-owner Hervé Bochard operates in Millbrook, we may soon pay the region a visit. The closely spaced tables and sienna- and oak-infused décor create an intimate-but-relaxed ambience, while the menu — highlighted by the rack of lamb chops, les moules frites, and can’t-miss desserts — invites you to dawdle the day away. • 845-677-8166;

New French Restaurant

Le Gamin Country Café Hudson
Maybe you yearn for a traditional French breakfast with très-fresh jams, croissants, or baguettes. Or at lunchtime, the notion of a garden-fresh salad or that oh-so-French version of grilled cheese with ham — the croque-monsieur — sounds “formidable.” No matter what, you’ll find all sorts of fabulous French food at this casual, Gallic country-style eatery. There’s a nice variety of crêpes, plus yummy soups and other choices, or you can just relax, enjoy a pastry and steaming cup of café au lait — and dream of a weekend in Provence. The family-friendly café — kids are welcome — also features a boutique section where you can browse and pick up some chic tableware. • 518-828-2885;

Restaurant Expansion

Le Canard Enchainé Kingston, Albany
The “chained-up duck” referred to in the restaurant’s title is shackled to a single location no longer. The upscale French eatery Le Canard Enchainé, long a staple of the uptown Kingston restaurant scene, opened a brasserie in downtown Albany in September 2008. Happily, an ever-larger swath of the Valley can now enjoy chef Jean-Jacques Carquillat’s authentically French flights of flavor. Entrées run from $24 to $38. • Kingston, 845-339-2003; Albany, 518-465-1111;

Wine Bar

Elephant Kingston
It’s called “Elephant’’ for no special reason, but the name fits because this is one cozy spot you won’t forget. “We’re a modern Spanish tapas bar,’’ says co-owner Rich Reeve. He and partner Maya Karrol offer a unique selection of wines and serve up a delicious menu of bite-size appetizers and snacks like fennel and clementine salad and chicken piri piri. • 845-339-9310;

Hard Cider

Warwick Valley Winery Warwick
The scenic Warwick Valley Winery is tucked between two granite foothills known as Mount Adam and Mount Eve. Fortunately for Valleyites, the fruit the distillery uses to craft its ciders is far from forbidden. No stranger to winning awards, Warwick Valley’s drafts garnered two of the top three spots in the cider category at this year’s Hudson Valley Wine Competition. Each of its varieties — the crisp apple; the desert-dry pear; the brisk raspberry; and its two seasonal collections, the flavorful black currant and the tart eco-apple — satiate taste buds thirsty for a refreshing beverage at the end of a cool autumn day. • 845-258-6020;

Place to Pair Wine & Food

Artisan Wine Shop Beacon
Looking to wow dinner guests with your ability to match meals with just the right wine? Consider Mei Ying So and Tim Buzinski your senseis, and their Saturday-afternoon wine-food tastings your dojo. The Artisan Wine Shop owners call on their CIA backgrounds to compose such harmonious pairings as shrimp escabèche with Spanish whites and grilled skirt steak tacos with California reds. (The hours-long sessions are a blast to attend, too.) Bring in your dinner menu and So and Buzinski will even create a complementary wine list, which you can then set up as a registry for your guests to use. • 845-440-6923;

Dessert Wines

Clinton Vineyards Clinton Corners
With enticing names like Embrace, Romance, and Desire, one might find it hard to resist the dessert wines at Clinton Vineyards. And why should you? The five varietals hail from a vineyard that, over its 33 years, has seen its wines served at Democratic national conventions, a U.S.-Russia summit, and the White House. Clinton’s two most decorated dessert wines are Cassis, a multilayered vintage derived from black currant; and Nuit, an intense package of port-like wild black raspberry flavor. Unlike other top-notch vinos, these wines won’t double the price of your dinner bill, either: bottles go for $25-$35. • 845-266-5372;


Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery Gardiner
Since Prohibition, the Empire State has distilled and aged just two bourbon whiskys (legally, anyway): Tuthilltown’s baby bourbon and four-grain bourbon. One possible explanation for the dearth of competition may be that the products are near-impossible to improve on. The vanilla- and caramel-tinged baby bourbon, made from New York corn and aged in American oak barrels, goes down sweet and smooth. The four-grain rye perfectly blends the corn, rye, wheat, and malted barley it’s distilled from. Both flavors are 92-proof, hand-numbered by bottle, and guaranteed to warm your throat and brighten your spirits. • 845-633-8284;

Beer Selection In a Restaurant

Bacchus New Paltz
SUNY students and locals have made this downtown eatery and bar a popular hangout for more than 35 years — and it’s a perfect place to wet your whistle. Bacchus boasts 14 beers on tap, ranging from New York’s own Keegan Ales (made in Kingston) and Ommegang (brewed in Cooperstown) to Stella Artois from Belgium. All told, drinkers can pick from more than 300 brands of brew from all 50 states and 60 countries, as well as imbibe delicious nonalcoholic options, malt beverages (“malternatives”), and hard ciders. Cheers! • 845-255-8636;

Beer Selection In a Store

Half Time Poughkeepsie
So much more than just a dash-in, dash-out beer stop, you’ll find here upwards of 1,800 beers from around the corner and across the globe. There’s everything from Brooklyn micro-brews to Belgian Trappist ales to gluten-free selections. The store’s meet-the-brewer tastings are lots of fun and informative, too: Customers chat with the folks who make artisanal beers while sipping their creations. Half Time also has an extensive online store with more than 20 different beer baskets, gift certificates, and even a variety of beer-of-the-month clubs to delight your favorite hops head. • 845-462-5400;

Roadside Eats

Bubby’s Burrito Stand Red Hook
You know it’s spring when this delightful, tiny trailer first appears along the side of the road, offering tasty eats throughout the summer. Then, when autumn comes, the owners close up and head down to Mexico, where they run a café in the winter. Bubby’s menu is vegetarian and it’s not extensive — just a couple of types of burritos and quesadillas, and a refreshing agues de frutas, or “fruit water” drink. Simple, yes — but here’s a definite case of “less is more,” with fresh, delicious ingredients cooked to order. Loyal customers stop by year after year, sometimes plopping down on the grass for an impromptu picnic; there’s also a farmstand nearby to pick up some fresh fruit for dessert. • Intersection of Rtes. 9G and 199 (no phone)

New Steakhouse

Flatiron Steakhouse Red Hook
Flatiron, a Manhattan-style chophouse that has skyrocketed in popularity since debuting in August 2008, is a steakhouse with options. There are the variations of grass-fed, USDA Prime beef: flatiron, hanger steak, filet mignon, 10-ounce New York strip, and one-pound rib-eye. There are the seven complementary sauces, which include chimichurri, habañero, and pecorino truffle fondue. And there are the portion sizes: the full eight-ounce and the petite five-ounce, which leaves less-ravenous diners sufficient room for chef/owner Craig Stafford’s savory sides and desserts. Throw in inventive non-steak entrées such as ground duck burger and caramelized sea scallops, and it’s enough to leave you frozen over your menu, paralyzed by an abundance of choice. Don’t fret: There’s an excellent possibility you’ll soon schedule a return trip, anyway. • 845-758-8260;


Real-deal Sushi Chef

Makio Idesako at Amici Sushi High Falls
Many of the Valley’s sushi chefs are from China or Korea. Not Makio Idesako: The gregarious Amici Sushi boss was born in the homeland of sushi — Japan — and trained there in its premier culinary art before migrating to New York in 1972. Calling on his authoritative background, Idesako can roll fresh, flavorful sushi both traditional (shrimp tempura) and inventive (tuna-yellowtail-salmon topped with avocado and caviar). Yum — tastes like Tokyo. • 845-687-7700;

New Thing to Happen to Japanese Food

Gomen-Kudasai New Paltz
A Japanese restaurant without steak or sushi is like a rock ballad without a bridge or chorus: It’s disorienting, yes, but when executed with skill and panache it’s a novel, rewarding treat. Since opening last year in an elegant space on New Paltz’s Main Street, the steak- and sushi-less Gomen-Kudasai has satisfied adventurous eaters with dishes featuring home-style udon and soba noodles, served cold, stir-fried, or hot in a soup. The tofu- and rice-heavy menu is manna from heaven for vegans and vegetarians. • 845-255-8811;

Brick-oven Pizza

Amedeos Brick Oven Pizzeria LaGrangeville
Amedeos has been a staple on busy Route 55 since 1989. Last year, owner Patrick Amedeo — at one time an architectural designer — moved into a new Tuscan-inspired building he helped plan. Hallmarks of the new digs were the custom-made, hand-built, wood-fired brick ovens, just perfect for turning out authentic Neopolitan pizza: thin crust, San Marzano tomatoes, Grana Padano cheese... are you hungry yet? The trattoria does traditional pies, too — with all the toppings you could ask for — as well as pasta, panini, and salads. • 845-454-4563;

New Burger on the Scene

Poppy’s Beacon

This lunch-dinner spot, opened in January 2009, offers local, grass-fed beef and seasonal produce, as well as an array of toppings such as hickory-smoked bacon and roasted shallots. The veggie burgers have even won over the hearts of carnivores (think bean patties topped with avocado and homemade vinegar, or mayonnaise-based cole slaw for crunch). The skinny, crispy French fries put their fast-food brethren to shame — and they’re made with organic potatoes.
• 845-765-2121;

Upscale Burger

Terrapin Rhinebeck
No secret here: The key to a good burger lies in the meat. It’s no surprise, then, that Terrapin’s premium patties are such a hit. To make the burgers, chef-owner Josh Kroner uses hormone-free, antibiotic-free, grain- and grass-fed beef. That all-natural flavor is further enhanced by the 30-plus toppings the restaurant offers, which include smoked Gouda, sautéed portobellos, and yogurt-mint-cucumber raita. CNN thought so much of Kroner’s creation that it filmed a segment on the burgers earlier this year. That’s news you can use — and chew.
• 845-876-3330;

Readers' Picks

Restaurants by County

Not too many surprises here. The winners from Albany, Columbia, Greene, Orange, Putnam, and Rockland counties were all voted numero uno last year, too. Of course, it’s notable that superstar chef Peter Kelly’s X20 Xaviars On The Hudson in Yonkers took the top spot in Westchester this year — making him the first culinary superstar to ever win top restaurants in two counties at the same time. And Villa Valenti in Rensselaer County made its first appearance on the Best Of list — even though the Valenti family has been running local restaurants for 101 years. Take home a bottle of their renowned pasta sauce or try their famous braciole: steak stuffed with garlic, herbs, and Romano, then rolled.

Albany County: Jack’s Oyster House
Albany. 518-465-8854;

Columbia County: Mexican Radio
Hudson. 518-828-7770;

Dutchess County: Serevan Restaurant
Amenia. 845-373-9800;

Greene County: Bistro Brie and Bordeaux
Windham. 518-734-4911;

Orange County: Il Cenácolo
Newburgh. 845-564-4494;

Putnam County: Riverview Restaurant
Cold Spring. 845-265-4778;

Rensselaer County: Villa Valenti
Wynantskill. 518-283-1291;

Rockland County: Xaviars at Piermont
Piermont. 845-359-7007;

Ulster County (tie): Ship Lantern Inn
Milton. 845-795-5400;

Ulster County (tie): Stonehedge Restaurant
West Park. 845-384-6555;

Westchester County: X20 Xaviars On The Hudson
Yonkers. 914-965-1111;

Restaurants by Cuisine

Lots of perennial favorites here, folks. If you haven’t sampled these fantastic favorites you’re just not being fair to your taste buds. Make a reservation already.

American: American Bounty at the Culinary Institute of America
Hyde Park. 845-471-6608;

BBQ: Max’s Memphis Barbecue
Red Hook. 845-758-6297;

Cajun: Spanky’s
Poughkeepsie. 845-485-2294;

Chinese: China Rose
Rhinecliff. 845-876-7442

French: Le Canard Enchainé
Kingston, 845-339-2003; Albany, 518-465-1111;

German: Mountain Brauhaus
Gardiner. 845-255-9766;

Greek: Yanni Restaurant
New Paltz. 845-256-0988

Indian: Tanjore
Fishkill. 845-896-6659. Rhinebeck. 845-876-7510;

Italian: Aroma Osteria
Wappingers Falls. 845-298-6790;

Mediterranean: Gigi Trattoria
Rhinebeck. 845-876-1007;

Mexican/Latino: Maya Café
Fishkill. 845-896-4042;

Steakhouse: Schlesingers Steak House
New Windsor. 845-561-1762;

Vegetarian: Aroma Thyme Bistro
Ellenville. 845-647-3000;

Restaurants by Atmosphere

Bistro: Le Petit Bistro
Rhinebeck. 845-876-7400;

Breakfast: Main Street Bistro
New Paltz. 845-255-7766;

Brunch: The Thayer Hotel at West Point
West Point. 845-446-4731;

Cheap Eats: Soul Dog
Poughkeepsie. 845-454-3254;

Comfort Food & Diner: The Eveready Diner
Hyde Park, 845-229-8100; Brewster, 845-279-9009;

Dessert: La Deliziosa Pastry Shoppe
Poughkeepsie. 845-471-3636

Place to Eat with a View: Shadows on the Hudson
Poughkeepsie. 845-486-9500;

Special Occasion Dining: Escoffier Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America
Hyde Park. 845-471-6608;

Late Night Dining (tie): Double O Grill
Wappingers Falls, 845-297-7625;
Rhinebeck, 845-876-0800;

Late Night Dining (tie): Palace Diner
Poughkeepsie. 845-473-1576;

Lunch spot: Caffé Macchiato
Newburgh. 845-565-4616;

Romantic Dining: Depuy Canal House
High Falls. 845-687-7700;

Waterside/Al Fresco Dining (tie): Torches on the Hudson
Newburgh. 845-568-0100;

Waterside/Al Fresco Dining (tie): Shadows on the Hudson
Poughkeepsie. 845-486-9500;


This year both the Blue Martini on Newburgh’s waterfront and Shadows on the Hudson in Poughkeepsie took home two drink awards. For the Blue Martini, it was, as usual, the “Best Martini” (but of course) and a tie with Cosimo’s for best cosmo; for the third year in a row Shadows snagged the “Best Singles Scene” and has now added best mojito to its roster. But really, it’s hard to go wrong at any of these nine beloved establishments, whether you choose to do the pub thing, make your Mexican moves, settle in front of a big screen for the game, or mix it up with the region’s top mixologists.

Beer Selection: Hyde Park Brewing Company Restaurant and Brewery
Hyde Park. 845-229-8277;

Cosmo (tie): Blue Martini
Newburgh. 845-562-7111

Cosmo (tie): Cosimo’s
Poughkeepsie. 845-485-7172;

Happy Hour: Mahoney’s Irish Pub and Restaurant
Poughkeepsie. 845-471-3027;

Irish Pub: Dubliner Irish Pub
Poughkeepsie. 845-454-7322;

Margarita: La Puerta Azul
Salt Point. 845-677-2985;

Martini: Blue Martini
Newburgh. 845-562-7111

Mojito & Singles Scene: Shadows on the Hudson
Poughkeepsie. 845-486-9500;

Sports Bar (tie): Michael’s Restaurant and Sports Café
Fishkill. 845-896-5766

Sports Bar (tie): Darby O’Gills
Hyde Park. 845-229-6662

Winery: Millbrook Vineyards and Winery
Millbrook. 845-677-8383;


Familiar names — Bread Alone, Andy’s Place, K&D Deli — dominate this list of your must-have food favorites. But newcomers — such as A Touch of Naples and Coppola’s restaurants, Red Rooster Drive-In, and Commodore Chocolatier — are now on our radar of places to check out this fall.

Chocolate Treat: Commodore Chocolatier
Newburgh. 845-561-3960

Appetizers: Terrapin
Rhinebeck. 845-876-3330;

Bagel: Hopewell Hot Bagels
Hopewell Junction. 845-226-4594

Buffalo Wings: Planet Wings
11 locations.

Bread: Bread Alone
Boiceville. 845-657-3328;

Chili: Andy’s Place
Poughkeepsie. 845-452-2525;

Cup of Coffee/Latte: Muddy Cup
New Paltz. 845-255-5803;

Ice Cream (tie): Debra T’s Ice Cream Cafe
Poughkeepsie. 845-471-3357

Ice Cream (tie): Holy Cow
Red Hook. 845-758-5959

Pasta (tie): Coppola’s Italian and American Bistro
Hyde Park. 845-229-9113;

Pasta (tie): Aroma Osteria
Wappingers Falls. 845-298-6790;

Pizza: A Touch of Naples Pizza and Pasta
Poughkeepsie. 845-473-5744

Sandwich: K&D Deli
Poughkeepsie: 845-625-2058 (Taft Ave.),
845-471-1607 (North Rd.), 845-471-7080 (Salt Point Tpke.); Hyde Park, 845-229-8344

Seafood: Gadaleto’s Seafood
New Paltz. 845-255-1717;

Soup: Red Rooster Drive-In
Brewster. 845-279-8046

Tapas: Elephant
Kingston. 845-339-9310;

New Restaurant

36 Main Restaurant & Wine Bar New Paltz
Our readers gave the nod to this fresh-faced favorite that has perked up New Paltz’s Main Street dining scene. Of course, they might have gotten the idea from us: After all, we had already named the establishment — managed proficiently by chef Adam Steinberg and owner Kathy Combs — a top new restaurant in our November cover story. • 845-255-3636


Edo Hyde Park
The place itself may look more New England than Old Tokyo (Edo happens to be the ancient name for that city), but the food and ambience make Edo Sushi a favorite among our readers. Feeling adventurous? Try the massive “Edo Roll”: tuna, salmon, whitefish, yellowtail, and eel, rolled and deep-fried, then served with spicy sauce, tobiko (fish roe), and scallion on the outside. • 845-229-9099;


Thai House Nyack
A perennial favorite of Zagat, esteemed by the New York Times, and loved by Thai food connoisseurs for years, Thai House’s Nyack location (there’s another in Ardsley) serves up traditional items like pad Thai, satay, and soups that balance sweet and hot, savory and sublime, as only the best southeast Asian cuisine can deliver. • 845-358-9100;


Woody’s All Natural Burgers and Fries Cornwall
Ah, the anti-McDonalds. Here’s a hamburger that’s actually good for both you and the environment. Woody’s uses only locally raised, grass-fed, grain-finished beef and serves it on regionally produced buns with fresh, local toppings in season (or from local food vendors out of season). More importantly, they taste like real hamburgers, the kind you’d make at home — plump, juicy, and medium-rare so they taste like meat, not shoe leather. • 845-534-1111;


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