Here are a few things that might come to mind when you think of Westchester:
- The formation of Steinthal.
- Home of many suburban parents, possibly your own.
- Home to your friends who have suddenly turned into suburban parents.
But you don’t usually think of Infatuation approved EEEEEATS and drinks. The good news is, you can pick your spots in Westchester and wind up with legit destination dining. Like a roadside hot dog stand in a pagoda that’s been around for almost 100 years, or possibly the best farm-to-table restaurant on the planet. Beer nerds are also welcome in these parts, as are people who like their outdoor patios unobstructed by delivery trucks and untainted by dog/maybe human pee.
At the same time, while the tide continues to rise in Westchester, you still must choose wisely. There are a lot of crappy kale salads and mediocre pork chops that you’ll need to steer clear of. Here’s our list of the best local experiences that are worth a trip, or at least a diversion on the way to visit that baby.
Blue Hill at Stone Barns is the fever dream of farm-to-table restaurants, where you drive past your dinner on the way to eating it. It’s also the highest rated restaurant in the five-year food orgy that is The Infatuation. We can’t tell you what to order because there are no menus, just multi-course tastings based on what chef Dan Barber and his band of true believers decide to create that day. Just know that it will be a long, thought provoking, expensive, and delicious meal, and it will be 100% worth it.
Let’s say you’ve always wanted to drink during the day in a warehouse that is reached by driving through a rental van parking lot, but you’re also really into award-winning beer. Well, there is no need to compromise at the Captain Lawrence Tasting Room. For $1, they will refill your 5oz souvenir sample glass with one of their small batch brews on tap, while you check out the factory in which it was made. Or you can commit to your favorite beer with a full glass or a growler. Outside they have picnic tables, cornhole, and bocce, and if you get hungry, a local hot dog place has a stand onsite that serves fancied up hot dogs and snacks. Just make sure to get there early – the Tasting Room closes at 8 p.m. on weekdays and by 6 p.m. on weekends.
The Parlor takes their Neopolitan-style pies very seriously. With a pizza oven imported from Italy, carefully sourced ingredients, and house made mozz, these babies are blistered on top and thin on the bottom with a little body to them. You can get classic preparations as well as pies with some newfangled ingredients like ramps, lemon, and bone marrow (but not all at once), and some creative starters that make use of the oven. This is as good as Westchester pizza gets.
It’s true, everyone here is beautiful, and some of them rode to brunch on their horses. And by horses, we mean Mazeratis. But the room is cozy, the vibe is friendly, and the Dutch pancake is off the hook. It tastes like it was drenched in butter and then air dried while it crisped up in the skillet. As a matter of fact, everything here has been well considered, and you will leave feeling like you just fueled up at your very own country manor.
X2O is a serious restaurant on the Yonkers waterfront. It could have been a perfect for pick for dinner with the parents, but X2O also has Dylan Lounge, a more casual dining area near the bar where you can order the entire restaurant menu, plus some smaller dishes designed for the lounge. Try whatever pasta they are making that night, and pick and choose from the seafood-focused starters and meat entrees. Don’t even be afraid to order some of the sushi rolls on this menu that should scare you off almost anywhere else in the ‘burbs, especially the warm crispy tuna roll with avocado. Like the Kotobuki chain that started on Long Island, it sounds so wrong, but tastes so right.
Peekskill, a small town way up north in Westchester, has a surprisingly artsy, grungy feel to it, and Birdsall House fits right in. The place is laid back, with worn out booths, a long wooden bar, and zero attitude. Birdsall House is a gastropub that makes its own charcuterie, sources almost everything from local farmers, and creates all the condiments from scratch. Add in 20 beers on tap and a rotating bottle selection in case you need to drink something from every county in New York State, and you should be happy. Throw in some of their incredible fries and you’ll be ecstatic.
Jean Georges is looking to give Blue Hill at Stone Barns a run for their money with his new restaurant, The Inn at Pound Ridge. Regardless of how you feel about JG, it’s a restaurant in the area that you should know about. The space is rumored to be particularly impressive, but we hear good things about the food too (obviously).
What, you’ve never waited in line for hot dogs from a roadside pagoda before? Walter’s is a Westchester institution that has been using a proprietary meat blend for its dogs since the first Pat LaFrieda was working at his father’s local butcher shop in Brooklyn. Dogs are made in house with a combination of pork, beef, and veal, and are then split and grilled with a secret sauce and served with Walter’s own tangy mustard blend. So good, especially with a side of curly fries.
Towns along the Hudson River are “in” right now. And while there are plenty of places in these former industrial hubs where you can have a drink by the water, none have the 180 degree views that Half Moon does. From here you can see the NYC skyline to the south, sunset over the Palisades across the Hudson, and even the Tappan Zee Bridge to the north. Much like Half Moon’s sister place in Montauk, the food does not match up to the quality of the scenery, but the burger is a tasty, juicy mess smothered in bacon and cheese. Either way, you won’t be complaining as you watch the sunset from the patio.
Some places just make honest, kick ass food. Juniper is one of those places – a really small, unpretentious spot the locals try to keep to themselves. Across the board, from sandwiches during the day to salads, pastas, and entrees at night, just about everything coming out of this tiny kitchen starts as a feast for the eyes and actually delivers the goods. Add in a $6 corkage fee and the opportunity to sample the menu with generously sized “reduced” portions of many entrees, and you’ve got an irresistible option to throw down and stay local.