Rockland County sits on the west side of the Hudson River, just 25 miles from New York City. It’s a super diverse county, an underrated and wonderful dining destination, and an easy day trip from the city. In our brave new world, please be responsible: wear a mask when you’re not at your table, tip generously, and skip dining out if you’re not feeling 100%. From Nyack to New City, here are some of our favorite Rockland spots.
Hudson House, Nyack
On the main street of the quaint Victorian village of Nyack, Hudson House occupies what was once the local city hall and jailhouse. The two erstwhile jail cells remain and house the rather impressive wine cellar, and the walls and ceilings are covered in the original pressed tin dating from the 1800s and decorated with photos of the Hudson River. Matt Hudson, the restaurant’s co-owner and resident artist behind those photos, is also responsible for the spot’s epic desserts. It’s a tough call between the sticky toffee pudding cake with candied ginger and whipped cream and the black bottom banana cream pie with gingersnap crust. Maybe just order both.
Restaurant X, Congers
Restaurant X had us with its old-school charm, its lush landscaping and free-flowing pond, and fires blazing inside on a crisp, cool night. Chef/owner Peter Kelly is renowned for his contemporary American cuisine, which really shines in his cowboy ribeye. In 2007, Peter appeared on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America and beat Bobby Flay in Battle “Cowboy Ribeye.” and it’s just as delicious all these years later. Another must-try: classic beef Wellington with wild mushrooms and foie gras.
“Latin fusion” doesn’t quite do justice to Union Restaurant, where partner-owners Chef Jose David Martinez and Maître d’l Paulo Feteira serve elevated Latin food not especially typical in the area. They’re definitely helping turn Haverstraw into a dining destination. Highlights include shrimp cocktail ceviche with cilantro and citrus sauce and served with corn chips, and pinto bean ravioli with queso fresco and chorizo. Wash it down with a tangy guava margarita.
Defiant, Pearl River
In a town full of Irish pubs, this microbrewery in a spacious warehouse offers a different vibe. Located right across the street from the Pearl River train station, it’s expanded over the past years and it’s easy to see why. There’s live music on occasion, and a simple barbecue menu that offers seriously crave-able brisket, pulled pork, corn bread, and spicy mac and cheese. They’re brewing about 30 beers at any given time, including seasonal selections. We’re big fans of their house favorite, the Muddy Creek Lager.
Burger Loft & District 96, New City
When owner John Potenza saw his customers at his burger place Burger Loft were big beer fans, he opened District 96 Beer Factory, a bright, airy and beautifully appointed small-batch brew pub. The two spots are next-door neighbors, so head for a Loft burger, freshly ground on-site daily, pressed flat on the grill for maximum caramelization, and topped with their signature just-a-bit-spicy Loft sauce. Then stop by District 96 for a Photo OP IPA, with refreshing notes of pear, lime and orange sorbet.
The Filling Station, Palisades
This roadside spot is part gourmet market and part burger stand, cooking up destination worthy burgers, freshly cutting and double frying french fries, and scooping ice cream. If you’re heading to visit someone, pick up a bottle of lovely olive oil or vinegar from the shop for a thoughtful housewarming gift, nab a slice of quiche from their selection of prepared foods, and don’t miss the carrot cake from their in-house bakery.
Mt. Fuji, Hillburn
Is Mt. Fuji a hibachi restaurant? An architectural splendor situated on a 45-acre private mountain? A beloved sushi and sake destination since 1969? It’s all of these things, and you’ll feel transported to Japan as you step from Route 287 into their world of koi ponds, gardens, and even a waterfall inspired by the restaurant’s namesake mountain. Indoor dining is back open, but sitting outside provides you with scenic views of the Hudson Valley, and in fall, a gorgeous rainbow of leaves. It’s an ideal place to day trip from NYC. Try sashimi salmon carpaccio with sansho herb made with Kyoto peppercorns and jalapeno with Narutotai Ginjo Nama Genshu sake, an unpasteurized full-bodied, dry sake with complex flavors of rice and fruits.
Hannah Howard is a writer and food expert who spent her formative years eating, drinking, serving, bartending, cooking on a hot line, flipping giant wheels of cheese, and managing restaurants. She is the author of the memoir Feast: True Love in and Out of the Kitchen. Hannah is a graduate of Columbia University and the Bennington Writing Seminars. She writes for SELF, New York Magazine, and Salon.com, and lives in New York City.