One of our fondest new-to-Upstate memories is when we first went to Sweet Sue’s for breakfast, located in the small hamlet of Phoenicia, Ulster County, the northeastern part of Shandaken. It’s a small cafe located on Main Street, sharing a corner with the Phoenicia Pharmacy; which, if you’ve ever been to Phoenicia, you know exactly the place I’m talking about, the place with the sun-weathered greeting card racks in the windows, seemingly frozen in time.
Sweet Sue’s is a little place (and no, they don’t have a website), almost always packed, and patrons congregate on the front patio, awaiting their turn for a table and a syrupy stack of gigantic pancakes, the specialty of the house. You’ll find every type on a Sunday morning at Sweet Sue’s: Hunters coming back from the woods, looking for a hearty breakfast. Hipster parents with tattoos. Crunchy nature-lovers. And in the winter, the ski crowd. That’s pretty much what you get in Phoenicia: A little bit of everything. Because everybody loves pancakes.
With a population of around 300 permanent residents and countless more during the high season, Phoenicia began life as a railroad town and Catskill Mountains tourist destination, a legacy that continues to serve it well. Its proximity to the Esopus River brings in thousands of visitors during the summer looking to tour the creek in one of the most exciting ways possible: From a Town Tinker rental tube. Or, they go flyfishing, or they take a ride on the rails. Or they hear some amazing music. Or they get married.
The real estate market in Phoenicia remains completely within reason. In fact, it’s one of our go-to towns for our Car-Free Country House posts, since you can get around it easily on foot, and there’s a Trailways bus station handy. Not too many high-end luxury homes around these parts, but cottages and cabins close to nature are abundant. Expect to spend in a range from $275,000 down to around $150,000. Phoenicia is located in the Onteora School district, and there is an elementary school in town. Older kids go to Onteora Middle School and Onteora High School. Phoenicia is about a 2-hour drive from NYC.
Phoenicia has had its share of flood-related troubles, but they always seem to bounce back. Why, just last week, Tyra Banks was spotted at the newly-revamped Phoenicia Diner. If that doesn’t indicate that a town is officially on the map, we don’t know what does.