Best Eating and Drinking Experiences in Westchester: Daily Indulgences
10 Buffet de la Gare
This twinkling ode to Paris is all mirrors, candles, and joie de vivre. Buffet de la Gare manages to gather the classics without ever seeming hokey–we know where we’ll be when we want to coddle ourselves with a flute of Champagne and perfumed coquilles St. Jacques.
11 Seafood Dinner at Ocean House
Sometimes a few challenges make the payoff taste even better, a fact that probably isn’t overlooked by Chef Brian Galvin of Ocean House. His tiny Croton-on-Hudson seafood shrine may be modestly housed in a former diner that yields precious few seats, but fans of Galvin’s delicious, super fresh seafood are willing to wait for a seat at his table.
12 Meatballs at Café of Love
Salty with Romano cheese and the dairy tang of ricotta, these oh-so-rich meatballs manage to be lush and sprightly at once. You’ll be as eager for the third as you were for the first, which makes these meatballs pretty amazing.
Photography by Andre Baranowski
13 Dinner and Belly Dancing at Zitoune (Above)
There’s something so satisfying about sitting while others work, which is why we like enjoying Chef Alain Bennouna’s complex Moroccan while some poor soul is jiggling her heart out.
14 Brunch Croissants at Chiboust
Slavishly layered and folded, layered and folded—always, with butter—Chef Jill Rose’s shatteringly crisp, rich buns erase any memory you might have of abominable, American-style “crassants.” Look for them to greet your Sunday morning with house-cured salmon, capers, and red onions, virtually guaranteeing that you’ll stop by Chiboust’s bakery case to buy some more on the way out.
15 Spicefest at Chutney Masala
Chef Navjot Arora’s scholarly take on pan-Indian offers everything from Anglo-Indian (tikka Masala) and Portuguese-Indian (vindaloo) to honest regional Indian food. Expect stunningly subtle dals, beautiful tandoor-baked breads, and a wide menu that’s almost as much education as it is bill of fare.
16 Dinner at Tarry Lodge
Look, you may not have liked the recent Batali/Bastianich litigation that accused the pair of tapping their servers’ tips, and maybe you were turned off by the F-bombs in Bastianich’s recent book, Restaurant Man. But even the pair’s many detractors have to admit: These guys can pick talent, and that all started when Batali teamed up with Andy Nusser in Manhattan for their tiny Cornelia Street restaurant, Pó. Now, Nusser’s in charge of the two Tarry Lodges (Port Chester and Westport, Connecticut) as well as his first Batali/Bastianich ventures as co-owner, Casa Mono and Bar Jamón. In all, he brings his consummate professionalism and a flair for the rustic flavors of Europe.
17 Dinner at Juniper
This is the tiny restaurant that Tarry Lodge’s Chef Andy Nusser calls “a gem.” Chef Alex Sze’s elegant cuisine is so unique and delicious that we feel that Juniper should be mentioned in Hastings’s real estate ads as a local amenity—and, because it’s BYOB, it’s also a bargain.
18 Dinner at Restaurant North
Nowhere in Westchester are front and back of the house so perfectly synched than at Slow Food darling Restaurant North. Look for suave service and impressive local wines from Stephen Paul Mancini and hearty, locavorian cuisine from Eric Gabrynowicz, Food & Wine’s The People’s Best New Chef: New York Area.
19 Wings at Candlelight Inn
It’s not a classy joint, folks—and I wouldn’t wear white. This down-and-dirty roadhouse offers cheap fried food and lots of it, including these sour/hot/oily wings that compel helpless eaters to swill beer. Just try to fight it.
20 Late Summer at Harvest on Hudson
A democratic menu, panoramic views of the Hudson, and outdoor “rooms” bounded by herbs and vegetable gardens make this pan-Mediterranean one of Westchester’s most prized outdoor hangs.
21 Wine and Pizza at Arrosto
Boutique Italian craft beer and excellent, well-priced wines seduce along with a menu of Italian comfort foods like pizza, pasta, and wood-roasted meats. Seriously, what is not to love about Arrosto?
22 A Night at Zephs’
Chef Vicky Zeph is like Gabrielle Hamilton’s still more idiosyncratic aunt. Her food is muscular, yet sprightly, and always keeps us guessing (and always planning a return visit).
23 Pizza at Johnny’s
Oh, it’s a crabby little vintage pizzeria with snappish service, bad parking, and a strict cash-only, no-slices policy, but this 1940s pizzeria gets our vote for simply being old and weird. The pies are so flat that their micro-thin layer of cheese fuses to the cracker-crisp crust, making this Mount Vernon classic a Westchester must-eat, if only to marvel at its spare simplicity.
Photo by RobDeePhotos.com
24 Fish and Chips at Eastchester Fish Gourmet
Look for tasty seafood dishes and Italian American classics at this Westchester standard, which also slings a delicious version of this pub favorite. Go figure.
This sweet, wood frame house in Larchmont has a secret weapon—Chef Matthew Karp’s effortless elegance in the kitchen. Look for plenty of locally line-caught Pura Vida Fisheries seafood and farmers’ market produce spun into innovative fare.
Photo by Shane McGaffney
26 Dinner at Iron Horse Grill
Chef Philip McGrath’s pioneering New American in Pleasantville is a Westchester standard and the necessary preamble to a night at the Jacob Burns Film Center.
27 Doro Wat at Lalibela
These wide, communal platters of spongy injera bread hold delicious mounds of darkly spicy Ethiopian curries. While it takes a moment to get the hang of eating without a fork, the reverberations of doro wat resonant with berbere spice will last a lifetime.
28 Octopus at Neméa
Once you’re able to wrestle this spiral tentacle down, you’ll find it’s amazingly tender and deliciously charred. One bite will transport you to your last seaside vacation.
Scallop and spinach dish from X2O
29 Brunch at X2O Xaviars on the Hudson (Above)
Brunch has never been an abstemious meal, but still, X2O’s is over the top. Imagine unlimited Champagne and four rather hearty butlered dishes (like rack of lamb!) yielding to two brunch courses and dessert. The kicker is that it’s only $38 and comes with a stunning view.
This Yorktown sleeper offers an egalitarian menu that has the distinction of being perfectly cooked. While we miss the finesse of Neil Ferguson in the kitchen, Thyme is still a solidly good choice.
31 Evenings at Alvin & Friends
Think of Alvin’s as New Rochelle’s informal living room—you’ll often see the mayor and the town’s cultural elite, rubbing elbows and basking in owner Alvin Clayton’s charm. Don’t miss Chef Raymond Jackson’s stunning fried chicken—he par-cooks it in hot sauce, so it’s tangy, spicy, and delicious!
32 Yvonne’s House of Soul
Yvonne hasn’t missed a beat since moving from Pelham to Mount Vernon. Look for all the southern soul of your deepest desires—pork chops, black eyed peas, fried whiting, Alabama fried chicken, chitterlings, pigs’ feet, and collards. It’s American heritage on a plate—and don’t forget the sweet potato pie
33 Mima Vinoteca
What a neighborhood Italian restaurant should be: simple, gracious, and a whole lot of fun. Look for great wines by the glass, gorgeous pastas, and all of Irvington in the house.
Photo by Jonathan Young
34 Winter Sausage and Beer Dinner at Blue Hill at Stone Barns
This is the annual hoedown that sees Blue Hill at Stone Barns loosen up. Look for communal tables, gallons of beer, and stunning charcuterie served up with hearty bonhomie. Don’t miss GM Philippe Gouze’s annual airing of the plus fours.
35 Ripe Kitchen & Bar
This swinging Jamaican joint with no exterior signage offers wood-grilled jerk chicken, serious rum, and Red Stripe. This is where you get Irie.