Camp Here Here: Destination-Worthy Food + Indoorsy Catskills Camping
Camp Here Here has all the magic of a Catskill Mountain hideaway, and a no-joke mess hall menu to draw even the most camping-adverse travelers into its lair. If you’ve had enough of the well-traveled streets of Hudson and Phoenecia, this is the place where you can get deeper into the forest and higher into the mountains (without sacrificing wi-fi or wood-fired pizza). The 23-acre spot has nine tented cabins for those who want to spent the night, which you’ll probably want to do after you roll by for dinner.
Visitors are greeted by an old limo that looks like something out of a Muppet movie, and up a narrow road there’s an old A-frame gift shop and Camp Here Here’s on-premises eatery, The Mess.
They serve the kind of pizza that we’ve come to take for granted here in Brooklyn: perfectly charred crust, fresh-yet-jammy tomatoes, dollops of creamy cheese, a flourish of basil leaves. But as much as I love my Brooklyn pizza joints, everything tastes better when you’re nestled happily in the woods, breathing the crisp mountain air beside the warming glow of a stone fireplace.
So maybe it was the combination of the late-summer breeze, the friendly servers, and the brain-loosening elevation that made us declare these the best fries we ever had, but man, they were so good. And that little bowl of smoky, garlicky mayo on the side was divine.
The handmade pappardelle had just the right amount of chew, and frizzled basil leaves played against the sweet, melty, summery sofrito.
For dessert, my family of four, including two picky kids, fought over this goat cheese mousse, soft sugared waffle, fresh cantaloupe ribbons, and cooling melon sorbet.
Who do these people think they are, serving all this fancy stuff in the middle of the forest? Well, actually, Chef Philip Kubaczek is behind all the amazing food, and the rest of the laid-back fanciness comes from owner Kat Schaufelberger, who spent 12 years the New York hospitality industry, working at places like the Gramercy Park Hotel and the Standard Hotels. And we’re just so happy that she opened Camp Here Here in our neck of the woods because everything about it feels so right.
I loved the dog-eared novel which was bookmarked with our check. My son obsessed over the hand-drawn map on the cloth napkins that accompanied our meal.
We sat beside this soul-warming stone fireplace, while other patrons snuggled into sheepskin-lined seating below a glowing, moon-like orb. The space is cool without being cold, with lots of rustic vintage pieces to warm up its industrial edges.
Camp Here Here’s vibe is geared toward grown-ups, and if I were to stay overnight (which I hope to do!), I’d prefer to leave my kids with their grandparents. That said, my 4-year-old and 7-year-old really enjoyed exploring the grounds while we waited for dinner, and they especially loved the entertainment shed across the trail from the restaurant.
Twinkling with rainbow Christmas lights, the shed was a little lending library of well-curated records, DVDs, books, and even video games to take back to the tents. Much to my children’s delight, there was also an oversized whoopie cushion available to borrow.
Now, this is the part where you outdoor types might get excited, but my fellow indoorsy people may shudder a little bit: There are no bathrooms in the tents. There is one communal bath house with private rest rooms and showers. It’s fragrant with cedar and warm with golden lighting. And there’s something really wonderful about looking into the mirror above the outdoor sinks and seeing the trees behind your reflection. I don’t know, guys. I’ve never gone camping before, but I’m considering this.
Beyond the well-appointed tents, the pizza, the fries, the whoopie cushion, and the borrow-able Beyonce vinyl, Camp Here Here is just one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been.