You’re planning a trip upstate this fall - and so is everyone else. But even if all the best hotels are already booked and Metro-North is stuffed with other people who are also trying to escape the city, we’re here to help with the thing not everyone else knows about: the best places to eat and drink all over the Hudson Valley.
We’ve put together a guide to our favorite spots in most of the major towns in the upper part of the region, from Cold Spring to Hudson. Now go enjoy that apple picking or hiking or antiquing or self-discovery or whatever it is you set out upstate to do. We support you.
The newest hotel in Hudson, Rivertown Lodge is basically the real-life amalgamation of every well-styled photo of upstate New York on the internet. There’s blonde wood everywhere, mid-century furniture and walls covered in books, and they both use and sell the kind of ceramic mugs you decide you want to buy for your apartment, until you realize they’re $45 each. The food situation is pretty great, too - the chef here used to run Bonfiglio & Bread, an incredible now-closed Hudson bakery. As such, anything involving bread here is a good order, but they also do interesting things like kuku sabzi, an egg frittata covered in pistachio creme. Make this place a priority whether you’re staying in the hotel or not.
Dinner at Lil’ Deb’s Oasis is one of the best restaurant experiences we’ve had this year. From the outside, this pink little spot with a neon sign in the window looks like a dive bar, but step inside and you’ll feel like you’ve arrived at a tropical artist retreat - with food better than anything you would ever find at an artist retreat. Hot plantains with cilantro cream sauce, octopus on top of radicchio with smoky avocado dressing, whole fried fish, chorizo larb - everything we’ve tried at Lil’ Deb’s is insanely good. They’re also serious about wine here, and by serious, we mean they have a huge list of interesting options described with words like “dad’s office, red leather, rosetta stone, stained glass, Capricorn.” This place is fun as hell and we wish we could be here weekly.
If you’re looking for a great dinner in Hudson, but don’t necessarily feel like shelling out more than the cost of a night at your Airbnb, consider Hudson Food Studio - a casual spot serving excellent modern Southeast Asian food. The vibe is relaxed but not boring, and the noodles and pho are exactly what you want to eat on a cold night after a long day outside.
Located in the back of one of the 3,000 antiques stores on the main street in Hudson is Backbar, a cocktail bar that also serves Malaysian small plates. It’s a funky, cool spot with big garage doors that open up onto a giant string-light-covered backyard great for hanging when the weather’s nice. We’d recommend you use Backbar for a pre-dinner or late-night (till 4am) drinks-and-snacks spot rather than a full meal - the food is tasty, but the atmosphere is better for tipsy fried chicken eating.
If you’re heading out into nature for the day, you’ll find everything you need (and definitely don’t need) for a picnic at Talbott & Arding, a fancy market in the middle of town. Everything about this place is well thought-out, and after loading up on sandwiches, salads, sides, and cookies, you’ll probably have to resist the urge to grab some of their merch too.
This place does not fit in with the rest of its quaint, homey, Hudson-y surroundings. Nor does it fit into one specific category. Or Gallery & Tavern is somewhere between a bar, a restaurant, a store, and a gallery - and the look of the place is about as edgy as you’ll find in Hudson. It’s a big, cement-covered converted garage, with a nice patio for the warmer months and plenty of seating inside for when it’s cold. If you’re looking to kill some time between lunch and dinner, come here to sit at the big circular bar, have a beer on tap and a charcuterie plate, and talk up some locals (or more realistically, some other NYC people who are visiting for the weekend).
Fish & Game is one of the most-hyped restaurants in Hudson. And while the space is beautiful (you feel like you’re in an extremely fancy country club lodge), the food is underwhelming. It’s also very expensive, and there are much better ways to spend your money in this town. But we do like Fish & Game for one situation: get here on the early side, snag a seat at the bar or in the lounge, and order a cocktail here before you move on to your main event meal elsewhere.
A step down from Fish & Game in terms of fanciness, but a step up in terms of food. Wm Farmer & Sons is connected to a hotel, and basically feels like a much-nicer-than-average hotel restaurant. The room is attractive, the service is great, and the food is all familiar stuff that’s solid, though not particularly memorable. We especially like the burger here.
An old-school diner setup with definitely not old-school prices, Grazin’ is a good, casual option for lunch in Hudson. They’re known for their super local, non-GMO, all-those-good-things burgers, and the rest of the farm-to-table food is overall solid as well.
Swoon has been around a lot longer than most of the Hudson restaurants people tend to talk about, but it’s still very good, if a little bit predictable. It’s a good spot for wine and cheese and oysters at the bar, or if you’re here for a full dinner, you’ll eat things like pan-roasted scallops and salmon. It’s not the most exciting of your options in Hudson, but it’s perfectly pleasant.
If you get excited about craft beer, stop into Spotty Dog, a bookstore/craft beer bar. Get a local beer, pick up a book, and park yourself in a comfy chair.
Hudson Hil’s is the restaurant that will convince you to buy property in Cold Spring. This is a daytime cafe that serves super fresh, locally-sourced food and employs some of the nicest people we’ve met in restaurants. An example of a phrase that was said to us while eating here: “I’m going to warm up your pie for you - is that OK?” It is always OK. And we will always come back to Hudson Hil’s. Everything we’ve tried here for both breakfast and lunch is outstanding, but the biscuits and gravy should not be missed.
There’s one main street in Cold Spring - filled with charming cafes, antique shops, and design stores that look like they belong in a much bigger city - and after you walk the entirety of it, you’re going to want some ice cream. Get it at Moo Moo’s, then walk across the street to the park on the river for an extremely scenic ice cream experience.
If you needed more proof that the Hudson Valley is Brooklyn 2.0: on Cold Spring’s main drag you will find a cool barbershop with a cool craft beer bar in the back.
Probably the nicest restaurant in Cold Spring (but still pretty casual), Riverview is a great option if the weather’s good. This American spot has a lovely second-floor wraparound porch for enjoying the Hudson river views (see what they did there?) while you’re eating brunch, lunch, or dinner.
Want to feel like you’re living in a different century? Eat lunch at Cold Spring Depot, the restaurant directly next to the train tracks. The American food is decent, but mostly, there’s something thrilling about eating a burger while a train goes by right in front of you. And if you’ve just come up to Cold Spring for the day (and you should, it’s only an hour and a half away on Metro-North), this is an especially convenient option for getting a meal before you head back.
If you’re looking for some semblance of a date-night feel, Brasserie Le Bouchon is about your only option in Cold Spring. It sort of feels like the love child of a Little Italy spot and a French bistro, and it’s charming - albeit also a little bit cheesy. The food can be hit or miss, but the French onion soup is a good thing to eat on a chilly day.
The Amsterdam is the newest, fanciest restaurant in Rhinebeck. It’s in an old townhouse, there’s a giant still life painting hanging in the dining room, and some of the staff are in suspenders. Overall, it feels like a rich Dutch person’s library. But you can avoid that initial stuffiness in two ways: hang out at the bar, or head to the giant backyard filled with Adirondack chairs, firepits, and blankets for the taking. Both are great places to have a quality cocktail and some very good, seasonal American (non-Dutch) food.
If you like beer, you will like Grand Cru. It’s a simple little shop and bar with many rotating taps, and fresh pretzels and cheese boards for when you sense the need to start soaking up your alcohol. This is a good spot for a mid-afternoon hang.
Terrapin has a lot going for it. It’s a restaurant inside a giant old church, so it has plenty of curbside appeal. The menu covers a ton of ground - they do takes on Spanish, Italian, and Creole food here. And it’s also split into two spaces: a casual bar side, and a much more formal dining room that would be great for a dinner event, if you happen to be planning a wedding (or you just enjoy throwing yourself parties with tons of people). The two spaces have totally different menus, and while the bar’s food is cheaper and more casual, it’s worth dining in the main restaurant for the better views. Just know that it’s pretty pricey.
A whitewashed, open space, a big marble bar, a wood-burning pizza oven. If that sounds like a place you think you might want to hang out in, you are correct. Market Street is a modern Italian spot serving some of the best pizza in the Hudson Valley, along with a big menu of salads, appetizers, pastas, and entrees. There’s something for everyone here, and the casual but polished space is one of the most attractive restaurants in Rhinebeck. Get the daily risotto special.
The Liberty feels like an antique store - but one that doesn’t creep you out. Actually, it’s a really comfortable place to either have a cocktail or sit down for dinner, surrounded by decor that’s either historical or fake-historical, but generally cool either way. The space includes a cocktail bar, a red booth-filled dining room, and a front porch, and all are nice places to have a drink or eat anything from meatloaf to pastas to fish & chips.
It’s not like we thought Woodstock was still all tie-dye and Birkenstocks, but we were nonetheless still pretty surprised to find Cucina. It’s a big, beautiful Italian 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. From the seasonal, modern Italian food, to the upscale but comfortable interior, to the wraparound porch, this place is easily one of the best dinners we’ve had upstate.
Shindig is new-ish to Woodstock, but already giving longtime local staple/breakfast favorite Oriole 9 a run for its money. Shindig definitely falls into the category of “could be in Brooklyn,” but also still maintains a local, super-friendly feel. There’s lunch and dinner too, but we like this place best for its classic breakfast foods: granola, scrambles, pancakes, and the like.
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: an artsy feel, inspirational quotes written on chalkboards, and plenty of vegan options.
You might buy this brand of bread at the Union Square Farmer’s Market, but it’s possible you don’t know they have brick and mortar cafes sprinkled around upstate. The location in Woodstock is small, but a good stop for coffee and a pastry, or a low-key sit-down meal if Oriole 9 and Shindig are swamped.
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 your vibe (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, rigatoni and meatballs, and wood-grilled octopus.
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. As much as you’ll feel like you’re walking into Portlandia Goes To Woodstock, it’s pretty much impossible not to love this place - the menu is full of stuff you want to eat, and the food is actually good. Yes, you’re almost sure you’ve seen at least three of the people eating around you on your coop shift, but it’s OK - you can all share in the joy of being in not-NYC.
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.
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.
If we lived in Saugerties, the people working at Miss Lucy’s would probably know our first names, our dogs’ names, and the fact that we like mayo with our fries for dipping (and we are not ashamed). Their Bloody Mary is excellent, and we’re partial to the Reuben at lunch. Dinner is a little more upscale - with stuff like soft-shell crab and duck - but the wood-panelled room is comfortable and laid-back no matter when you’re here.
This studio-sized fancy market looks like it was picked up and moved from East Williamsburg. They stock local, artisanal grocery items, and serve coffee and fresh lunch foods - sandwiches, salads, and sides. Hit it when you’re passing through Saugerties and want to get something for the road, our pick up some A+ picnic supplies here.
If you’re driving through Saugerties looking for a quick bite, Saugerties Slices has very solid pizza. The thing to get here is one of the Grandma slices, and probably an order of garlic knots.
If, when you imagine a wine bar, you think of a place that looks like a living room from the 1990s, know that this particular one could not be more different. Brunette is a ridiculously charming spot - there’s floral wallpaper, a white marble bar, vintage stemware likely sourced from Kingston’s many antique shops, and a restroom that we plan to steal interior design ideas from. Aside from the many wines served by the glass, they also have a pretty big menu of snacks beyond the usual olives and cheese - there’s stuff like shrimp rolls, hot dogs, and trout roe nachos. If you find yourself near Kingston, make this place a priority.
Duo Bistro is a light and bright space that we like best for daytime eating (though they serve dinner in addition to lunch and brunch). The menu is full of American classics, but with twists to keep them interesting - like the Korean burger, topped with kimchi and pork pate. Whether it’s your first or last meal of the trip, you’re probably already going to be convinced by this point that you need to stock your kitchen and home with better, more local, more artisanal products - and Duo Bistro anticipates your needs with their attached market.
The best place for cocktails in Kingston. Stockade Tavern has an old-timey feel to it, without being cheesy - there’s a fireplace, tin ceilings, and plenty of candles, but no people in suspenders. This very charming spot serves modern versions of classic cocktails, but it’s also the kind of place where you can tell your (vest-wearing) bartender what you like to drink and expect that they’ll make you something you’ll start requesting at other spots.
Half antiques shop, half all-vegetarian cafe, full-on upstate New York. Outdated is typically packed with people who live around here - studying, getting coffee, playing cards, and eating all organic, all locally sourced foods. It’s a fun place to stop in and check out.
Boitson’s is the classic Kingston dinner spot. The menu isn’t huge, but they have all your classic comfort foods covered (fried chicken, steak frites), and everyone orders the cauliflower “wings.” Hit this place especially if you’re there when the weather is good - they have a great back patio.
Rosendale doesn’t have a lot in the way of real restaurants, but Market Market is luckily the kind of place you’d be happy to eat at multiple days in a row. If you’re staying in Rosendale, it might even be your first stop in town - it’s right across from the Trailways bus station. Besides the convenient location, they’re also open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and serve fresh food that ranges from Korean fried chicken to nachos to schnitzel.
For all your picnic needs, there’s Big Cheese. Use it to stock up on great sandwiches, fancy snacks, and everything else you need to look forward to the most important part of a hike: lunch.
STONE RIDGE & ACCORD
Cherries is nothing more than a tiny deli by the side of the road, but don’t let its size fool you. This is maybe the best “deli” in all of upstate New York. The immaculately clean counter-service spot with an attached covered patio has a full menu of things that are exactly what you want to eat in the middle of your road trip (chicken tenders, fries, etc.). But you’re here for one thing above all else: their soft serve. Believe us when we tell you it’s special.
Hasbrouck House is an old inn that was recently taken over and renovated, and it has a nice restaurant called Butterfield. The walls are stone, there’s a fireplace, and the whole place generally makes you feel like you’re in the upstate New York version of a castle. A low-key castle, but still. The food is good American stuff like roast chicken and big salads, and while it’s not worth going out of your way for, it makes for a nice dinner on your way up or brunch on your way out.
This is one of our favorite places in all of upstate New York. Westwind Orchard is a fully-organic farm and pick-your-own-produce destination - a thing that, as it turns out, is actually pretty rare. Once you finish picking your raspberries, pumpkins, or apples, it’s time to eat, and that’s when you’ll head back to the yard that’s covered with Adirondack chairs, firepits, and a wood-burning pizza oven. This place is owned by Italians, and their margherita pizza is on par with what you’ll find at the best spots in NYC. They also do creative things with their own produce - like the raspberry and sausage covered pie. If you’re here on a Saturday night, they also screen movies on a big projector. If it wasn’t clear from everything we’ve already said, Westwind Orchard is perfect for kids, but it’s also perfect for pretty much anyone else. It’s absolutely worth going out of your way for this place.
If you’re up in Beacon to do some hiking, fuel up before all that nature at Beacon Bagel. It’s not going to compete with the city’s best, but considering you’re 60 miles outside of NYC, it’s a pretty good bet for an egg and cheese sandwich.
The bad news: the most popular bakery in town is gluten-free. The good news: the pastries and desserts are good enough to almost make you forget that’s the case.
Looking for the kind of healthy-ish lunch that won’t make you want to take a nap instead of going on that hike you planned for? Homespun Foods is a great bet for salads and sandwiches that will leave you feeling nice and not-terrible. Make sure to grab a spot on the back patio if it’s warm enough. If you’re visiting Dia: Beacon, you’ll also find a Homespun Foods outpost inside the museum.
Roundhouse is the most upscale dinner option in town, and the picturesque space is enough of a reason to stop by - it’s in a converted old factory, and its floor-to-ceiling windowed dining room looks out over a waterfall. A new team recently took over the kitchen, and we’ve heard good things, though we haven’t had a chance to eat the new food for ourselves.
This is Beacon’s go-to indie coffee shop. As you might expect of a coffee shop around here, it’s an exceedingly cozy place for a latte (or a beer) while you plot your next move around town.
Dogwood is a solid gastropub that’s especially useful on Tuesdays, when, unlike most other places in Beacon, it’s actually open. There’s also sometimes live music here, if you’re into that sort of thing.