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Monday, August 2, 2021
CRL

Besties 2011: All the Food & Drink Category Winners

CRL reveals all the top restaurants, bars and more voted on by you!

Bold denotes winner  |   Italics denotes finalists

Best Bagels
Uncommon Grounds, 1235 Western Avenue, Albany and 402 Broadway, Saratoga Springs
Since 1992, Uncommon Grounds has grown from a quiet, single-person operation to a full-service gourmet coffee and bagel shop with two Capital Region locations. Our winner in this category for the second year in a row, Uncommon Grounds says their customers want all or nothing when it comes to their bagels, with the Everything bagel ranking as top seller, coming in just ahead of Plain bagels. At a minimum, they bake 825 bagels a day during the week, and that number jumps to around 1,100 on weekends.
Bagels & Bakes, 1927 Curry Road, Schenectady
Bagel Tyme, various locations

Best Bakery
Bella Napoli Italian American Bakery
672 New Loudon Road, Latham
721 River Street, Troy
Winning for the eighth year in a row for the Best Bakery in the Capital Region, Bella Napoli Italian American Bakery has it all when it comes to classic baked goods that have been perfected after years of family tradition. While the bulk of their treats are made from traditional Italian recipes, including pastries, cookies and biscotti, they also cater to more American tastes with their selection of donuts, muffins, danish and rolls. The bakery also supplies many local Italian restaurants, grocery stores, sub shops and pizzerias with their fresh bread.

Villa Italia Bakery, 226 Broadway, Schenectady
The Cookie Factory, 520 Congress Street, Troy

Best Birthday Cakes
Best Dessert
Villa Italia Bakery, 226 Broadway, Schenectady
Let’s face it: the best part of turning another year older is getting to indulge in a slice of birthday cake (or two, but who’s counting?). Villa Italia Bakery is the place to go for that decadent cake, or any dessert really, with a selection that is straight out of the Old Country. Not only do their cakes and treats look amazing, they taste even better. Are we the only ones who use our birthday wish on more cake?

Coccadotts Cake Shop, 1179 Central Avenue, Albany
Bella Napoli Italian American Bakery
672 New Loudon Road, Latham
721 River Street, Troy

Dessert
Villa Italia Bakery, 226 Broadway, Schenectady
Cheesecake Machismo, 293 Hamilton Street, Albany
Main Street Grille, 857 Main Street, Clifton Park

Best Diner
Best Late Night
Latham 76 Diner, 722 New Loudon Road, Latham
Capital Region residents know a good diner when they see one. They have continuously voted the Latham 76 Diner the place to go for those home-style, greasy favorites when the craving strikes, no matter what time of day or night. Whether it’s Sunday brunch with the family or a midnight snack with a date, we think their motto is truly fitting: “Where good friends meet to eat well.”

Alexis Diner, 294 North Greenbush Road, Troy
Miss Albany Diner, 893 Broadway, Albany

Late Night
Latham 76 Diner, 722 New Loudon Road, Latham
Bombers Burrito Bar, 258 Lark Street, Albany and
447 State Street, Schenectady
Café 217, 12 ½ Delaware Avenue, Albany

Best Breakfast
Café Madison, 1108 Madison Avenue, Albany
Neighborhood dining at its finest, Café Madison is a popular spot for many in search of a cozy place to get breakfast. Whether inside or dining al fresco in the warmer months, patrons will find a menu that is a mix of gourmet options and traditional favorites. We can’t think of a better way to start the morning, can you?

Miss Albany Diner, 893 Broadway, Albany
Jake Moon’s Restaurant and Café
2082 Delaware Turnpike, Clarksville

Best Coffee
Mocha Blend Espresso Bar
720 Hoosick Road, Troy
A Mocha Blend customer who always orders two coffees on Fridays recently explained his actions to the owners: “Your coffee heated up the next day in the microwave is far better than I would brew at home.” Our winner for best coffee, Mocha Blend is more than just a place to grab a quick caffeine fix; it’s a place to experiment. They offer 10 different types of lattes, as well as frappes, custom roast blends and espresso. You’ll have fun trying all of the different combinations!

Uncommon Grounds, 1235 Western Avenue, Albany and 402 Broadway, Saratoga Springs
Professor Java’s Coffee Sanctuary
217 Wolf Road, Albany

Best Hot Dogs
Gus’s Hot Dogs, 212 25th Street, Watervliet
Established in 1954, Gus’s Hot Dogs is one of the Capital Region’s oldest treasures. This family-owned and run stand has lasted through the decades on word-of-mouth – and from what we’ve heard, those words have been nothing but good! A favorite for kids and adults alike, Gus’s has perfected the art of the hot dog. A warning to those who haven’t been before: you might have to wait in line as the stand is popular all year round. If you ask us, it’s well worth the wait.

Hot Dog Charlie’s, various locations
Mike’s Hot Dogs, 1135 Erie Boulevard, Schenectady

Best Burgers
Best Lunch Spot

Five Guys Burgers and Fries, various locations
With locations throughout the Capital Region and the country, Five Guys Burgers and Fries sells 350,000 burgers each day. They have become the new go-to place for delicious burgers that are made-to-order and served up fast. The combinations are almost endless, with more than 250,000 ways to order. We don’t know about you, but our mouths start watering as soon as we see those red and white checkered signs!

Juicy Burgers & More, 5 New Karner Road, Albany
Jack’s Drive-In, 24 Main Avenue, Wynantskill and Jumpin’ Jack’s Drive-In, 5 Schonowee Avenue, Scotia (tie)

Lunch Spot
Five Guys Burgers and Fries, various locations
Iron Gate Café, 182 Washington Avenue, Albany
Garden Bistro, 1839 Central Avenue, Colonie and Mocha Blend Espresso Bar, 720 Hoosick Road, Troy (tie)

Best French Fries
Best Dining on a Budget
Best New Restaurant

Garden Bistro 24, 1839 Central Avenue, Colonie
New on our Best Of list this year and new to the area, Garden Bistro 24 is a winner in multiple categories. A casual restaurant serving classic French bistro-inspired fare (their French fries are instead called “pomme frites”), their food is seasonally motivated and uses mostly locally grown produce. The unassuming eatery, located in a strip mall on Central Avenue, offers appropriately-sized portions for a great value. We’ve been hooked since its opening in July of last year and can’t wait to sample what 25-year-old Chef John Girizzaffi comes up with next.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries, various locations
Ravenous, 21 Phila Street, Saratoga Springs and Main Street Grille, 857 Main Street, Clifton Park (tie)
Dining on a Budget
Garden Bistro 24, 1839 Central Avenue, Colonie
Ralph’s Tavern, 1328 Central Avenue, Albany
Main Street Grille, 857 Main Street, Clifton Park

Best New Restaurant
Garden Bistro 24, 1839 Central Avenue, Colonie
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, 377 River Street, Troy
Café Nola, 617 Union Street, Schenectady and
The Point Restaurant and Lounge, 1100 Madison Avenue, Albany (tie)

Best Appetizer
Best Happy Hour Bar
Best Martini

Creo’ Restaurant, 1475 Western Avenue, Albany
From the Latin for “to create,” Creo’ certainly has created a stylish and classy place to head after work with co-workers or to meet up with friends. Going together perfectly, Creo’ has won Best Appetizer, Best Happy Hour Bar and Best Martini in the Capital Region. Next time you stop by after a hard day, try one of their small plates like the macadamia crab cakes or lobster and avocado tart and pair it with a blood orange margarita or a signature Creo’ cocktail.

Aperitivo Bistro, 416 State Street, Schenectady
New World Bistro Bar, 300 Delaware Avenue, Albany

Happy Hour Bar
Creo’ Restaurant, 1475 Western Avenue, Albany
Lanie’s Cafe, 471 Albany Shaker Road, Loudonville
Daisy Baker’s, 33 2nd Street, Troy

Martini
Creo’ Restaurant, 1475 Western Avenue, Albany
Angelo’s 677 Prime, 677 Broadway, Albany
Apertivo Bistro, 426 State Street, Schenectady and
Appletini’s Café, 1118 Central Avenue, Albany (tie)

Best Bread
Best Soup

Bountiful Bread, 1475 Western Avenue, Albany
Bountiful Bread in Albany believes that bread is the stuff of life and is a meal unto itself. They bake over 150 loaves a day in 30 different varieties. Not surprisingly, that means they go through around 1,000 bags of flour a month! Whether it’s their popular cinnamon raisin or northern ciabatta bread, this restaurant is a true carb-lover’s paradise. And what goes better with a warm piece of bread than a hearty bowl of soup to dip it in? At Bountiful Bread, you’ll get the best of both worlds, as they were also voted Best Soup in the Capital Region.

Perecca’s Bakery, 33 North Jay Street, Schenectady
Bella Napoli Italian American Bakery, 672 New Loudon Road, Latham
721 River Street, Troy

Soup
Bountiful Bread, 1475 Western Avenue, Albany
Mocha Blend Café Espresso Bar, 720 Hoosick Road, Troy
Western Diner, 2019 Western Avenue, Albany and Garden Bistro 24, 1839 Central Avenue, Colonie (tie)

Best Beer Selection
Brown’s Brewing Co., 417 River Street, Troy
With a taproom that features more than a dozen fresh ales and lagers on draught on any given day, Brown’s Brewing Co. grew out of a vision to turn a 150-year old warehouse into a fully-operational craft brewery. An instant success as the first of its kind in the Capital Region, Brown’s brews are also available in bottles to take home and are on draft in select taverns and restaurants throughout the area.

Mahar’s Public Bar, 1110 Madison Avenue, Albany
Wolff’s Biergarten, 895 Broadway, Albany

Best Pub (tie for first)
Brown’s Brewing Co., 417 River Street, Troy
Across the Street Pub
1238 Western Avenue, Albany
Want to know the best place to have a drink and a nice meal while keeping it casual? Head to Brown’s Brewing Co. or the Across the Street Pub, co-winners for Best Pub in the Capital Region. Brown’s offers an extensive taproom menu to accompany their fresh-brewed ales (voted Best Beer in our survey), while the Across the Street Pub is centrally located by SUNY Albany and is a family-friendly environment to take the kids.

Ravenswood
, 1021 Route 146, Clifton Park
The Local Pub and Tea House
142 Grand Avenue, Saratoga Springs

Best Bistro
New World Bistro Bar
300 Delaware Avenue, Albany
A self-proclaimed “gastropub,” New World Bistro Bar offers small and big plates, yeast-free, stone grilled pizzas, and gluten-free and vegan options. Serving what they call “global soul food”, many of their ingredients are regional, organic and sustainable. Its’ cozy atmosphere makes it a perfect place to stop for a meal before or after a movie at the Spectrum, located just two doors down.

Garden Bistro 24, 1839 Central Avenue, Colonie
Aperitivo Bistro, 416 State Street, Schenectady

Best Wings (tie for first)

Ale House, 680 River Street, Troy
Bombers Burrito Bar, 258 Lark Street, Albany & 447 State Street, Schenectady
Romo’s Pizza, 365 Feura Bush Road, Glenmont
With so many great places in the Capital Region for wings, our readers couldn’t decide on just one. After the votes were tallied, we had a three-way tie between the Ale House, Bombers and Romo’s Pizza. Each place has their own unique style of making these game-day favorites, and whether you are dining in or taking out, make sure you have plenty of napkins handy! Finding wing sauce on your clothes later will only make you want more – but maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Scubber’s Hot Wings, 186 Wolf Road, Albany
Wings Over Albany, 1704 Western Avenue, Albany

Best Chili
The Orchard Tavern, 68 North Manning Boulevard, Albany
This past winter has been rough, and there aren’t many dishes that warm you up on a snowy day quite like a bowl of chili. Our winner for this hearty dish isn’t new to the spotlight; The Orchard Tavern’s homemade chili was given the top spot in the Capital Chili Bowl as well. Served with nacho chips or bread and butter and an optional helping of melted cheddar, this dish is not only a great appetizer, but a whole meal in itself.

Brown’s Brewing Co., 417 River Street, Troy and
Junior’s Bar & Grill, 1094 Madison Avenue, Albany and  Jake Moon’s Restaurant and Cafe
2082 Delaware Turnpike, Clarksville (tie)

Best Deli
Gershon’s Deli & Caterers
1600 Union Street, Schenectady
A multiple-year winner in our annual survey, Gershon’s knows what makes a good deli: fresh food prepared daily and courteously served. The oldest kosher-style deli in the Capital Region, Gershon’s only uses the best quality cured meats and cheeses and they even roast their own turkeys, roast beef, corned beef and ham. They pride themselves on training their staff in the art of sandwich making so that each dish is prepared with love. We can taste the difference, can you?

Roma Importing Co., 9 Cobbee Road, Latham
Ragonese Italian Imports
409 New Scotland Avenue, Albany

Best Early Bird Special
The Vista Bar & Bistro at Van Patten Golf Club 924 Main Street, Clifton Park
Spectacular views aren’t the only thing keeping diners coming back for more to the Vista Bar & Bistro Restaurant; their $10.95 early bird dinner is a crowd pleaser and the top choice for voters in our survey. Served nightly from 4pm-6pm, the early bird menu changes on a weekly basis and the executive chef and his team use seasonal inspirations to create new and exciting dishes.

Waters Edge Lighthouse
2 Freemans Bridge Road, Scotia
Grandma’s Pies & Restaurant

273 Central Avenue, Albany

Best Fine Dining
Angelo’s 677 Prime, 677 Broadway, Albany
Looking for a place to go on a first date? What about an anniversary dinner? You’ll be sure to impress your companion at Angelo’s 677 Prime, located in the hub of downtown Albany’s Theater District. It’s the perfect place for that special occasion or if you want to have a nice meal before catching a show. In addition to Prime beef and a wide selection of fine wines, patrons of the restaurant are treated to a rotating exhibition of fine art. Their Collection Series program spotlights a new individual every six months.

Creo’ Restaurant, 1475 Western Avenue, Albany
Jack’s Oyster House, 42 State Street, Albany and The Brown Derby, 22 Clinton Avenue, Albany (tie)

Best Fish Fry
Ted’s Fish Fry, various locations
There’s not much debate when it comes to the best fish fry around, at least not according to our voters. For the sixth year in a row, Ted’s Fish Fry has won the coveted top spot. Have a craving for a classic fish fry with all the trimmings, but are sick of the same old fast food options? Ted’s has you covered with the best deep fried fish fillets at each of their four locations, smothered with a “secret recipe sauce.” It’s no secret to us why they are number one year after year.

Bob & Ron’s Fish Fry, 1007 Central Avenue, Albany
Harbor House, 1742 Route 9, Clifton Park

Best Ice Cream
Kurver Kreme, 1349 Central Avenue, Albany
Cones, sundaes and shakes, oh my! Ice cream is one of the few foods in life that kids and adults alike get excited about, and in the Capital Region, we get excited for opening day of Kurver Kreme (and every day of the season after that). Located in Colonie, Kurver Kreme has been serving us frozen treats for more than 57 years, and we’d bet they will be for many years to come.

Snowman, 531 5th Avenue, Troy
Guptill’s Coney Express Ice Cream, 1085 New Loudon Road, Latham and
Jim’s Tastee Freez, 58 Delaware Avenue, Delmar (tie)

Best Kid Friendly Restaurant
Jumpin Jack’s Drive-In, 5 Schonowee Avenue, Scotia
When the warm weather hits, children start to get antsy. They know it’s only a matter of time until Jumpin’ Jack’s Drive-In is open for the season. With the classic drive-in atmosphere, delicious food and welcoming staff, parents enjoy going just as much as the kids!

Circus Café
, 392 Broadway, Saratoga Springs
Garden Bistro 24, 1839 Central Avenue, Colonie

Best Outdoor Dining (tie for first)

Waters Edge Lighthouse, 2 Freemans Bridge Road, Glenville
Prime at Saratoga National, 458 Union Avenue, Saratoga Springs
As weather transitions from winter to spring, everyone is eager to be outside any chance they can and that includes dining. Luckily for them, they have plenty of options! Overlooking the shores of the scenic Mohawk River, the Waters Edge Lighthouse offers casual dining on their patio starting in May. Looking for more of a steakhouse feel? Prime at Saratoga National has you covered with their outdoor dining area. There’s just something about eating in the fresh air that makes the food taste better, don’t you think?

Lanie’s Café, 471 Albany Shaker Road, Albany and Yanni’s Too Restaurant, 16 Main Street, Ravena (tie)
Brown’s Brewing Co., 417 River Street, Troy

Best Pizza

Romo’s Pizza, 397 Feura Bush Road, Glenmont
Our winner this year for the coveted Best Pizza award is a relative newcomer, having only been in business for 16 months. Romo’s Pizza in Glenmont prides itself on using only the highest quality cheese and sauce on their pies and boast that the most popular aspect of their pizza is the crust. Seasoned with homemade garlic sauce, it’s a huge hit with customers. And just who is Romo? It’s the owner’s late English Bulldog, who has been forever memorialized as the pizzeria’s logo.

Fountain Restaurant
283 New Scotland Avenue, Albany
The Orchard Tavern
68 North Manning Boulevard, Albany

Best Ribs

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, 377 River Street, Troy
Founder John Stage began Dinosaur Bar-B-Que with two partners as a mobile concession unit in 1983 with a 55-gallon drum cut in half. The idea was hatched at the Harley Rendezvous, a massive motorcycle gathering near Albany, because they believed that bikers deserve a good plate of food. On the road for five years, doing motorcycle shows, fairs, and festivals throughout the Northeast, they decided to settle down and open a quick service lunch/dinner bar-b-que joint in downtown Syracuse in 1988. Ten years later they opened another spot in Rochester, in 2004 one in Harlem, and finally, last year, their Troy location. Dry rubbed and slow pit smoked, their melt-in-your-mouth ribs are glazed with their original BBQ sauce and come in half, three-quarter and full rack plates. Paired with the homemade sides of your choice, these ribs are the definition of finger-licking good.

Rubbin Butts BBQ
, 848 East Main Street, Cobleskill; 1599 Union Street Schenectady and Capital Q Smokehouse, 329 Ontario Street, Albany (tie)
Pig Pit BBQ, 1 Niver Street, Cohoes


Most Romantic Restaurant
Best Wine List

The Wine Bar and Bistro on Lark
200 Lark Street, Albany
Nothing says romance like a cozy restaurant, a roaring fireplace and a tall glass of wine. You can find all of these elements and more at the Wine Bar and Bistro on Lark. Nestled in the Center Square neighborhood of Albany, it is the perfect place to duck into for a night cap with that special someone or to impress them with your knowledge of fine wines. Don’t know that much, but want to pretend you do? Their knowledgeable staff is always happy to make suggestions.

Angelo’s 677 Prime
, 677 Broadway, Albany
Creo’, 1475 Western Avenue, Albany

Wine List
The Wine Bar and Bistro on Lark
200 Lark Street, Albany
Angelo’s 677 Prime, 677 Broadway, Albany
Wine Bar Saratoga, 417 Broadway, Saratoga and New World Bistro Bar, 300 Delaware Avenue, Albany (tie)

Best Sandwich/Sub (tie for first)
Gershon’s Deli & Caterers
1600 Union Street, Schenectady

Maurice’s Sandwich Shop
133 Wolf Road, Colonie
Not surprisingly, Gershon’s Deli & Caterers has been voted Best Sandwich/Sub, seeing as they already won for Best Deli. The two go hand-in-hand, as a great sandwich is only as good as the deli meats it’s made from. Sharing top billing in this category is Maurice’s Sandwich Shop, where you can get made-to-order sandwiches ranging from hot pastrami to crab seafood salad to the classic BLT. Not to mention a classic sour pickle on the side that compliments any choice.

Mocha Blend Espresso Bar, 720 Hoosick Road, Troy
Genoa Importing Co., 435 Loudon Road, Loudonville

Best Sports Bar
Recovery Sports Grill, various locations
Football, baseball, basketball, hockey – you name the sport and chances are the Recovery Sports Grill has it on one of their 50 high definition flat screen TVs. Worried that you might not hear the game? With one of their “Sound Dogs” on every table, there isn’t a bad seat in the house. The eye-catching décor and classic sports memorabilia everywhere you look will bring back fond memories and spark heated discussions about your favorite teams.

Wolf’s 1-11 Restaurant & Games
111 Wolf Road, Albany
The Sports Grill, 4 Middle Mannix Road, Rensselear

Best Tapas/Small Plates
Midtown Tap and Tea Room
289 New Scotland Avenue, Albany
The Midtown Tap and Tea Room has so many interesting and innovative choices on the menu that we’re glad they are available in small plates – that way we can order more than one! It’s a great place to go with an appetite and time to spare. Whether you are on a date or with a group of friends, sharing really is caring here.

Apertivo Bistro, 416 State Street, Schenectady
The Wine Bar and Bistro on Lark
200 Lark Street, Albany

Best Take Out
Chef’s Take Out
3770 Carman Road, Schenectady
We all have those long, hard days when cooking is the last thing we want to do when we get home. Take Out in Schenectady cooks every meal to order and uses only the freshest ingredients. Owner Gerardo Cunsolo grew up in Italy and learned how food could bring family and friends together. He trained throughout Europe in order to become a professional in his trade. Lucky for us, we can benefit from his years of instruction all from the comfort of our own home.

Ichiban, 1652 Western Avenue, Albany and 338 Central Avenue, Albany
Sake Cafe, 273 New Scotland Avenue, Albany

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