DinerPorn

Phoenicia Diner

Phoenicia, NY

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.”

Grazin Diner

Hudson, NY

We were in love with this place from the first moment we saw it—the building is a classic piece of 1940s Americana, complete with a chrome exterior, leather barstools, an old-fashioned soda fountain, and a jukebox. But the food is anything but old fashioned. After snagging the place at an auction, the owner, Chip, completed revitalized it to create a farm-to-table restaurant—a combination of old-school setting and new-school eco-awareness that’s a growing trend in the region.

As Chip shows us around, he explains that most of their food—the burgers, the fries, and even the soda—is made from scratch, in house. The soda syrup, in cola, birch beer, root beer, and cream flavors, is made by Chip himself. The beef comes straight from Grazin’ Angus Acres, a farm about 20 minutes northwest, in Ghent. And we watch as the potatoes are peeled, cut, and fried right before our eyes.

The result is a meal that Chip calls “everything that is diner porn,” and we have to agree. The “Uncle Dude” is the best burger we’ve had yet, topped with jalapeño relish, chipotle mayo, local cheddar, greens, and bacon (if that doesn’t get you salivating, we don’t know what will). The fries are crispy. The birch beer is bubbly and refreshing. And the friendly staff and big, sunny windows overlooking the bustle of downtown Hudson certainly don’t hurt. Old-school-meets-new-school gets another A+.