A lot has changed since the days of Dirty Dancing-style resorts and anybody trying to put Baby in a corner. But spending time in the Catskills is still great when you want to forget what a skyscraper looks like, and be surrounded by some of the best-looking mountains in the state instead. Whether you’re visiting for a weekend, going to seven barn weddings in a row, or living in the area, use our guide to all the best restaurants and bars in six Catskills towns.
And if you’re looking for great spots in Hudson, check out our guide here.
In Woodstock, you can find tie-dye and Birkenstocks. But you can also find Cucina. It’s a big, beautiful restaurant inside a converted farmhouse - and if the idea of the L’Artusi of upstate New York is at all exciting to you, then you should make it a priority to get here. They serve Italian food in a nice-but-comfortable space, and a meal here could easily be the best you have while you’re in the Catskills, especially if you sit on the wraparound porch and order the spicy rigatoni with sausage.
Silvia is a new spot, and it’s great for a nicer dinner in the area (it feels slightly fancier than Cucina). You’ll find seasonally-focused food like a vegetarian lentil and mushroom pate that we’re pretty sure is the work of a sorcerer, and a whole grilled trout (the official fish of the Catskills) that comes with a szechuan-tamari sauce, jasmine rice, and garlicky green beans. It’s the kind of place where you can spend the evening sitting in a nice velvet banquette and planning your eventual retirement upstate.
There’s no bad place to drink a good margarita. And at Tinker Taco Lab, you can have one next to a stream while you eat barbacoa tacos on homemade tortillas. This is a casual counter-service Mexican spot that’s hidden behind a sunglasses boutique, and while the indoor space is small, there’s some nice outdoor seating and a separate indoor bar area where you can order food as well as drinks.
Woodstock has a few different brands of hippies, including the conspiracy-theory political hippie, the artisan jewelry-making hippie, and the Garden Cafe hippie - who is strictly into healthy and locally-sourced things. This place makes really good vegetarian and vegan food, and it feels authentic to the Woodstock spirit without being kitschy. While a lot of dishes include meat substitutes like tofu or tempeh, there are also some really good ones that won’t make you miss meat at all (like spinach basil pesto pasta or a portobello panini). Go for brunch or dinner, and make sure to sit outside if you’re there during the nicer months of the year.
Shindig definitely falls into the category of “this could be in Brooklyn,” but still maintains a local, super-friendly feel. We like this place best for its classic breakfast foods - granola, scrambles, pancakes, and the like - but there’s lunch and dinner, too.
The other, older breakfast/brunch/lunch go-to in town. Oriole 9 feels a little more true to what you might expect to find in Woodstock: art on the walls, inspirational quotes written on chalkboards, and plenty of vegan options.
Yum Yum is in the middle of Woodstock’s main drag, and serves Asian food like banh mi sandwiches, miso-cured salmon, and build-your-own noodle bowls. It’s a full-service restaurant, but still casual enough for a low-key date night or a group dinner that doesn’t need to be a big deal (even with your friends who make everything a big deal).
You’ve probably seen Bread Alone products in fancy grocery stores, but the Catskills are their homeland, and the bread tastes way better here. At their cafe in Woodstock, you can get everything from chocolate cakes to smoked salmon on rye, plus coffee. On the off chance that you need to sit down and do some work on a laptop, this is also your new favorite office.
A classic-feeling bar in an old train station, this is our favorite place for drinks in Woodstock. And they have a pool table and a jukebox in the back. It’s possible you’ll meet a man with a motorcycle named Clark, because we did. Go and find your Clark.
A&P is a cocktail bar that’s in a strip mall next to a bank and a health food store. The location is undeniably strange, but this is one of the only places in Woodstock where they take cocktails this seriously (they have a wood-aged Manhattan and their own house-made tonic). Plus, there’s a darts board and a full menu of American food. While we wouldn’t recommend having dinner here, it’s nice if you want a few drinks and some snacks.
Peekamoose is an even better restaurant than it is a word, and that’s saying a lot. We’d put it alongside Cucina as a must-visit for dinner if you’re spending the weekend around Woodstock or Phoenicia. The space feels like a giant ski lodge, with two options for seating depending on the level of casual you’re looking for (the dining room’s more formal, and the tap room’s more laid-back), and a nice deck if you’re here when it’s warm. As for the food, the menu seems to have been created to make you want to order everything - think short ribs, rainbow trout, and the mintiest mint ice cream you’ll ever eat.
Phoenicia Diner might as well be called The Instagram Diner. Even if you think you’ve never heard of this place, you’ve probably seen its pancakes or its placemats or its perfectly-updated classic diner space. And as much as you’ll feel like you’re walking into Portlandia Goes To Woodstock, it’s hard not to love this place - the menu is full of stuff you want to eat, and the food is actually good. Just know that if you come here anywhere close to brunch on the weekends, you’re going to have to wait. There’s an outdoor area with board games and an Air Stream stocked with coffee that should help ease that process.
Despite the name, Woodstock Brewing is technically located in Phoenicia (on route 28, a mile or so from Phoenicia Diner). They’ve got huge windows that make you feel like you’re outside during the summer, plus tons of tables, a full food menu, and outdoor games that you can play next to a fire pit (a.k.a. extreme cornhole). If you’re a beer snob, you’ll likely prefer Catskill Brewery’s actual beer to the stuff they have here, although Woodstock’s is still good. But if you’re a human who wants to spend time with other humans, Woodstock Brewery is a much better overall experience. They also make one of the best brewery burgers we’ve ever had.
You can only try Sweet Sue’s from 8am to 1pm Friday through Monday, and you’re here to try one thing: pancakes. Giant, excellent pancakes with chocolate, berries, or whatever else you might like to put in your carbs (they do over 20 kinds). If you’re with kids, take them here and you will be their hero. And if you’re not, take yourself here and be your own hero.
Like Sweet Sue’s, we really recommend Brio’s for one thing and one thing only. In this case, it’s the pizza. They make very good thin-crust Neapolitan-style pizza in both personal and large sizes. You can call ahead and pick up, or eat in the restaurant at one of their huge indoor or outdoor tables. Either way, count on running into dozens of camp counselors on their days off.
This place is half grocery store, half cafe, and 100% worth a stop. In the cafe, you’ll find great sandwiches, salads, and soups. But you can also buy most of the ingredients on the menu in the store section on the left side - including cured meats, craft seltzer, local tomatoes, and pickles. This is our favorite place in the area for lunch, or to pick up deluxe picnic supplies.
The Kaatskeller is right across from Main Street Farm. They’re managed by the same people, and we’ve witnessed the owner running from one to the other carrying a wheel of parmesan in his hand. Kaatskeller is a pizza place that’s 85% outdoors (including their kitchen and most of the seating), and very family-friendly. The patio space feels a little like a German beer garden, but with the addition of Neapolitan-style pizza, dogs, children, and a fire pit in the back. You can also come here during the winter, when they cover the kitchen and have indoor seating, but regardless of when you go, make sure to order the White Album pizza and the trout rillettes.
This is where you go to drink the best beer in the Catskills. It tastes better here than in Yankee Stadium (where they also serve it on draft). They have a few picnic tables outside and a small bar inside, but otherwise there aren’t a ton of places to sit down. Bring your dog and maybe some food from Main Street Farm to eat outside - or just keep going up to the bar for free refills of popcorn.
A few miles from the main street in Livingston Manor, you’ll find the farm/restaurant/venue where you should plan your future wedding (or where you should have gotten married), whether or not you even believe in marriage. In addition to the big barn space where they play live music on the weekends, the communal fire pit, the porch seating, and the banquet space in the back, there’s a restaurant and bar here. The food is American and mostly kind of heavy, with dishes like a fried chicken sandwich (get that) and pork chops (get those, too). It’s all good, but the real draw here is the huge and beautiful space.
Brushland Eating House is on the far western side of the Catskills, and it’s worth driving out of your way for (even if that means dirt roads, loss of cell service, and subsequent utter panic on the way there). It’s on the first floor of an old farmhouse, and the space has floor-to-ceiling windows, a giant bar, and nice wooden banquettes. The menu is short, but they always do a few seasonal specials. We’d recommend focusing on those, and also getting the pork schnitzel, some excellent wine, and the olive oil cake for dessert. Catskills Vogue doesn’t exist, but they would be all over this place. And if you’re picking just one restaurant to go to in the Catskills, this is it.
Aside from the name, and the fact that eating enough donuts might eventually kill you, Twin Peaks has nothing to do with the David Lynch show. In fact, the name isn’t even slightly important in comparison to the excellent cake donuts they make here. The place itself feels a little like someone’s grandparents’ kitschy living room, with a fireplace and funky mismatched furniture. And addition to donuts and coffee, they serve a full brunch and lunch menu, including a breakfast sandwich that comes on a non-glazed donut and pancakes made from donut batter.
The other spot to go in Tannersville is Mama’s Boy Burgers. It’s an old-school burger restaurant where you order at a counter and, instead of a number, you get a card with a mom from a famous TV sitcom on it. The list of burger options is pretty inventive, with choices like the “Jersey Boy” with smoked mozzarella and Italian peppers and the “Happy Camper” - a turkey burger that comes with crispy kale, swiss, and rosemary. They also have hot dogs, fries, and locally-made ice cream. You’ll never be more excited to announce yourself as “Carol Brady” than when you’re here.
Scribner’s Lodge is a new hotel in the area, and the people behind it used a formula discovered by many Williamsburg expats before them: buy an old, run-down Catskill building, make it look like Brooklyn, and the people will come. Scribner’s is a beautiful space, with impressive views of Hunter Mountain on display from the floor-to-ceiling windows in the hotel’s restaurant, Prospect. The upscale food is both creative and crowd-pleasing - don’t miss the octopus. Or the cocktails, or the dessert.