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New York is great and all, but every now and then we need a little getaway. The Hudson River Valley presents us with many opportunities to enjoy nature, culture and great food as well, as many well trained and experienced chefs choose to settle in the region to benefit from and support local agriculture.
If you don't have a car and don't want to rent one, Hudson, two hours north of the city by train, is a great day or weekend trip destination for food-loving New Yorkers. Whether you are looking for comfort food or sophisticated fare, Hudson's restaurants have something for everyone.
The trip up river is easy and beautiful: take the Amtrak to Hudson, sitting on the left side of the train for the best views. Hudson's train station is within walking distance from the town's main street (Warren Street) and walking around is easy; there are many art galleries and many more antique shops that are very much like galleries themselves.
If you go on a Saturday during the summer, the first stop should be the Hudson Farmers' Market, from 9 to 1pm at the corner of Columbia and 6th Street. The market boasts an amazing selection of vegetables from a number of local farms, as well as meats, wine, cheese, breads, wine, plants, etc. Currently, my favorite items are the goat milk from Coach Farm, the soft, buttery lettuces from Fog and Thistle Farm, and the to-cry-for Amazing Real Food camembert at the cheese stand operated by Michael of Lick. Michael's stand actually offers about 15 different kinds of cheese from local cheese makers, so bring your insulated bags if you are planning on taking some back to the city.
At lunchtime, if you haven't overindulged in the cinnamon apple cakes from the Berkshire Mountain Bakery or the cupcakes and pies from the Red Barn at the farmer's market, you might go over to Park Falafel for take out kosher/vegetarian pizzas, Middle Eastern sandwiches and excellent babaganoush. Around the corner on Warren Street, Le Gamin Country, the Hudson outpost of the city's Le Gamin, serves delicious French café fare and crepes and is a favorite with locals and celebrities.
Likewise, down the street at Baba Louie's, you will find many loyal customers enjoying the eclectic selection of organic, sourdough pizzas (melanzana cardinale is my favorite). And although Mexican Radio will satisfy a Mexican food craving at their beautiful space on Warren Street, I am partial to the Hudson Supermarket Café tucked inside the Hudson Supermarket antique shop, where chef/owner Chris Hebert offers a small selection of light-handed Mexican dishes, served at your table as if they were served at your grandmother's home.
There are many options for satisfying mid-afternoon sugar and/or caffeine cravings. Lick, for one, serves the amazing array of Jane's Ice Cream and is a lively spot to stop for a scoop or two. Swallow Espresso and Coffee provides Stumptown coffee, wifi, and hipster vibe, and Loaf, which shares the space with Swallow, has great pain à l'ancienne and cookies. If your craving is of the alcoholic kind, cross the street to Spotty Dog Books and Ale to find a curated selection of books and local ales, art supplies and a nice café/lounge to hang out.
Hudson offers a variety of dinner options. While Ca'Mea and DaBa receive great accolades online and from locals, Swoon Kitchenbar is perhaps my favorite because the food is creatively thought out and prepared carefully with local ingredients, and although the restaurant is often full, the ambiance is light. Down the street at Vico you'll find cheerful Tuscan fare and a nice atmosphere, which might be just what you need as you head back to the train station and New York.
Finally, if you come by car Local 111 in nearby Philmont is everyone's favorite spot and worth the short trip. The food is sourced from local farms, menus change with the seasons, and the vibe is both local and cool, with many families coming for breakfast and lunch.