Going out for drinks is a ritual that changes and shifts over time. Going out when you’re 21 is a lot different than when you’re 41, and so your choice of watering hole is going to change over time as well. But it’s also going to change from day to day, depending on your mood and who you’re meeting, the occasion, and every other little thing from the weather to whether you’re having dinner and drinks or just drinks.
If you’re in uptown Hoboken (a phrase that still somehow sounds wrong when you’re talking about such a small geographical area) you have a thinner herd of choices for cocktails than downtown. Bin 14, of course, offers an obvious classy option, and the Madison Bar & Grill is a great choice for a loud evening. If you’re looking for something a little quieter, though, and a bar that also offers a surprisingly varied food menu, then check out The Hudson Tavern.
From it’s kind of generic name to the standard brick facade and old-school tavern interior, it’s almost like the Hudson Tavern wants to stay off people’s radar. But when you walk in and spend some time in this uptown gem you get a different vibe—it’s not about being high or low profile, it’s about sticking to the basics. Instead of having some funky interior but poor service, food, or drink choices, the Hudson Tavern excels at getting those three things exactly right.
It’s a surprisingly large space; in addition to the main bar/dining area that you walk into, there’s a large and quiet dining room in the back and some smaller spaces off to one side. From the outside you wouldn’t know how big this place really is. For all that, it’s not the loudest bar in the world, even when crowded. There’s a conversational vibe to the place that’s relaxed and casual. That makes it a fantastic place to grab a beer or a cocktail (and any place that has a lengthy whiskey list in their drinks menu gets extra points from me). There’s a healthy beer selection—this isn’t Cork City or even The Mills Tavern, but there’s a good variety of beers, as well as wine selections. Will the Hudson Tavern blow your mind with its drink choices? No, but it offers everything you might want, and plenty of it.
The Hudson Tavern offers a food menu that’s a bit more creative and larger than most run-of-the-mill bars. While you can definitely have a great time just popping in for some drinks, their menu has some unusual offerings that can make a meetup into a memorable dinner pretty easily. White truffled mac & cheese, pierogis, the pork ribs, paella—it’s all done well, and it’s a lot better than the usual burgers and pre-packaged apps that bars offer. In fact, you could describe The Hudson Tavern as a gastropub and not be wrong.
Final verdict? A great spot uptown, worth making a trek from downtown. It’s usually a little less crazy in here in the evenings than some other places because of the simple, grown-up vibe, which makes it an attractive spot when you want to catch your breath and take a break from the craziness that is sometimes Hoboken’s calling card.