The Catskills are known for many things: farm-fresh food, the great outdoors, and ticket-happy state troopers. But in 2012, the region gained a new icon—Phoenicia Diner. The diner is nestled in the mountains, but for the next few months, the harsh upstate winter will keep you from venturing out to explore. You’ll have to settle for the view from a diner booth.
You greet the familiar staff and the friendly owner, Mike, as he mingles with patrons at the counter. You always feel at home here. Everything on the menu comes from local sources, and the chef has a reputation for spicing things up. You can’t choose, so you order a little bit of everything: French toast doused in local maple syrup and slabs of butter, chicken pot pie baked inside a fresh pastry dough, and Creole-style shrimp and grits complete with a delicate poached egg.
Sometime between your third and fourth cup of coffee, you chat about the weather with a local guy in the booth behind you. It’s the kind of fleeting companionship that’s only possible at a place like this, while you both devour your food.
As you leave, you look up and notice a few snowflakes. “Four more months of this,” you say. “Maybe it ain’t so bad.”