By Chef Devin Mills and Marybeth Mills
What people don't know about the Catskills is: that the region is HUGE! The Catskills are not limited to the Borscht Belt. They include many small family-run farms, thousands of miles of hiking trails and stunning views. There are ski resorts; reservoirs for kayaking; and lots of tiny hamlets that offer an abundance of eateries, galleries and shopping.
The most prolific food in the region is: rainbow trout. Whether you try your hand at fly-fishing in one of our streams or lakes, or visiting a local hatchery -- it's the best tasting trout around. Beaverkill Hatchery in Livingston Manor has been family owned and operated for since 1963. It's the largest and oldest hatchery in New York State. You can fish at the hatchery and just pay for what you catch. It's fun and delicious.
If you want to fit in like a local, make sure you: leave the designer duds at home. The one thing the Catskills lack is pretense. Life is more close to nature around here, so hiking boots are more prevalent than heels. People are more likely to talk about their gardens than what they do for a living.
MORNING | Coffee & Breakfast
Chefs work late nights, so their choice of morning coffee is incredibly important. A good, strong, balanced cup can be had at the Phoenicia Diner, where they feature coffee from local roaster, Java Love in White Lake, NY. They only source organic, sustainable, fair-trade beans that produce a complex and brooding cup of joe. They also have a terrific skillet breakfast. This is the best way to start your morning.
5681 NY-28, Phoenicia, NY 12464 | T: 845.688.9957 | www.phoeniciadiner.com
The Arkville Bread and Breakfast
This is a favorite spot for breakfast. The restaurant is an actual caboose -- a leftover from the days when train travel dominated the Catskills. Jack, the owner, can often be found singing while he prepares your breakfast. Our kids love the chocolate chip pancakes. On the weekends, Jack does a "British Brekkie," a traditional English breakfast, complete with Irish bacon, bubble and squeak, fried bread, sauteed mushrooms, and roasted tomato. It's divine and decadent.
43285 State Route 28, Arkville, NY 12406 | T: 845.586.1122 | arkvillebreadandbreakfast.com
Pakatakan Farmers Market
On Saturdays, the Pakatakan Farmers Market (aka The Round Barn) in Halcottsville, is the "place to be seen" in the Catskills. You can shop for flowers, fruits and vegetables, grass-fed meats, artisanal cheeses, honeys and soaps, while listening to live music. Waffles are made fresh in front of you, so you can walk around while noshing on a fresh-out-of-the-griddle waffle topped with whipped cream and artisanal chocolate.
46676 NY-30, Halcottsville, NY 12438 | T: 845.586.3326 | www.roundbarnmarket.org
Tender Land Home
If you're in the hamlet of the Phoenicia, be sure to pop in here. This is a terrific gift and home shop on Main Street. Much of the pottery and jewelry is made by Catskills artists. One of our favorite gift items is a natural canvas Catskills tote, which is perfect for farmer's markets as well.
64 Main Street, Phoenicia, NY 12464 | T: 845.688.7213 | www.tenderlandhome.com
Mystery Spot Antiques
This is down the street from Tender Land Home and it's a unique shop. The store is an absolute treasure chest of vintage records, clothing, mid-century lighting, housewares and even a bonafide Creepy Doll Exhibit. You're absolutely guaranteed to find something memorable.
72 Main Street, Phoenicia, NY 12464 | T: 845.688.7868 | www.mysteryspotantiques.com
Mama's Boy Burgers
They serve one of the best burgers around. It just opened in May 2015, but is already becoming a tradition for lunch in the region. The Devil's Tombstone burger, served with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle and a special sauce on a potato roll is worth the drive from where ever you are. Mama's Boy also has outdoor picnic tables which is perfect for people-watching while you slurp down an old-school chocolate malt.
6067 Main Street, Tannersville, New York
T: 518.589.6667 | mamasboycatskills.com
AFTERNOON SNACK & SWEETS
Lucky Dog Organic
One of our favorite farms, Lucky Dog Organic, also has a small farm store and cafe in the town of Hamden, NY. It's positively adorable with mismatched furniture, and daily changing sandwiches and salads from whatever is being pulled out of the ground. During their afternoon break, the farmhands will be seated next to you, as they enjoy the daily soup preparation and their famous crocodile bread. Be sure to grab some of their freshly made breads and soups for the ride home.
35796 NY-10, Hamden, NY 13782 | T: 607.746.8383 | www.luckydogorganic.com
The Catskills aren't exactly synonymous with artisanal chocolate, but it should be. Several years ago, award-winning chocolatier Bryan Graham set up shop right on Route 28 in Shokan, NY. He personally sources his beans, which are roasted on site, then made into some of the finest chocolates in the world. His Brown Butter Bourbon Caramels are life-altering. Fruition Chocolate is a must visit, with shops in Shokan and Woodstock.
3091 NY-28, Shokan, NY 12481 | T: 845.657.6717
17 Tinker Street, Woodstock, NY 12481
EARLY EVENING COCKTAILS
The Stockade Tavern
In the historic district of uptown Kingston, this is the best place to enjoy a cocktail before heading out to eat. The bartenders are truly gifted and classically trained. The vintage decor is understated and welcoming. This is not the place to order that vodka and tonic, just trust your bartender to be your muse. Everything that they put in front of you will amaze you with its style, complexity and balance.
313 Fair Street, Kingston, NY 12401 | T: 845.514.2649 | stockadetavern.com
Italian | Cucina
A fabulous option for dinner in the Catskills. Thin-crust pizzas, fresh pastas, and vibrant salads, all served in a warm, but modern country setting.
109 Mill Hill Road, Woodstock, NY 12498 | T: 845.679.9800 | www.cucinawoodstock.com
New American | Tavern 214
This is a local favorite. The sausage sliders paired with a locally brewed draft beer is a perfect reward after a day on the trails.
76 NY-214, Phoenicia, NY 12464 | T: 845.688.7383 | tavern214.com
LATE NIGHT & DINNER
The Peekamoose Restaurant & Tap Room
This is our restaurant and it's one of the most popular dining destinations in the Catskills. We feature farm-to-table cuisine, and we work with local growers so the menu changes with what is freshest in season.
Because the area's residents and visitors are spending most of the daylight out in the fresh mountain air, most are too worn out to go late-night bar-hopping. Most of the restaurants in the area close by 10pm. However, we serve until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. It's one of the only late-night dining spots around. The wood-grill is always fired up with cherrywood for grilling their grass-fed beef burger, served on a housemade brioche bun - topped with cave-aged Adirondack cheddar, a tomato and balsamic onion jam, watercress, and dressed in white truffle oil. If you're feeling like a lighter late-night snack, the roasted beet 'tartare' is a local favorite.
Open until midnight on weekends
8373 NY-28, Big Indian, NY 12410 | T: 845.254.6500 | www.peekamooserestaurant.com