Update, Spring 2021 – it’s often hard to keep local listings accurate, and especially so over the tumult of the last year. Sadly, we have had to remove listings from some of our favorite businesses that stopped serving in 2020. Before visiting any of the retail or dining locations we mention, please check on their website or get in touch with them to make sure they’ll be open when you want to visit.
We’re often asked by people who are planning to visit our little town of Beacon, New York, or the wider Hudson Valley, if we have any recommendations for restaurants, shops, or things to check out in the area. There are many excellent local guide publications, including the excellent Valley Table (which Matt coincidentally does IT support for, and for which Emily wrote a culinary guide to cauliflower), Visit Vortex, Chronogram and Edible Hudson Valley. We’re not professional food reviewers by any stretch of the imagination, but we do know what we like. We try to experience as many of the great local restaurants as we can, and here is a list of the Beacon and Hudson Valley-based eateries that we can personally recommend.
Please let us know what you think of our listings, and feel free to add your own in the comments!
- Kitchen Sink – Small and cute, with an industrial-chic design, Kitchen Sink Food and Drink is one of the most popular restaurants in town. The menu is seasonal and a bit eclectic, but in a good way. Local produce is used whenever possible, and the chef, Brian Arnoff, is a Hudson Valley native. Good vegetarian and gluten free options. Recommended dishes: hard to go wrong here but we especially like the Monday night fried chicken and the Lamb Merguez.
- The Roundhouse – This boutique hotel houses the most beautiful restaurant and bar in Beacon, though the food can occasionally be hit or miss. The last few times we’ve been there it was excellent, so we’re comfortable recommending it. Even if you just go for a drink and a snack, it’s worth it for the gorgeous view of the falls which are lit up at night. Recommended dishes: Nose to Tail Pork Ramen, Grass-Fed Ribeye.
- Quinn’s – A former diner, now a hipster dive bar/Ramen spot has a small stage that hosts a wide variety of events, from punk bands to poetry readings (occasionally featuring Nerds with Knives’ very own Matt Clifton!). The eclectic vibe continues with the menu, which features several types of ramen noodles, hot dogs, and rice bowls. We’re not huge fans of the ramen (the broth is pretty bland), but if you’re there for an event, there are enough tasty choices to make a fun night of it. Recommended dishes: Tako-yaki (octopus dumplings), Rice Bowl with Chashu Pork, Curry Hot Dog.
- Max’s on Main – An old school local pub, Max’s has a bit of a sports bar vibe, and also hosts occasional bands for live music. It can get loud, especially during big games and karaoke nights, but the food is better than you might expect and it’s one of the few places that serves food late into the night. Recommended dishes: Cobb Salad, Fish and Chips, Max’s Burger.
- Meyer’s Olde Dutch – With the same chef/owner as Kitchen Sink, this causal burger spot has good burgers, fries and sandwiches and really excellent cocktails. The burgers are a little pricey in our opinion, though they use beef and cheese from Hudson Valley farmers, which makes it worth it. Recommended dishes: New York State Special Burger, Crispy Chicken Sandwich, Fries, Classic Manhattan (all the cocktails are great).
- Melzingah Tap House – A relatively new addition (they took over the large space that used to be The Hop), we’ve only been a couple of times but we liked it a lot. Good cocktails and an expansive beer menu. We’ll expand our review after we visit again. Recommended dishes: Warm Brussel Sprout Salad, Trout Almondine, Truffle Fries.
- Beacon Pantry – Opened by our friend Stacey Penlon, Beacon Pantry hosts a market, cafe, as well as space for events and classes. The cafe is a great spot for breakfast or lunch, with quite a few dog-friendly, outside tables. The menu features simple egg dishes, salads and sandwiches that make great use of the excellent market ingredients. They have fantastic coffee, and a small but very nice selection of wines. Emily has also done some food photography for them so you’ll see some of her work on their website and advertising. Recommended dishes: Croque Monsieur, French ham and Gruyere Croissant, Turkish Breakfast.
Retail and Things to Do
- Beacon Pantry – Also listed in our recommended restaurants, the market is also fantastic and worth a visit. The excellent cheeses and charcuterie make it difficult to leave without over-buying (ask to taste samples before you buy). Fantastic breads, croissants, pastries and coffee make this a perfect spot to pick up goodies for a picnic, dinner party or snack.
- Barb’s Butchery – A small, friendly butcher shop, run by former math teacher-turned butcher, Barb Fisher. A great variety of hand-made sausages and hot dogs are perfect for grilling. It’s not cheap but the quality is excellent and if you want something special, they’ll do their best to get it for you. This is where we go for pork for our Garlic and Herb Pork Loin with Crackling, and shaved ribeye for bulgogi . They also sell very good cooked food, like pork belly sandwiches and burgers.
- Beacon Farmer’s Market – For local fruits and vegetables, eggs, bread, fish and meat, this Sunday-only market is the place to go. Seasonal flowers, vegan ice cream, jams, jellies, pottery and other goods makes this a fun place to look for gifts.
- Artisan Wine Shop – This small but well-stocked wine shop has friendly staff that really know their stuff, but are delightfully un-snobby about it (ask for our friend Sara!). If you know your wines, go and ask them for specific labels or regions – if you don’t, tell them what you’re cooking or where you’re going and they’ll give you great suggestions in your budget.
- Glazed Over Donuts – Usually packed with the after-school kid crowd, these donuts are made fresh to order so they come to you hot, crisp on the outside, and slathered with the glazes and toppings of your choice. If marijuana is ever legalized in New York, expect lines around the block.
- Utensil – We love a good kitchenware shop and this is our local one. Aside from the fun assortment of Le Creuset, Lodge, and Emile Henry cookware, they sell black walnut boards from local artisan Jessica Wickham.
- Binnacle Books – We’re so happy to have this awesome independent book shop in town. They have a great cookbook section, and host events and their own book club.
- Hudson Beach Glass – Located in a renovated firehouse, this shop and glass blowing studio is a really fun place to visit. We loved taking their Christmas ornament-making class and they sell many beautiful things though we’re partial to the Spike Bowls and the Octobowl.
- Dia:Beacon – Located in a former Nabisco box printing factory, and located within a few minutes’ walk from the MetroNorth train station, Dia holds a collection of art from the 1960s to the present. If you like modern art, it’s a must-see, if you don’t, it’s still a fun day, if only to witness the black-clad self-seriousness of the art set.
- Main Street Galleries – Beacon is very much an art town and there are several galleries worth a visit. Most are located either on the west and east side of town (the middle of town is still a little bit spare). Join in for Second Saturday, when many galleries and shops are open late and host special events.
- Hiking: Beacon, Cold Spring and the surrounding area are great spots for hiking in the Hudson Highlands (including Breakneck Ridge and our own Mount Beacon, with a fire tower a couple of hours up from the trailhead). One starting point for hikers in town, with its own parking lot, is just down the road from us – at the junction of Wolcott Avenue (Route 9D) and Howland Avenue, at the south end of Beacon. It fills up fast on sunny weekends so arrive early for a spot. There’s a deli there called Bob’s Mountain Store where you can pick up drinks, snacks or a full lunch for your hike!
In the Hudson Valley
- Heritage Food and Drink – Casual enough for a weeknight hangout but nice enough for a date night, Heritage has quickly become one of our favorite restaurants in the area. It’s also huge, so it’s easy to get a table, even on a busy Saturday night. One of their drinks was also the inspiration for our Notorious F.I.G. – A Fig And Rye Cocktail. Recommended dishes: Spicy Shrimp Toast, Braised Pork Belly, Kung Pow Brussel Sprouts, Tator Tot “Cacio E Pepe”
- Palace Dumplings – Located in a dumpy little mini mall off of route 9, this place has the best dumplings around, hands down. They are hand-made to order, so this isn’t fast food, but they are so worth it. The dough is so thin, it’s translucent, with that wonderful slipperiness that makes it practically jump off the chopsticks. There are some good noodle dishes and a few salads and soups but with 29 different kinds of dumplings, you could be forgiven for not getting to anything else. Dumplings can be ordered steamed or fried, and we usually get a mix. Recommended dishes: Dumplings – Lamb with Squash, Shrimp with Chive, Pork with Watercress.
- Toro – We were a little snobby about Korean food before we moved up here (Emily grew up eating it), so we didn’t have high hopes for this place but it’s really quite good. It’s not fancy-looking, there’s no table-side barbecue, and the banchan (little side dishes that come with grilled meat) are not endless like the best Korea-town restaurants but we’re thrilled to have a good, close Korean option available. The sushi is actually quite good too – very fresh, well prepared and not too expensive (but not so cheap as to be worrisome). Recommended dishes: Mandoo, kimchi pajun, Bulgogi, Gopdol Bibimbab.
- Aroma Osteria – The decor is a little dated, and many of the patrons look like Tony Soprano out for a nice date with Carmella (or one of his goomahs), but this is excellent classic Italian food. We could probably make a meal just out of the contorni, but the pastas are too good to pass up. It gets packed on the weekend so make a reservation if you can. Recommended dishes: Arancine, Carpaccio Di Manzo Tartufato, Broccoli Di Rapa In Padella, Agnolotti Ai Funghi Porcini.
- Tanjore – While Emily’s comfort food is Korean, Matt’s is a good curry so we were happy to find a good Indian restaurant nearby. We mostly order from here for takeout but the weekday lunchtime buffet is a great deal and gets seriously packed. Recommended dishes: Lasoni Gobi, Vegetable Samosa, Sag Paneer, Dal Makhni, Tandoori Chicken
- Blu Pointe – We tend to shy away from fancy waterfront restaurants but this place is the exception. Located on the Newburgh side of the river, this place has a beautiful view, a cozy fireplace lounge and outdoor seating. It isn’t cheap but the seafood is ultra-fresh. We’ve mostly gone with a group for the happy hour $1 oysters (though we usually also get a variety of tapas to share). We haven’t been to the Sunday brunch buffet yet but supposedly it’s stellar. The cocktails are also excellent. Recommended dishes: Oysters on the half shell, Shellfish platter, Fig & Prosciutto Flatbread, Mini Tuna Tacos.
- The Ship Lantern Inn – An old-school gem, you can just imagine Frank Sinatra ordering his fifth Manhattan to drink with his Châteaubriand. The waiters wear tuxedos and flambé Bananas Foster table-side. We didn’t find the food to be all that amazing but we had a blast anyway. Recommended dishes: Baked Clams, Onion Soup Gratinée, Osso Buco a la Milanese.
- Liberty Street Bistro – We’d been hearing about how great this place is and we were not disappointed when we finally tried it. Liberty Street in Newburgh has come a long way, and it’s fantastic to see this kind of elevated food do so well. The menu is divided into four sections and you can choose from 2 to 4 courses with optional wine pairings. Matt and I each got 4 courses (they’re quite small so we were happily but not overly full when we left) so we ordered 8 different things and shared them all. The cooking is delicate, technical and best of all, really delicious. We’re looking forward to going back. Recommended dishes: Foie Gras Truffles, Fluke Crudo, Carrot Casonsèi, Pan Roasted Duck Breast.
- Gaskins – If Gaskins was closer to us, we’d probably be there once a week. At least to sit at the bar with a Negroni and a Gem Lettuce and Anchovy Salad. Or a rosé and a small plate of roasted carrots with crème fraîche. It’s that kind of place. It just makes you want to hang out and peek at every plate that comes out of the kitchen. The small menu changes often, so you can be sure whatever you order is in peak season. They have a knack for making simple dishes that still manage to surprise, like monkfish with gochujang, and penne with buttery hazelnuts. We just love it. Recommended dishes: The menu changes too often to predict what they’ll have but everything is fantastic.
- Gunk Haus – On a warm Spring evening, there are few things more delightful than sitting on the Gunk Haus patio, which overlooks rolling hills and a pretty orchard, while sipping beers and dunking homemade pretzels into the delicious beer-cheese spread (called Obatzda). The food is hearty German fare, but the chef knows how to balance richness with acid, so everything we’ve tried has been tasty, not heavy. They also have a surprising number of vegetarian dishes for a meat-centric cuisine. Recommended dishes: Pretzel and Obatzda, Chicken Schnitzel, Roast Pork Loin Sandwich.
- Culinary Institute of America (CIA, Hyde Park) – This is the proving ground for chefs who go onto great things all over the world, and we have many graduates running local restaurants. They rotate their restaurants every few years, but their excellent reliable lunch spot, the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe, has been a favorite of ours for years. Check opening times before you set out since they run on the students’ schedule. Look for their daily quiche, and leave room for a dessert.
- Welcome Oriental Grocery – Small, but packed with pretty much everything you need to make many Korean, Japanese, Thai and Chinese dishes. This is where we go to buy noodles, kimchi, curry paste, fish sauce, rice vinegar, sambal, gochujang and more. The owners are extremely sweet and helpful so if you don’t see what you’re looking for, ask them!
- Adams Fairacre Farms – We love this place and shop at the Wappingers location probably more often than anywhere else. They have great produce, a lot of it local, and the cheese section is legit. It’s small compared to a lot of grocery stores so it’s not the place for non-edible goods (like paper towels, dish soap, etc), but they do have a large, well-stocked garden section with a lot of equipment for the avid beekeeper and home-brewer.
- Berry’s Farm – We recently discovered this place (thanks to our friend Karen!), and love it. It’s a no-frills kind of place with a great selection of vegetables and fruit at really good prices. For example, we scored a big bag of blood oranges for $4, two big bunches of Chinese chives for $1 – that kind of stuff. They also have a small meat selection and really good looking seafood.
- Quattro Farm Store – We discovered this place when we were looking for duck legs to make for a dinner party. It’s kind of in the middle of nowhere, and it has an annex store that sells guns and ammunition – and it is awesome. They specialize in all kinds of game (duck, quail, goose, etc), some frozen, some fresh. They also have a small, but interesting variety of pastas, cheese, beer and others slightly rando goods. Call ahead if you’re looking for something specific, or just go and find cool things to cook.
- Viscount Wines & Liquors – This place is massive, and it’s where we go to stock up on everything we need for the bar (wine, whisky, gin, vodka, vermouth, etc). It’s so big it would probably be overwhelming if it weren’t for the friendly staff who’ll lead you to what you’re looking for. The prices are great too. Sign up for a discount card if you’re local.
- Cold Spring General Store – Cold Spring is the town just south of Beacon and it’s definitely worth a visit. Its filled with cute antique shops, a beautiful apothecary, good restaurants and one of our favorite stores to browse and shop, the General Store. It’s filled with interesting things, most of which were created or sourced in the Hudson Valley. It feels lovingly curated, as though everything in it was chosen for a purpose, either beauty, design, utility, or all of the above. It has a lovely selection of cookbooks, some local jams and specialities, and a fun bar section with beautiful glassware, bitters and shrubs.
- Warren Kitchen & Cutlery – Located near Rhinebeck, this store is filled to the brim with fun kitchenware, baking tools, cutting boards and chef’s tools. It’s the type of place where you go in for a fish spatula, and come out with 20 other things you didn’t know you needed but now can’t live without.
- Benmarl Winery – This historic winery has a stunning view of the Hudson River is a fantastic place to visit when the weather is nice. They hold various events during the simmer, including a sangria festival that we’ve gone to several years running.