Above: Seared Atlantic Cod from Rye House – Photograph by Jeffrey Rosenberg
This new American gastropub, a sister to Rye House in Union Square, has perhaps the best, most unlikely intersection of family-friendly fare (early on) and amazing spirits. That’s not to say that the food is kids’ stuff. We enjoyed the regional favorites such as shrimp and grits made with Andouille sausage and stone-ground cheddar, G’ma’s meatballs and a mean Cubano sandwich, as well as lighter dishes like pan-roasted salmon with asparagus, fava beans and saffron glaze and a ginger-crusted tuna. Fun bar fare includes truffle popcorn and crab fried rice. But there’s also a kids’ menu, and children eat free on Sundays after 5 p.m. At the same time, Rye House features an elaborate bourbon, whiskey and rye menu—thirty-seven varieties of scotch alone with descriptive categories to guide you, or you can stick with wine and beer, a well-edited list.
126 North Main Street, 914-481-8771; ryehousepc.com
From the street this ten-table Italian eatery looks like a panini shop, but full dinner is served at reasonable prices. The night we went, Andrea Bocelli was playing in the background and folding glass doors opened to the outdoors, a touch of atmosphere for a casual date night. We liked the bang-bang baby shrimp appetizer with mango sauce (a blackboard special). Apps also include arancini and a variety of bruschettas; there are fifteen dinner salads such as the Orangina, mixed greens with salmon, cranberries, goat cheese, avocado and orange dressing. Classics like lobster ravioli and risottos round out the list of mains; finish with mini homemade donuts with chocolate dipping sauce, or if you’re full, take a bag to go.
321 North Main Street, 914-481-5678; piccoloitaliangourmet.com
TAQUERIA LA PICARDIA
Cross the street from The Capitol Theatre and walk half a block left, and you’ll stumble upon this cheerful Mexican joint. Based on the authentic food, hefty portions, and hodgepodge décor of sombreros, colorful ceramic birds, a tapestry of Jerry Garcia and Grateful Dead mementos, it seems that La Picardia may be loosely translated to “Got the munchies?” It’s the nearest possible spot for pre- or post-Phil Lesh. But no matter when or why you go, expect sizeable well-priced tacos in varieties ranging from basic chicken and fish to chorizo, carne asada, lengua and tripa; a daily tres-taco special is just $9.50. Try the Esquites, a side of toasted corn with chipotle, crema, and cotilla cheese or the Molotes, mini corn empanadas filled with cheese. You could make a meal from the soups, pozole or cazuela de mariscos, and the chicken quesadilla is massive. Be sure to check out the churros for dessert.
118 Westchester Avenue., 914-937-2003
MCSHANE’S PUBLIC HOUSE
A traditional Irish pub meets modern gastropub and sports bar at McShane’s, which was opened last year by Irish bartenders Edmund Cleary and Vincent Furey. There’s a large island bar, plus cozy booths, high tables and some communal tables where a lively crowd gathers for good burgers, lobster mac ‘n’ cheese, flatbread pizzas and authentic pub classics like cottage pie and fish ‘n’ chips. A drinks list covers a few basic cocktails and wines by the glass, but this is mostly a beer place with plenty of drafts (Guinness, Harp, Brooklyn lager, and others), plus bottle options as well as nightly specials. On Wednesday for ladies’ nights, wine is $5 a glass.
914-937-7800; 123 North Main Street, mcshanesportchester.com
PORT CHESTER HALL
With a year-round beer garden and a convenient setting in the historic Port Chester train station, this brewpub is a hot spot for commuters and concert goers. The space is big on atmosphere with fireplaces indoors and out, and also on apps to pair with the ales, lagers, ciders and stouts brewed in Greenpoint, Brooklyn; we liked the warm German-style pretzel, fried pickles, kobe sliders and tuna tacos. For mains, you can’t miss with the burger or the substantial brat plate, but there are also salads and seafood options. Tuesdays are trivia nights, and there’s a Happy Hour weekdays from 4–7 p.m., with half price wine, cocktails and apps.
3 Broad Street, 914-305-8383; portchesterhall.com