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Aug 31, 2004 11:30 AM

Is Albany NY a Chow Free Zone?

  • g

Help! Is there anything in Albany that is chowish? Are there regional specialities? I've been to Albany twice and yet to have a meal that i would say was delicous. I've been to Pearl, Nichole's, Taste of Greece (the best of the lot), Hot Dog Heaven and a couple of nondescript Thai and Indian takeouts. Have I just been unluckyor is finding tasty food a local problem?

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  1. Try Bob and Ron's Fish Fry on Central Ave (near the Everett Road exit from I-90). Albany-style fish fry is about as close to a regional specialty as we have. Also try Gus's Hot Dogs in Watervliet. For more international flavors try Yono's Indonesian restaurant in Armory Center, or Restaurant Saigon Vietnamese on Central Ave, or El Mariachi Mexican near the Empire State Plaza.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Amy

      The dim sum at Ocean Palace, I believe that's the name, were decent although limited. I'd return.

      1. re: Bud

        Ocean Palace has great Cantonese seafood as well as dim sum; highly recommended for authentic cooking; great selection of Chinese greens, too.

        1. re: PZ

          Another great place for authentic Hong Kong style Chinese is Emperor's at the bottom of Wolf Road. They have an excellent vegetarian menu, too.

      2. re: Amy

        Thanks for the replies. I will definitely try Bob and Ron's fish fry place next time. I also read about Famous Lunch in Troy for hot dogs. Have you been and is it good?

        1. re: gourmaniac

          Sorry, I've not been to Famous Lunch. But if you're in Troy, try Ali Baba's for great Turkish food. It's right near the RPI campus.

          1. re: gourmaniac

            I never pass through Troy without stopping at Famous Lunch for at least a couple of their miniature hot dogs with zippy sauce. The place is timeless.

        2. My favorite is My Linh (Vietnamese) on Delaware Ave. - see link below. I think it's much better than Saigon (though also quite a bit more expensive - My Linh is "fine dining" while Saigon is much more informal). Bangkok Thai on Wolf Rd. is good, and if you like BBQ try Mo's in South Troy (phone number is 2MOSBBQ).


          2 Replies
          1. re: John Kent

            I agree, My Linh is my current favorite. I also agree with the first posting that Nicole's is not very good. It is very expensive, Jack's is a better restaurant for that type of menu.

            A few of my favorites:

            BFS and Barefoot Gypsy are great for soups, sandwiches, and salads.

            El Mariachi and El Loco Mexican for mexican.

            Peking for Thai, Dumpling House for dumplings.

            Sitar for upscale Indian food, Ghandi for lunch buffet Indian food.

            Uncle Milty's in Glenmont for diner breakfast and lunch with an occasional Greek special.

            Glenn Sanders for fine dining if you're going to Proctor's for a show.

            Bayou Cafe for beer and bar food.

            Roy's for Jamaican.

            That's just a few thoughts. I left out Italian, I haven't had many good Italian and pizza experiences here.

            1. re: John Kent

              Love BBQ and have eaten at Mo's (good, not great) but on recent passes in this area it seems to be closed or maybe moved from the original location. Any follow up?

            2. j
              Jose Rosario

              Sutters is a bar with the BEST BUFFALO WINGS IN ALL OF THE WORLD! Even better than buffalo!

              2 Replies
              1. re: Jose Rosario

                My favorite wings are from the Hill Street Cafe on lower Madison Ave., below the Empire State Plaza. All their food is top notch bar fare (burgers, wings, wraps, fries, chili) and they serve food past midnight, which is very rare here. Also, consistently excellent service. Only drawback is, why does anyone need six televisions in the dining room?

                1. re: Jose Rosario

                  I'd give Washington Tavern's wings the nod over Sutters. Both are very good.

                2. I have plenty of local Albany area favorites. In the interest of fairness, I must state we eat lots of seafood and vegetable/grain based dishes, no meat or chicken. It's always a joy to have breakfast or lunch at the Four Corners Luncheonette in Delmar, sassy older women waitresses, inventive creative food combos always changing and unique. For $6.95 the mountain of stacked salad with homemade hummus over grilled flatbread could feed two. Also, the Madison End's Cafe in Albany is a wonderful breakfast and lunch spot. Sushiwise, Saso's on Central Ave in Albany supremely rules, Saso is the owner and sushi chef and his wife Kathy waitresses, sweet friendly people putting out some wonderfully creative sushi and rolls, the cooked dishes are excellent as well. Pizzawise, one must try the Orchard Tavern in Albany at least once if coming through town, they've been there over 100 years! The pizza is unique in it's small rectangular shape cut into ten pieces, I think $4.75? There is something just right about the buttery crust, the atmosphere, the Paulaner Hefeweizen on tap, killer. Other good pizza spots are the Fountain on New Scotland in Albany and Mercato's in Delmar. For fine dining, I am always blown away by the River Street Cafe in Troy. From the complimentary chilled noodles and fabulously creamy horseradish mashed potatoes to the perfectly sauced boldly seasoned seasonally changing entress, this place exudes quality, charm and confidence. To fry fish in oil, one looks for a light tempuraesque coating to carry the delicate flavor and yes, Bob and Ron's is excellent. I took a Japanese friend there years ago and upon laying our fish frys in front of him, he grinned with excitement and said "Oh Maxwell, eel?" Huge. Combo's Fish Fry on Crane St in Schenectady is reknowned (by four of us at least) for the most amazingly light battering, super fresh oil, great fish and artisnal rolls, I guess Schenectady does bread well with Perecca's and whoever makes the rolls for Combo's. Ocean Blue in Halfmoon is our most "kind of like Cape Cod" place, strangely always filled with seniors everytime we go, and their warm lobster roll is out of this world. I still have warm memories of Hacienda, which was on Madison close to the Madison Ends Cafe, but El Mariachi will do just fine for quality Mexican food. And the bbq tofu burrito at Bomber's on Lark St has been my most craved food this summer, go figure. When I feel the need to bring my mother chopped chicken livers, I am headed to Schenectady to visit Gershon's, best deli type place in the area. Our friend has been recovering from surgery and has been craving chicken noodle soup, so I've brought her many different local attempts, and Gershon's reigns supreme! I get the "triple fish" ($9.75) with bagel, cream cheese, onions, tomato, cucumber, lettuce, whitefish salad and creamed herring, superb. When it's time for a beer, Mahar's on Madison is the best beer bar by far and the Albany Pump Station the best brewpub, amazingly great beer and the food is excellent as well. Veggiewise, Shades of Green is the "typical veggie joint" winner, great sandwiches and salads and their dinners are monstrous and super flavorful. Antipasto's is the "weird veggie place" winner with it's seemingly Italian dark wood fern bar strip mall vibe, and yes, the pizza and pasta dishes are great but the unique and inventive vegetarian dishes are mindblowingly delicious, the kitchen has quite a deft hand with tofu, tempeh and seitan. Their wine list is bookish in size and the beer cooler is filled with Orval, Duvel, Chimay and more quality brews. As always, "your mileage may vary", but there's a lot to look for in and around Albany.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Maxwell

                    thanks for your long and heartfelt reply. i will certainly try soe of your excellent suggestions.

                    1. re: Maxwell

                      Hi - I just read about the Wine Bar and Bistro on Lark. Is that any good?

                      1. re: mveill1

                        Yes! Chef Jason Baker prepares fantastic meals. Look for my 4/6/11 description of a tasting dinner we had there at this link.

                        Wine Bar & Bistro
                        200 Lark, Albany, NY 12202

                    2. I concur. Albany is not a chowhound's fantasy. Having moved here from Mass recently, I too have yet to find anything to write home about. Taking a cue from someone who recommended 'El Mariachi' located near Lark st, we tried it; I cannot recommend it. The only part of the meal we enjoyed was the complimentary crispy fried tortilla chips served with 3 dips. My wife and I almost finished the whole platter.
                      We then opted for a taste of the tamale-pollo, this came with the corn-husk visible, the tamale steaming hot. It had the requisite smoky, savory delectable flavor. well worth trying. Our entree's left much to be desired. The service was almost laughable; first my wife was served a casserole-looking dish, suspicious since she did not order it. After tasting it, the waitress came apologized and took it away. "sorry wrong dish." Later both our entree's arrived. But mine was also the wrong dish. I had ordered steak fajita, instead chicken arrived. I was too hungry to complain and so kept my dish. I sampled my wife's pollo in mole sauce, and found a bland tastless chicken breast that clearly had been boiled then covered with the requisite mole sauce. My chicken fajita dish came steaming hot, but only average tasting, not unlike a dish that 'Chili
                      restaurants' could make, or any other franchise restaurant in the mainstream. So nothing unique about
                      El Mariachi, buyer beware of the cutsey decor;food was
                      below average.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: towchuy

                        oh my gosh, THANK YOU SO MUCH!Finally someone who agrees with me about El Mariachi. I have unfortunately been to El Mariachi's twice and both times it was awful. The quality of the food is poor and the selection completely unimaginative. Everything tastes like it's from a can and I could detect no spices of any sort in the food. Even the guacamole wasn't fresh. Though this restaurant has only 2 locations, it tastes like a big chain like a Chili's or something. I always hear/read people recommending it and I have no idea why. AVOID!