As a food writer, I’ve spent the past few years eating my way through the Catskills. Let me tell you, several of these spots — just two hours from New York City — have been nothing short of life-changing.
Ah, the beautiful, “forever wild” Catskills. If you’re not familiar, New York’s Catskills region — marked by four specific counties that surround the Catskill Mountains of New York state — is just a two-hour drive northwest of Manhattan, and IMO, it’s one of the very best weekend trips you can take from the big city.
Last winter, my partner and I made the decision to buy a 500-square-foot fixer-upper cottage in the tiny town of Neversink, New York. Working on it constantly and enjoying all the peace and quiet it offers has been wildly gratifying, but as a food writer and recipe developer, I’ve honestly enjoyed eating my way through the Catskills even more.
So whether you’re fueling up for a hike to Kaaterskill Falls, looking for a beverage or two after a refreshing dip in the Peekamoose Blue Hole, or simply seeking out more restaurants that match the impeccable vibes of the iconic (and worth-the-hype) Phoenicia Diner, you’ll find some of the area’s best restaurants, bars, and breweries below.
The Walk In (Livingston Manor, New York): Go for the best darn biscuits you’ve ever had in your life, stay for the impeccable vibes and friendly atmosphere…then go back whenever you possibly can to try every last Biscuit of the Week they come up with.
They bake their secret biscuits to golden brown, crispy perfection on the outside while somehow keeping the insides soft, impossibly fluffy, and full of more flaky layers than I could possibly count. It is, dare I say, the perfect biscuit. What are my credentials? Well, I’ve tried just about every iteration they’ve offered at this point, from the usual breakfast sandwich suspects to lamb and homemade herbed labneh. (And I clearly have the photos to prove it.)
Major bonus points are awarded to the interior itself, which is as charming as the food is delicious. You’ll find everything from an upcycled vintage bar to a custom, biscuit-inspired neon light — both of which become vibrant focal points when 5 p.m. rolls around and this tiny biscuit shop becomes a full-out bar and dinner joint: the Stumble Out Bar. Whether you’re in search of a quick pre-hike breakfast or an inventive, sit-down dinner (and a craft cocktail or two), you will absolutely find it here…and then some.
The Neon Croissant (Livingston Manor, New York): I’d be remiss not to mention the Walk In’s sister business just across the street: a bakery that churns out, you guessed it, some of the most exquisite croissants I’ve ever laid eyes on.
Whether you’re a Classic Croissant or Pain au Chocolat kind of person — I’ve personally been known to go both ways — you can’t go wrong. I’ve even ordered their Ham & Cheese Croissants to go and heated ’em up in the oven for breakfast the next day, and y’all, that experience felt downright holy.
One last, very important tip: Order the Salted Chocolate Chip Cookie before you go…or several. In New York City, our cup runneth over with some of the most sought-after cookies in the country, from Levain to Chip City, but for a final hot take, the Neon Croissant’s have become my new favorite. The combination of their signature crackly crust, a supremely chewy, light-as-air center, and a generous smattering of flaky salt makes for a cookie that you won’t find anywhere else. So yes, order more than you think you’ll need. (They won’t go uneaten.)
The Dale (Mountain Dale, New York): I’m judgy when it comes to pizzas. That said, theirs is some of the best I’ve ever had. That’s all.
Crust people will appreciate the Dale’s chewy sourdough crust that’s fermented with local honey. My partner, who famously never eats his crust, leaves no crust untouched here, so if that’s not a good-enough indicator, IDK what is. On the flip side, toppings people will appreciate the generous selection of inventive pies, and trust me, each one is better than the next.
Beyond the scrumptious food, the Dale is also a must-visit stop for anyone looking for a little nightlife in the Catskills. With disco balls hanging just about everywhere in sight, a charming outdoor patio that’s home to some pretty epic summer concerts, and even weekly karaoke nights, it’s the ideal place to eat, drink, and be merry. (And did I mention it just so happens to be dog-friendly?)
Cabernet Frank’s (Parksville, New York): This “Borscht Belt BBQ” joint has it all, from a menu packed with simple-but-delicious comfort food to festive drinks galore. The cherry on top? There’s live music almost every single night, and it’s reaaallly good.
The “Borscht Belt BBQ” menu is simple and straightforward, yet all kinds of delicious — which may very well be my favorite kind of food to eat in the first place. It’s cozy comfort food at its finest, whether you’re downing a ridiculously juicy Damnburger, feasting on a Friday Fish Fry (the sesame slaw is truly everything), or snacking on their House Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers — which make me question how a literal jalapeño popper could be that delicious every time I order it.
Cabernet Frank’s is also a true community gathering spot, offering up weekly events (like horror movie screenings at the Friday Fright Nights), open mics galore, and a casual, unpretentious place to gather — whether you’re huddling around the crackling fire or grabbing a seat at the bar and chatting it up with the owners themselves. As tourism in the Catskills continues to boom, Cabernet Frank’s feels like one of the few establishments left that prioritize both new visitors and their preexisting community equally. What does that mean for you? When you visit them, you’ll feel right at home.
Upward Brewing Company (Livingston Manor, New York): As a beer lover, I’m a sucker for a good brewery. Between the killer view, the elevated, yet casual food, and the award-winning beer, this one is hard to beat.
For starters, the view and the setting itself never cease to blow me away. I’ve now visited Upward Brewing in every single season, and I can’t for the life of me pick a favorite one. Lounging in an Adirondack chair by the fire while sipping on one of their IPAs has to be one of life’s greatest pleasures, whether I’m watching people play hockey at the pond in the middle of winter or enjoying the greenery as far as the eye can see in the summer months.
If ~lounge life~ sounds too sedentary for you, never fear: Take your beer with you as you hike to the summit of Beer Mountain (yep, Upward Brewing literally owns a mountain) to drink and get some steps in at the same time…or, as I like to call it, multitask.
Brewery food can often feel like an afterthought — but not here. You haven’t lived until you’ve tasted their Kimchi Fries (piled high with punchy kimchi and gooey cheese), and though it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I’m also genuinely obsessed with their Trout Nuggets. It is fly-fishing country, after all.
Confession: Having first visited in the height of the pandemic (when outdoor dining was all they offered), I’ve actually never eaten inside the diner itself. Instead, I’ve always placed my order at the window of their Airstream, grabbed a mountain-view picnic table, and taken in the picturesque landscape as I enjoyed my meal. Someday I’ll eat inside, but with a view like this, it’s hard not to fully enjoy it.
If you, like me, are one of the 123,000 people who follow Lorde’s “secret” Instagram account — where she literally just rates every onion ring she eats on a scale of 1 to 5 — you’ll know that she has seriously high onion ring standards. She’s never given a rating higher than a 4.5, and with Phoenicia Diner’s entry landing an impressive 4, you know they’re the real deal.
Tusten Cup (Narrowsburg, New York): No walk down the charming main drag of Narrowsburg is complete without stepping into this “seven-day café” (and sipping your morning coffee right over the Delaware River).
All the food at this “seven-day café” is top-notch, but IMO, the myriad breakfast sandwiches they offer are where it’s at. For me, it’s a toss-up between the Big Eddy Burrito and the Sasquatch: the former packed with plenty of fresh black bean and corn salsa (and oozing with chipotle mayo), and the latter filled with just-sweet-enough maple sausage and melty cheese.
And while the coffee and grub are delectable on their own, there’s just something about enjoying your breakfast perched right over the gorgeous river that somehow makes everything taste even better. Even overcast days are somehow stunning when you’re dealing with this view — am I right?
Cochecton Fire Station (Cochecton, New York): Whether you’re ordering your wood-fired comfort food to go or dining inside this fire station turned community bar, I can nearly guarantee you’ll be going back for more.
The menu is seemingly inspired by Cochecton Fire Station’s main piece of cooking equipment: a massive wood-fired oven. But if your mind is starting to wander to “pizza” territory, don’t let it. The offerings are far more creative: Think crispy chicken thighs that are crunchy beyond your wildest dreams, a roasted cheese board, and even wood-fire mac ‘n’ cheese that is, to this day, one of the tastiest macs I’ve ever tried.
While I do miss their massive deli-container cocktails of the 2020 pandemic days (they’re still delish in regular ole glasses, though), I’m honestly counting down the days until I can visit again and experience all the magic of their in-person dining. I mean, the atmosphere of this place?! It’s just as iconic as what they’re cooking up.
The Junction (Roscoe, New York): This charming new spot in “Trout Town, USA” encompasses all the things I look for in an exceptional restaurant: incredible atmosphere, food that you dream about for weeks, and, of course, palpable good vibes.
Each item on their expertly curated menu is better than the next. If you’re a burger person, you’ll drool over the signature Junction Burger, which is smashed to perfection and finished with Duke’s mayo (and specifically Duke’s). Their Fried Chicken Sandwich that’s low-key as big as my head? Legendary. Even the daily rotating frozen cocktail is a hell of a good time — especially the frozen Negroni. But there’s one menu item in particular that I dream of almost constantly, and it’s a simple one, too: the fried saltines.
If you, like me, hadn’t ever heard of this classic Southern appetizer, let me break it down for ya. They’re saltines…and they’re fried. It’s as simple as that, yet there’s something so surprisingly decadent about them. They’re flaky and buttery with a mellow nuttiness, and the spreads they serve ’em with are the cherry on top. The smoked trout spread is an easy choice for me (it is Trout Town USA, after all), but they offer a mean pimento cheese, too. Regardless of your spread choice, this app is a must. I triple promise.
High Voltage (Mountain Dale, New York): I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that High Voltage’s Creek Bar is the most unusual, picturesque “restaurant” I’ve ever been to.
To get to the Creek Bar, you’ll follow a trail of cascading string lights from the restaurant’s backyard all the way down to a mulch-covered outdoor bar beneath a canopy of tall trees. It’s as vibey as vibey could possibly get, and it’ll never get old for me. Blanket-lined chairs surround multiple roaring fires — necessary for a chilly Catskills evening — and if the atmosphere somehow isn’t enough for you, the food will seal the deal.
It’s impossible to order incorrectly here, but if you’re looking for my two cents, it’s all about the burger — in case you haven’t noticed, you can find a really mean burger in the Catskills. This one is packed with simple ingredients that work together flawlessly, like Dubliner cheese, sweet caramelized onions, and a dill aioli that takes the entire thing over the top.
Prospect (Hunter, New York): It’s certainly the most high-end establishment on this list, but coming from someone who absolutely loathes the idea of “fine dining,” you have my word that this romantic, special occasion–worthy spot is 100% worth it.
Prospect is the on-site, locally inspired restaurant at Scribner’s Catskill Lodge, which, if you’re unfamiliar, is a super-trendy boutique hotel overlooking Hunter Mountain. How trendy, you ask? It honestly doesn’t get trendier. And as jaw-dropping as the lodge is itself, I think Prospect is the best part.
Prospect is upscale dining at its finest, in my humble opinion. While every element is carefully curated, from the mid-century modern–inspired interior to the hyper-seasonal, ever-changing menu, nothing about it feels stuffy or pretentious. And the food is…well, let’s just say I enjoyed one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Every last bite was utter perfection, from the crusty sourdough bread with cultured butter to the zingy fluke crudo with pickled mustard seeds…but the homemade pastas in particular were simply life-changing.
Westwind Orchard & Cidery (Accord, New York): This orchard and cidery proves that “trendy brewery fun” isn’t just reserved for beer lovers, and no matter what your stance is on hard ciders, Westwind’s offerings will blow you away.
The ciders produced in-house at Westwind Orchard are made exclusively with apples grown in the orchard — you’ll see it just across the street from the sprawling yard of outdoor seating. Their impressive roster of ciders truly runs the gamut, encompassing everything from still ciders to rosé ciders and even bright, sparkling varieties. So if you, like me, don’t exactly know where to begin, I’d highly recommend starting with one of the flights so you can sample it all.
And the food? Yeah, the food itself is pretty remarkable too. Expect some seriously divine Italian and Italian-adjacent bites, from wood-fired pizzas to rotating, seasonal pasta dishes, and even larger bites like Roasted Porchetta.
Last but very much not least, Westwind Orchard beautifully aligns with one of my core beliefs when it comes to great spots to eat and drink: Give the people cornhole and it’s impossible for guests to have a bad time. Seriously, though, Westwind’s outdoor dining area and “campus” is absolutely massive, and it’s filled with numerous picnic tables, yard games, and fire pits. It’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon with the whole family while you enjoy a delicious meal — and sip on some cider, of course.
If you’ve ever visited the Catskills, where’s your favorite place to eat or drink? Drop ’em in the comments below! (Seriously — I’m always looking for a good recommendation.) 👇