The sidewalks of Partition Street in Saugerties, NY are paved with massive flagstones. The stones, some measuring as much as six feet square and locally quarried more than a century ago, were precisely laid by master masons in this then-prosperous manufacturing and port city along the Hudson River.
The venerable stones introduce a city of contrasts: old and new buildings, cultures, and food traditions side by side.
Right away it’s clear that you can eat well in Saugerties. Restaurants, food shops and cafes abound, each with their own take on good food and comfortable hospitality. Some are newcomers but others have been here for generations. In addition, a mix of trendy boutiques and old-school emporiums serve the evolving community.
The town’s amazing stock of historic buildings is itself worth a visit. Built in more well-to-do times, elaborate houses and proud commercial buildings mix with the humdrum. Some are restored, others stand in original condition and a few are crying out for TLC. Galleries, restaurants and shops each have their own personality: contemporary, funky, untouched or completely done over.
Our recent visit was planned around lunch at Miss Lucy’s Kitchen, a favorite stop, at 90 Partition Street. Plump burgers, lavish salads and a BLT with bacon from the local smokehouse were all devoured. Like so many establishments in Saugerties, the interior plays up the architectural heritage of the city’s hay-day overlaid with a contemporary funky vibe.
Two of the long-time multi-generation stores are a must-stop when we’re in town.
The Smokehouse of the Catskills, a destination for carnivores, is a few miles outside of town on Rt 212 (on the way to Woodstock). The smokehouse is a German-themed Metzgerei or meat market with custom cut beef, pork and lamb, house-made sausages and smoked meats.
This trip was for some sausages – bauern, brat and knackwursts – and a bag of fresh kraut along with some hard-to-find German specialties. When your number is called (the store is always busy) a knowledgeable helper hand-selects your choices from the loaded case. While waiting, I was able to chat with Gary and Goose, the two butchers on duty who will custom cut anything you need.
Krause’s Chocolates (hand made since 1929 the sign says) is on down Partition right by the Esopus Creek. The old-fashioned hand-dipped chocolates have the irregular and uneven shape that I just love. With a bite into a dark chocolate soft-center (raspberry for me) I can imagine the hand work that goes into its rich flavor. You can order online, but the chocolate aroma of the store is worth a trip.
Within a short stroll on Partition Street, it’s easy to see the old and new Saugerties side by side. Thrift stores and tattoo parlors are cheek-by-jowl with contemporary galleries and stylish boutiques. Collectable mid-century modern furniture is across the street from a shoe store where they still measure your feet with one of those sliding gadgets.
Tucked behind an ivy arch, Bosco’s Mercantile offered an eclectic and whimsical range of carefully-chosen home goods and knicknacks. The owner allowed that the pandemic had been good for Saugerties, bringing more people up from New York to visit or live. That growing influx, happening up and down the Hudson Valley, helps the restaurants and shops thrive and fuels the evolution of Saugerties.
At the corner of Main and Partition the Inquiring Minds Bookstore and Coffee House is a surprisingly large and comprehensive store with new and used books in a broad and eclectic range of categories along with CD’s and LPs. There’s a big section of music and art books driven, I imagine, by the proximity to artsy Woodstock. It’s another world, where the floors creak, the warren of shelves meanders, and the aroma is a mix of coffee and old books.
Further down Main is the always-popular Hudson Valley Dessert Company. Chocolate and vanilla bliss cakes: nuff said.
We like to spend time in Saugerties when we visit the Catskill Mountains. From the Connecticut Coast it’s a nearby two-hour drive, an easy day trip or a relaxing overnight getaway. Be sure to bring your appetite.
Frank Whitman can be reached at NotBreadAloneFW@gmail.com.