Tubby’s Rules Kingston With Veggie-Forward Food and Local Live Music
At the happening eatery in Midtown, farm-to-bar fare harmonizes with easy melodies and a killer cocktail roster.
Photos by Shane Menaker
Tubby’s is cool.
From the day it opened at the end of September in 2018, it exuded an effortless something. Perhaps it’s in the name, which is an homage to Jamaican music producer King Tubby. Or it could be the teal blue paint, which serves as a bright contrast to the moody interior. Either way, the Kingston bar grew deep roots in the community from the outset, oozing a wonderfully battered aura that only the most time-tested of dive bars can hope to achieve.
“I like to think our bar is very approachable and has a welcoming atmosphere,” co-owner Cory Plump observes. As one member of the three-person team at Tubby’s, Plump works alongside fellow owners Morgan Coy and Katy McElroy to keep the drinks slinging and the stage rocking.
The trio behind the bar is an interesting one. They first crossed paths in Austin, Texas, leagues away from any ripples of life in the Hudson Valley. Coy moved up to the region first, while McElroy and Plump headed south to Mexico City. The group stayed in touch, however, and McElroy and Plump came to visit Coy in New York. After a few visits to the area, Coy hooked the duo on his idea to open a bar venue in Midtown Kingston. McElroy and Plump were sold, and so they packed their bags and moved to the East Coast.
With industry backgrounds in music and service, the trio combined their respective experiences to create Tubby’s. They chose Midtown for its happening, ever-changing environment that serves as a magnet for a kaleidoscope of creatives.
“We like the Midtown neighborhood and the fact that craftspeople, artists, and musicians seem to be making Kingston home,” Plump says. “It has a good feel to us.”
If the bar’s reception in town is any indication, that good feeling is reciprocal. Since opening its doors, Tubby’s has been welcomed by local business owners and the community at large, who flock to the corner spot for its casual atmosphere, farm-to-bar comfort food, and seasonal cocktails. The menu, available during dinner hours, isn’t over the top. Instead, it focuses on local ingredients and made-from-scratch preparations that deliver next-level flavor.
The meat for dishes like Chili Totchos, or tater tot nachos topped with Texas chili, and Tubby’s Skinny Burger comes from Kilcoyne Farms or Woodstock Meats. As for produce, Tubby’s sources greens from Sunfrost Farms in Woodstock to hit veggie-forward dishes like its falafel veggie burger and King Tubby’s Salad out of the park.
“One owner is vegetarian, and one owner raises cows, so we meet in the middle on that!” Plump jokes.
To pair with the easy eats, Tubby’s delivers a killer cocktail menu with seasonal ingredients that pack a punch. Many libations, including the Mad Dawg Margarita with Cointreau and a house sour mix, feature mezcal front and center as an ode to McElroy and Plump’s days in Mexico City. There’s even a mezcal flight available for bargoers who can’t decide from one of the 20-plus varieties on the shelves.
For non-cocktail options, meanwhile, Tubby’s keeps Sloop and Suarez Family Brewery on draft, with three rotating taps. Bottles and cans of beer and cider are available for budget-minded visitors, with a $3 Narrangansett on offer for anyone who really wants to keep costs down.
While the dinner roster is top-notch, the low-key superstar is brunch, which goes down on the last Sunday of every month. Featuring housemade vegan and meat sausage, along with eggs from grass-fed, free-roaming hens, brunch combines the best of diner fare with Hudson Valley flair. Pancakes are buttermilk or vegan buckwheat, sausages are pork or vegan, and taters are veggie home fries or vegan potato roasties. They all come together in Tubby’s Grand Slam or as sides next to the breakfast tacos, Tubby’s signature. Each founder has a special taco — Cory’s Favorite has black beans, home fries, avocado, and cheese, while Morgan’s Favorite features scrambled eggs, home fries, and cheese — with other varieties named for locations in Kingston.
Of course, food and drinks are only half of the allure at Tubby’s. At its core, after all, Tubby’s is a music venue. The bar’s founders work hard to book live music from local bands and touring acts, making sure to vary styles and sounds regularly. Although it was initially a challenge for the trio to dive into the regional music scene, they’ve found their groove in the Hudson Valley.
“It is difficult as an outsider landing here and trying to learn the scene,” Plump admits. “I like what I like and melding that with what is already going on is fun.”
With its one-year anniversary in the books, Tubby’s looks forward to engraining itself even further into the Hudson Valley community. The concerts will continue to be a main attraction, as will the DJ nights and monthly book club meetups.
“We’ll keep dialing it in, experimenting and developing new drinks and sourcing rare mezcal, and growing our food menu,” Plump says. “We have a few new menu items in the works…[and] we’ll continue to keep looking for great bands to showcase.”
586 Broadway, Kingston