236 Washington Ave, Albany NY
Billed “Meeting Place for All People” Umana’s menu is a melting pot of international cuisine. The furnishings give off a lush and warm vibe and diners can choose between sitting at a gorgeous table or going the more casual route and hang out at the bar. The restaurant gives off an incomparable sense of welcome and belonging. This is a place to talk quietly in the corner with your prospective sweetheart.
Second Date (Balling)
12 2nd Street, Troy
This rustic, dimly lit wine bar is the perfect spot for a romantic get-together. The atmosphere sets the mood, the wine selection is varied, the chic tapas servings are plated to impress and the service is always on point. Get cozy by the candlelight.
182 Washington Avenue
Iron Gate – “What started as a simple breakfast joint has grown into one of the area’s favorite breakfast-and-lunch eateries, with lines for the weekend brunch a testament to its popularity,” B.A. Nilsson observed in The Alt not long ago. The sustained hype is warranted.
Altimate Lunch Break
77 Congress St. Troy
“A couple of years ago we were just an idea in my mind,” owner Cory Nelson told All Over Albany earlier this month. “And now people are actually coming in. People actually showed up. I can’t believe it.” Well, we believe it. The food court offers the lunch crowd eight different affordable options, from tacos to Hawaiian-style fish salad to halal and more. Nelson says Schenectady might be next—we’d be more than fine with that, too.
Altimate Lunch Bowl
77 Congress St., Troy
Troy Kitchen’s amazing selection is part of why we love it so much. If you put a gun to our head and made us choose one out of all the vendors we’d have to pick Bespoki Bowl. Where else in the region can you find such delicious raw fish salads and bowls? Tuna, seaweed, ginger, masago, edamame! Hold on a sec while we run to Troy real quick.
Altimate Lunch Bowl (Vegan)
177 Jay St., Schenectady
This adorable Jay Street shop is full of fresh, healthy goodies made on the spot. They offer a line of smoothies, juices, coffee drinks and loose leaf teas but their crowning glory lies in the acai bowl. The icy blended wonder is topped with heaping piles of fruit, granola and nut butters of your choice. Stick with a menu pic (we go heavy on the Deluxe) or make it your own. Drizzle it with honey. Get crazy with a sprinkle of bee pollen. Do you. No matter how you make your bowl, it will keep you coming back for more.
Altimate Vegan Eats
Berben & Wolff’s Delicatessen
227 Lark St, Albany
This Lark Street deli goes above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to deli case picks and housemade sandwiches–and they’re all cruelty free. They’ve pioneered a fantastic seitan wing (in various flavors you can grab on Wednesdays) and regular menu items like the pulled jackfruit BBQ sandwich are drool worthy. This deli is always dreaming up a new, mouthwatering menu items, so you better keep up.
431 Liberty St. Schenectady // 172 River St. Troy
Tara Kitchen’s Moroccan cuisine is to die for. It has been one of Schenectady’s crown jewels for years. The fact that they’ve now opened up shop on the other side of the Hudson is a testament to not only their strength but to Troy’s growing economy.
Off the Beaten Path
198 1st Street, Troy
This Troy gem serves breakfast, lunch and an array of Cuban dishes to their hungry locals. It’s only open on the weekend, but the delicious food, friendly atmosphere and regular community events make it worth the wait. You can also get a taste of Carmen’s at Troy’s Waterfront Farmer’s Market.
Best Drive in
Jack’s Drive In
24 Main Avenue, Wynantskill
Home to those famously delicious sliders in all of their greasy glory, the mini chili dogs with the works, the thick cut fries slathered in cheese, chili or both with a shake on the side.
71 Division St. Troy
We like our pizza hearty, sloppy and with a twist. Red Front’s COB (cheese on the bottom) pies melt in your mouth. The sauce is delicious, the cheese gooey and stringy and the toppings plentiful.
French Press Cafe and Crepes
5 Clinton Square Albany, NY
This Albany cafe boasts a creative assortment of crepe dishes that function as both comfort food and hearty meal. Oh yum.
329 Ontario St. Albany
If better BBQ exists in the North East we simply haven’t had it. The folks over at Capital Q offer a wide selection of delicious meat products–the North Carolina pulled pork is to die for, the Oakie yardbird moist and tangy and the Texas-style brisket the piece de resistance. Don’t get us started on the collards, mashed potatoes, or that oh-so dangerous chicken-fried steak.
275 River St., Troy
You might not like Phish, or jam bands generally. And if there is a particularly long line on a Saturday at Psychedelicatessen–as there very well might be, because the shop’s bagels are very good–you might be subjected to more funky grooves than you can stomach. Hang in there, reader: The bagel sandwich you will eventually procure is without parallel in this region.
721 River Street, Troy
This bakery has been a Troy staple for over 50 years providing cakes, Italian specialties and other goods. Their selection of pastries and doughnuts is as varied as it is legendary. Head in for a morning treat to pair with a coffee, and you might just accidentally leave with a half dozen of flaky turnovers, perfectly sugared apple cider or massive, powdered jelly doughnut delights.
Stacks Espresso Bar
260 Lark Street, Albany // 488 Broadway, Albany
Both Stacks spots offer a great space to tackle those work projects in peace. If you’re looking to get cozy with a great cup of coffee, the community hotspot on Lark is for you. If you’re looking to spread out, head to Broadway. There you have plenty of space for a laptop and a few books and you get that great little platter (for your cappuccino/latte/what-have-you and side of seltzer) that really makes you feel like you have your life together.
Cafe (Portal to another (better) dimension)
Superior Merchandise Co.
147 4th St, Troy
Beer, wine, specialty coffee, avocado toast, jewelry, concerts, craft nights—Superior Merchandise, since opening in the fall of 2015, has become a hub for just about anything delicious, fun, and/or cool. The back patio is sunny and botanically lush, perfect for lazy weekend afternoons. One appurtenance—wifi—is missing, but that, like every other aspect of the shop, is by design. “We want to promote the experience of meeting new people and talking to the people you’re with and enjoying your experience,” co-owner Felicity Jones recently told The Alt.
Altimate Bar to end up at 3 AM
104 3rd St. Troy
It’s quite possible that if you make your way to The Ruck at 3 A.M., your taste for beer will be less-than-discerning. But just in case you’re still hankering for a Belgian-style saison or a craft brown ale, they’ll likely have those options on draught. Alternatively, you might opt for a bottle of Bud Light and a basket of chicken wings. Whatever your possibly booze-influenced predilection, The Ruck will meet your needs. There’s a jukebox, too.
Druthers Brewing Company
381 Broadway, Saratoga Springs // 1053 Broadway, Albany
This local brewery, based in Saratoga Springs, truly has it all. Atmosphere, amazing food and a constant cycle of beers brewed with a refreshing take on classic styles. They go light, dark, fruity, toasty and malt– they’ll even curb to you hoppy IPA hipsters. Pair a nice cold one with a giant bowl of their mac n’ cheese (To. Die. For.) and settle in. Saratoga’s outdoor patio is the perfect summer lounge spot and the Albany joint caters to more of the indoor crowd interested in keeping an eye on the brewing process.
42 Howard St, Albany
No sign. No cell phones. No photos. Cash only. All these peculiar rules might rub some customers the wrong way, but in our experience, they lend the speakeasy an air of authenticity. You can even order custom drinks tailor-made via a questionnaire.