In this Summer Fridays series, we’ll outline good eats in good locations just outside of New York City. If you’re lucky enough to have summer Fridays at your place of work, consider this your road map to good eats off the beaten path.
Although “the River Towns of Westchester” sounds like a place where George R. R. Martin might send one of his many Game of Thrones antiheroes to besiege, the communities that line the Hudson River offer numerous day trip opportunities for city dwellers. Twelve stops up the Metro North’s Hudson Line, the rather severely vertical village of Hastings-on-Hudson is home to a broad variety of restaurants, food shops, and a portion of one of New York State’s great trails, the Old Croton Aqueduct, which stretches from the Bronx to Croton Gorge Park.
Walk up the hill from the train station on a Saturday and head to the village’s farmers market, which has grown into a bustling pavilion with stalls devoted to fresh produce, meats, seafood, cheeses, and specialty products. Several food vendors have also joined in the fun, serving snacks like tacos, crepes, and ice cream. It’s hosted in the library parking lot, and until June, it takes place every other weekend — check ahead.
On the way, you’ll pass the former site of one of Westchester County’s best French restaurants, Buffet de la Gare. It now belongs to Saint George (155 Southside Avenue, 914-478-1671), a punchy bistro that’s more dressed down than its forebear but still does right by Francophiles. Up another hill lies the village’s main drag of Warburton Avenue, which has managed to stave off frozen yogurt outlets but does have a gluten-free bakery. At By The Way Bakery (574 Warburton Avenue, 914-478-0555), you can find macarons, biscotti, cupcakes, and cakes as well. Among the confections, the almond cookies are worth the trip alone. Crisp on the outside with a near marzipan-like interior, they shame still-very-good chocolate chip cookies.
North Warburton is also home to what I consider the village’s, and probably one of the county’s, best restaurants. Juniper‘s (575 Warburton Avenue, 914-478-2542) Alex Sze makes beautiful, comfort-heavy food in a relaxed setting — and it’s BYOB for now. Across the street and capping the north end of the town center is falafel restaurant Taiim (598 Warburton Avenue, 914-478-0006), which isn’t related to Einat Admony’s NYC brand, but happily, both serve my favorite falafel in their respective areas. There’s also skewered chicken and lamb, shakshouka, and a beastly wrap called the Masada, which feeds two and costs $17. The kitchen takes a giant pita and stuffs it with chicken and lamb shawarma, falafel, mujaddara (rice with lentils), Israeli chopped salad, hummus, pickled cucumbers and turnips, and tahini. Tackle it on your own, and they might just hang your photo on the wall. It also bears mentioning that Taiim’s owner, Zamir Iosepovici, is a frequent drinking partner of my father’s.
Heading south, there’s above-average New York-style pizza available at Slices (14 Main Street, 914-478-5600), where the dough is slightly sweet and the sauce far sweeter. Another favorite is the HFD Special, a spicy ode to the fire department with buffalo chicken fingers and french fries. Behind the porthole door of Tony’s Steak & Seafood (524 Warburton Avenue, 914-478-2260), you’ll find generous portions of family-style Portuguese and Italian fare, like browned rotisserie chicken and a tomato-based seafood stew that packs in lobster, shrimp, scallops, clams, and mussels.
Make your way back down towards the train and across the overpass that leads to the waterfront. At the end of a long parking lot you’ll come to a compound that wouldn’t feel out of place in Napa or the North Fork. Harvest on Hudson (1 River Street, 914-478-2800) is run by a group that operates five restaurants around Westchester County and Montauk, and this one’s been plunked down right on the Hudson along with beautiful outdoor seating and a garden where the restaurant sources much of its produce. Sure, you can have a riverside drink at the Frying Pan or the Boat Basin Cafe, but you’ll have to deal with a battlefield of incredibly loud assholes. Sipping a glass of rosé while smelling actual fresh air and looking out at the river is a privilege.
Planning on driving? Steer that fancy automobile that you are somehow lucky enough to have in New York City and park right behind the Pink Panther Truck, located on Saw Mill River Road just south of Jackson Avenue. Magdalena Toledo has been serving the area’s best $2.50 tacos, $3 tostadas, and $1.75 beef chili-covered hot dogs since the late 1980s, and at very 80s pricing.