When I was house hunting, I spent a lot of time pacing blocks in little towns deciding where to park myself for twenty minutes between appointments, or wondering which of the lunch spots would end up becoming my lunch spot once I parted with the small chunk of cash I’d saved and gotten myself a home.
This post is to save you the wondering. It’s meant as a go-to list of the best places to read the paper and have a coffee if you find yourself Upstate, either for a weekend trip or in search of more permanent habitation. I concentrated on Ulster and Greene Counties, West of the Hudson. An East Coast edition is to come.
1) I pretty much started this blog so I could give shout outs to Love Bites, a teeny, tiny lunch spot at 85 Partition Street in Saugerties. I don’t know why the jolly, bearded owner (who is always manning the kitchen; no handing off of duties here) hasn’t realized I’m his most fervent admirer and that I deserve to be his best friend. He looks like so much fun! His food sure is: innovative and irreverent, but never in a precious sort of way, plus vegetarian and vegan options that appeal even to meat eaters. Eat here, tell them I sent you. Maybe then they’ll start to know who I am.
2) In the more classically country vein, you can’t beat the Catskill Country Store in Main Street (aka Rte 23) in Windham, NY for fresh baked pie and a cup of Joe. It’s all calico and goofy signs and Americana desserts, the kind of place that makes you want to say “cup of Joe.” Best of all, they have a “looking zoo”, where you can see ducks and hens and horses and adorable baby goats who go into shock and fall allover when startled. That alone is worth the price of Joe.
3) Daly’s is just down the road on from the Catskill Country Store in Windham, still on Rte 23. It’s in an old bank, bright, clean and airy, and they serve any sort of variation on fancy gourmet coffee your heart could desire. It’s type of place that let’s you come at 11 am with your laptop and park it there for three hours while doing “work.”
4) Main Street Bistro at 59 Main Street in New Paltz isn’t really a bistro. It’s more like a diner, albeit one with veggie options and an adventurous chef. Massive omelets, delicious salads, and guac for your burger. It’s always busy, but the services is great, and they’ll let you enjoy your coffee at your leisure.
5) Woodstock is the best known of the Upstate towns, but it’s always been a bit of a challenge for me. So many tourists! So many candles! My pick, Bread Alone, isn’t particularly undiscovered, but it’s worthy of all the praise, much like Woodstock itself. It’s at 22 Mill Hill Road, a little ways from the Village Green and reliably filled with locals. You might know Bread Alone baked goods from New York City greenmarkets, and trust me, the stuff is even fresher at the source. They serve coffee, too, and even though there’s often a line, you can usually find a table and relax with a book.
6) Speaking of books, Inquiring Minds Bookstore at 65 Partition Street in Saugerties is one of the best places west of the Hudson to get a coffee and find reading material. It’s a big shop with a great selection, including a whole section devoted to local authors and subjects. In the evenings, there’s often someone holding forth at on one of the open mike nights, which admittedly used to drive me crazy, but lately has had me feeling all warm and fuzzy and democratic. Small towns can have that effect on you, especially after a free tasting at the Partition Street Wine Shop.
I know I’ve overlooked places, so if you have any favorites, let us know!