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There is no lack of entertainment in and around Rhinebeck, the pretty little town about an hour and forty-five minutes north of New York. Between grand estates, lovely hikes, welness centers, Gehri-designed art performance center, and even a very cool art film theater, New Yorkers will find plenty to do during a weekend or day trip. But who really needs entertainment when there is so much to eat in Rhinebeck, Red Hook and Tivoli?
The area is not as easily reachable by public transportation as Hudson. Although there are a couple of daily buses servicing Rhinebeck from New York, you will probably need a car to fully enjoy the area. Rhinebeck, Red Hook and Tivoli are within 10 miles (10-20m) of each other, and while each has enough restaurants, farms and food establishments to satisfy a food lovers' curious appetite, a mix of the three might also be a good strategy during a weekend trip.
For breakfast, for example, there is no lack of great bread in the area. Bread Alone in Rhinebeck offers an amazing array of organic breads that might even distract you from the great brunch they serve in their café. Likewise at Tivoli Bread and Baking, a mighty little bakery in Tivoli, you'll find great breakfast treats and coffee; just beware of limited hours.
Lunch options are plentiful in the area and one of my favorites are Me-Oh-My Pies in Red Hook, where delightful owner Debra serves not only sweet pies but other pie-crust-embedded delights such as quiches and pot pies, in addition to panini, bruschettas, and cookies. Ask for a super thin cookie as a post-meal treat on your first visit! Down the street at Rusty's Farm Fresh Eatery you'll find an ambitious offering of burgers, hot dogs, panini and salads, sure to cater to every lunch whim.
For a farm-and-restaurant experience, head over to Gigi's Market and Café, located at Greig Farm off Route 9 just beyond Red Hook. At Gigi's you will be able to pack up sandwiches, salads, or one of their skizzas for a picnic to go (Bard College's Levy Institute lawn is my favorite picnicking spot). I am also partial to Gigi's lasagna, which I recommend if available at the counter. Besides Me-Oh-My pies and cookies, an afternoon sugar craving will be fully satisfied by the beautiful pastries and truffles at Calico Restaurant and Patisserie in Rhinebeck. They serve a beautiful array of French-style pastries as well as good old cupcakes and cookies.
The hardest part of a weekend trip to the Rhinebeck-Red Hook-Tivoli area is to choose a place to have dinner, for there are perhaps too many appealing dining options. For a Mediterranean-Hudson Valley experience, Gigi Trattoria in Rhinebeck and Mercato Osteria & Enoteca in Red Hook are two excellent fine dining, trattoria-style choices with great dinner scenes. Dinner reservations are probably a good idea.
Although I love both, my personal favorite is Madalin's Table over in Tivoli, where summer dinners on the restaurant-inn wrap-around porch are hopping with good cheer and beautiful light, not to mention great food that changes seasonally depending on the Hudson Valley's bounty. And if Madalin's closed, I have enjoyed many a meal of great tacos across the street at Santa Fe.
Finally, Rhinebeck has a great farmers' market on Sunday mornings, where food watching is as good as people watching. Two popular farms with chefs in the area also sell their products to the general public. Migliorelli Farm (whose products are also available in New York City) has a beautiful stand in Rhinebeck, just east of the Rhinebeck-Kingston Bridge. Northwind Farm seems to be listed as the purveyors of beef, pork, and poultry for many a fine dining spot in the region. Their products are also available at farmers' markets and by appointment in the farm.