Best Of Hudson Valley 2015

Best Of Hudson Valley 2015: Food & Drink

Including best food truck, new bistro, pasta, and more


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Palace Dumplings, Editors’ Pick for “Best Dumplings”

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EDITORS’ PICKS

Après Ski Treat

Chalet Fondue Windham
After a long day on the slopes, nothing beats a little fondue to really get into the Swiss spirit. Choose from either Chinoise — a Swiss specialty of filet mignon and veal — or Champagne cheese fondue for two. But if dipping food isn’t your thing (or if you’re not keen on double-dipping), the restaurant also offers myriad small plates, like potato pancakes and frankfurters, as well as traditional Bavarian favorites like Wiener schnitzel and sauerbraten. And if you’re not up for German fare, stop by Nunzio’s Pizzeria (located inside the restaurant) for some Italian goodies. 518-734-4650; www.chaletfondue.com

Beef Jerky

Barb’s Butchery Beacon
A former vegetarian (we kid you not), Barbara Fisher opened this meat-lover’s mecca in December. She sells more than 20 different cuts of beef, including the “delish” beef jerky, which carnivores are swooning over. Grass-fed Valley beef is sliced thin, marinated for a full day in a blend of herbs and spices, then cooked and dehydrated. “We can’t keep it in the store,” says Fisher. “The marinade has fresh garlic and cracked black and white pepper.” 845-831-8050; www.barbsbutchery.com

newburgh brewing company
Newburgh Brewing Company, “Best Beer Labels”

Beer Labels

Newburgh Brewing Company Newburgh
With its unusual combination of super-duper purple, salmon, and mint, this beer graphic for Cream Ale is not just another pretty palette. “It has a bold American identity,” says its designer, Matt Bouloutian of Modern Good, who worked with Newburgh brewmaster/CEO Chris Basso and president/COO Paul Halayko to come up with the label. The purple alludes to a close neighbor of the brewery, George Washington’s headquarters, where the first military Badges of Merit were given out and later became known as the Purple Heart. The jaunty cow on the label is a fun reference to cream ale (though the beer is, of course, non-dairy). And if you look closely, you’ll see drawings of Newburgh, too. It’s no wonder why this label won CNBC.com’s “Most Loved Beer Label” competition in 2015. 845-569-2337; www.newburghbrewing.com

Biergarten

Schatzi’s Pub & Bier Garden Poughkeepsie
Grab your stein, throw on that lederhosen, and head over to Poughkeepsie. Yes, you read correctly. Schatzi’s may be a newcomer to the Valley beer scene, but locals are raving about the “wunderbar” selection of German beers, and the array of German food staples. Randomly arranged tables and umbrellas, and a mix of rod-iron and scenic landscaping, set the scene for the outdoor biergarten, where you can enjoy sipping a refreshing Reissdorf Kölsch (the beer specialty from Cologne), paired with melt-in-your-mouth Bavarian pretzels and homemade beer cheese. Head to the indoor bar to sip a selection of craft beers and indulge in some unique American/gastropub nosh. The popular Schazti’s Burger was featured in BuzzFeed’s 21 Juicy Burgers That Will Ruin You For All Other Burgers… And this juicy masterpiece changed our lives for the better. 845-454-1179; www.schatzispubpk.com

black dirt distillery
Black Dirt Bourbon by Black Dirt Distillery, “Best Bourbon”

Bourbon

Black Dirt at Black Dirt Distillery Warwick
The fertile black-dirt soil of Orange County is famous for producing fruits, vegetables, and flowers that have that extra oomph of vitality. That soil is doing the same for bourbon from Black Dirt Distillery—by way of the heirloom variety of organic corn used to make it. “Usually, corn is 70 percent of a bourbon recipe,” says Jeremy Kidde, co-owner with Jason Grizzanti. “Ours is 80 percent.” The result is what bourbon connoisseurs describe as “earthy,” with a pronounced cracked-corn aroma — similar to fire-roasted cobs. Hints of toffee and caramel are also usual descriptors. Aged for at least three years in charred oak barrels, the mellow batches are released every six months or so. 845-258-6020; www.blackdirtdistillery.com

Bratwurst

Bavarian Manor Country Inn & Restaurant Purling
A little bit of Germany in the Catskills, this quaint inn was built in 1865 and has been owned by the Bauer family since the 1930s (more about their backstory here). In the dining room, a lively fire and blue-and-white-checked tablecloths, create a cozy atmosphere. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy authentic pork bratwurst sautéed with onions and served with German-style sauerkraut made with caraway seeds and served with grainy mustard along with homemade mashed potatoes. “It always hits the spot,” says owner Suzanne Bauer, whose grandparents were born in Germany. Guests are welcome to lounge on the many comfy seating spots on the wraparound two-story porch and enjoy a 40-mile view. 518-622-3261; ​www.bavarianmanor.com

Cassis

Clinton Vineyards Clinton Corners
Many Valley wineries now sell cassis, a dessert wine that’s made using black currants. Clinton Vineyards was the first to produce this inky black liqueur in 2003 — and it is one of the best, not just in the Valley, but the world. (It’s the only domestic cassis to win gold medals in international competitions.) If you’ve tasted crème de cassis (a syrupy sweet drink), Clinton Vineyards’ version will surprise you. “It has a sweetness and a tartness, with an herbaceous quality,” says owner Phyllis Feder. “It’s complex and delicious.” 845-266-5372; www.clintonvineyards.com

Cheese

Nancy’s Hudson Valley Camembert at Old Chatham Sheepherding Company Old Chatham
One thing that is sure to get our editors’ mouths watering is cheese — and this Camembert does not disappoint. Buttery, rich, and creamy, the soft-ripened wheel (or square-shaped, if you prefer) combines both sheep’s and cow’s milk with cow’s cream. But don’t just take our word for it. The scrumptious concoction has bagged numerous awards, including Grand Champion of the New York State Fair Dairy Competition (twice); first place at the American Cheese Society Judging; and Best of Class in the World Cheese Awards Contest in London, England. 888-743-3760; www.oldchathamsheepherding.com

Cheesecake

Cheesecake Heaven Poughquaq
Cindy Sheils likes to compare cheesecake to wine. “It’s all cheesecake, but there are so many variations and everyone has a different taste,” says the owner of this home-based business. Operating since 2011 and based on a family recipe, but without a storefront, Sheils, a former Poughkeepsie restaurateur, has been quietly building a devoted fan base who seek her out at local farmers’ markets and festivals. While plain, strawberry, and chocolate-peanut butter comprise her trinity of best-sellers, she’ll often make specialty cakes for events, such as maple-bacon or chocolate-bourbon concoctions. And then there are the seasonal cakes like pecan or pumpkin for fall. Why the diehard devotion? It’s the fresh baking, of course, but also Sheils’ technique of layering flavors at the bottom of the graham-cracker crust so that there’s a textural/flavor contrast between the cake itself and the extras. If you don’t want a cake, try the single servings, each in its own little tart cup. “Just grab and go,” says Sheils. 845-453-8973; www.cheesecakeheavenny.com

carolina house restaurant
The 1,000 Spice Caribbean Chicken at Carolina House Restaurant is first marinated in spices, then flash-fried and baked

Chicken Dish

1,000 Spice Caribbean Chicken at Carolina House Restaurant Kinderhook
This signature entrée has been on the Carolina House menu for 32 years, says owner Tammy Crawford: “We took it off once, and people had a fit.” The poultry is marinated in “a whole lotta spices,” then flash-fried and baked — a cooking method that results in a crispy, juicy, zesty bird. “We warn people that it’s a very spicy dish, but it’s not ‘hot’ spicy; it’s more of a vinegary taste,” says Crawford. “My relatives from Texas ask for it every time they visit.” 518-758-1669; www.carolinahouserestaurant.com

Chicken Parm Panini

Grappa Ristorante Warwick
In between a day of winery- and distillery-hopping over in beautiful Warwick, take a lunch break at Grappa Ristorante for a taste of Italy. Our must-have on the lunch menu: the chicken Parm panini. This winner features fresh chicken topped with gooey mozzarella cheese, and just the right amount of marinara sauce, all between perfectly toasted bread that gives the panini that little extra crunch. Bellissima! 845-987-7373; www.grapparistorante.com

Chicken Wing Upgrade

Garlic, Truffle, and Parmesan Wings from The Dutch Ale House Saugerties
We all know and love classic chicken wings, but sometimes even classics can benefit from a fun new twist. Served with carrots, celery, and blue cheese, these wonderful wings are tossed in garlic (plus a few other delightful herbs), Parmesan cheese, and white-truffle oil. Another perk: A large plate costs only $13, so it’s easy on the wallet as well as the taste buds. 845-247-2337; www.dutchalehouse.com

vera's marketplace apple cider donuts
Vera’s Marketplace won our editors’ hearts (and tummies) for its fluffy cider donuts. Find our Readers’ Pick for apple cider doughnuts here

Photograph by Lauren Emory

Cider Donuts

Vera’s Marketplace & Garden Center Cold Spring
It’s hard to make the perfect cider donut, but Vera’s comes pretty darn close. The homemade munchies are baked fresh every morning, each with a delightfully crisp exterior and soft, cakey interior. Available either plain or topped with a sugar, white powder, cinnamon sugar, or cinnamon powder finish, the snacks are also affordably priced at $.75 each or $8 per dozen. Ever in demand, the treats sell out each day and have even made appearances at wedding receptions during cocktail hour. 845-265-2151; www.verasmarketplaceandgardencenter.com

Craft Beer Bar

The Hop Beacon
Every night of the week (except Tuesdays, when it’s closed), you’ll find a full crowd at the large wraparound bar, enjoying the many ever-changing choices of what’s on tap from around the country and around the region — whether it’s a refreshing Peekskill Brewery “Simple Sour” or a full-bodied Thunder Dog Stout from the Gun Hill Brewing Company in the Bronx. There is also a grocery section with still more beer (refrigerated and not) and a selection of brew-friendly sauces and such. A short but varied menu offers plenty of bar munchies, from something as simple as a pretzel with mustard ($4) or a pickle plate ($7). A hearty roast beef and bacon sandwich is also a choice, but there is lighter fare, too, like the vegan Reuben made with tempeh. Despite the dominating presence of the aforementioned bar, this is a family-friendly place and baby bottles strew tabletops along with beer glasses, as hipster parents unwind (a separate, quieter dining room is also available). If it’s a date night, split a frothy Stout Beer Float: stout with coffee-toffee ice cream and whipped cream. 845-440-8676; www.thehopbeacon.com

Coffee and More (East)

The Pantry Cold Spring
Who says coffee has to be the only beverage offered at a coffee house? Not the folks at The Pantry. They serve up the usual coffees, espressos, cappuccinos, and teas, but they also include an X factor that isn’t often found at the local café: craft beer. Nine options adorn the menu as well as a slew of the standard canned and bottled varieties. The food menu is small but tastefully crafted and full of healthy items like gluten-free and vegan pastries, organic oatmeal, and energy-boosting juice drinks. But it isn’t just the food and drink that keep patrons returning; it’s also the friendly atmosphere, sense of community, and fun events like paint-and-sip parties. 845-265-2840; www.thepantrycs.com

olivieri's arts crafts coffee
Olivieri’s Arts, Crafts & Coffee, ”Best Coffee and More (West)”

Coffee and More (West)

Olivieri’s Arts, Crafts, & Coffee Kingston
Felix and Sara Olivieri’s café, which opened in June of last year, is the kind of place where you come in and are encouraged to join the group conversation. “People can even bring their dog in,” Sara says. The shop — in addition to serving scrumptious treats like Fruition chocolate and Harney & Sons tea — also stocks art supplies like canvases, printmaking paper, paints, yarns, and jewelry wire. A huge hit is a 3-D printer that the Olivieris use when they need knickknacks like salt shakers for the café. And a new artist-in-residence program, where local, up-and-coming artists utilize space in the store to work, receive feedback from customers, and make connections with local gallery owners, has really taken off. 845-383-1663; www.olivieriart.com

Cupcakes

Moxie Cup New Paltz
There is competition popping up, but, year after year, Moxie Cup continues to dominate the creative cupcake scene. A while back, enterprising owner (and former jazz singer) Josie Eriole added a full espresso bar to her Main Street operation, as well as other baked goods and lunch items, but we’re still obsessed with her tiny trademark treats. Every cupcake is prepared from scratch and mostly locally sourced and made from organic ingredients. There are tons of music-themed flavors, but our current office favorite (at least until next month) is The Moxie: double chocolate cake crafted from two kinds of fair-trade organic chocolate, filled with chocolate ganache, and topped with Madagascar vanilla-bean buttercream and a signature sugar cookie. 845-255-2253; www.moxiecup.com

Dog-Friendly Restaurant

Armadillo Bar & Grill Kingston
Your pooch gets the kid-glove treatment at this Mexican hot spot in Kingston’s Rondout district. An animal activist and former VP of the local SPCA, owner Merle Borenstein couldn’t abide watching her customers chow down while their pups cooled their paws in a parked car. So well-behaved Bowsers can now dine with their owners on a patio, feasting on poached chicken breasts alongside regulars like Percy (a Yorkie) and Paisley (a Pekingese). 845-339-1550; www.armadillos.net

Dumplings

Palace Dumplings Wappingers Falls
One bite and they’ll have you by the taste buds. Not the doughy creations churned out by hole-in-the-wall takeout places, these are delicate morsels available steamed or pan-fried. Each order consists of 12 dumplings, which sounds like a lot at first, but they go down so easy, you’ll have finished them in no time and be looking for more. Pork dumplings any which way (with cabbage, chives, scallions, and more) are the most popular, but do try chicken, beef, and seafood combos. The lamb with watercress is especially stellar (prices range from $9 to $13). Pair your dumplings with a spicy side dish like horseradish cucumbers or kimchi, and you’re good to go (or stay and eat in the serene dining room). 845-298-8886; www.palacedumplings.com

frozen cappuccino
Samuel’s Sweet Shop, “Best Frozen Cappuccino”

Frozen Cappuccino

Samuel’s Sweet Shop Rhinebeck
Willy Wonka has nothing on Ira Gutner. In 1994, the original founder of Samuel’s Sweet Shop left the Big Apple to open a boutique candy and coffee shop. After his sudden passing in 2014, the community was heartbroken as the sweet destination was on the verge of closing. It was three local families who knew and loved the candy man that stepped in to buy the shop. Although the name has changed since Gutner’s days, the commitment to providing Valleyites with the finest sweets is still a priority. This candy haven dishes out everything from chocolates to sandwiches, but it’s the frozen cappuccino that has us daydreaming. The caffeinated concoction is a blend of dark roast coffee, chocolate, and a non-dairy soy-based creamer. What makes it different from all its other “frozen cappy” counterparts? The beverage is not blended, but rather served from a frozen Margarita machine. 845-876-5312; www.samuelssweetshop.com

Fruit Wine

Spiced Apple Wine at Baldwin Vineyards Pine Bush
This family-owned Orange County winery is best known for its fruit wines, three of which — strawberry, black raspberry, and red raspberry — took home honors at last year’s Finger Lakes International Wine Competition. But the fall 2014 release of Spiced Apple is giving these longtime favorites a run for their money. Made using local applewoods and bottled in a Mason jar with a stick of cinnamon inside, this newcomer “tastes like Grandma’s apple pie in a jar,” says Baldwin’s Wendy Landolina. 845-744-2226; www.baldwinvineyards.com

Fudge

Udder Ideas Fudge Wurtsboro
Owner and sole employee of Udder Ideas Fudge, Tammy Forrester has been selling her delectable confections for the past 10 years. At any given time, she has about two dozen mouthwatering flavors available to order online ($6.50 per half-pound tin, or three tins for $20). Loyal customers look for her cow-print tablecloth at local street and county fairs. “People tell me all the time, ‘I came to this show just to get your fudge,’” she says. The best seller? “Chocolate — hands down.” Sucrose-free fudge, which uses sweeteners more easily tolerated by diabetics, is a specialty. 845-926-1923; www.udderideasfudge.com

el solar cafe
El Solar Café, “Best Fusion Restaurant”

Fusion Restaurant

El Solar Cafe Newburgh
From the moment a server sets down a gratis bowl of roasted orange-pepper remoulade sauce accompanied by crispy homemade tortilla chips, this storefront restaurant in downtown Newburgh wins you over. With inspiration from South America, Italy, Spain, and the American Southwest, the menu is hard to pin down. If you’re there for lunch, it’s fun to order a slew of tapas-style dishes designed for sharing, all priced around $12. At dinner, expect heartier fare like breaded and pan-fried veal chops served under a baby arugula salad. White tablecloths give the high-ceilinged space an upscale feel, while Ecuadorian carved-wood art and grillwork displayed on walls add warmth. Every month, usually the second Saturday, there are live tango and flamenco shows around 8 p.m. 845-926-0840

orange county distillery
Orange County Distillery, “Best Gin”

Gin

Orange County Distillery Goshen
A farm distillery surrounded by lush fields of corn, grains, and botanicals is about as picturesque as it gets. After you’ve gazed upon this pastoral scene in black-dirt farm country, order a gin-tasting in the barnyard tasting room. Do it even if you don’t like gin; you won’t be disappointed. You’ll detect the presence of juniper, found universally in gins, but also there are notes of lemon balm, citrus mint, coriander, angelica, staghorn sumac, and lavender. Best of all, you’ll feel almost virtuous as you nurse your 80-proof spirit, because you’re supporting local agriculture. The distillery is open Thursday through Sunday, and, if your group consists of more than 10, call ahead to say you’re coming. 845-651-2929; www.orangecountydistillery.com

Hoppy Beer

Baby Elephant at Rushing Duck Brewing Co. Chester
The offspring of Rushing Duck’s War Elephant Double IPA, this “nice weather, backyard-drinking” beer is brewed using four different types of hops, which combine to give it a citrusy profile. But unlike its pachyderm parent, Baby Elephant has a much lower alcohol content (just 4.4 percent by volume), which means you can enjoy a couple without falling out of your chair. 845-610-5440; www.rushingduck.com

chancellor’s hardscrabble applejack
Chancellor’s Hardscrabble Applejack by Hudson Valley Distillers, ”Best Knock-Your-Socks-Off Alcohol”

Knock-Your-Socks-Off Alcohol

Chancellor’s Hardscrabble Applejack at Hudson Valley Distillers Clermont
This stuff has been packing a powerful (and flavorful) punch since it debuted in 2014. Come try it for yourself at the distillery, located in the big ol’ barn complex in Red Hook (“Hardscrabble” is the town’s former name). The apple orchards surrounding the barn supply the key ingredient for this classic spirit, a staple of Colonial times, with a higher alcohol content than traditional cider. And, unlike cider, this potent libation actually tastes like Scotch, which makes sense, since it is aged in wooden barrels just like whiskey. Mellow apple flavor comes through in every sip, but with hints of caramel and vanilla. 518-537-6820; www.hudsonvalleydistillers.com

Liquor to Wow the In-Laws

Ten66 Pommeau at Orchard Hill Cider Mill New Hampton
If you’re aiming to impress, we suggest a bottle of this brandy-based aperitif, distilled from apples grown at Soons Orchards. Named for the year of the Norman Invasion of England, this pommeau (an aperitif traditionally made in Normandy) is aged in French oak barrels and displays complexities of vanilla, baked-apple tarte tatin, prunes, and toasted hazelnuts. But don’t take our word for it: several Michelin Star restaurants carry Ten66, too. 845-374-2468; www.orchardhillnyc.com

plan bee brewery
Flower City at Plan Bee Brewery, “Best Limited-Edition Beer”

Limited-Edition Beer

Flower City at Plan Bee Brewery Poughkeepsie
We love lots of Hudson Valley-brewed beers, but there is something special about a limited edition. Our favorite? Flower City at Plan Bee. If you’re lucky, you can find this Saison-style brew, with nice earthy flavors, at the Beacon Farmers’ Market. Plan Bee is currently in the process of moving to its new farm in the Town of Poughkeepsie. Here, they will expand their operations and will be able to produce much more beer each year. Stay tuned for all the buzz! 765-307-8589; www.planbeefarmbrewery.com

New Bakery

Sweet Maresa’s New Paltz
New Paltz just got a whole lot sweeter. Sweet Maresa’s is satisfying Valleyites’ sweet tooth with its vegan versions of your favorite pastries. But don’t let the “V” word scare you. Patrons claim that the macaroons are the “best in all the land,” in which we declare, all hail the pistachio-cardamom macaroons! Allow your taste buds to indulge in a cloud-nine experience with the light and airy cupcakes, or get your hands on (hurry, they go fast) a mint-chocolate-chip éclair. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself spending a few hours in the shop, Sweet Maresa’s shares its space with Lagusta’s Luscious, another sweet gem that dishes out artisanal chocolates. 845-706-3626; www.lagustasluscious.com/shop/sweet-maresas

New Bistro

Yolo Bistro Poughkeepsie
An oasis of calm in an inconspicuous shopping center a stone’s throw from Route 9, this pretty spot lures a lunch and dinner crowd from nearby medical offices and Marist College. Open since April, the bistro, whose name is short for You Only Live Once, offers a spacious bar that seats 12 and tables seating about 25. There’s also bench seating near the entrance where you can watch flatbreads being made in a little clay oven as you wait for your takeout order. ”Once they find us, word-of-mouth seems to be our biggest compliment,” says manager Nitaya Rousseau. “Most restaurants don’t usually have regulars in the beginning, but we do.” English-born chef and owner Joseph Barlow, who actually grew up in the Hudson Valley and has worked in many top restaurants in the region, keeps things interesting with foods that are as visually appealing as they are tasty. Popular dishes include Mediterranean shrimp scampi and the Bonsai Tree, which is like a California roll, only made with cucumber instead of rice. Topped with brie and bacon on pretzel bread, the YOLO burger is popular at any time of day. Affordably priced, with entrée prices hovering around $20 and sandwiches and burgers about $13 ($9 at lunch), the bistro includes little luxuries you’d expect at a more expensive restaurant, like fresh flowers on the tables and flickering Moroccan-style votives at night. Frosted-glass windows create an air of intimacy, as if you’re in a speakeasy somewhere exotic and undiscovered. 845-345-9230; yolobistrony.com

New Brewery

2 Way Brewing Company Beacon
Barely a year old, this micro-craft brewery takes its name from our beloved Hudson, which the native inhabitants called “the river that flows two ways.” Founder and Newburgh native Mike O’Herron learned the hoppy art in Boulder, Colorado — but opted to bring his skills to the Valley. Five brews are currently on tap, including Confusion, the brewmaster’s take on a Belgian pale ale. Special events include a weekly trivia night on Thursdays and acoustic jam sessions on Fridays. 845-202-7334; www.2waybrewingcompany.com

New Butcher

Marbled Meat Shop Cold Spring
Open less than a year, this fledgling butcher shop shares space with Vera’s Marketplace (this year’s “Best Cider Donuts” winner) and the Cold Spring Coffee Pantry on Route 9 in Philipstown. Transplanted Brooklynites — and husband-and-wife owners — Lisa Hall and Chris Pascarella offer cuts of beef, pork, and lamb from pasture-raised, grass-fed animals supplied by small New York State farms. Poultry and charcuterie are available, too. And their cheese case includes a hefty number of artisanal varieties, some from local purveyors like Joni’s Dancing Goats in Garrison. 845-265-2830; www.marbledmeatshop.com

New Tapas Joint

Craft 47 Goshen
Laid-back, hip, and cool is the vibe at Craft 47 in Goshen, where Brooklyn comes to the Valley and American tapas small plates are infused with around-the-globe flair. Opened by gourmet chef Franz Brendle, owner of Nina in Middletown, the new Goshen hot spot offers live music for guests to enjoy while indulging in flatbreads, tacos, and a few “odds and ends” that we will leave up to you to discover. Let’s not forget about the 12 craft beers on tap; there are plenty more that are lingering in the cooler. More of an oenologist? Craft 47 also pours a selection of craft wines that hail straight from the Valley. 845-360-5253; www.craft47.com

New Waterfront Restaurant

Blu Pointe Newburgh
A reincarnation of Torches on the Hudson — a longtime anchor on the Newburgh waterfront dining scene — this seafood-centric restaurant opened earlier this year. The extensively renovated space includes a lavish dining room that overlooks the water, and a small but comfortable bar area. Along with a raw bar, the fine-dining menu offers whole branzino and striped bass, a 32-ounce Chicago rib eye, and four preparations of lobster — all complemented by a wine list as long as your arm. 845-568-0100; www.blu-pointe.com

New Yogurt

Blackberry Yo-Goat Milk at Coach Farm Pine Plains
The latest flavor of drinkable goat milk yogurt from Coach Farm, Blackberry Yo-Goat Cultured Goat Milk is tangy and tiny (eight ounces) so it fills you up just enough as a snack, making it perfect to take on a fall hike. Produced from French Alpine goats fed mainly on alfalfa, the yogurt contains probiotic cultures, the “good” bacteria that help maintain the natural balance of organisms (microflora) in the gut. A word to the wise: while the products are pasteurized, they are not homogenized, which means that a layer of cream will settle to the top of the drink, so remember to shake it first! 518-398-5325; www.coachfarm.com

Nuts

Tierra Farm Valatie
For more than 15 years, Tierra Farm has been selling its certified-organic product line of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, trail mix, granola, and fair-trade coffee to merchants all across the US. Lucky for us, the employee-owned company now has its own outpost just south of Albany, where you can purchase any of more than 70 different types of nuts. Roasted varieties are baked at low temperatures using no oils, allowing the true flavor of the kernel to shine through. 518-392-8300; www.tierrafarm.com

Pad Thai

Sukhothai Restaurant Beacon
There are lots of places to get this Thai staple, but the generous portion served up at this chic Beacon mainstay is our all-time favorite. Your choice of shrimp or chicken will be wok-fried with thin rice noodles, tofu, eggs, scallion, bean sprouts, and ground peanuts. But it’s the secret house-made Pad Thai sauce that really seals the deal. 845-790-5375; www.sukhothainy.com

Pasta

Il Barilotto Enoteca Fishkill
Here, pasta is more than food. It’s an art. Try house-made favorites like fettuccine in an Old-World bouillabaisse sauce. Or electric-green spinach cavatelli, made on a hand-cranked vintage pasta machine and served in a Parmesan-truffle cream sauce. Stuffed pastas rule here. Eggplant agnolotti often pops up on the menu, bursting with roasted pepper and ricotta and tossed with tomatoes, garlic, and fresh Parmesan. Restaurant manager Scott Rosenberg describes them as “little pillows of heaven.” This fall, look for heartier, slow-cooked fare, like pappardelle ribbons and herbed ricotta topped with a Tuscan-style duck ragù. Heaven, indeed! 845-897-4300; www.ilbarilottorestaurant.com

Place to Pretend That You Are Still In Italy

Il Cenácolo Newburgh
It’s hard coming home from an Italian vacation. But having dinner at Il Cenácolo is the ideal plan for easing back into real life: Since 1988, this ristorante has been serving up classic Tuscan dishes to a legion of loyal fans. The hidden gem has dozens of renowned dishes, but we are particularly taken with the truffle pasta and the osso buco. With every bite you can just imagine that you are back in Rome. 845-564-4494; www.ilcenacolorestaurant.com

Rail Trail Snack Stop

The Rail Trail Café Rosendale
Parked alongside the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, this café is actually a custom-built food cart operated by Brian Farmer and Tara Johannessen, farmers who work the land nearby. The eatery offers a vegetarian menu of salads, burritos, steamed dumplings — even wood-fired pizzas — made with ingredients produced on the farm. A Saturday-morning market offers fresh-baked bread and pastries. And if your exercise routine includes a four-legged companion, the shop has homemade treats for both dogs and horses. 845-399-4800; www.railtrailcaferosendale.com

Restaurant Upgrade

Gully’s Newburgh
This popular summertime waterfront eatery (it’s about as waterfront as you can get, being located on a refurbished barge) celebrated 29 years this season with new management and a new menu. The focus: fresh and local. During the day, the restaurant is family friendly with items like chicken fingers and child-sized burgers made with grass-fed organic beef; in the evening, it morphs into a gastropub with menu items like little-neck clams and spicy apricot pork wings. And we can’t forget the pub part: The bar emphasizes New York breweries, including Newburgh Brewing and Keegan Ales. Deciding not to mess with a classic, ever-popular evening entertainment still goes on Tuesday through Sunday. 845-565-0077

Sour Beer

Indigenous Sour Ale at The Brewery at Bacchus New Paltz
Little known in the brew universe but cherished by connoisseurs, sour beers are decidedly more tart and acidic than standard fare. This one from the Brewery at Bacchus is a wild ale — that is, one that sours and ferments based on whatever bacteria or yeast become dominant in the funky primordial stew in which it develops. It’s a multi-step process that involves seemingly unlikely ingredients like Seyval Blanc grape skins, as well as six months of aging in oak barrels. Bottled with a red wax seal, the one-of-a-kind result — technically called a “mixed culture sour ale” — has notes of Cabernet, black currant, tobacco, and chocolate... and, yes, it is truly a beer. 845-255-8636; www.thebreweryatbacchus.com

Special Occasion Dining

The Roundhouse Beacon
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more picturesque Valley dining room: The Roundhouse’s floor-to-ceiling windows offer a straight-on view of magnificent Beacon Falls. Full of farm-to-table ingredients, the New American menu ranges from the classics (Angus rib eye with onion rings) to the unconventional (Duck “Za’atar” features a North African flavor profile). Taken together, a meal at the Roundhouse is a special occasion. 845-765-8369; www.roundhousebeacon.com

Taco

Mole Mole Poughkeepsie
Nothing beats a good taco, and the Queen City’s popular Mexican staple shines with its numerous options for taco creations. Patrons first choose a soft or hard tortilla, then decide if they’d like it done Mexican- (cilantro, onions, homemade hot salsa) or Texas- (lettuce, cheese, sour cream, salsa fresca) style. Finally, they can fill it with basically anything their hearts desire: from chicken to chorizo to carnitas (seasoned pork) and more. With a bundle of three served with rice and beans for only $12, bank accounts remain almost as full as stomachs. 845-452-2850

taytea
TayTea, “Best Tea and More”

Tea and More

Tay Tea Andes
Inspired by the teas of her native Iran, interior designer Nini Ordoubadi creates loose-leaf wild-crafted blends that are a cup above the usual bagged fare. With names like Better Than Sex and Wild Woman, these are not the usual garden-party choices. A few fun favorites: Marry Me Again blends ceylon black tea with violets and lavender. Coffee Lovers’ Tea incorporates pu-erh, an aged, fermented Chinese tea with a caffeine kick. Order them online, or visit the Persian-style tea bar at Ordoubadi’s Andes shop, housed in an 1840s Greek Revival building. Baked goods and tea-infused desserts are also served. Browse among home accents like hand-molded beeswax candles and etched Moroccan tea glasses. Come winter, the owner sometimes closes up shop and travels to exotic locales for more tea inspiration, so call ahead, or look for her when the robins return. 917-806-8091; www.taytea.com

Thing to Happen to Noodles

CHU Noodles & Dumplings Poughkeepsie
This Asian eatery is right next door to the Artist’s Palate Restaurant — which is no surprise, since it’s owned and operated by Charles and Megan Fells, the husband-and-wife duo behind that popular downtown spot. Open for lunch on weekdays, CHU offers four different ramen noodle bowls spiced up with unusual combinations of ingredients — spicy coconut-shrimp broth with cilantro and pickled ramps, for example. Top your noodles with a soft-boiled egg, five-spice cured duck breast, or crispy pork belly. Yum! 845-473-2248; www.chunoodlebar.com

Twist on Grilled Cheese

The Paddy Melt at Handshakes Bar & Grill Hopewell Junction
A nice twist on the solid Handshakes burger experience (and we also like the upgrade to the Angus burger for just one more buck), the paddy melt is grilled American cheese and fried onions on buttery rye toast. It’s gooey, it’s juicy — it’s downright delicious. 845-896-1342; www.handshakesgrill.com

indigenous from Tuthilltown
Indigenous by Tuthilltown; “Best Vodka”

Vodka

Indigenous from Tuthilltown Gardiner
It’s like fall in a bottle. Treat yourself to this vodka made from freshly harvested Hudson Valley apples. First the apples are pressed, then the cider is fermented, but the magic happens when the batches are distilled two times to really drill down to that apple essence. It’s perfectly divine mixed with ginger ale and ice in a tall cocktail glass. Instead of a Bloody Mary at brunch, serve it up with carrot juice, OJ, club soda, and a squeeze of lemon. Now that’s an eye-opener! 845-255-1527; www.tuthilltown.com

winemaker
Kristop Brown, voted “Best Winemaker”

Photograph by Ken Gabrielsen

Winemaker

Kristop Brown Robibero Family Vineyards (New Paltz), Clinton Vineyards (Clinton Corners), Glorie Farm, and Brunel & Rafael (both Marlboro)
Kristop Brown is a busy guy. As a winemaker and consultant at four Hudson Valley vineyards, he is constantly traveling in his quest to make world-class wines. Working at Millbrook Winery 13 years ago was the catalyst for Brown’s wine career. He went on to apprentice at Benmarl Winery in Marlboro, and later in Washington State to learn how the West Coast wine industry operates. In 2011, he returned east to Robibero Family Vineyards in New Paltz.

“It just feels more steeped in tradition and more personal here,” says Brown. “I think the tradition of growing grapes and winemaking has been in the Hudson Valley for longer than anywhere in the US.”

Though New York is not a wine destination on the scale of California, Brown thinks that what we have going here is way better. “When you come to the wineries here you’re going to see the winemaker and the owner. If you go to Napa, you’re not going to meet that owner or the winemaker. You’ll have a tour guide like you’re in Disney. Here, there’s a handcrafted feel, and you’re meeting the people who made what you’re drinking. It’s humbler.”

Brown admits that part of the reason he is so in demand as a winemaker is that there is a shortage — particularly of people who think big. “The red grape Cabernet Franc is something we do better than California,” he says. “It’s a nice red wine that stands up to any other red wine. We just haven’t reached the potential of it yet.” Sounds like Brown is going to keep busy for a long while.

winery renovation
Brotherhood Winery, “Best Winery Renovation”

Winery Renovation

Brotherhood Winery Washingtonville
This winery has been undergoing a continuous reno since 2005, and the results are nothing less than fabulous. Both the sales room and mansion have gotten face-lifts as well as the Grand Monarque Hall, the event space that holds up to 220 guests and has an elegant, rustic look. The Vinum Café (serving anything ranging from full gourmet meals to wine and cheese platters) also saw improvements, and a wine museum was added to the historic cellars. A new warehouse, opened in 2012, helped expand production by giving a home to state-of-the-art filters, tanks, and fillers; new bottling lines allowed production and storage capacity to double in the past five years. It seems America’s oldest winery is certainly keeping up with the times. 845-496-3661; www.brotherhood-winery.com

Wraps

Lola Café & Catering Poughkeepsie
Sleekly outfitted with ebonized wood floors and industrial-style lighting, this stylish oasis is almost always bustling. All priced around $9, the freshly prepared wraps come with a side of your choice: spicy salad mix, peanut noodles, and black bean and corn are just a few favorites. Popular wraps include the Baja Chicken, a tasty blend of melted cheddar Jack with avocado, bacon, and Baja ranch with hearty chunks of grilled chicken, and the Red Fox (named for nearby Marist teams), which pairs crispy chicken and bacon with barbecue flavors and crunchy slaw. Hungry hikers and bikers from the nearby Walkway Over the Hudson find this spot to be a great place to start or end a journey. But take note: They’re open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, and only until 4 p.m. on Saturdays; closed Sundays. 845-471-8555; www.lolascafeandcatering.com

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tantillo's farm market
One of two winners named for their apple cider doughnuts (see the other here), Tantillo’s Farm Market received our Readers’ Choice Award

READERS’ PICKS:
READERS’ CHOICE AWARD

Apple Cider Doughnuts (write-in category)

Tantillo’s Farm Market
Gardiner
845-256-9109; www.tantillosfarm.com

 

READERS’ PICKS:
BEST IN FOOD

Appetizer

Terrapin Restaurant
Rhinebeck
845-876-3330; www.terrapinrestaurant.com

 

Bagel

Lox of Bagels
Saugerties
845-246-0594; www.lox-of-bagels.com

 

Bread

Bread Alone
Rhinebeck, 845-876-3108
Woodstock, 845-679-2108
Boiceville, 845-657-6057
www.breadalone.com

 

Buffalo Wings

McGillicuddy’s Restaurant
New Paltz
845-256-9289; www.cuddysny.com

 

Burger

Mill House Brewing Company
Poughkeepsie
845-485-2739; www.millhousebrewing.com

 

Chili

P&G’s Restaurant
New Paltz
845-255-6161; www.pandgs.com

 

Cup of Coffee/Latte

Hudson Coffee Traders
Kingston
845-338-1300; www.hudsoncoffeetraders.com

 

Dessert

Apple Pie Bakery Café at the CIA
Hyde Park
845-905-4500; www.applepiebakerycafe.com

 

Diner

Eveready Diner
Hyde Park
845-229-8100; www.theevereadydiner.com

 

beacon bite food truck
A wide variety of food trucks may be rolling all around the region these days, but our readers are hooked on this bright red truck that has set up shop on Beacon’s Main Street. The inventive menu changes constantly, but you can rest assured that there will always be plenty of foodie favorites, from seared tuna to Thai barbecue chicken thighs. Don’t miss the potato wedge fries! Find them on Facebook for the latest Beacon Bite news, updates, and tasty pics

Food Truck

The Beacon Bite
Beacon
www.facebook.com/beaconbite

 

Ice Cream

Holy Cow
Red Hook
845-758-5959

 

New Restaurant

West Main Kitchen and Bar
Wappingers Falls
845-297-0510; www.westmainkitchenandbar.com

 

Pasta

Cosimo’s Restaurant & Bar
Poughkeepsie
845-485-7172; www.cosimospoughkeepsie.com


Middletown
845-692-3242; www.cosimosmiddletown.com


Newburgh
845-567-1556; www.cosimosunion.com


Woodbury
845-928-5222; www.cosimoswoodbury.com

 

Pizza

Giacomo’s
Lagrangeville, Poughkeepsie, Wappingers Falls
www.giacomospizza.com

 

Sandwich

Rosticceria Rossi & Sons
Poughkeepsie
845-471-0654; www.rossideli.com

 

Soup

River Station Restaurant
Poughkeepsie
845-452-9207; www.riverstationrest.com

 

Tapas

Tomas Tapas Bar & Restaurant
Wappingers Falls
845-447-1776; www.tomasrestaurantgroup.com

 

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new world bistro bar
New World Bistro Bar, voted “Best Albany County Restaurant”

READERS’ PICKS:
RESTAURANTS BY COUNTY

Albany

New World Bistro Bar
Albany
518-694-0520; newworldbistrobar.com

 

Columbia

Mexican Radio
Hudson
518-828-7770; www.mexrad.com

 

Dutchess

Terrapin Restaurant
Rhinebeck
845-876-3330; www.terrapinrestaurant.com

 

Greene

Bavarian Manor Inn & Restaurant
Purling
518-622-3261; www.bavarianmanor.com

 

Orange

Grappa Ristorante
Warwick
845-987-7373; www.grapparistorante.com

 

Putnam

The Chophouse Grille
Mahopac
845-628-8300; www.thechophousegrille.com

 

Rensselaer

Dinosaur Bar-B-Q
Troy
518-308-0401; www.dinosaurbarbque.com/bbq-troy

 

Rockland

Restaurant X & Bully Boy Bar
Congers
845-268-6555; www.xaviars.com

 

Ulster

New World Home Cooking
Saugerties
845-246-0900; www.ricorlando.com/nwhc

 

Westchester

Blue Hill at Stone Barns
Pocantico Hills
914-366-9600; www.bluehillfarm.com

 

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READERS’ PICKS:
BEST IN DRINK

Beer Selection

Half Time Beverage
Poughkeepsie
845-462-5400; www.halftimebeverage.com

 

Cosmo

Shadows on the Hudson
Poughkeepsie
845-486-9500; www.shadowsonthehudson.com

 

Distillery

Denning’s Point Distillery
Beacon
845-230-7905; www.denningspointdistillery.com

 

Happy Hour

Shea O’Brien’s
New Paltz
845-255-5273; www.sheaobriens.com

 

Margarita

Armadillo Bar & Grill
Kingston
845-339-1550; www.armadillos.net

 

Bar Menu

Mill House Brewing Company
Poughkeepsie
845-485-2739; www.millhousebrewing.com

 

Brewery

Mill House Brewing Company
Poughkeepsie
845-485-2739; www.millhousebrewing.com

 

Martini

Tomas Tapas Bar & Restaurant
Wappingers Falls
845-447-1776; www.tomasrestaurantgroup.com

 

Mojito

Café Maya/Maya Café
Fishkill, 845-896-4042
​Wappingers Falls, 845-632-3444
www.mayacafecantina.com

 

Wine Bar

Piano Piano Wine Bar
Fishkill
845-896-8466; www.pianopianowinebar.com

 

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READERS’ PICKS:
RESTAURANTS BY CUISINE

Asian

Yum Yum Noodle Bar
Kingston
845-338-1400; www.yumyumnoodlebar.com

 

Barbecue

Max’s Memphis BBQ
Red Hook
845-758-6297; www.maxsbbq.com

 

Chinese

China Rose
Rhinecliff
845-876-7442; www.chinaroserestaurant.com

 

French

Le Petit Bistro
Rhinebeck
845-876-7400; www.lepetitbistro.com

 

German

Mountain Brauhaus Restaurant
Gardiner
845-255-9766; www.mountainbrauhaus.com

 

Gluten-Free

New World Home Cooking
Saugerties
845-246-0900; www.ricorlando.com/nwhc

 

Greek

Opa! Gyros Greek Grill & Creperie
Kingston
845-338-4976

 

Healthy/Organic

Aroma Thyme Bistro
Ellenville
845-647-3000; www.aromathymebistro.com

 

Indian

Cinnamon Indian Cuisine
Rhinebeck
845-876-7510; www.cinnamoncuisine.com

 

Irish Pub

Mahoney’s Irish Pub
Poughkeepsie
845-471-7026; www.mahoneysirishpub.com

 

Italian (Not a Pizzeria)

Amici’s Restaurant
Poughkeepsie
845-452-4700; www.amicis-restaurant.com

 

Japanese/Sushi

Osaka Japanese Restaurant
Rhinebeck
845-876-7338; www.osakasushi.net

 

Mediterranean

Gigi Trattoria
Rhinebeck
845-876-1007; www.gigihudsonvalley.com

 

Mexican/Latino

Maya Café & Cantina
Wappingers Falls
845-632-3444; www.mayacafecantina.com

 

Seafood

Gadaleto’s Seafood Market & Restaurant
New Paltz
845-255-1717; www.gadaletos.com

 

Steakhouse

Schlesinger’s Steak House
New Windsor
845-561-1762; www.schlesingerssteakhouse.com

 

Thai

Aroi Thai Restaurant
Rhinebeck
845-876-1114; www.aroi.us

 

Vegan/Vegetarian

Twisted Soul Food Concepts
Poughkeepsie
845-454-2770; www.twistedsoulconcepts.com

 

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READERS’ PICKS:
RESTAURANTS BY ATMOSPHERE

Bistro

Main Street Bistro
New Paltz
845-255-7766; www.mainstreetbistro.com

 

Breakfast

Main Street Bistro
New Paltz
845-255-7766; www.mainstreetbistro.com

 

Brunch

Duo Bistro
Kingston
845-383-1198; www.duobistro.com

 

Cheap Eats

Billy Bob’s BBQ
Poughkeepsie
845-471-7870; www.billybobsbbq.biz

 

Comfort Food

The Palace Diner
Poughkeepsie
845-473-1576; www.thepalacediner.com

 

Late-Night Dining

The Red Line Diner
Fishkill
845-765-8401; www.dineatredline.com

 

Lunch

Café Mio
Gardiner
845-255-4949; www.miogardiner.com

 

Restaurant With a View

Shadows on the Hudson
Poughkeepsie
845-565-3394; www.shadowsonthehudson.com

 

Romantic Dining

Mohonk Mountain House
New Paltz
845-421-4101; www.mohonk.com

 

Special Occasion Dining

The Culinary Institute of America
Hyde Park
845-452-9600; www.ciachef.edu/newyork

 

Waterside/Al Fresco Dining

Shadows on the Hudson
Poughkeepsie
845-565-3394; www.shadowsonthehudson.com

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