Years ago, Hudson was like many county seats around the nation, and particularly the Northeast: The main course at local restaurants was breakfast or lunch. And no, that didn’t mean three martinis before heading back to the office or courthouse. Think loads of what we would now call “weak coffee” or iced tea, sodas and a decent cup-of-soup-and-sandwich combo. There are places like that now in Hudson, but they’re mostly all “neo,” meaning that they’re intentional throwbacks; or the very few survivors left along Warren Street, the City’s main thoroughfare, leading from the river up to a big hill overlooking the rest of town.
Culinary Hudson, you see, has taken the same route as the large town’s contemporary antiques, art gallery, shopping and second-home scenes: It has been gentrified, specialized and more expensive, to the point where Hudson’s starting to be seen far and wide as one of the Hudson Valley’s leading “foodie” destinations. That means that it’s now a great place to go for top French bakeries, state-of-the-art Scandinavian cuisine, Northern Italian specialties, down-home Low Country cooking, amazing wine-and-spirits stores, bistro and sushi getaways, farm-to-table burger joints, haute cuisine (on a modern scale) and affordable falafel, plus plenty of great West Indian, South Asian and food-truck options everywhere, in all seasons – as well as some of the best sit-down pizza anywhere. That’s not to forget a vibrant cocktail, wine bar and classic saloon scene – with music in most locations – that keeps everyone hopping into the wee hours (and a healthy taxi business on the streets).
Take an evening to hit the town strolling Warren Street, where one can fill a day popping in and out of galleries and antique stores, high-end shops and…how about simple people-watching in this most tony of upstate extensions of Brooklyn Moderne? Places to look for, from the very top of Warren above the park at Seventh Street all the way down to Promenade Park overlooking the Hudson, include – between Prospect/Worth Avenues and Sixth Street – Wasabi, the now-classic sushi spot, intimate and fun, at 807; brand-new, scorchingly hip and quite expensive Crimson Sparrow at 746; the friendly and low-key, somewhat Teutonically menued Wunderbar & Bistro at 744; the reconfigured retro diner farm-to-table burger and wine joint Grazin’ at 717; and ultra-lunch spot Le Gamin Country (an outpost of a popular Lower Manhattan eatery) at 609. Just off Warren on either side along Seventh Street are the popular and affordable Park Falafel at 11 North 7th and, in the other direction, the old-time Iron Horse Tavern, which, besides having been featured in several movies, is reputed to be one of the only bars in the world where you can step outside and get hit by a train twice a day.