Best Of Hudson Valley 2011: Best Restaurants, Food, and Drink in the Hudson Valley, Upstate NY

Best restaurants, food, and drink in the Hudson Valley in 2011 PLUS: Readers’ Picks, including Best Restaurants (by county, cuisine, and atmosphere)




(page 1 of 7)

Jump to:
» Editors’ Picks: Food
» Editors’ Picks: Drink
» Readers’ Picks: Food
» Readers’ Picks: Drink
» Readers’ Picks: Restaurants by Cuisine
» Readers’ Picks: Restaurants by Atmosphere
» Readers’ Picks: Restaurants by County

moxie cupcakeMoxie Cupcake (New Paltz) wins the editors’ hearts for its little treat with a big taste

Photograph by Michael Polito

Little Treat with Big Taste

Moxie Cupcake, New Paltz
About a year ago, these flavorful treats began filling the dessert cases of bakeries, cafés, and other eateries around the Valley; they became so popular that owner Josie Eriole was soon able to buy a storefront, in which she now bakes and sells them. Prepared from scratch, these homemade cupcakes are made almost entirely of locally sourced, organic ingredients, and Eriole uses only fair-trade chocolates. A favorite among HV staffers is the Cherry Darling: chocolate cake filled with a tart cherry middle and topped with butter frosting, chocolate shavings, and a chocolate-covered cherry. • 845-255-2253

aroma thyme bistroPerfect pair: Aroma Thyme’s five-course beer-pairing dinners feature uncommon brews and local foods

Photograph by Marcus Guiliano

Beer Dinners

Aroma Thyme Bistro, Ellenville
“We treat a lot of our beer like wine,” says Aroma Thyme owner/chef Marcus Guiliano. And he showcases his best vintages with monthly, five-course dinners for up to 30 people, pairing special, rare beers with his signature dishes. On Oct. 21, he features the Ithaca Beer Company line, and Nov. 10 honors Sierra Nevada’s 30th anniversary beer list. The food, of course, is seasonal, so there may be some Montauk-caught fish, a cheese course, fall vegetables, and even a dessert/beer pairing. And sometimes, he offers a sixth course. “There is a rep from the brewery at every dinner, and he or she might bring something special,” Guiliano says. • 845-647-3000; www.aromathymebistro.com

burritosPhotograph courtesy of Armadillo Bar & Grill

Burritos

Armadillo Bar & Grill, Kingston
Tucked away near the historic Rondout district, this friendly Tex-Mex spot is run by Merle Borenstein, who opened it back in 1986. Armadillo features Southwestern and Mexican cuisine with a Nuevo Latino twist. All items are made to order using fresh ingredients — even the salsa is created in-house, says Borenstein. The menu includes everything from tostados to tacos, enchiladas to fresh fish, and what Borenstein refers to as Armadillo’s “bodacious burritos.” There’s a big variety: grilled chicken, steak, shrimp, pork tenderloin; vegetarians often choose the black bean, goat cheese, and avocado burrito. • 845-339-1550; www.armadillos.net

Nouveau Bistro Dish

Fried Artichoke Hearts at Bistro Lilly, Goshen
Longtime Goshen residents Rose and Anatoly Shevchuk opened this intimate, 34-seat café last year. Bistro Lilly offers lunch and dinner in a relaxed, lovely setting with a menu that includes seared scallops and grilled New York strip steak. One dinner favorite: the crispy baby artichokes and herbed aïoli appetizer. Rose explains the dish’s origin: “I love artichokes, and someone once mentioned they had tasted something like this, so we experimented and created the dish.” The ’chokes are quartered, seasoned, and delicately fried. “They’re not greasy, which makes them so delicious. And we include our ‘secret’ remoulade-style sauce,” she says. • 845-294-2810; www.bistrolilly.com

lolas cafe sandwichPhotograph courtesy of Lola’s Café & Catering

Sandwich Shop

Lola’s Café & Catering, Poughkeepsie
Stroll the Walkway Over the Hudson and you’ll spot Lola’s below on the Poughkeepsie side of the span. CIA grad and owner Edward Kowalski launched the eatery in 2005. It features simple breakfast fare like egg sandwiches, pastries, and coffee, but the main offering is lunch. The café — with only five tables, plus counter seating; take-outs are popular — features daily specials and super sandwiches with a twist. Favorites include the grilled butter steak sandwich, ahi tuna pita, and Lola’s yummy spicy peanut noodles, which one employee calls “our signature dish.” The café offers soups, salads (the strawberry chicken salad is especially delightful), wraps, pastries, and more. Customers have described the marinated portobello mushroom sandwich as “amazing.” Lola’s catering has won awards, and to satisfy its many loyal customers, Edward and his wife Laurie have also opened Crave Restaurant & Lounge next door, for leisurely evening dining. • 845-471-8555; www.lolascafeandcatering.com

Wings

McGillicuddy’s, New Paltz
At McGillicuddy’s, you can choose from 21 bone-pickin’ varieties of wings. Like it hot? They offer “red hot BBQ” all the way up to “volcanic.” If you prefer international-flavored fare, try sweet Thai chili, Jamaican jerk, wasabi Dijon, or General Tsao. Or get creative with coconut peanut or raspberry chipotle. Can’t decide? Create a platter of your two faves and dine in wing heaven. Don’t forget: The cost is dropped to 40 cents per wing during Wing Night on Mondays. • 845-256-9289; www.cuddysny.com

Thing to Happen to Mac ’n Cheese:

BBQ Pulled Pork Mac ’n Cheese at Twisted Soul Food Concepts, Poughkeepsie
This exciting little food joint was opened in 2007 by CIA grad Ira Lee, who formed his menu around the soul food he grew up eating, but with a multicultural twist of flavors he’s discovered over the years. Everything about this particular treat screams down-home comfort food — thick, belly-filling mac-and-cheese mixed with tender, savory pulled pork and a tangy barbecue sauce. Even a small serving is adequately satisfying. Vegetarians can try the tofu option — which is so flavorful that carnivores will even enjoy it. Wash it down with a lavender-infused lemonade for a truly Southern-inspired treat. • 845-454-2770; www.twistedsoulconcepts.com

Place to Be Part of the Horsey Set

Charlotte’s Restaurant, Millbrook
Whether you’ve just finished a rousing game at the Mashomack Polo Club or a riding lesson at Fox Ridge Equestrian Center, the best place to unwind and enjoy a meal is at this Zagat-rated eatery. Charlotte’s uses local, in-season ingredients in its menu selections, which change daily, and the wine and beer list includes both local and international favorites. During the winter, a glowing fireplace provides a cozy environment, but the outdoor patio opens once the weather warms up, with views of rolling hills and a nearby horse farm. • 845-677-5888; www.charlottesny.com

paniniPhotograph by Michael Polito

Panini

Café Bocca, Poughkeepsie
Owner Erik Morabito launched this eatery in the Mount Carmel neighborhood of Poughkeepsie three years ago at a site that was once an Italian family deli. With exposed brick walls, rotating displays of art by local artists, and a stay-and-linger vibe, the café has become a favorite of both locals and day-trippers visiting the nearby Walkway Over the Hudson. “The neighborhood has turned into a real Little Italy; it’s very exciting,” says Morabito, who adds that crowds are expected for the second-annual Taste of Little Italy event, slated for Oct. 2 this year. Café Bocca’s menu changes daily, and many regulars recommend their parade of panini served on ciabatta rolls — you can choose from more than half a dozen. Among the melt-in-your-mouth sandwiches: breaded eggplant panini with peppers, cheese, baby greens, and balsamic vinaigrette; and tuna salad panini with capers, mayo, celery, field greens, and tomatoes. • 845-483-7300; www.cafebocca.net

Wedding Cakes

McKinney & Doyle Fine Foods Café and The Corner Bakery, Pawling
Whether you prefer tall and towering or subtle and sweet, the bakery at this well-known café creates a fine selection of cakes for your special day. Winner of this coveted title for the second year in a row, the bakery features a large selection of decadent delights including mousse cakes in raspberry, espresso, Oreo, and other flavors; unique options such as banana chocolate chip or Mandarin orange; and simple favorites like strawberry shortcake, hazelnut cake, and black forest. • 845-855-3707 (bakery); 845-855-3875 (café); www.mckinneyanddoyle.com

Non-Chicken Wings

Tofu Buffalo Wings at Northern Spy Café, High Falls
High Falls’ Northern Spy Café has been serving up crave-worthy vegetarian fare — along with innovative meat and seafood dishes — since 1993, in an “upscale country” setting. The “free-range tofu wings” have long been the café’s “most popular dish,” according to owner George Nagle. Made from organic, extra-firm tofu that has been pressed, floured, and deep-fried, the “wings” are tossed in a spicy Buffalo sauce and served with homemade blue cheese dressing and celery sticks. (Rumor has it that the tofu is first frozen, giving it a denser, more meat-like texture). Recently the restaurant diversified its wings offerings to include Asian-style sesame and Mexican chipotle. • 845-687-7298; www.northernspycafe.com

’Round the Clock Munchies       

Palace Diner, Poughkeepsie
Since it’s close to Marist College and St. Francis Hospital near Poughkeepsie’s historic downtown, the crowd at the Palace Diner on any given day might include everyone from students to surgeons. (You’ll even find menu choices named for the college — one, the Marist Sandwich, is humongous; it brims with turkey, corned beef, and plenty of toppings.) The Palace — opened by mom and dad Maria and Nick Vanikiotis and still run by the family — has been a local favorite since 1981. In the mood for a late-night egg cream, or a salade Niçoise at noon? From ribs to rugala, the Palace serves up what you want, when you want it — ’round the clock and seven days a week. There’s a full-service bar, and — for a perfect late-night or early morning pick-me-up — custom-made pastries and desserts, plus coffees from around the world. • 845-473-1576; www.thepalacediner.com

Thing to Happen to a Pretzel (part 1)

Pretzel Rolls at Twisted Foods, Rosendale
Imagine a big, tasty Bavarian pretzel — but instead of being twisted, it’s shaped into a plump roll; baked with herbs and seasonings; sliced in half; and filled with homemade, flavored cream cheese. Sounds good, right? The spread comes in a variety of flavors; we recommend the cheese infused with avocado, garlic, artichoke, and lemon. These delicious little rolls are perfect for a light breakfast, brunch, or lunch, whether you’re on-the-go or you decide to sit and stay at the bakery/bistro’s historic building on Main Street. • 845-658-9121

Thing to Happen to a Pretzel (part 2)

Bavarian Pretzel and Obatzda Appetizer at Gunk Haus, Highland
Try this German bread-and-spread, and you’ll never go back to those greasy mall pretzels again. Homemade, soft, chewy pretzel bread is served with obatzda, a traditional Bavarian cheese spread made of Camembert, Gorgonzola, beer, and savory spices. As an appetizer, it’s light enough to not spoil your meal, yet hearty enough to prepare your stomach for all the tasty brats, schnitzel, and other Bavarian entrées you can handle. • 845-883-0866; www.gunkhaus.com

Wood-Fired Pizzas

Cosimo’s Trattoria, Poughkeepsie
There’s pizza; and then there’s pizza — and the wood-fired, brick-oven pies at this Italian eatery are oh-so-good. Choose from a variety of gourmet pies: sausage with roasted peppers, caramelized onions, tomato basil sauce, provolone, and mozzarella; marinated eggplant with Roma tomatoes, calamata olives, roasted garlic, mozzarella and goat cheese; or the Quattro Stagioni, with smoked ham, olives, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, mozzarella, and tomato basil sauce; there are others, too. • 845-485-7172; www.cosimospoughkeepsie.com

vegan ice creamPhotograph courtesy of The New Confectioner

Vegan Ice Cream

The New Confectioner, various locations in Dutchess and Ulster Counties
Vegan foods often get a bad rap, with many people assuming no animal products equals no flavor. But these sweet little ice cream treats put that rumor to rest with flavors such as Turkish chocolate coffee, pistachio, and — office favorite — strawberry rhubarb. The company lists about 15 different frozen desserts (plus a handful of sorbets), each one blending a velvety smooth texture and palate-pleasing (and freezing) taste. • 845-661-4902; www.newconfectioner.com

vegan chocolate chip cookiesPhotograph courtesy of Vegan O’Brien Baking Co.

Vegan Cookies

Vegan O’Brien Baking Company New Paltz
Vegan baked goods seem to run the risk of being compared to cardboard. So what’s a sweet-toothed herbivore to do? Thankfully, we’ve got Vegan O’Brien Baking Company’s chocolate-chip cookies. Crafted by Manhattan transplant Evan O’Brien, these giant cookies are 100 percent animal-free — tapioca starch and a vegetable oil-based spread are swapped in for eggs and butter. Not to mention they’re chewy, chocolatey, and mighty rich, just like their counterparts. O’Brien also offers a peanut chocolate-chip version for the especially nutty.
Based in New Paltz, O’Brien doesn’t yet have a storefront — though he’s hoping to expand. “It’s in the far back of my mind,” he jokes. For now, you can find his sweets at various shops in New Paltz, Poughkeepsie, and Manhattan for about $3 per cookie. A warning: “It may be vegan, but it’s still loaded with sugar and calories,” O’Brien reminds us. Fortunately, just one of these bad boys is enough to fill you. We recommend dunking them in a tall glass of cold milk (soy, of course). • 845-234-5755; www.veganobrien.com

 

chocolate barkPhotograph courtesy of Heidi & Arthur Chocolatiers

Addition to the High-End Chocolate Scene

Heidi & Arthur Chocolatiers, Valley Cottage
“The magic of chocolate” is what father-and-daughter team Arthur Wartenburg and Heidi Caren attribute to the success of their family-run artisanal chocolate business. Made with Belgian or French chocolate (and presented in lovely lime green and brown packaging), their hand-formed confections run the gamut of flavors, from apple pie à la mode to tequila lime, whisky gunpowder ganache to Chinese five-spice truffles. “We specialize in unusual flavors and designs you won’t see elsewhere,” Caren says about their constantly changing menu. Chocolate connoisseurs can order these serious sweets online. • 845-267-2666; www.heidiandarthurs.com

New Pizza Joint

Grimaldi’s, New Paltz
As the latest outpost of Zagat’s “Best Pizzeria in New York,” it’s no surprise that Grimaldi’s (which opened in August 2010) is the Valley’s favorite new pizzeria. Just like the Brooklyn original, this upstate locale “keeps it simple,” according to co-owner Adam Monteverde, which means a limited menu of coal-fired brick-oven margherita pizza (they make their own cheese), salad, and calzone — all from fresh, locally sourced ingredients — and no credit cards, delivery, reservations, or slices. And (thankfully) no blocks-long lines here: the classy parlor boasts a huge dining room (with red checkered tablecloths, natch) and a low-lit bar where you can often catch live music on the weekends. • 845-255-3800; www.grimaldis.com

Creative Sushi Rolls

Sakana Japanese Fusion, Nanuet
This romantic and modern Rockland County sushi destination serves up super-fresh sushi along with an extensive menu of Japanese standards, such as teriyaki and noodle soup, and Thai, Hawaiian, and Chinese-inspired fusion dishes. Their special rolls menu is extensive, with extremely creative combinations — vegetarian, low-carb (rolled in cucumber instead of rice), and dozens of fancy fish creations with unique ingredients like tempura lobster and wasabi caviar. Diners love the Manhattan vibe, and though it’s somewhat pricey, it’s well worth a splurge. • 845-623-2882; www.sakanafusion.com

Ribs

Billy Joe’s Ribworks, Newburgh
Diehard barbecue fans are a tough bunch and they’re just as likely as not to extol the virtues of a roadside ’cue stand. And we can’t blame ’em — we’ve done the same thing in these very pages. So when the big ’n flashy Billy Joe’s opened on the Newburgh waterfront earlier this year, we knew it would be a hootin’, hollerin’ good time, but we weren’t sure how the ribs would measure up. Turns out, they are fall-off-the-bone fabulous! Meats are hand-rubbed three times and you can order either the standard pork ribs or the more unusual beef ones. Throw in reasonable prices, big portions, line dancing, craft beers, and stunning river views and you’ll be hollering yee-haw all the way home. • 845-565-1560; www.ribworks.com

Use of $1

Turkey sandwich at Overlook Farm Market, Newburgh
Oven-roasted turkey — made fresh each morning — is hand-sliced, tucked between two slices of whole wheat bread, and dressed up with lettuce, tomato, a little mayo, maybe a bit of cranberry sauce — all for a buck. This family-owned farm market/bakery/deli gets kudos from us for offering a recession-busting healthy lunch — as well as for their straight-from-the-fields selection of fruits, vegetables, honey, flowers, and other delights. And don’t forget to  pick up some apple crisp for dessert — just 75 cents. • 845-562-5780; www.overlookfarmmarket.com

american glory bbqPhotograph courtesy of American Glory BBQ

Barbecue Feast

American Glory BBQ, Hudson
It’s a regular menu item, but it’s far from a regular meal. The Glorious Feast serves up six different meats on a platter. You and your hungry friends and family can tuck into pulled pork, Texas hash, sliced brisket, St. Louis ribs, spare ribs, and Tallahassee turkey drumsticks, accompanied by four “Big Pot” sides and cornbread, all for $80. Not enough? You can also add a roasted half or full chicken for $8 or $15 more. “Do the math,” the menu challenges you — that’s a mountain of BBQ for $20-$25 per diner for four people. If you’re still hungry, you should see a dietitian — and maybe a cardiologist. • 518-822-1234; www.americanglory.com

 

Newsletters

Email:
Type: HTML Text
The Hot Ticket (events e-newsletter)
Be the first to find out what’s happening in the Valley, from rock concerts to food fests.
The Corner Table (dining e-newsletter)
We dish on the best restaurants, recipes, and tips from our Accidental Foodie.
HVM VIP Invitations & Special Offers
Get special offers on local events, products, and services.