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Albany...what's good?

I'll be in Albany on business and I'd like to eat at a good place. I'm having trouble finding restaurants online...any suggestions?

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  1. There is a MAJOR post, dated April 27th, on the Albany area - check it out. I visit Albany on business once or twice a year and I try to make it to Saso's for sushi (I live in a sushiless area).

    1. This is a great place to start

      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/349608

      My personal favorites are Jack's Oyster House, Lombardo's and Cafe Cariccio

      3 Replies
      1. re: swarttav

        I hate, hate hate Cafe Capriccio. Inconsistent.
        There have been many posts on Albany restaurants, if you do a search. El Mariachi for Mexican. Nicole's Bistro, Jack's Oyster House are standards. Van's for informal decent Vietnamese. If you want to travel, Milano's has very good creative Italian kitchen. Mino has good sushi and Thai food.
        you didn't say what type of food you want. Yono's is highly repped, but haven't been since he moved.
        McGuire's is reputed as the best, though priciest.

        1. re: NYchowcook

          I agree with this poster about all of his recommendations, including his recommendation of Karavelli in a reply below this one, except for his hatred of Capriccio, which I love. Consistently excellent.

          1. re: PSZaas

            I agree with PSZaas re Cafe Capriccio. I love it too thourgh my wife feels the menu is very limited. I tend to go with the "specials" of the day and the time we were there (this past winter), I had a truly enjoyable meal. The street parking is another story - not a comfort inspiring area.

      2. C.H. Evans Brewing Company
        Albany Pump Station
        19 Quackenbush Square, in beautiful downtown Albany, NY, across Broadway from the Palace theatre.
        (518) 447-9000
        http://www.evansale.com/dinner_menu.html

        When I was there just last week, they had a special three-course dinner menu for $17.86 (the price echos the original brewery's beginning) that one of my companions thoroughly enjoyed. The menu in general is a cut above the usual microbrewery fare.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mcsheridan

          I go there regularly and can attest to mcsheridan's good taste. Plus the inside is an interating and unique study in 19th century mechanical engineering

        2. Yelp.com has some good recs for local restaurants. I would highly recommend Saso's ( http://www.sasos.com )for the best sushi in the area. Also, if you're downtown for business, check out Aashiana on central (right at the beginning) for a $2.50 falafel wrap.

          http://nymenus.com/ has some restaurant menus on there from Albany.

          Lark Tavern has some well done bar food, and the happy hour specials are great as well (http://larktavern.com

          )

          If you're uptown, Via Fresca is a great place to stop for a lunch of paninis, salads and upscale deli fare.

          Stuyvesant Plaza holds Provence (french), Peaches cafe and Londonderry, as well as the more casual Bountiful Bread for lunch under $10.

          Let me know if you'd like any more websites for ideas in the area.

            1. You didn't mention a budget or any likes/dislikes to narrow it down. This is a small town, good restaurants aren't that plentiful, and service is generally worse than, let's say, NYC or Paris. I've eaten in most restaurants in Albany to Saratoga (thanks to a business expense account). So, if you're on an expense account:

              I am surprised no one has mentioned Yono Purnomo's restaurant in downtown Albany, which offers a truly unique dining experience, by any standard. Yono has been on the Today show and has won more awards than most of the chefs in the capital district area combined. Jack's is also excellent - and the restaurant that makes me think of 'Albany' more than any other place.
              Both Yono's and Jack's have exemplary service and offer differing dining experiences - Yono's is Indonesian / Italian (go for the ristaffel), and Jack's is more traditional. Yono's will cost more. I've dined at both places over a hundred times and always had a great experience.
              Cafe Capriccio is very good, intimate, but not on a great street.

              Avoid Angelo's Prime, the new expen$ive restaurant downtown. I didn't mind the cost ($200 for lunch with 2 clients), but the service was pathetic (the waitresses were all over the Albany Conquest coaching staff and ignored us) and food average.

              For cheaper pub fare downtown, I agree with the recommendation on Albany Pump Station. Great place for beer lovers, inexpensive, plenty or parking.

              Provence? This isn't downtown anymore and in a strip mall (albeit nice looking). I just spent over 2 weeks in France; Provence isn't exactly good food by Paris standards. But for this small town, if you have to have French, Provence suffices (albeit overpriced imho). I like their sister restaurant much more - Cafe Milano - although that's Italian.

              Sushi: Now that Tokyo Sushi has closed, I think the best sushi is Yoshi Sushi (route 9 in latham). A real japanese guy (but the wife is Korean). However, it can be slow especially on friday and saturday night's, and the ambiance leaves a lot to be desired. Hokkaido's in delmar is also decent. I have not tried Saso's (which I heard is not owned by a Japanese - someone please correct me if I am wrong). I've been to Japan many times, I prefer sushi being made by a japanese chef.

              1 Reply
              1. re: salvador

                Saso's is run and owned by chef Saso, who was trained in Japan. : )

              2. Karavalli is the best Indian restaurant I have ever eaten at. It's in a nondescript strip mall in Latham, just a bit north of Albany, and well worth the short drive.

                1 Reply
                1. re: NYchowcook

                  Agreed Karavalli is the best Indian food around. The sunday brunch has much more variety than the regular brunch. Interior looks good, service excellent. They need to do something about the bathroom though (needs improvement).

                2. I also like DeJohn's on Lark Street. They have an excellent seafood Fria Diavolo. Below people were talking about pub food at the Lark Tavern. Last time I got a sandwhich their, I had a bug in it.

                  Kitchen help is a bit irregular.

                  Everyone I have taken to Van's has loved it. It is in a not so nice looking part of town, but the food is very good.

                  Provonce's food is irregular. Some of the people I know in the food business don't ever have good things to say about it.

                  The food at Nicole's bistro is good, but the setting is a little to pink Salmon for my taste.

                  If you want good food at no expense, check out McGuire's. Head to the wine bar down the street though for wine either before or after dinner. They have very similar wine lists and the Wine Bar is much cheaper.

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: adventuresinbaking

                    I'm a little confused by "good food at no expense," as a description of McGuire's! It's great food, at great expense. Second the recommendation for Antica Enoteca, though, the wine bar on Lark St.

                    1. re: PSZaas

                      How does El Mariachi's food compare with Azteca's?

                      1. re: cowgirlinthesand

                        Is it just me or has El Mariachi gone downhill? The last two times I went in the food was only so-so and the service was indifferent. I used to love it and went often but now I'm looking for a new spot for Mexican.

                        I'll agree with others that McGuire's is topnotch but it sure ain't cheap. I really like to eat at the bar there.

                        1. re: lupaglupa

                          McGuire's is expensive. I know people who spent 500 dollars (tip included) on dinner for four.

                          Way to many clams for my wallet.

                          I'm more of a good food, small casual place kind of girl myself. I like Debbie's Kitchen and Shalimar a lot.

                          Also Ali Baba and Albaraki in Troy. While I am branching out, I also want to toss a vote in for Villa Italia in Schenectady. Great deserts!

                          1. re: adventuresinbaking

                            $500 is a lot in Albany ! Hopefully they had a couple nice bottles of wine.

                            1. re: adventuresinbaking

                              We had a wonderful meal at McGuire's last year. Two mains, two apps, one soup, two beers, one glass of wine, 20% tip = $175. The food was excellent but at that price it's a "real special occasion" kind of place.

                              LOVE DEBBIE'S! There's such a sweet vibe in there and everything is always tasty and fresh.

                              Shalimar finally delivered to our house on the third try!

                              Have you tried Rita's Lebanese in Albany? I gotta try Ali Baba and Albaraki (I always end up at DeFazio's when I get out there!)

                              1. re: JWW

                                Speaking of middle eastern, has anyone tried the Afghan Grill up in Latham? I have the menu but haven't had a chance to order. Nice variety of Afghan specialities, plus pizza. The place used to be just pizza, then pizza with a few Afghan items, now Afghan with a few pizza items.

                                1. re: AmyH

                                  Afghan Grill was superb! I got a couple dishes to take and a road trip (a chicken gyro dish, some other chicken dish, and a Greek salad). It looked very nice inside, wish I could have dined in, and can't wait to go back. The staff seemed very nice.

                                2. re: JWW

                                  I had a good dinner at Rita's Lebanese w/ a large group recently. Lentils, as I recall. And great baklava. I keep meaning to return. Reasonably priced too. It's nice too to patronize a small family joint.

                                  1. re: NYchowcook

                                    Sounds great. We'll definitely have to try it. Middle eastern places always work well for us since we have a vegetarian and several non-vegetarians to feed.

                              2. re: lupaglupa

                                We drive from Pittsfield to get good Mexican, and we found Azteca after last year's Larkfest. It was outstanding. I've had takeout from there one time since (coming home from the airport!) but I've never eaten at El Mariachi and I want to be sure I'm not missing something terrific.
                                Sounds like I'm not missing anything!

                        2. My favorite is Jack's Oyster House. Not trendy or fusion, just good food.

                          For a really good cheesesteakm wrap or soup, and more informal lunch, try Pepper Jacks.

                          ~Fred19

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Fred19

                            We've dined at Jack's a couple of hundred times (over 18 years). Food and service is consistently excellent. Through the years we've noticed the price slowly get a little out-of-hand (for Albany) and portions smaller. The seafood trio, priced at $30, gets you TWO really small shrimp, plus two small slivers of fish - and I mean small - the fish wasn't much bigger than the 2 small shrimp. It looked tiny in the enormous plates they serve the food on. Yes, price does include house salad and rolls. On our most recent visit, looks like they had a nervous new waitress working the table next to us. She kept squeezing in between my dining companion and another patron. Eventually, she caught her foot on a chair, and dishes went flying. Fortunately nobody got bruised. The service is usually stellar, we were just surprised this waitress wouldn't take 6 extra steps around people instead of squeezing between patrons with huge dishes. It's seems that when at least one of the twins isn't on-site (the son's owners - the Rosenstein's), the place isn't quite the same.

                            1. re: salvador

                              McGuire's is excellent, but as mentioned previously you'll pay for it. The Elk Medallions were some of the best I've ever had, cooked perfectly.

                              Lombardo's isn't near what it once was, now it's a hit or miss experience and the food is never outstanding. I still go just because my family used to go 25 years ago, but it's slid.

                              Cafe 333 in Delmar, well under publicized...small intimate place, but great food

                              VinceAnna's in Greenville is pretty far out, but it's pretty good italian.

                              Provance (sp?) is pretty good for the Albany area, they've done a nice job inside to hlep you forget that you're in a strip mall, granted an upscale strip mall by Albany standards, but a strip mall never the less.

                              Nicole's (Italian) on Delaware Avenue is good as well. There's a garden area out back.

                              1. re: 512elm

                                I second the motion for Cafe333. Excellent food, but under the radar PR wise.

                                1. re: 512elm

                                  If you're going to include Delmar then I'd say try Hidden Cafe. We always have a good meal there. 333 "intimate" - hmm.. I'd say crowded and always drafty in the winter.