Weekend in Hudson, NY

February 6, 2017 § 1 Comment

On a whim, J and I decided to spend the weekend upstate yet again, this time in Hudson, NY. Someone in a travel writing class I took wrote about this cute little town, and I’ve been intrigued ever since.

We left early Saturday morning and arrived just in time for our couples massage at Bodhi Holistic Spa, a relaxing treat after the two-hour drive.

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It was a cozy day spa with a salon and yoga studio on the first floor. The spa on the second floor still looked like the home from which it had likely been converted. Our  light-filled room was inside the bay windows just above the storefront, and the setup was simple — the beds weren’t even heated, which meant I was cold the entire time but tried not to complain about it.

After our 60-minute massage, we got 15 minutes in the sauna, which was this small wardrobe-sized thing:

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Looks weird, but it was cute and provided a pretty decent sauna experience.

I was famished at this point, so for lunch we went to Li’l Deb’s Oasis, chosen because it looked like the most interesting menu in town. Upon arrival, our waitress (who clearly was one of the owners) informed us that the main restaurant — still a bit new — wasn’t doing lunch service yet, so a couple of local Latina women were in charge of a short menu of pupusas for the lunch crowd. “They sent me over because they’re shy about speaking English,” she said. How endearing!

Li’l Deb’s didn’t look like much from the outside, but the inside was a celebration of pastel Caribbean shabby-chic. It was delightful and inviting.

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Our pupusas hit the spot — J managed to eat three whole ones even though he was still recovering from a stomach virus. They tasted like fried arepas filled with a bit of beans and cheese, yum. I also had a hot passion fruit oat drink, which was surprisingly hearty and quite good.

“Come back for dinner!” our waitress called as we left.

“Maybe we will!” I replied optimistically.

We still had time to kill before our 3 p.m. check-in, so we went down to the Spotty Dog bookstore/bar to look around. We did not partake in any beer, though I did pick up a Terry Pratchett book, the last one he wrote before his death :'(

It was too cold outside to do much exploring, so we headed to our hotel — Rivertown Lodge — and settled in the lobby to do some reading.

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Built almost a century ago, Rivertown Lodge was first a movie theater before it was converted to a motel and then reopened as its current boutique incarnation in 2015. We stayed in the suite, which had kind of a railroad-style layout with a bedroom and living room.

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The website stated that the room had a record player, which was exciting to me as I’ve never used one before and knew that J could show me how. He also became VERY excited upon discovering a particular album from his childhood:

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We searched high and low for the record player and later was told by the front desk that it was out of commission. Sad. So we just listened to some of the tracks on YouTube. (It’s really, really weird, and there’s no actual music.)

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The suite, like the rest of the hotel, was put together very well, and we loved the simple yet comfortable (some would say hipster) furnishings. A short list of complaints:

-At night, we could pretty clearly hear music from the bar downstairs. Not great for light/early sleepers.
-The shower, though impressively spacious, never quite got hot enough, and its lack of a door/curtain perpetuated the problem.
-The bed had no proper comforter, just some thin blankets. (Having dug through all the drawers for the record player, I knew there were no duvets hiding in the room.) What’s with these upstate inns and their lack of proper bedding in the dead of winter? I’m seriously bringing my own comforter the next time we go on a road trip.
-The hotel website is seriously lacking information — I didn’t even know they had a bar or served brunch until the receptionist told me at check-in.

Still, we greatly enjoyed our stay and had fun exploring the rest of the hotel, like the outdoor screened-in area and the pantry, filled with snacks for guests to consume on the honor system — write down what you take and it’ll be added to your bill later.

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After a much-needed nap (this getaway was all about sleeping), we were ready for more food … and we did actually go back to Li’l Deb’s for dinner, since we never got to try its real menu!

This time, we ordered a feast: short rib tamale (good), mini chorizo sandwich (good), ceviche (yum, pictured), fried plantain slices (good), a “plato tropical” for me (garlicky sauteed collard greens and stewed lentils with rice, yummy) and oxtail negro mole for J (below).

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The oxtail was the special of the evening, and I’m sad that the picture doesn’t do it justice — it was a truly impressive plate, adorned with four large hunks of oxtail that could’ve gone for twice as much in NYC. (It was $21.)

J, somewhat of a mole connoisseur, said it tasted fresh, homemade and complex. Pretty high praise. All that food (plus dessert, a tasty slice of flan) only cost us $94 + tip. What a deal!

During dinner, we finally decided to look up the story behind the restaurant. It was opened by Hannah Black (our waitress from lunch) and Carla Perez-Gallardo when the original owner of the diner decided to retire, and they named their restaurant after her. From i-D:

At first, Hannah and Carla planned to only serve dinner, which would have been possible given the price of their rent. But they soon came up with a mutually beneficial lunch arrangement in collaboration with an El Salvadoran family from down the street. From 11am to 3pm, their neighbor Maria Romero cooks pupusas in the Lil’ Deb’s kitchen. Maria and her family keep the money their food brings in, and Carla and Hannah sell smoothies during the same hours. Sometimes, several of Maria’s nine kids wait tables after school.

We saw Carla interacting with a bunch of Hispanic kids who were running around the restaurant when we first arrived for dinner, and it felt very homey. The overall vibe of the place was pleasant and welcoming.

I read elsewhere that the owners are dedicated to maintaining Li’l Deb’s as a community space in terms of artwork displayed (of course) as well as affordable prices that appeal to locals and not just “wealthy weekenders.” We indeed saw firsthand a true mix of people both young and old, from a giggly 4-year-old with his dad to a hard-of-hearing elderly man whose wife and son asked to have the music turned down. (J said he could tell the people around us were locals because their coats smelled of fresh Scotchgard, which he has definitely never encountered in the city, haha.)

Sadly, Li’l Deb’s does not serve breakfast, or we probably would’ve visited for our third meal of the weekend. Instead, we had brunch at Grazin’, a burger place that purports to be the world’s first “completely Animal Welfare Approved restaurant.” (Brunch at our hotel didn’t start until 10 a.m., too long for us to wait!)

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Grazin’ looks like a crappy, run-of-the-mill diner from the outside, but the inside is quite nice, its walls adorned with pictures of happy animals (no doubt from the owners’ farm 11 miles away).

9:30 in the morning seems pretty early to be eating a burger, but I couldn’t not order it. The breakfast burger was topped with an egg and ham, with fries and slices of sweet pickles on the side, and it was totally delicious.

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Sorry, I was too busy eating and forgot to take a prettier picture.

And with that, we concluded our 24-hour adventure in Hudson — a perfect weekend getaway.

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