Dining Out in the Mid-hudson Valley

Come dine in my hometown!

The Little Bear

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by alighieri3 on July 12, 2006

Little Bear is right down the road from the infamous Woodstock, NY.

This Chinese restaurant has the most beautiful, understated yet elegant decor I have seen in a restaurant of this price range in this area of the Hudson Valley. What makes it so beautiful is not only the inside of the restaurant, but also what is outside. The restaurant overlooks a beautiful creek that flows by while you dine. One night during a snowstorm my fiance and I went here and were entranced by the snow falling and melting into the water. Simply breathtaking!

Of course, the environment is topped off by the wonderful food served here. The menu is extensive, and vegetarians like me will be thrilled to see that there is a huge selection of not only noodle and vegetable dishes, but also dishes featuring mock meats. The vegetarian dumplings, in fact, will fool even the meat eaters among you!

My favorite meal here is the stuffed tofu skin. It is sauté veggies wrapped in a very thin layer of tofu skin, topped with a sweet sauce. This is an enormous portion, and I always leave with leftovers that feed me for two more days!

This place is a must for anyone traveling through the Woodstock area!

Little Bear
Rte. 212
Bearsville, New York
(845) 679-8899

Mountain Gate Indian Restaurant

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by alighieri3 on July 12, 2006

Mountain Gate is the only Indian restaurant in Woodstock, and because of that it does fairly good business (who doesn't love some naan and dhal?!) Despite the fairly decent business that the restaurant brings in, though, it has its problems.

The first and most notable problem is that it only serves naan on the day that it serves dinner buffets. On any other night, your bread choices are limited.

Second, the service tends to be a little slow for my liking. The servers are pleasant enough, but tend to take their time bringing the bill or refilling your water glasses, etc.

The menu is the standard Indian fare you might expect, but it's not the best of its kind. The dish I almost always order at Indian restaurants, saag paneer, is a bit sweeter, and less spicy here. It's certainly not bad, but it leaves a little to be desired.

As for the dinner buffet, there aren't nearly the same number of options that I've seen offered at other Indian buffets. There's typically two meat options and two vegetarian options, in addition to dhal, naan, soupd, and salad. The dessert is Indian rice pudding, which is lovely, but I always hanker for gulab jamun when I'm there!

All in all, not bad, but not great either.

Mountain Gate Indian Restaurant
4 Deming St.
Woodstock, 12498
(845) 679-5100

Taco Juan

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by alighieri3 on July 12, 2006

Taco Juan's is on the bustling (especially on summer weekends!) main street in the famous Woodstock, NY. It retains the funky vibe that Woodstock is known for, as bright colors adorn its exterior and interior.

The place is tiny; some might call it a hole-in-the-wall. Nevertheless, if you can't get a table, you can always take your food and sit on the bench outside where you can have loads of fun just people watching. (Trust me, Woodstock has its share of colorful characters.) If it's a Sunday in the summer, you can watch the drum circle on the village green right through the door that's always open.

As far as the food goes, it is quite good. The menu options are somewhat limited, with your standard taco salad/taco/burrito items. They have just added breakfast, though, and if you're around in the morning, you should definitely give Taco Juan's a shot for breakfast. Their breakfast burritos (with sausage for the meat eaters and black beans for vegetarians like me) are packed full of yumminess. A baby burrito (plenty of food for me) will only set you back $3.50.

Two warnings, though: they don't take credit cards and their coffee, though good (it's Starbucks brand), comes in very small cups. A large looks like it should be a small.
Despite these two setbacks, this place is pretty fun, and serves good food for little money. It's definitely worth the time to stop in!

Taco Juan's
31 Tinker Street
Woodstock, New York, 12498
(845) 679-9673

Oriole 9

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by alighieri3 on August 4, 2006

Oriole 9, owned by the same people who run Cafe with Love in Saugerties, moved into the spot previously occupied by Heaven in downtown Woodstock. Those are some big shoes to fill, as Heaven was very popular both with locals and with tourists.

Oriole 9, however, doesn't disappoint. The food is amazing. They serve a brunch menu until the late afternoon, consisting of light breakfast fare (granola and fruit) and heartier breakfast fare (goat cheese and spinach omlette), as well as sandwiches and salads.

Both times I've been there I've ordered the goat cheese and spinach omlette. The omlette is loaded with fillings (tons of yummy goat cheese) and is served with a salad for accompaniment.

The coffee, too, is top-notch, but be forewarned that the coffee is made by the cup and you will be charged for refills.

My only complaint about Oriole 9 is the layout of the restaurant. Although the two sofas that are in the dining room are comfortable and look great, they take up space that could be used for even more seating (a necessity as this place is doing a brisk business). There is also a very large table where patrons can sit family style, something to which I am averse. Why they didn't just put smaller tables in place of this larger, one I am not sure...

In any event, I think that the food at Oriole 9 is delicious, and good enough to counteract any shortcomings in terms of seating arrangements or paying for extra cups of coffee.
Oriole 9
17 Tinker St.
Woodstock, New York, 12498
(845) 679-5763

Catskill Mountain Pizza

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by alighieri3 on August 6, 2006

Catskill Mountain Pizza does a brisk business as the only pizza shop in downtown Woodstock (Pizza on the Green recently closed). Because of this, it is sometimes difficult to find a seat in the small dining room. If you can get a seat inside, you'll be treated to a variety of magazines and newspapers to read while you wait for your food, along with some cool artwork on the walls.

If you can't find a seat inside, or if it's too hot inside, grab a seat outside, where you're surrounded by the colorful flowers that are planted in the garden between Catskill Mountain and the tattoo parlor. From your seat outside, you can check out all the passers-by walking along the sidewalk.

While you're waiting for your food, you can have some fun playing pinball or other video-screen games, which are always a fun treat.

As far as the menu goes, there is the standard pizza shop fare, but being Woodstock, there are some non-traditional additions, such as tofu as a topping, soy cheese, and spelt crusts. There is also a very nice selection of beer in the cooler (Magic Hat and Wolaver's to name just two), along with interesting non-alcoholic beverages as well.

The pizza is good, though not great. It always tastes better reheated, in my opinion. The service is quick and friendly, though, and for the price, it's a pretty good place
Catskill Mountain Pizza
51 Mill Hill Rd.
Woodstock, New York, 12498
(845) 679-7969

Maria's Bazaar

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by alighieri3 on August 13, 2006

The name Maria's Bazaar may not suggest a great eatery - or an eatery at all for that matter. Once you walk in to the shop, however, you'll realize that you've entered a foodie's paradise (or at least as close to one as you'll find in this tiny town). Lining the walls and shelves are imported specialty foods - fine chocolates, beautiful marzipan, decadent dipping oils, even single serving packets of Nutella! Every time I pore over the shelves I find a new treasure (last time it was imported French licorice).

Don't let the wares fool you, though, this isn't a hoity-toity establishment. There is no table service, though there are plenty of tables, both inside and outside. The food is mainly breakfast, (egg and cheese sandwiches, omlettes, etc.), deli sandwiches, and pastries. There is, too, a lovely and extensive catering menu.

I've enjoyed everything I've eaten here. It's been served up quickly and cheaply. The rolls are always fresh, and the coffee is delicious (they've recently added flavored coffee to the menu).

They accept credit cards and sell the local papers here, as well, making it a great place to stop by even before work in the morning. One important note for those not familiar with the area, though - Maria's Bazaar is set far back from the main road, so it's easy to miss. Just make sure to keep an eye out for the sign, and enjoy all the treasures you can find in this little bazaar.
Maria's Bazaar
21 Mill Hill Rd.
Woodstock, New York, 12498
(845) 679-5434

Cafe Mezzaluna

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by alighieri3 on May 18, 2008

Café Mezzaluna is a charming little place. Although the parking can be difficult (a small, unpaved lot behind the building), as soon as you step into Mezzaluna, you know you’ve stumbled onto something special!

You have your choice of hand-painted seats, some vintage and some modern. On your table, do not be surprised to find some lovely and unusual pieces of quartz or amethyst adding an earthy feel to your experience. Once you’ve finished admiring everything set out before you, look towards the walls. Mezzaluna, in addition to being a restaurant, is also a gallery, with exhibits that change frequently. I have seen beautiful handmade quilts on display here, as well as wonderful photographs and paintings. The artwork is on sale, and you are encouraged to get up and “walk the walls.”

The encouragement that you receive from the staff to get up and peruse the art extends to all interactions with the waitstaff – they are warm and welcoming, and treat you like family. They allow you the freedom to savor your time here, though they are always ready to refill your coffee cup.

Speaking of coffee…the coffee (served with real cream), and the food here is a delight. The brunch menu changes constantly, as the chef, whose dishes have a Latin flair, has a penchant for experimenting. The regular menu has such dishes as a chiles rellenos omelet (excellent! Not too mild and not too hot), but their specials have included dishes that are even more unique, such as an omelet with guava jelly. Do not fear, though, as there is also traditional fare, including biscuits with sausage gravy. All of the dishes I have tried are superb!

As if the great food, great service, and great art weren’t enough, the café also features live (usually folk) music on Sunday mornings. The local artists add a sense of community to the experience.

Café Mezzaluna is one of my favorite places to visit for brunch!
Café Mezzaluna
626 Rt. 212
Saugerties, 12477
(845) 246-5306

El Rancho

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by alighieri3 on May 18, 2008

When you enter the restaurant, set on a rural highway, you are greeted by Mexican tilework and greenery. The tables in the main dining room, a large open space with a patio-like feel, are decorated with laminated wine bottle labels.

Quickly after you are seated, you are brought a complimentary serving of homemade chips and salsa. The salsa is heavy on the cilantro, and quite tasty.

Although the menu warns that, because everything is cooked to order the meals may take a while, I have always received my food quickly. The portions are very generous, and there are options for both meat eaters and vegetarians like me (the chiles rellenos, in particular, are delicious). The prices are very reasonable considering that you will definitely take leftovers home.

If you choose to have some spirits with your meal, you should steer away from the house wines. The carafe of shiraz that I ordered was terrible! Oddly enough, though, the sangria was very nice – just sweet enough without being overly sweet.

The main drawback to El Rancho is the awkward location of the cash register. The staff waits near the register which is in the midst of the tables, making for a strange experience with your waiter/waitress looking over you while you’re eating. Other than that oddity, El Rancho is definitely worth the price!
Rancho (El)
2904 Rt. 32
(845) 246-2797

Sunflower Natural Foods Market

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by alighieri3 on August 13, 2006

This natural food store is tucked away in a shopping center beside a drugstore, a bank, and a video store. In spite of its far-from-exciting location, Sunflower is a fabulous market.

Specializing in natural and organic foods, the prices are more expensive than you would pay in a traditional grocery store. If you know how to shop at Sunflower, though, you can actually save money and shop ethically.

First, make sure to hit the bulk bins. Sunflower sells bulk spices, grains, nuts, and granola. These are mainly organic and are great deals. I can refill my spice jar of oregano for approximately 25 cents this way.

In addition to dry bulk bins, Sunflower also sells tamari, agave, and peanut butter in bulk. At the other end of the store, they sell natural shampoo, moisturizer, and dish washing liquids in bulk. Again, these are purchases that are healthy and save money.

The second tip for shopping at Sunflower is to look for local goods. The eggs from Feather Ridge Farm, a local farm, are hormone-free and affordable. The organic coffee, roasted locally at Catskill Mountain Coffee, is sold in bulk and is also a great deal. Purchasing these products supports local small businesses and saves your wallet.

Another tip for when you visit Sunflower is to check out the homeopathic/traditional medicinal area. They carry a very large range of natural and homeopathic remedies that are healthy, and will save you a doctor's visit. (I especially recommend the Gypsy Cold Care tea, as well as Emergen-c)

The store is fairly small, but it carries most of what you need, from produce to fresh breads to frozen foods and cleaning products.

My advice is to stay away from the prepared foods - this is the priciest stuff at the store. If you stick to the bulk bins, local goods, and the health care products, you'll be enjoying healthy, affordable, ethical purchases.

One final note - if you don't bring your own reusable grocery bags, they will try to pack as much as possible into their paper bags. Yes, they save trees that way, but they also break your back a bit!
Sunflower Natural Foods Market
75 Mill Hill Rd
(845) 679-5361


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