The Freshman Class of Catskills Eateries

Above: Prime Steakhouse & Spirits welcomes the Windham ski crowd. Photo by Jennifer Strom.

Let’s just pause for a moment and think a grateful thought about Catskills restaurateurs.

First of all, opening a restaurant anywhere takes guts. The effort and responsibility required are enormous; the risks are high. Here, the restaurant business is not a matter of establishing an Arby’s beside the freeway exit, with a central corporate office for support and a steady flow of rubes funneling past. This is the blizzard- beleaguered, flood-washed Catskill Mountains, with winding roads, a widespread populace and uncertain cell service. Yet, chefs and entrepreneurs continue to flock here, trying their hands at rebooting old- fashioned diners, introducing new concepts and embracing ethnic cuisines.

Here’s a sampling of new places whose proprietors joined the fray in the last 12 months.

Joining the Greene County mountaintop restaurant scene just in time for the winter holiday ski season in December 2012 was Prime Steakhouse & Spirits (5535 Main St., Windham, 518-734-4900, Specializing in steaks, with plenty of chicken and seafood options as well as burgers, chef Michael Malegiannakis serves up dinner daily and lunch on weekends, with an extensive wine list and a weekly $15 prime rib special.

Janet Planet’s Kozmic Kitchen (1028 Route 17 B, Mongaup Valley, 845-583-5028, took over the former Blanche’s Diner near Bethel, transforming the space with a celestial Victorian theme and casual cuisine. Check out the “Ramblin’ Rose” breakfast sandwich: bacon, sausage, rosemary home fries, cheese and an egg on a kaiser roll.

With the opening of Tavern 214 (76 Route 214, 845-688-7383,, Phoenicia gained a very fresh alternative: a New American gastropub with a wide array of craft beers and cocktails, well-chosen wines and a roaring fireplace that’s perfect for chilly evenings. Many of the ingredients are locally sourced; the skills of chef Peter Diaz have been honed in much bigger towns.

In the fall of 2013, Mike Solyn and Caitlan Grady, founders of the mobile NY Farm 2 Door butcher shop and food truck, launched a combination barbecue restaurant and butcher shop called the Stamford Smokehouse (103 Main St., Stamford, 607-652-7653). It features a variety of meats and house-cured charcuterie sourced at local farms, along with grass-fed beef hot dogs and hamburgers and conventional barbecue staples such as pulled pork and beef brisket. Food is available to eat in the small dining area, or for take-out.

Crazy River Café (42287 Route 28, Margaretville, 845-586-6266) opened its doors in April of 2013, offering up breakfast, lunch and a deli case. Table service is available in both an air-conditioned dining room and out on the deck by the stream, or you can take a picnic to go if you’re heading out on an excursion. Breakfast is served all day long.

Streat Foods Latin Bistro (83 1⁄2 Main St., Delhi, 607-746-2200) opened in May of 2013, and has been welcomed warmly by folks who appreciate artistically crafted plates of tacos, burritos, sweet plantains, tropical salads and more. Dishes are priced to be your new favorite family refueling stop, with lunch specials for $4.95, dinners for $6.95, and kids’ meals for just $2. The menu offers a range of healthy and fresh Latin, Mexican and Tex-Mex inspired options (the pork dishes are particular stand-outs).

Above: Roxbury’s Queens Mountain Café opened in summer 2013. Photo by Jen Strom. 

Roxbury also welcomed a new addition to its growing list of eateries: the Queens Mountain Café (53470 Route 30, 607-326-6090). It shares a beautifully renovated space with the Martin Lerner Gallery, and features both indoor and outdoor dining, with a large screened porch overlooking a garden out back, and a front porch that frames a classic Catskills Main Street scene. Try the gourmet sandwiches like smoked turkey with cheese and apple, or the roasted vegetable panini. The menu features one quirky item: a selection of Chinese dumplings, which the owners regularly truck up from the city.

A new addition to the quaint streetscape in Andes is Grayson’s Organics / Morena’s Taqueria (27 Delaware Ave., 845-676-3331), a farmstand and lunch joint rolled into a single wood-framed building near the hamlet’s single intersection. (Look for the piles of vegetables two doors up from the blinking light.) Morena herself serves tacos and burritos for lunch and dinner on weekends, amid vivid baskets of fresh, locally grown fruits and veggies.

This article originally appeared in the print version of the 2014 Catskills Food Guide, our annual publication covering local farms, restaurants and food purveyors. Find a copy near you here. Find a farm, market, restaurant or other food-related business in our searchable, sortable online database here.