Come together around a warm table of sumptuous dishes in the winter season and you may just create a little holiday magic. Fortunately, here in the Hudson Valley, we are blessed with a wide variety of excellent dining choices to make this magic ignite. Local chefs get creative this time of year with seasonal vegetables and meats that include carrots, chestnuts, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, turnips, brussels sprouts, parsnips, leeks, shallots, cabbage, lamb, duck, and goose. If you’re craving long-simmered stews, homemade soups, or braised meats, there is plenty to choose from at a number of dining venues throughout the region that are filled with the spirit of the season.
The Northern Spy Cafe in High Falls has a rustic, relaxing atmosphere. French doors lead to a dining room with a fireplace; there is also a fabulous bar, and a bar-side dining area. You’ll feel pampered in this beautiful space, reminiscent of a New England bed & breakfast. Start your experience with their holiday drink special, “Northern Spy Cocktail” Bourbon. Then try their delectable curried butternut squash & apple soup. For an entree enjoy pomegranate-glazed roast duck or pumpkin ravioli with curried cream sauce. Owner George Nagle says they’ll also be serving hardy stews and bean dishes this winter season. Finally, there’s no better way to finish off than with their warm apple pie.
High Falls Cafe is a rustic, cozy eatery with great music and just a great place to kick back with friends. The menu is always geared toward the season. In the winter some of their specials are scallops, lamb chops, and borscht soup. They have two holiday drink specials featuring Stone Ridge Orchards Cider: the Hot Stone Ridge Cider with Captain Morgan and the Black Cherry Hot Toddy—hot tea and black cherry bourbon with honey. On December 3, come to the dance party at the Cafe after the High Falls Tree Lighting and carols. They also have a New Year’s Eve party with live music and New Year’s Day brunch.
Chef/co-owner Bonnie Snow of A Tavola Trattoria in New Paltz says their menu “celebrates the harvest and local bounty of the Hudson Valley.” A Tavola’s authentic Italian menu is made with regional foods combined to make savory seasonal delights such as the Hudson Valley Cattle Company braised short ribs, accompanied by parsnip puree and a local cabbage and apple slaw; or butternut squash ravioli with toasted hazelnuts, fried sage leaves, and vin santo cream. The Tutthilltown Mule, a favorite seasonal cocktail, contains a combination of Tutthilltown Heart of the Hudson Vodka, freshly squeezed Jenkins-Lueken apples, house-made ginger bitters, and seltzer. This is all housed in a modern and well-designed dining atmosphere.
If classic Italian dishes with a flare of creative inspiration are your style, head to Savona’s Trattoria housed in the beautiful former opera house on the historic Kingston waterfront. Chef Mike will be busy cooking such wonders as short ribs with Chianti sauce, and herb-encrusted salmon finished with limoncello cream sauce, served with sautéed spinach & risotto of the day. Cheer the holidays over savory appetizers such as calamari, bruschetta, and eggplant rollatini. End your fine casual dining experience with smiles, laughs, and an aperitif with your dessert—take your pick from sponge cake with ganache filling, Tiramisu, and an amazing cheesecake.
For a chic, yet comfortable evening on the town visit Boitson’s Restaurant in Uptown Kingston. Leather, velvet, and marble tabletops provide a hip bistro atmosphere where you’ll find everyone having a good time. Boitson’s menu changes every week to accommodate the availability of local foods. Winter dishes include braised lamb shank and curried vegetables and stews. Other specials include penne with butternut squash, macaroni and cheese, charbroiled free-range chicken breast, and seafood chowder. The charm of the historic details and the positive vibe of Boitson’s will keep you returning throughout the season.
Henry’s Farm to Table at the Buttermilk Falls Inn in Milton offers locally sourced foods in a beautiful setting. Cheese, meats, and poultry come from nearby farms such as Coach Farm, Hudson Valley Cattle Company, and Labelle Farms. The restaurant harvests organic fruits and vegetables on-site from their Millstone Farm or from Hepworth Farm. Executive Chef Paul Kelly and his team create a showcase of dishes such as Labelle Farm Duck Spring Roll with panang curry dip, and Chile Relleños—roasted Millstone Farms poblano peppers stuffed with corn masa, roasted pumpkin, grilled apples, and black bean purée. As part of your experience, enjoy the grounds of Buttermilk Falls Inn & Spa. Trails lead to breathtaking views and enchanting natural features.
Friends and Family II Hillside in Accord offers a casual ambiance for a relaxing meal with people who make you happy. Sit near the stone hearth for a cozy, romantic dining experience. Friends and Family II is known for fine continental cuisine and excellent braising—and they braise a wide variety of meats during the holiday season including pork, lamb, beef, short ribs, and oxtail. They also offer seafood bouillabaisse, chicken francaise, steak, lobster tails, and a variety of pasta dishes. Denise McCarroll, co-owner, says this holiday season they will offer their seventh annual wine bottle specials.
Terrapin on Montgomery Street in Rhinebeck offers two separate dining experiences. The Terrapin Red Bistro features a bar menu that includes the terrapin veggie burger, grilled free-range chicken breast, and a wide range of tapas. The more upscale Terrapin Restaurant offers fine local cuisine in an elegant, stylish atmosphere with warm colors. Dishes include Thai seasoned chopped local sirloin, pumpkin ravioli with a brown butter-sherry sauce, and Hudson Valley venison medallions with juniper demi-glace. Special events include their Holiday Beer Dinner, which runs for three nights the week before Christmas. A hardy three or four course meal is paired with tastings of seasonal and holiday edition beers, with an emphasis on local breweries.
The Rhinecliff is a brassiere-style bar/restaurant with a warmth that compliments the holidays. Seasonal local ingredients are used in Chef Brian Kaywork’s traditional, yet creative cuisine. This charming, large hotel/restaurant is situated on the banks of the Hudson River and the views from every angle are spectacular. Enjoy culinary comfort from foods such as chicken potpie, braised beef short ribs, and apple-glazed pork belly. What could be better than eating soul-warming foods at the fireside with a river view? Well, maybe a French press of coffee and one of The Rhinecliff’s delectable desserts would top it!
Tuthill House at the Mill Restaurant and Tavern in Gardiner features homemade American cuisine with prime steaks, grass-fed beef, and seafood. Your dining experience takes place in a renovated 1788 Grist Mill, offering a rustic elegance for your meal. The menu is inspired by fresh, local artisanal products and ingredients from the Hudson Valley. Tuthill House is skilled in pairing dishes with local French and Italian wines, local spirits, house-infused vodkas, and prohibition-era inspired cocktails. Robust dishes like pan-seared duck breast, eggplant parmigiano, and Coq au vin warm you and delight your taste buds! Their “Gristy” Burger includes fried eggs, Acorn Hill Farmstead chevre, shallots, and house-made herbed mayonnaise.
If you rather a quick bite in a comfortable eclectic eatery, but still crave something hardy, healthy, and delicious to warm you up, the Big Cheese in Rosendale is a fabulous option. The friendly, welcoming atmosphere of The Big Cheese will make you feel right at home. They offer lamb and beef kabobs, marinated tofu, and empanadas with turkey, beef, or vegetables. Warm your hands on some of their well-rounded soups. In their deli case you will find latkes and falafel, along with a variety of other easy to enjoy foods. And, of course, top it off with the halvah and baklava. Don’t forget to buy a cheese platter of local and imported cheeses or a gift basket to bring to the holiday party!
Cafe Mezzaluna in Saugerties is brimming with creativity and culture, as is evident in the food, the art, and the entertainment. Come in over the holidays for music, poetry, comfort foods, and Spanish stews like Sancocho. Everyone should experience their inventive breakfasts like the Benedict Mezzaluna with yellow corn arepa topped with their special chipotle hollandaise sauce. They serve it with Canadian bacon and spinach with Latin-style home fries. Also, throughout the holiday season Cafe Mezzaluna is exhibiting the original garlic festival posters handsomely framed from over the past 17 years. For an energetic atmosphere filled with fun décor, Cafe Mezzaluna won’t disappoint!
The Restaurant at the Inn at Stone Ridge is a wonderful place to spend a holiday meal this season. It boasts classically decorated dining rooms with a crackling fireplace and a cozy tavern in a stone 18th-century Dutch Colonial Mansion on beautiful grounds. Enjoy sipping from hot toddies as you watch the snow fall outside the window. Local and fresh root veggies, parsnips, carrots, and beets are incorporated into the seasonal menu. Enjoy entrees such as Crispy Pan Seared Murray Chicken with black truffle and cranberry jus. Their signature dish for winter is Beef Wellington—a sure crowd pleaser. Wintertime dessert specials include Christmas Figgie Pudding.
Gaby’s Cafe in Ellenville and Rhinebeck is a fabulous place for fresh Mexican Latino cuisine. A signature of Gaby’s is the handmade guacamole, which is not only delicious, but it is made right in front of you at your table to your expectations. Quesadillas, burritos, tacos, and enchiladas, as well as dishes such as Mar y Tierra (grilled lobster tail and grilled fillet mignon)—you name it, Gaby’s has it. Gaby’s Cafe has traditional and Mexican burgers, and of course hot tamales! Enjoy this spiced-how-you-like, belly-warming food in a casual dining environment with excellent service.
Bacchus Restaurant and Bar in New Paltz is a neighborhood tavern with a friendly college-town feel. Choose from exciting creative cuisine with seafood and Southwest specialties and a fantastic beer selection. They have amazing pastas, such as their decadent Lobster Ravioli served with spinach and cremini mushrooms in a crabmeat cream sauce. As for the holidays, Bacchus does fabulous Christmas parties, in your choice of location: upstairs dining room, bar area, or billiard room. For New Year’s Eve, The Big Shoe starts playing at 10pm and the party keeps going until around 3am, with complementary hors d’oeuvres and a champagne toast at midnight!
The Marbletown Inn in Kingston is a real family style restaurant with great food, great atmosphere, and great value. This cozy restaurant with that feeling of home offers a menu full of comfort foods everything from lasagna, prime rib, barbecue ribs, chicken cordon bleu, and goulash to three or four specials daily. Like being at a friend’s house, you’ll find it a nice retreat from home. The Marbletown Inn is a great place for a large family meal. They’ll be open for your company on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.
The Sportsman’s Alamo Cantina in Phoenicia is a great place to warm up with a hardy meal after a day of skiing. During the colder months take a seat in their window-filled dining room and watch the snowy scene. The Sportsman’s Alamo Cantina serves authentic Mexican cuisine, from enchiladas suizas and fajitas to fish tacos and everything in between. To accompany your meal, choose from an extensive beer selection or wine at their full bar. Sportsman’s Alamo Cantina is doing their 3rd Annual Christmas Community Dinner on Christmas Day. Donations will be accepted to benefit Helping Hands food pantry.
Ricciardella’s Restaurant in Phoenicia offers fine Italian cuisine in an upscale atmosphere in the gorgeous heart of the Catskills. Enjoy your beautifully presented dish either fire-side or in a window seat overlooking Main Street. They serve excellent prime steaks and fresh seafood, and their Italian Seafood Buffet is back for Christmas Eve, featuring shrimp, clams, mussels, calamari, crab legs, eggplant parmigiana, chicken franchese, prime rib, and more! Ricciardella’s also has a fabulous selection of winter draft beers, and for those really cold nights enjoy their hot captain cider special that is served with cinnamon sticks. Join your friends there for a classic New Year’s Eve champagne toast.
Many of these restaurants provide catering if you prefer having your holiday party at your home. No matter what type of party atmosphere you are trying to create, you’ll find a number of fabulous options throughout our delicious region. Dominick’s Cafe in Kingston will bring delicious home-style italian specialties to your table tailored to your group’s needs. Bistro-to-Go in Kingston would love to cater your holiday event. They use local, artisanal, and hand-crafted foods and fresh produce from local farms to create a memorable food experience. Crossroads Deli in Cottekill and Bistro Mountain Store in Gardiner have superb holiday pies, desserts, and a more traditional catering menu. Gendron Catering in Rhinebeck focuses on high-end taste, presentation, and detail with a Japanese flair. If you are looking to create something magical, Gendron can help transform your evening into a unique invention.
And there are so many other local eateries, with fabulous and experienced chefs crafting new and exciting winter entrees. The Hudson Valley is on its way to becoming the best culinary scene on the map! With all this amazing food and comforting ambiance to choose from, it won’t be hard to keep a cheerful attitude this holiday season. And I think we should all toast to that!