Beacon's story is similar to that of many industrial towns, where booming factories became little more than headstones for a once-thriving economy. Yet, over the past couple decades, the small Hudson Valley city has reinvented itself as a home for musicians, writers, artists, and art-enthusiasts. With the help of the stunning Dia:Beacon museum (located in a former Nabisco box-printing factory), and thanks to its close proximity to Metro North, the area has become a destination for thousands of visitors who make the trek from New York City and beyond.
Suddenly, old warehouses are no longer relics but prime real-estate. The influx of weekenders and tourists, coupled with Beacon's close proximity to Hudson Valley farms, has also made it a good place to eat. There, eating locally is less of a buzzword, and more of about the community. Luckily for out-of-towners and Beaconites alike, this means lots of delicious craft beer, cheese, sausages, and fresh produce. Headed to Beacon to browse the galleries and shake off the city rush? Here's where to eat.
The Beacon Bagel
Art Burns is "The Bagel Guy." The advertiser-turned-baker, along with his wife Anik, has mixed, boiled and baked his way into the hearts (and stomachs) of the Beaconites of all stripes. Their bagels are made fresh daily and shaped by hand; you can even catch a glimpse of the boiling kettle and rotating bagel oven through the partially open kitchen.
With a characteristically dense crumb structure, the bagels have a chewy interior and thin, glossy crust—there is absolutely no reason to toast these babies. But a beautiful bagel specimen isn't the only highlight at The Beacon Bagel. The menu board, crowded with creative sandwich options, presents hungry diners with nearly endless bagel-ing possibilities. From the Knuckle Sandwich ($3.25), featuring tangy cream cheese and crisp, smoky bacon to the Vegan Delite (Tofutti, avocado, cucumber, red onion carrots and sprouts; $6), there are over 35 options to choose from. Oh, and if you've never tried a "pretzel bagel" before, this is the place to start.
Tito Santana Taqueria
Only a 10-minute walk from the Metro North Station, Tito Santana Taqueria is one of the first stops along Beacon's revitalized Main Street. The taco shop's floor-to-ceiling mural of psychedelic mariachi skeletons sets the tone for taco time. It's an informal venue, with food that arrives to the table in plastic, red baskets. But don't let the minimalist service fool you: these tacos ($2.99) are the real deal. The menu sticks to the Tex-Mex trifecta—tacos, burritos, and chips with guacamole—supplemented with sweet grilled corn, rice and beans, and even a quinoa salad or two. All tacos come with salsa, cabbage, red onion, cilantro and pink pickled radish, lending every bite some crunch, mild sweetness, and a bright hit of acidity.
For a Sit-Down Meal
Swift: The Roundhouse at Beacon Falls
The Roundhouse at Beacon Falls brings industrial-chic dining to Beacon. The rescued brick factory, transformed into a hospitality complex of hotel, formal restaurant (Swift), event space, patio, and lounge (2EM), is located along the Fishkill Creek waterfall, providing a striking setting for Chef Brandon Collins's Hudson Valley-inspired menus. Using modern techniques to showcase local ingredients, the food at Swift has elevated the Beacon dining scene.
Even the salads are pretty; take the spring salad of arugula flowers, spring peas, baby carrots, Johnny jump ups, and asparagus, tossed with skinny slices of sake-pickled Fresno peppers. The occasional nip of heat is offset by the crisp-tender richness of a deep-fried six-minute egg, all served over a bed of "olive soil"—olives and bread that have been dehydrated and coarsely ground into salty, buttery crumbs. To finish it off, the whole thing drizzled with peppery Espelette oil. Looking for more casual dining (and affordable) dining with equally spectacular views? Try The Roundhouse's al fresco option, The Patio.
One part artisan beer store, one part restaurant-bar, and one part charcuterie and cheese shop, The Hop is a carnivore and beer-lover's playland. You'll find a rotating draft list of 9 craft beers, plus over 150 beers by the bottle for retail (and yes, growlers are also available). To compliment your brew of choice, Chef Matt Hutchins creates a selection of house-made sausages, terrines, and pâtés. All of the meat is butchered in-house, and, of course, it's all local. Terrines and sausages are available for retail, but they also take figure prominently on the menu. The savory Porky Puffs—tender pork rillettes-loaded pâte à choux with tart pickled mustard seeds—and the Rabbit & Raisin Terrine ($15), accompanied with crunchy pickled vegetables and a hunk of local blue cheese, are just a few of the brew-worthy pairings. Not sure what to order or what to drink? The staff is knowledgeable, trustworthy, and happy to help.
NOTE: In 3 months, The Hop will be moving locations and expanded its dining room. The new address will be 554 Main Street.
Poppy's Burgers & Fries
The server at Poppy's laughed and called herself "the worst kind of Beaconite." Her crime? She moved from Brooklyn, eats gluten-free, and she's a vegan, of course. Beacon's food scene is indeed hyper-local and community driven. A native Beaconite, Paul Yeaple (aka Chef Poppy) opened Poppy's in 2008 with a mission to bring high-quality, local ingredients to people at an affordable cost. Boasting 100% organic, 100% local grass-fed, humanely raised beef, Poppy's burgers have the characteristically grassy, fat-loaded flavor that's indicative of happy cows. Since our review a few years back, our verdict hasn't changed: Poppy's burgers are great. The fresh and beefy coarsely ground, loosely packed patty gets a nice, crisp crust that's hard to pass up. For a heartier bite, order your burger with an egg (The Egg Head, $10.50) or the Classic Big ($10.50), which stacks two of the quarter-pound patties. For a side, skip the sweet potato chips and stick to the hand-cut French fries.
Where to Drink
Dogwood is the last stop down Beacon's main drag. Although it's the farthest bar from Dia:Beacon, it's worth the walk. An extensive drink menu offers creative cocktails, craft beers, plus a few wine and cider options. The Dogwood Rita, a spicy play on the margarita, is among their most popular drinks: grilled Fresno peppers are steeped in tequila and agave to deliver its hot and smoky signature flavor. The Brain Duster is an even stronger option, a smooth combo of Weller's 12 year bourbon, Carpano Antica vermouth, Wormwood bitters, and Amarena cherries. A hint of St. George Absinthe and bitters give the drink mild anise notes that complement the bourbon's warm woodiness. If you need a snack, go for the burger on Texas toast, house-cut fries served with chipotle aioli, or their classically, but impeccably, prepared deviled eggs.
Max's on Main
Last summer, a chalkboard outside of Max's on Main read, "Now Serving Organic Ice Cubes." The good-natured sarcasm might give you a sense of the important and playful role that Max's fills in a town with increasingly expensive tastes. No mixologists at Max's, just good, old-fashioned bartenders. Unaffected by the influx of city-dwellers, Max's remains a down-to-earth spot with a solid selection of beers, mixed drinks, and bar food. The owners and brothers, Harvey and Richie Kaplan are a lovably quirky pair who named the restaurant for their father (and their mother. After all, what do the joint's initials spell out?) For the true Max's experience, order your drink of choice and a round of nachos. The portion is large enough to feed five people as an appetizer and two as an entrée.
For cocktails, try a Maxtini—a play on the Cosmo that adds grapefruit juice for a tart kick. Then again, Harvey's specialty BLT Bloody Mary is also a sight to behold. I'm not typically a Blood Mary drinker, but this rendition comes with a stick of bacon, so there's really no going wrong. With just enough spice to make your brow sweat, it's a heavy on the Worcester and vodka. It comes with a big stalk of romaine and grape tomatoes (plus the bacon), making it practically a health food, right? One of the greatest things about Max's is that it's one of the only bars in Beacon that stays open seven days a week.
If I didn't tell you, you might not ever know, but Ella's Bellas bakery is 100% gluten-free. The goal of the bakery is to create desserts that taste just as delicious without wheat flour, and despite the tricky nature of gluten-free baking, Ella's Bellas hits the nail on the head. After years of experimentation in her home, owner Carley Hughes created dozens gluten-free flour blends, each catering to unique recipes and products. Wheat is substituted with different combinations of grains like sorghum, amaranth and rice flour, to name a few. In particular, the gluten-free baguette is a baking triumph. Although it doesn't have the exact same crusty exterior of a traditional baguette, the inside is moist and chewy with a relatively open and airy crumb structure (nothing at all like some of the brick-like gluten free bread you find in the supermarket). Cinnamon rolls, chocolate chip cookies, mini pistachio bundt cakes and French macarons are some other products that stand out. Don't have a sweet tooth? Try the hand pies stuffed with curried potatoes and peas, or her savory bread pudding of the day.
Zora Dora's Micro Batch Ice Cream
Zora Dora's offers one thing, and one thing only: iced pops. But don't be fooled by the seemingly simple concept. Dozens of flavor options make deciding what to order anything but easy. With both ice cream and sorbet-based pops, the flavors are inventive and you guessed it, sourced locally. If you like the classics, stick to the Vanilla Deluxe or Orange Dream pops, which are both creamy and speckled with fresh vanilla bean. More imaginative flavors include Texas red grapefruit with ginger and honey; raspberry beet; and pineapple, chili, lime, and sea salt. The flavors are balanced, skewing on the subtler side, so each pop is always bright, refreshing, and not too sweet.