With so much to offer in the way of food, drinks, cuisine, and sweet treats, there’s hardly a reason to wander beyond Westchester’s bountiful borders, but every so often the itch to get outta Dodge needs a good scratch. A spontaneous cry of “road trip!” may work for some, but for those who demand a destination or require a reason to get up and go, there are countless, delicious and indulgent excuses for an easy excursion over the county line. From down-home Southern cuisine in Rockland County to house-made ice cream with a view of the Hudson in Putnam, these foodie must-trys are no more than a stone’s throw away and an excellent break from the everyday.
Hoodoo Brown BBQ
Serving up meat that is wood-smoked, low and slow, for a minimum of 14 hours, coupled with recipes and techniques culled from touring the barbecue pits of Austin, this is the local hot ticket for ribs, pork, and more, including rare-in-these-parts burnt-end deviled eggs, Texas poutine with cheese curds and gravy brisket “debris” over hand-cut fries, and the curious, irresistible jar of bacon.
Rye to Ridgefield: 45 minutes
The old country is a day away, but Italophiles in the know get their fix of fresh, authentic gelato this side of the Arno at this inviting, family-run shop where ingredients are always all-natural, often imported, and crafted daily in-house and in small batches. Two dozen flavors grace the case, from traditional stracciatella to outrageous mascarpone swirled with caramel and chopped pistachios, and the ever-so-comforting milk and cookies, marrying classic vanilla with house-made chocolate chip cookies. (Dairy-free and vegan options abound, as well.)
Bedford to Brookfield: 37 minutes
Truly a site to behold, the Nutmeg State’s brand-new, sprawling and sparkling, waterfront office and event space is home to sleek and sexy dining destination, The Wheel, where the menu brims with ingredients sourced from upwards of 40 local farmers, fishermen, and purveyors. A hearth oven does the roasting for small plates to entrées and bakes bubbling Neapolitan-style pizzas.
If just a cold one is enough to make a visit feel complete, check out Cisco Brewers, which hails from Nantucket and pours coastally inspired craft beer Memorial Day through early fall, with occasional live music.
Scarsdale to Stamford: 30 minutes
Hudson Hil’s Café
Cold Spring; hudsonhils.com
Boasting all-day breakfast and lunchtime standards crafted from fresh, Hudson Valley-sourced ingredients, this sweet charmer hits the spot for those hungering for belly-busting classics, like biscuits and gravy, as well as for palates seeking sophisticated sammies of melted gouda, sliced Granny Smith apples, and fig paste on rustic European bread.
Moo Moo’s Creamery
Cold Spring; moomooscreamery.com
This family scoop shop at River’s edge offers front-and-center liquid vistas from the elongated front porch, paired with creamy, house-made ice cream that’s just as show-stopping. Swirled fresh daily from a proud family recipe, 16 flavors dot the board and tempt with names like Guinness chocolate pretzel; peanut butter banana marshmal-low chip (yes, that’s one flavor); and cinnabutter pecan spice.
Chappaqua to Cold Spring: 45 minutes
Salinger’s Orchards and The Bus @ Salinger’s
Founded in 1901 and farmed by the Salinger family’s fourth generation (Tim Salinger is the current head honcho), this orchard grows a veritable cornucopia of fruits and veggies, with 18 varieties of U-pick apples, plus peaches, pears, plums, and more. The dizzying aroma of freshly baking apple cider donuts draws visitors into the country-style farm stand, where pastries and pies (from apple crumb to pumpkin) force will-power to crumble. For a solid lunch before the sweet feast, Chef David DiBari’s permanently parked bus is an on-premise bonus, beckoning with artisan, overstuffed sandwiches, from fried eggplant to the Brewster BEC.
Briarcliff to Brewster: 30 minutes
Close but yet far from run-of-the-mill, this cozy area fave is housed in a picturesque old Victorian and distinctly reminiscent of the bustling cafés of Tel Aviv. It’s run by a warm and welcoming Israeli family that serves three squares a day of health-conscious Middle Eastern cuisine (hummus, grape leaves, feta-filled puff pastry) alongside crowd-pleasing light bites, a bevy of baked goods, vegan specialties, and gluten-free bagels.
My Father’s House Southern Cuisine
Set out on a Sunday and settle in for a soul-soothing, satisfying Gospel brunch — crafted by the hands of a culinary-schooled chef from the hills of North Carolina — featuring shrimp and grits, chicken and ribs, smothered pork chops, vegan versions of meatloaf and chicken and waffles, plus every side dish under the Southern sun, and luscious, loaded desserts.
New Rochelle to Nyack: 37 minutes
Retro-style stolen moments are just over the ol’ Tap at this kitschy sweetshop, which evokes an old-timey, parlor feel, with its vintage-style black-and-white tile, fresh, house-made ice cream, and cheerful service. Along with the classics, up-to-the-minute flavors (Strong Coffee, honey ginger, Magical Unicorn, vegan black raspberry) delight palates of all ages and stages.
A slice of Paris is a jaunt away, and it doesn’t take much to imagine the Hudson as the Seine, when nestled among the sidewalk café tables of this neighborhood gem with a transporting menu of traditional bistro fare. The moules au curry (mussels steeped in coconut milk and curry with diced apples and raisins) is the true raison d’être, making this a journée to write home about.
Port Chester to Piermont: 26 minutes
City Island Lobster House
City Island; cilobsterhouse.com
Known near and far as “the first one on the left,” this waterside haven is a seafood lover’s must in the summertime and a definite during the fall, when crowds dwindle and the autumn sun ushers new life to the Sound. Old-world velvet-backed booths play host to phenomenal fish fests, featuring sweet, cold-water lobster tails, oversized crab legs, jumbo shrimp, and dry-aged Angus beef for the landlubber. Arrive by boat and drop anchor at the eatery’s private marina for a road trip like no other.
Croton-on-Hudson to City Island: 41 minutes