It's no struggle to find a great meal in New York City, but you'd be remiss not to venture outside the five boroughs every once in a while; in fact, the rest of New York state has just as impressive offerings as the city (if not more so) -- from the Hudson Valley's famed Blue Hill at Stone Barns to a local favorite in the Buff.
The 13 Best New York Restaurants NOT in NYC
Experience the culinary odyssey that is James Beard Award-winning Chef Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Whet your appetite with a tour of the farm -- home to pigs, ducks, chickens, turkeys, sheep, and honey bees -- then settle into the seasonal and always changing 10-course "Grazing, Pecking, Rooting" menu. The feast includes amazing and inventive dishes like a “beetfurter” appetizer and a Blue Hill Farm egg with everything a laying hen eats (so... grains, weeds, berries, popcorn, and sunflower seeds).
You can thank chef/owner Robby Beaver for the appetizer of badass bivalves, also known as Oysters Friskafella -- an Oysters Rockefeller-like dish (with spinach, garlic aioli, and Parmesan) that’ll leave you forever ruined for all other oysters. Crazier still, the Oysters Friskafella is not all that merits a trip out to the North Fork; have a W.A.R.D. cocktail (gin, cucumber, mint, lime, and St. Germain) alongside pan-seared scallops, the Rhubarb Collins with the duck breast, and top off a day of exploring Greenport with the warm Virginia pecan pie and salted caramel ice cream.
Like a classic dish reimagined, Hudson has evolved from an early 19th century whaling port to an antique epicenter to the current anti-Hamptons haven for well-to-do bohemians. Nestled inside one of the town’s many beautiful, old brick buildings, Zak Pelaccio’s Fish & Game is a central character in Hudson’s newest chapter. But don't worry, there won't actually be any reading -- just cooking off the land from an open hearth in the restaurant’s dining room that's churning out dishes like wood-roasted whole duck and steamed whole black bass.
A meal here is a wonderfully overwhelming dining experience. Filet mignon and garlic-mashed potatoes, charming patrons, and the babbling Sawkill Creek will almost instantly remind you why eating out was invented. Plan a hike up Overlook Mountain, then join people making the trip from Albany and Westchester to see what all the raving is about.
After a day at the races, a Hammerin’ Hank at Legends Café, and a soak in the Roosevelt Bathhouse, it’ll be time for Church (the kind where you can skip prayer and just eat and drink, except actually good stuff). Find divinity in dishes like grilled octopus, veal chop, and red wine-braised short ribs.
Join the locals in ordering the amber ale BBQ sauce-smothered Tumbleweed Burger or the Big Mamou, a sampling of four classic Creole dishes, like jambalaya and the Big Easy gumbo. Owner David Katleski (who's working on the Spring 2015 opening of the Empire Farmstead Brewery, too) suggests pairing the sweet fire fajita with a hoppy beer like Liv and Let Rye.
Though the comfort food and farm-to-table philosophy are part of the allure at Brushland Eating House -- order the honey- and almond-roasted carrots, pork schnitzel, and chocolate tart with burnt marshmallow -- people are flocking to the tiny town of Bovina for something you can’t touch or taste. Sohail Zandi and Sara Elbert, the ex-Brooklynite couple behind Brushland, have successfully created a communal, much-larger-now-that-they're-not-in-Brooklyn, home-away-from-home setting, where dishes will "conjure memories of relatives or childhood, that favorite cast iron pan, or the smell of a warm, bustling kitchen."
Should you find yourself a little ways from Lake Erie (in the Western nook of New York), well, lucky you. Forte regular Frank Besse of Jamestown Up Close says to start things off with a beer from the popular & local Southern Tier Brewing Company, then get a tempura shrimp sushi roll appetizer, followed by the jambalaya risotto, and the bourbon butterscotch cheesecake. Like the local art on the walls, the eclectic American menu changes often, but you can always count on the daily $12 steak and beer special.
Being the best restaurant in town means that even after 20+ years of business, there's still a wait to get a table. With 72 seats between inside and the patio, the place is almost always packed, and deservedly so. Dig into any homemade sausage (like the coriander beer link and the deep-fried russets with chipotle aioli), savoring the fact that you’re enjoying the quality of an upscale New York dinner at actual Upstate prices, too.
In this case, mixing business with pleasure is advisable. As is picking no higher than spice level seven, according to Capital Region Dining Blog author Emily Lemieux, when ordering the jerk chicken, which's “spiced with depth, complexity, sweetness and heat,” and served alongside black beans, brown rice, yams, and plantains.
“Each season brings an adventurous new menu with unexpected combinations,” says Lemieux, who recommends New World Bistro Bar for its reliably delicious, globally inspired, locally sourced food, and an impressive selection of New York State libations, including wine from the Finger Lakes, Hudson Valley spirits, and beer from nearby Chatham Brewing Company. Then next time work or your friend who really misses the River Rats brings you to Albany, you’ll look good for scheduling dinner at this spot from Chopped winner Chef Ric Orlando.
It’s the kind of place where you look around and want what everyone is having. CIA graduate & Chef Mark Margiotta helms the kitchen inside this dream journal-worthy French diner in Dutchess County, that’s worth a 90-minute train trip up the Hudson River for. Local Audrey Aponte from Sprout Creek Farm suggests the onion soup, any plate of fresh pasta, and the Shinebox cocktail with black tea-infused bourbon, lemon, sugar, angostura, and orange & rhubarb bitters.
It's not ALL Buffalo wings -- locals get help braving the brutal winters up here “in the Buff” because of restaurants like Ristorante Lombardo, a family-run joint serving rustic Italian food to rival the best you've had. Order the wood-roasted figs with Gorgonzola stuffing and prosciutto, and the tagliatelle bolognese. A favorite of Buffalo Eats founder Donnie Burtless, this restaurant is a great surprise for tourists who think there’s nothing more to eat around town than B-wings. Side note: you should also get some Buffalo wings.
Whether you happen to arrive on Tiki Tuesdays or Chicken & Fixin' Wednesdays, The Revelry is a revelation. It’s a testament to the possibility that really good food does indeed exist within New York -- outside New York City. This is a hidden gem to everyone who doesn’t live in Roc City, where husband-and-wife team Josh and Jenna have given Manhattanites a reason to visit Rochester, especially if they’re serving smoked duck tacos, fried green tomatoes, chicken-fried oysters, and country-fried quail.
1. Blue Hill at Stone Barns630 Bedford Rd, Pocantico Hills
2. The Frisky Oyster27 Front St, Greenport
3. Fish & Game13 S 3rd St, Hudson
4. Ric Orlando's New World Bistro Bar & Restaurant300 Delaware Ave, Albany
5. Brasserie 292292 Main St, Poughkeepsie
6. Ristorante Lombardo1198 Hertel Ave, Buffalo
7. The Bear Café295 Tinker St, Woodstock
8. 15 Church15 Church Street, Saratoga Springs
9. Brushland Eating House1927 County Highway 6, Bovina Center
10. Empire Brewing Company120 Walton St, Syracuse
11. Just a Taste116 N Aurora St, Ithaca
12. Forte114 E 3rd St, Jamestown
13. The Revelry1290 University Ave, Rochester
Sourcing fresh ingredients from its surrounding fields and market, Westchester's Blue Hill at Stone Barns ditches menus in favor of letting diners combine ingredients to their liking.
Not surprisingly, this Greenport resto specializes in a number of satisfying oyster dishes (like the Oysters Friskafella -- a dish that's like Oysters Rockefeller, with spinach, garlic ailoi, and Parmesan), but this spot also doles out tasty tails, all kinds of other seafood, and tantalizing desserts like their Virginia pecan pie and salted caramel ice cream.
Escape the City for a weekend and head to Zak Pelaccio's (Fatty 'Cue, Crab) rustic spot upstate that's using fresh ingredients that're sourced locally -- from fields, streams, and farms in the neighboring areas -- to create a "New York regional" menu.
This 80-seater in Albany claims to have amore of a Park Slope feel than a Midtown feel with a cozy new building (that still has parts of the original 1910 building) and friendly staff.
CIA graduate chef Mark Margiotta has put together a menu that is sure to keep you coming back for more, we suggest trying the onion soup on your first visit -- and maybe bringing something else for the 90-minute train ride home.
With a seasonal menu, this Buffalo resto is known for incredibly fresh food and authentic Italian like veal, steaks, and handmade pastas
This Woodstock spot in the middle of a woodsy oasis is surely one for those stopping in after a beautiful hike for some indulgent grub and cheap brews.
This Saratoga Springs foodie oasis is a kick-back spot with some of the best high-end scenery, service, and food imaginable.
Quality ingredients and a comforting style make for an enticing combination at Brushland Eating House, where you can dominate meals filled with goodness like honey- and almond-roasted carrots, pork schnitzel, and chocolate tarts with burnt marshmallow.
Get to Empire Brewing Company and get down on tasty, full-flavored brews like their Liv and Let Rye IPA while you crush eats like the Tumbleweed Burger.
A 20-year-old business in Ithaca, Just a Taste is a sweet small plates joint with plenty of options so you can try out just the tapas, just for a course or a second, just to see how it feels.
This sleepy, sultry Jamestown eatery is one for the travelers books -- head in after a long day of hiking and sight-seeing, or make the trek from the city -- it's really worth it.