I live in New Paltz and love it for the come-as-you are, casual vibe. There are some worthwhile high ticket dining options, but if you're here why not do as the locals do: Eat cheap, fast and healthy and head for the outdoors.
Yanni - Start with the lemony, heavenly hummus. If you're lo-carb, ask for your hummus with sliced cucumber instead of the warm, doughy pita. Also very good are the "caviar" appetizer, the Greek salad and the chicken souvlaki. Try with the tomato and cinnamon Corfu sauce instead of the leaden Tzaziki. Perhaps the dining best value in NP. Dinner for two with dry red house wine for under $30, T&T included. Speak a little Greek to Jack the owner and you'll be treated like family.
La Bella Pizza - There are almost as many pizza places in New Paltz as there are disillusioned woulda-been hippies. What separates La Bella is their eclectic salad bar which might include things like roasted sweet potato with fresh thyme, egg white frittata, cold asparagus vinegrette, or quinoa with minced carrots. Anything with tomatoes or eggplant is especially delicious. Perfect for a very inexpensive ($4 per lb for the salad bar) vegan/healthy lunch. And yeah, the meatballs and garlic knots are wonderful as well.
New Paltz Indian Restaurant - After years of having to hop the NYC bus or the Rhinebeck bridge for Indian food, us Hugenots have our own Indian joint with two more allegedly coming soon. Shuccria, yaar! The jury is still out on the NPIR a modest, family run place under the same mgmt as the Pine Hill IR. Featuring a by-the-numbers, relatively spendy Northern Indian menu and spotty getting-the-hang-of-it service. In the month this place has been open the best deal by far is the Tuesday night buffet. 15 bucks 'll get ya fine tandoori chicken, savory chana sag and about eight other ho-humish veg and non veg options. Nice family, hope they keep trying harder.
Mexicali Blue - The taco joint next to P&Gs is under ambitious new ownership which means healthy Mex has finally reached New Paltz. The fish tacos here are the thing: salmon or catfish on a blue corn tortilla with cilantro, pico dg, shredded cabbage and a red pepper sour cream sauce. Quick, tasty, and $3. Eat your taco in the tiny storefront window for the best peoplewatching experience in town: Bikers, skatepunks, JLo hoochies, fratrats, hipsters, new-agers, hicks, potheads, 60s refugees, and bewildered NJers off the Thruway. Give line cook Jason the good word. Great guy.
The Main St Bistro - Better breakfast option than the always underwhelming diners. NOTE: If owner Doug is working the grill, it's safe to order eggs. Brian, however, does great homefries but you can almost count on him torching your omlette. The "Breakfast Special" is the best deal in town. Still only $1.95. Fun and lively for bfast and lunch, dinner only so-so. And please, when you see Mayor West at the counter, let him parse his DOT traffic study in peace. We need this guy to govern, not pose for pix with you and your pals.
Harvest Cafe - Upstairs from the all-too-neglected Mudd Puddle Cafe (fresh roasted coffee!) at Water Street Market, the Harvest Cafe is mostly a slighty twee lunch and dinner place, but the real deal here is the Sunday-only brunch. Great quiche, lovely fresh fruit, nice spread, great service (Kira is so sweet) and a stunning view of the Gunks. Under $10 for the brunch buffet, includes excellent coffee or fresh OJ.
Best Beer n Burger: Gilded Otter (microbrew, Angus beef)
Best Pizza: Reno's (Grandma pizza only)
Best Ice Cream: Cookies and Cream (Scratch-made heaven)
Best Strawberries: Meadow View Farm (not to be missed or believed, June/July only)
Those are my favorite joints, along with The Bakery, where I will ask you not to hog my favorite chair on Saturday mornings. Thank you.
And your favorites are....?