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Readers’ Poll

by The Staff on March 3, 2011 · 16 comments

From best restaurant to best band to best place to service your laptop, you’ve cast your votes and we’ve compiled the results. Here are the winners for the 2011 Metroland Readers’ Poll . . .

food & drink

Best American

1. New World Bistro Bar

2. Albany Pump Station

3. The Point Restaurant

Is it even conceivable that one restaurant can serve both the best American and international fare? You say yes. New World makes a strong case that these categories might be the same in the end anyway.

Best Italian

1. Café Capriccio

2. D’Raymonds

3. Lombardo’s

Café Capriccio is quite simply an institution of fine Northern Italian cuisine. The results in this category are not a bit surprising.

Best French/Continental

1. Provence

2. La Serre

3. Nicole’s Bistro

Provence wins comfortably with La Serre a respectable second, but . . . Mon Dieu! Nicole’s Bistro has been closed for how long? Je me souviens . . .

Best Seafood

1. Reel Seafood Co.

2. Red Lobster

3. Jack’s Oyster House

For real.

Best Japanese/Sushi

1. Koto

2. Ichiban

3. Hana

Koto’s commercials won them third place in that category, but their food did the talking here.

Best Vietnamese/Thai

1. Blue Spice

2. Van’s Vietnamese Restaurant

3. Sukhothai

Blue Spice offers comftorable dining and some gorgeous and delicious dishes that make our readers want more. But Van’s and Sukhothai had very respectable finishes. We are just glad we have options.

Best Southern/Soul Food

1. Hattie’s

2. Capital Q Smokehouse

3. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que rampaged into the region this year, but Hattie’s is still the local favorite by a long shot.

Best Caribbean

1. Roy’s Caribbean Restaurant

2. First Choice Caribbean (Troy)

3. Kenneth’s Taste Bud

Roy’s jerk chicken is iron like a lion in Zion.

Best Mexican/Southwestern

1. El Mariachi’s

2. El Loco

3. Pancho’s

Results here were surprisingly close, given the fact that El Mariachi’s has two locations.

Best Indian/Pakistani

1. Shalimar

2. Sitar

3. Karavalli

Shalimar is the gold standard for affordable, reliable Indian/Pakistani cuisine. Sitar and Karavalli bring a little more flair than Shalimar, but they can’t beat the food. Or so say our readers.

Best Greek

1. Athos

2. Anton’s (New Scotland Ave.)

3. Hidden Café

Hidden Café finds itself on the list this year after A Taste of Greece closed its doors this past year.

Best International

1. New World Bistro Bar

2. Yono’s

3. Creó

Ric Orlando’s golden touch (and a great location) made New World Bistro Bar a great success; your votes made it the runaway winner in this category, too. Yono’s tasty Indonesian cusine and Creó’s international flair had solid support.

Ric Orlando of New World Bistro Bar. Photo by B.A. Nilsson.

Best Vegetarian

1. New World Bistro Bar

2. Antipasto’s

3. Honest Weight

Just order the Bluecorn Crusted Seitan Medallions and you’ll understand why.

Best Steakhouse

1. 677 Prime

2. Delmonico’s

3. Barnsider

A good cut is going to cost you a couple pennies more but, oh, is it worth it.

Best BBQ

1. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

2. Capital Q

3. PJ’s BBQ

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que stormed into town and took over first place from long time winners Capital Q. We wouldn’t want to see a real fight between these two BBQ giants, but either way, they’ve both got some tasty BBQ.

Best Brew Pub

1. Brown’s

2. Albany Pump

3. Wolff’s Biergarten

Brown’s is the place to go for a nice locally brewed ale, spiedies, good company and an awesome deck when the weather is nice. If you haven’t been to Brown’s, you haven’t been to Troy.

Best Beer Selection

1. Mahar’s

2. Wolff’s Biergarten

3. Brown’s

The numbers were easy to do here. Mahar’s won by almost as many beers as they have available.

Best Diner

1. Miss Albany Diner

2. Gateway Diner

3. 76 Diner

Their creative breakfast fare would have been enough to put Miss Albany ahead but the iconic train car diner is also one of our most cherished local landmarks.

Best Deli

1. Gershon’s

2. Cardona’s

3. Deli & Brew

You just can’t beat Gershon’s meat.

Best Brunch

1. Café Madison

2. Justin’s

3. New World Bistro Bar

Café Madison has proven itself king of the AM hours, taking both the breakfast and brunch categories this year.

Best Outdoor Dining

1. Jumpin Jack’s

2. El Mariachi

3. Brown’s Brewing Co.

Three distinctive outdoor dining experiences are represented: all-American summer food by the Mohawk; Mexican dishes in a sophisticated urban garden; and microbrews and first-class pub food by the Hudson. All reflect your good taste.

Best Cheap Eats

1. Bombers

2. Gus’s

3. Taco Bell

Readers love them some tofu fries at midnight. We know we do! And Bombers is the only place in town to get em, with three or four tacos, a burrito and an order of wings. Nom, nom, nom.

Best Catering

1. Old Daley Inn

2. Glen Sanders

3. Classe

No matter what your special occasion may be, Old Daley Inn will keep your guests fed and happy.

Best Burger

1. Five Guys

2. Juicy Burger

3. Red Robin

Five Guys makes a great burger, but we are thinking at this point that our readers helped Five Guys win in a landslide just so they can see Metroland on the walls of the chain all over the country. We can’t help but dig the idea.

Best Wings

1. Bombers

2. Wings Over Albany

3. The Ale House

The fact that Wings Over Albany will deliver their fare right to your face still wasn’t enough to bump Bombers from the top honor.

Best Pizza

1. I Love NY Pizza

2. Paesan’s

3. Soho

No tournament necessary. I Love won this normally contentious category handily.

Best Bagels

1. Brueggers

2. Uncommon Grounds

3. Price Chopper

People can get as picky about their bagels as they do their pizza, so it’s surprising to see a chain beat out a local café in this category.

Best Sandwiches/Subs

1. Subway

2. Andy & Sons Italian Food & Deli

3. Deli & Brew

You can’t resist those $5 footlongs, can you? There was plenty of love for Andy’s, an Albany mainstay, and the Deli & Brew, an uptown Troy favorite, too.

Best Ice Cream

1. Stewart’s

2. Ben & Jerry’s

3. Emack & Bolios

We can’t really argue with any of your picks; each emporium offers fine frozen treats. Stewart’s received nearly double the votes of the very close second- and third-place winners.

Best Coffee

1. Dunkin Donuts

2. Uncommon Grounds

3. Starbucks

With a Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks on every off-ramp and street corner, second place is not a bad finish for Uncommon Grounds.

Best Wine List

1. Wine & Bar Bistro

2. The Wine Bar (Saratoga)

3. The Ginger Man

Wine bar lovers—next year be more specific! With two establishments using nearly the same name, some of the nonspecific votes (“Wine Bar”) we had to split. No matter—those who made it clear they love the vino on Lark Street gave the Wine Bar & Bistro a clear win, while Saratoga’s Wine Bar finished a comfortable, if not quite countable, second.

Best Desserts

1. Cheescake Factory

2. Villa Italia

3. Crisan

This one came down to just a handful of votes, and it’s worth mentioning that Cheesecake Machismo came in a very close fourth.

Best Bakery (desserts/pastries)

1. Bella Napoli

2. Villa Italia

3. Crisan

If you look at the way these three categories all shook out, you’ll get a pretty good sense for what these places do right.

Best Bakery (breads)

1. Perreca’s

2. Panera

3. Bella Napoli

Perreca’s hasn’t changed a thing about the operation in decades. No reason to.

Best Indian Buffet

1. Shalimar

2. Curry House

3. Lazeez

Shalimar remains the most reliable and tasty place to enjoy more than a plate full of curry, naan, tikka and so many other wonderful treats.

Best Chinese Buffet

1. Dragon Buffet

2. Capital Buffet

3. Golden Phoenix

Don’t even think about bringing that Tupperware.

Best Restaurant to Take a Date

1. New World Bistro Bar

2. The Wine Bar & Bistro

3. Jack’s Oyster House

Surely, New World got a bump here from its proximity to and affiliation with the Spectrum 8 Theaters. The old dinner-and-a-movie is a classic date combination.

Best Restaurant to Take the Kids

1. Friendly’s

2. Red Robin

3. Wolf’s 1-11

What kid can resist an ice cream sundae shaped like a clown’s face?

Best Restaurant for a Power Lunch

1. Jack’s Oyster House

2. 677 Prime

3. Panera

Where to seal the deal over steak, oysters and a couple of martinis? Readers picked Jack’s over Prime in an extremely close race. Panera fans must be thinking of a different sort of power lunch.

Best Tapas/Small Plates

1. Mid Town Tap and Tea Room

2. New World Bistro Bar

3. Aperitivo

With tapas, quality is as important as variety, and Mid Town has both in spades.

Best Place to Eat at 3am

1. Denny’s

2. Café 217

3. Bob’s Diner

Yeah, uh Denny’s, so anyway. . . . Café 217 and Bob’s Diner are great local joints to get a bite when it is really dark out and you won’t have to worry about those brawls over maple syrup that we hear happen at Denny’s.

Best Breakfast

1. Café Madison

2. Miss Albany Diner

3. Denny’s

The weekend lines do not lie. Café Madison treats breakfast like the most important meal of the day.

Best Chinese

1. Ichiban

2. Plum Blossom

3. Yip’s

Ichiban’s ultra-reliable service and spilling out of the carton serving of oh-so-yummy Chinese dishes wins the day. A trip to either of their locations is well worth it. Plum Blossom’s warm atmosphere and decadent dishes comes in second.

Goods & Services

Best Optical Store

1. Empire Vision

2. Lens Crafters

3. DiNapoli

Your choice was crystal clear.

Best Appliance Store

1. Sears

2. Best Buy

3. Green’s

Good to see Green’s holding its own with the big boys.

Best Antiques

Aunt Katie’s Attic

Reruns Consignment Shop

River Street, Troy

An entire street’s worth of antique shops couldn’t top your preference for Aunt Katie’s and Reruns.

Best Bookstore

Barnes & Noble

The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza


The independents used to suffer under the iron fist of the big box chains, but with Borders recently filing for bankruptcy, things are looking good for the Book House.

Best Newsstand


Barnes & Noble

Friar Tuck Book Shop

Coulson’s might be the original newsstand.

Best Internet Provider

Time Warner Road Runner


Albany FreeNet

Road Runner had five times the number of votes as Verizon, which had seven times the number of votes as Albany FreeNet. Which sorta makes both of Road Runner’s competitors the coyote, doesn’t it?

Best Garden Store

Hewitt’s Garden Center

Faddegon’s Nursery

George’s Market & Nursery

Hewitt’s straight-up mulched the competition.

Best Florist


Lark Street Flower

Price Chopper

Emil J. Nagengast Florist

Sometimes we scratch our heads when a chain beats out a boutique in a category like this, so it’s good to see Lark Street Flower Shop match the popularity of Price Chopper.

Best Home Electronics

Best Buy


Ultimate Electronics

The home-electronics supermarket was the choice of the masses, but the niche independent placed a respectable second.

Best Kitchen Store

Different Drummer’s Kitchen


Bed, Bath & Beyond

The regional independent—Different Drummer’s Kitchen has stores in Albany, Lenox and Northampton—absolutely carved up the chain competition.

Different Drummer's Kitchen. Photo by Leif Zurmuhlen.

Best Furniture Store

Old Brick Furniture

Taft Furniture

Huck Finn’s Warehouse

Your champions in the empire of ottomans.

Best Pet Supply Store


Benson’s Pet Center

Pet Supplies Plus

Megastore PetSmart may be your favorite spot to snag the goods for Foo Foo and Dr. Barkus, but local boys Benson’s and Pet Supplies Plus still held their own in this race.

Best Gift Store


Wit’s End

Pearl Grant Richmans

The perfect places to find that distinct something, from the risqué to the resplendent.

Best Wine/Liquor Store

Empire Wine & Liquor Outlet

Exit 9 Wine & Liquor Warehouse

All Star Wine & Spirits

Empire Wine continues to pick up steam with its unbeatable combination of price and selection, pulling more votes than the second- and third-place finishers combined.

Best Vintage Clothing

Salvation Army

Metropolis Vintage


Nothing beats unearthing that one-of-a-kind second-hand shirt and only having to fork over a five-spot.

Best Women’s Clothing




Everybody’s favorite department-store chain took top honors, but the classy independent finished a respectable second.

Best Men’s Clothing



J.C. Penney

Macy’s has all the styles we are looking for, and upon three different visits this past month, a cashier has given us a discount we didn’t actually qualify for. We get why you guys made Macy’s your top choice.

Best Children’s Clothing

Gap Kids

The Children’s Place


Another extremely close race. Who woulda known kids clothing could be such a contentious issue? The Gap wins it by only a few votes.

Best Women’s Shoe Store

DSW Shoe Warehouse


Payless Shoes

Ladies, we thought you would prefer shopping in a classy joint like Macy’s, not a warehouse, but then we saw the prices. Don’t worry, we won’t tell.

Best Men’s Shoe Store

DSW Shoe Warehouse


Payless Shoes

Readers love buying their shoes at the Warehouse. Macy’s and Payless finish a very distant second and third.

Best Consignment Clothing Store

Plato’s Closet

Salvation Army


Skip the mall; you can find all the name brands at these stores for way cheaper.

Best Hair Salon

Jean Paul Spa & Hair Salon

Rumor’s Salon & Spa

Fantastic Sam’s

For curls, cut, color and style,  Jean Paul earned your nod as the favorite place to get gorgeous.

Best Sporting Goods Store

Dick’s Sporting Goods

Sports Authority

Goldstocks Sporting Goods

Dick’s might as well build its own movie theater and food court, because it’s taking over Crossgates. If you’re looking for curling or jai-alai gear, they’ve probably got it. Good to see a local institution taking third place.

Best Head Shop

Northern Lights Shop

Déjà Vu

Shining Star

Northern Lights has the headies.

Best Cigar/Tobacco Shop

Edleez Tobacco Inc

Habana Premium Cigar Shoppe

Park Lane Tobacconist

Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Best Holistic Shop

Honest Weight Food Co-op

Peaceful Inspirations

Magic Moon

What they lack in crystals and incense, the Co-op makes up for in herbal supplements, tinctures and natural remedies.

Best Art Supply Store

Arlene’s Artist Materials


AC Moore

A perennial winner over the big chains, Arlene’s is an artist’s dream come true.

Best Bicycle Shop

Downtube Cycle Shop

Plaine’s Bike Ski Snowboard

C K Cycles

Downtube wins by a landslide. Lets go mountainbiking to celebrate!

Best Toy Store

Toys R Us

Toy Maker

G. Willikers Toys

The toy giant is still a wonderland for kiddies across the land, but we recommend you check out out Toy Maker and G. Willikers Toys to get them toys that will actually do them some good.

Best Cellular Service




Now that they’ve got the iPhone, why bother with anything else, right?

Best Jeweler

Hannoush Jewelers

Northeast Fine Jewelery

Kay Jeweler

This was an extremely tight race between three very popular jewlers. Congrats Hannoush for turning out the vote!

Best Day Spa

Kimberly’s A Day Spa

Complexions Spa and Salon

Jean Paul Spa

Kimberly’s must known how to pamper you all, because they won big time!

Best Musical Instrument Store

Parkway Music

Guitar Center

Drome Sound

Parkway Music has undeniably the best service around. Thank heavens for their marvelous gearheads. And we have to add that Drome Sound has had a very interesting selection as of late.

Best Apple Orchard

Indian Ladder Farms

Goold Orchards

Bowman Orchards

Indian Ladder farms is the place to take the kids for the traditional family apple-picking trip, and there’s plenty more to do, and plenty of tasty baked goods to devour.

Best Farmers Market

Troy Waterfront Farmers’ Market

Schenectady Greenmarket

Saratoga Farmers’ Market

It’s getting to the point where every neighborhood and ‘burb has its own market (hurray!), but Troy still boasts one of the biggest and most diverse.

Best Produce

Price Chopper

Honest Weight Food Co-op


It was a meager three beans that gave Price Chopper the edge over the Co-op, and we’re betting it was convenience that made the difference.

Best Place to Buy a Computer

Best Buy

Apple Store


But if you don’t already have a computer, how are you going to get online?

Best Place to Service a Computer

Best Buy

Apple Store

Computer Renaissance

But if your computer doesn’t work, how are you going to find a place to service it?

Best Shopping (Plaza)

Stuyvesant Plaza

Mohawk Commons


As plazas go, Stuyvesant offers the best pedigree of shops. Where else can you wander outside with a Starbucks frappacino, a cone from Cold Stone, all while listening to Bach piped in over the loud speakers?

Best Shopping (Mall)

Colonie Center


Rotterdam Square Mall

It came down to a handful of allegiant mall-rats and -walkers to put Colonie Center ahead of Crossgates.

Best Shopping (City)

Saratoga Springs



Keep voting for Manhattan in this category, and maybe someday we’ll get that high-speed rail.

Best Shopping (Outlet)

Manchester, Vt.

Lake George

Woodbury Commons

Neatly packaged hippie jam bands isn’t all Vermont has. They also have some great consumerist oasis. Who woulda known?

Best Supermarket

Price Chopper


Honest Weight Food Co-op

This wasn’t much of a competition. The locally owned Chopper wins the day handily thanks to their crazy gas deal and reliable selection.

Best Health Food Store

Honest Weight Food Co-op


Delmar Health Hut

Honest Weight takes the competition out back and flexes on them like you don’t even want to know what. They must be eating right, because their vote tally was so pheonmenally high that GNC is probably going to be left insecure that they won’t leave the weight room for the next month.

Best Record Store (used)

Last Vestige Music Shop

Divinyl Revolution

River Street Beat Shop

Ask a crate digger: Last Vestige has all the rare cuts.

Best Record Store (new)


Last Vestige Music Shop

Best Buy

FYE has new CDs for sale, if people still buy those.

Arts & Entertainment

Best Movie Theater

1. Spectrum 8 Theatres

2. Regal Colonie Center Stadium 13

3. Bow Tie Cinemas Movieland

They did it again. The Spectrum won, thanks to great programming (now supplemented by HD screenings of live theater) and tasty snacks. Regal Colonie Center reclaimed the No. 2 spot they won last year. We have a genuine shocker in third place, however: It’s goodbye to Regal Crossgates (and their IMAX screen) and hello to the jewel of downtown Schenectady, Movieland.

Best Museum

1. New York State Museum

2. Albany Institute of History & Art


The New York State Museum won big, probably because it has it all: science and nature, fine arts, cultural history, and lots to do for the kids. Your second and third place finishers reveal you to be museumgoers of discernment. The Albany Institute is to our capital city what the NYSM is to the entire state; MASS MoCA is an internationally renowned home to contemporary art.

Best Art Gallery

1. Marketplace Gallery

2. Upstate Artists Guild

3. Albany Institute of History & Art

From the ashes they rose—to victory! Clearly, you dig the happenings down by the river at the Marketplace Gallery. Just up the hill in Albany’s Center Square, only a handful of votes separated the groovy gallery on Lark Street from the great cultural institution on Washington Avenue.

Best Live Theater Venue

1. Proctors

2. Capital Repertory Theatre

3. Palace Theatre

From touring Broadway productions on the mainstage to improv theater in the Underground to comedy shows in the GE Theatre, Proctors offers superb theatrical experiences. You felt strongly enough about this to give them more votes (many more votes) than the second- and third-place finishers combined. Still, plenty of you most treasure the great original theater at Capital Rep, and the terrific touring productions and comedy shows that play the Palace.

Best Local Visual Artist

1. Mike Feurstein

2. Samson Contompasis

3. Radical!

We were kinda going for, um, visual arts in this category; for more on the praiseworthy Mr. Feurstein, see “Best Local Filmmaker.” Gallery guru and large-format painter Contompasis finished a strong second, though, only a few votes ahead of whiz kid and recent Metroland cover subject Radical!

Best Local Author

1. William Kennedy

2. Vincent Zandri

3. KC Orcutt

Last year’s first and second place finishers, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Kennedy, and author of much-praised crime novels Zandri, finish first and second again. Blogger KC Orcutt debuts on the list at No. 3, representing for that particular media.

Best Local Performing Arts Organization

1. Saratoga Performing Arts Center

2. Capital Repertory Theatre

3. Proctors

The Saratoga Performing Arts Center has become, by any measure, one of the region’s most notable success stories. And they do this while serving tremendously diverse audiences in a very short season. Capital Repertory Theatre has a long tradition of excellence. Proctors—a name that now stands for multiple venues—must serve very diverse audiences all year round. Clearly, they’re doing it well.

Best Children’s Arts Programming

1. Steamer No. 10 Theatre

2. Capital Area Productions

3. The Egg

The folks at Steamer No. 10 Theatre are celebrating their 20th anniversary, and again you’re recognized them for the excellence of their productions (as well as for the innovative artists they bring to town). It’s déjà vu all over again in this category: Capital Area Productions again placed second, and the Egg, third.

Best Local Filmmaker

1. Mike Feurstein

2. Matthew Warren

3. Best Bytes Media

Mike Feurstein won again, and by a large margin, probably because he’s continued to do good work in both the short and feature-length formats. Matthew Warren and Best Bytes Media are new to the poll this year.

Best Local Poet

1. Mary Panza

2. R.M. Engelhardt

3. KC Orcutt

We’re not really sure that competition is the best way to sort out poets, but here we are. Just like last year, Panza’s in first place, and Engelhardt’s only a couple of votes behind her. Newcomer KC Orcutt—who also, um, blogs—debuts in third place.

Best Karaoke

1. Oh Bar

2. Bourbon Street Bar & Grill

3. Bombers

Three repeat winners from last year. While our neighbors at Oh Bar remained numero uno (and by a large margin), Bourbon Street leapfrogged over Bombers for second place. Sing out, sister!

Best Live Music Venue

1. Valentine’s

2. Northern Lights

3. Saratoga Performing Arts Center

Hippie nights, poetry nights, punk nights, burlesque shows and two floors of music that host a myriad of genres: that’s Albany’s hardest-working club, Valentine’s. Only five votes separated the winner from its larger suburban counterpart; Clifton Park’s Northern Lights is the place for the really big club shows, from hip-hop to hardcore to country to old-school new wave and punk. SPAC finished a couple dozen votes behind the leaders, but then it’s a summer-only venue.

Best Open Mic

1. McGeary’s

2. Muddy Cup

3. Caffe Lena

Tess’ Lark Tavern was the perennial winner, before the tragic blaze that killed the club; it’s evident that you followed Tess Collins down the hill to McGeary’s. Albany’s Muddy Cup turned into the Drama Cup which became Tierra Coffee Roasters, but an open mic is an open mic is an open mic. And the great Caffe Lena is still the great Caffe Lena.

Best Local Solo Musician

1. Erin Harkes

2. Sean Rowe

3. (TIE) Chris Dukes, Matthew Carefully

Erin Harkes almost doubled the number of votes of last year’s winner, Sean Rowe, who doubled the number of votes of the artists tied for third, Chris Dukes and Matthew Carefully. But who’s counting? They’re all terrific.

Best Local Rock Band

1. Skeletons in the Piano

2. Erin Harkes Band

3. Sirsy

The angsty, noir rock of Skeletons in the Piano edged out singer-songwriter Erin Harkes and her band by just one vote, who edged out Sirsy by two votes. Fans of Harkes and Sirsy, learn something from Al Gore: Don’t forget to vote!

Skeletons in the Piano. Photo by Joe Putrock.

Best Local Indie-Rock Band

1. Sirsy

2. Phantogram

3. Skeletons in the Piano

Phantogram may have gone on to fame (and we hope, some fortune), toured the world and performed on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, but they still finished nine votes behind Sirsy. We can state, however, that the Metroland cover curse had nothing to do with it; all three artists have graced our cover.

Best Local Blues/R&B Band

1. Bent Rail Blues Band

2. Ernie Williams

3. Solid Smoke

Only two votes separated winners Bent Rail Blues Band from Capital Region legend Ernie Williams.

Best Local Punk Band

1. Dead Aces

2. Hijinx

3. Nixon’s Spirit

Troy’s Dead Aces were a band before they could play music—and that’s motherfucking punk. Hijinx have been rocking together, in one form or another, for a decade. And you can’t kill Nixon’s Spirit; they repeated last year’s third-place win.

Best Local Country Band

1. Skeeter Creek

2. The Hillbilly Horns

3. Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys

Skeeter Creek won in a landslide. They draw big crowds, and they’re the go-to opening act for some of the major country stars who’ve played the Capital Region. The Hillbilly Horns hung in there for second place again this year; Albany native Jim Gaudet and his Railroad Boys were a close third.

Best Local Jazz Band

1. Brian Patneaude

2. (TIE) Keith Pray, Tequila Mockinbirds, Michael Newman Trio

Brian Patneaude, aka the hardest working jazzman in the Capital Region, doubled the votes of our three-way tie for second place. And most of the voters cared enough to spell his name right.

Best Local Hip-Hop Artist

1. Oddy Gato

2. Sinister

3. Rick Whispers

Out of nowhere, Oddy Gato topped repeat second- and third-place winners Sinister and Rick Whispers to claim the No. 1 spot.

Best Local Hardcore Band

1. Black John Wayne

2. Brick by Brick

3. Born Low

Clearly, Troy’s Black John Wayne pistol-whipped you into voting them first. (“Pistol Whipped” is one of their songs, dooders.) Brick by Brick beat Born Low by only a few votes.

Best Local Cover Band

1. Yellowdog

2. Right Coast Soul

3. The Refrigerators

Last year’s winner the Refrigerators dropped to third place as Yellowdog and Right Coast Soul stormed the category; Yellowdog won by a solid 24 votes.

Best Local Metal Band

1. Armour Column

2. (TIE) The Viking, Black John Wayne

Armour Column’s old-school metal edged out the Viking’s progressive metal and Black John Wayne’s Troycore flava in this highly competative category.

Best Local Club DJ

1. DJ Trumaster

2. Deep Children

3. Dave Barna

Arts scenester DJ Trumaster was the clear winner in this battle of the DJs, with Deep Children and Dave Barna each gaining solid support.

Best Dance Club/Dance Night

1. Fuze Box

2. Jillian’s

3. Vapor

This voting in this category was close, though Fuze Box did finish a dozen votes (or so) ahead of Jillian’s and Vapor.


Best Local TV News




Only a handful of votes separated the top three finishers in this category.

Best Local TV News Anchor

Liz Bishop

Lydia Kulbida

Benita Zahn

This . . . was . . . close. And we love our anchorwomen.

Best Local Meteorologist

Bob Kovachick

Steve Caporizzo

Paul Caiano

The first- and second-place finishers were close, but WNYT’s Kovachick edged out WTEN’s Caporizzo by 10 votes.

Best Local Sportscaster

Rodger Wyland

Andrew Catalon

Joe Calderone

While we have nothing but love for YNN’s Joe Calderone and WNYT’s Andrew Catalon, this one wasn’t even close. Readers have crowned Rodger Wyland, of WNYT-TV and Fox Sports Radio, the king of sports media in the Capital Region.

Best News Radio Station



Talk 1300

A repeat of last year’s tally. WAMC, with its strong regional news operation, continues to lead by a large margin; WGY—with its AM and new FM signals—holds its own, and the most Capital Region-focused station, WGDJ-AM, finishes third.

Best Local Music Radio



105.7 Crush

It’s more than just their tagline. No one actually plays more local music than WEXT, working a Local 518 selection into the playlist every hour.

Best Local Radio DJ

Lo-Fi Lobo

Kevin Richards

(TIE) Jeff Morad, Chris Wienk

College radio represents with WCDB’s Lo-Fi Lobo, but only a couple of (stuffed?) ballots ahead of WGNA’s powerhouse Kevin Richards. WEQX’s Morad and WEXT’s Wienk were close behind.

Best Local Publication


Times Union

The Record

It never gets old to hear you say so.

Best Local Arts Coverage



All Over Albany

It wasn’t even close in this category, either.

Best Local Print Journalist

Paul Grondahl

Josh Potter

Carl Strock

Paul Grondahl’s strong narrative stories remain your favorite by a significant margin.

Best Local TV Commercial


Cats Eye


It’s very large.

Best Local Website (News)

Times Union

All Over Albany


The RSS feed is like the modern day newsie, barking the day’s headlines from your web browser. So a good, user-friendly site has become as important to news outlets as scoops and sources. The Times Union and YNN effectively supplement their newspaper and TV content with their sites, while AOA caters directly to the digital news junky. (Pssst: Have you looked at metroland.net recently?)

Best Local Website (Community)

All Over Albany


(TIE) Keep Albany Boring, Times Union

From the news topics they follow to the local curiosities they explore and the fact their comments thread is often longer than the original post, All Over Albany is all about community. Their landslide victory in this category is further proof.

Best Local Website (Music)




Sarge . . . er, Greg Haymes has been haunting area bars and rock clubs for as long as any of us care to remember, first as a performer, then a Metroland and Times Union scribe, so it’s no surprise he’s put together one of the area’s best resources for music news and reviews.

Best Local Website (Arts)



All Over Albany

But Nippertown is about more than music (and cute canines). Haymes’ counterpart Sara Ayers keeps her ear to the ground for happenings in the larger local art world, delivering readers info, quirky videos and lots of ticket giveaways.

Best Local Blog

Friday Puppy

All Over Albany

Keep Albany Boring

Restaurateur Matt Baumgartner has had more than a couple good ideas in his day, but encouraging readers to post pictures of their dogs every week has made for one lively blog community. Special recognition goes to Keep Albany Boring in this category for coining a slogan as true and memorable as Austin’s. Please make T-shirts.

people & places

Best Park

Washington Park

Thacher Park

The Crossings

Lights in the winter, tulips in the spring, outdoor theater in the summer and gorgeous fall foliage—Washington Park has it all.

Best Playground

The Crossings

Washington Park

Central Park, Schenectady

Whether you’re the slide, swings or merry-go-round type, these are places to get your fix.

Best Day Trip

Lake George

New York City

Saratoga Springs

A day spent in any of these places is going to yield a vastly different experience, but they’re all recommended.

Best Bike Ride

Corning Preserve

Mohawk River Trail

Thacher Park

There’s no better way to appreciate the Albany waterfront than on a bike.

Best Running Trail

Corning Preserve



If you’re going to inflict that kind of torment on yourself, might as well do it in a beautiful place.

Best Hiking/Nature Trail

Thacher Park

Five Rivers

Pine Bush

And to think the state nearly closed the gates last year . . .

Best Rock Climbing

Albany Indoor Rockgym

The Shawangunks

Thacher Park

We should, for the sake of liability, inform you that climbing on Thacher Park chauss will result in certain death. But the Gunks are seriously world-class. And there’s nowhere better to get strong than Albany Indoor Rockgym.

Best Gym

Planet Fitness

Gold’s Gym


A whole celestial body of health.

Best Laser Tag

Zero Gravity

Outer Zone

Battlefield Live

What, the Metroland office didn’t make the list? Congrats to Zero Gravity, a clear fave among our adolescent commandos.

Best Tattoo Artist

Matt Mrowka at Needlewurks

Tom Spaulding

Don Demers at Full Effect

When you’re putting something on your skin that won’t go away no matter how hard you scrub, it’s best to trust the person with the needle, and these three artists have legions vouching for their fine work.

Best Massage Therapist

Sarah Bowman at Balance Massage Studio

Mary Panza

Susan Brooks at Commerford Chiropractic

Names to remember next time you have to dig your car out from two feet of frozen slush.

Best Yoga/Pilates


Center for Nia and Yoga, Heartspace Yoga and Healing Arts


Yoga Loft

How perfectly selfless that two of the area’s premiere studios should share the top honor.

Best Golf Courses

Capital Hills

Saratoga National

Western Turnpike

Capital Hills came in well under par, with Saratoga National and Western Turnpike only a few strokes behind.

Best Miniature Golf




Pirate’s Cove and Funplex

Through the windmill, over the zebra, down the chute, and Hoffman’s sinks the putt.

Best Skiing/Snowboarding

Gore Mountain

Jiminy Peak

West Mountain

It may not be the rockies, but the region boasts some sweet spots for snow sports, and these are your top slopes.

Best Ice Skating

Swinburne Park

Hudson Valley Community College

Bethlehem YMCA

There aren’t a whole lot of joys about upstate New York winter, but ice skating is one of them. Readers are adament about wanting the Empire State Plaza rink to reopen, but in the meantime, Swinburne got a lot of love for its open air pavillion.

Best Bowling Alley


Del Lanes

Spare Time

Nobody beats the  Playdium in Pine Hills for some old-school tenpin, beers and snacks. They scored a turkey here (that’s a good thing in bowling, right?). Del Lanes in Delmar and Spare Time in East Greenbush snagged the spares.

Best Pool Hall

Diamond 8

Trick Shots

Golden Cue

Another close race, but Diamond 8 sunk it in the corner pocket.

Best Bar

Wolff’s Biergarten



Always a close race, but the best bar contenders all have something in common—they’re just big enough for a little crazy fun and just small enough to feel like home. This year, Wolff’s Biergarten celebrated the World Cup in spectacular fashion, Tess Collins brought some Lark love to McGeary’s, and the Lionheart is a stalwart in this race.

Wolff's Biergarten. Photo by Joe Putrock.

Best Hook-up Bar




It’s official, our readers have gotten the most action at Jillian’s, the Capital Region’s jumbotron of nightclubs.

Best Gay Bar

Oh Bar



A perrenial winner, Lark Street’s Oh Bar fosters fun and champions community, not to mention great karaoke, nightly drink specials, pool, darts and a spacious patio. But your second and third place nods can be found just around the corner on Central Avenue, so you can make a night of it and hit them all up.

Best Wine Bar

Wine Bar & Bistro on Lark

The Wine Bar (Saratoga)

The Gingerman

Lark Street’s Wine Bar & Bistro was the clear winner in this category, offering cozy but elegant ambiance, killer cuisine, knowlegeable staff and a wine list as spectacular as it is extensive.

Best Happy Hour Bar




It was a close race for the best spot to get your happy on, but Bombers took the gold for its fun and delicious daily drink and nosh specials.

Best Strip Club


Double Vision

Nite Moves

DiCarlos is far and away your favorite spot for a little va va voom, but the race was close between Double Vision and Nite Moves.

Best Bartender

Jason Bowers at the Lionheart

Mark Graydon at Wolff’s Biergarten

Tie: Valorie Ness at Gaffney’s and Victoria Lamas at the Fuzebox

Our readers (and staff) enjoy a good drink, but these bartenders serve their impeccably mixed cocktails with a twist of personality that won local hearts.

Best Server

Aleph Ashline at New World Bistro Bar

Always energetic, attentive, delightful and informed, Aleph was the clear winner in this category. Sixteen servers tied for second place.

Best Public Official

Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

U. S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

Readers have high hopes that Andrew Cuomo will reform state government and revive New York; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand continues rocketting to political stardom as a strong voice for upstate New York. And Jerry—well, he has lots of friends.

Best Citizen Advocate

Alice Green

Jerry Jennings

Corey Ellis

Alice Green, executive director for the Center of Law and Justice, has a decades-long legacy of citizen advocacy in the Capital Region, while Corey Ellis stood for the people against the Albany political machine.

Best Animal Advocate

Steve Caporrizo

Mohawk-Hudson Humane Society


Steve Caporizzo won by a landslide in this category, and that’s no surprise. The meterologist’s Pet Connection segments on News 10 are a smashing success; he’s helped find families for more than 2,300 homeless pets and raised more than $250,00 for shelters and rescues throughout the region.

Best Local Charity

Mohawk-Hudson Humane Society

Ronald McDonald House

Albany Damien Center

It was a close race between these local do-gooders, who together provide aid to animals, seriously ill children and their families, and those living with HIV/AIDS, but the Humane Society won by a hair.

Best Swimming


Grafton Lake

Lake George

For backstroke or crawl, readers like this pool best of all.

Best Campground

Lake George

Thompson’s Lake

Moreau Lake State Park

One of these days, spring will come again, and you’ll get to trade your parka for a pup tent—we promise. In the meantime, you can start daydreaming about these top spots for smores and sunshine.

Best In-Store Pet

Caymus and Shafer at All-Star Wine & Liquor

May and Atticus at Aunt Katie’s attic

Liam at Davey Jones’ Locker

A little furry friend goes a long way in making a shop feel like home, and these beasties are your favorites, paws down.


Best Use of Public Funds

Public education, libraries, Albany trash pick-up, Alive at Five, AMD, bike racks, Troy City Hall demolition, Delaware Avenue revitalization, Catholic Charities, CDTA, Schenectady Metroplex, Exit 6, food pantries, homeless shelters, state parks, Larkfest, Capital Holiday Lights in the Park, Mayor’s Office of Energy & Sustainability, NYS Museum, Park Playhouse, public employees who provide essential services, riverside development, roundabouts, snow removal, social welfare, South End revitalization, state employees, Summer Youth Employment Program, tax returns, Times Union Center upgrades, Tulip Fest, Victoria Pool, Amtrak, community policing,  Albany Convention Center, fixing our *#&$^* roads, health care, Saratoga Racetrack, SUNY, the arts, WAMC, WEXT, WMHT, they use our public funds?

Albany Public Library Delaware Branch. Photo by Joe Putrock. Best Misuse of Public Funds

Albany Convention Center, Albany Police Department, Schenectady Police Department, Amsterdam’s bridge to nowhere, Andrew Cuomo, bailouts, YMCA, government consultants, former Gov. Paterson, Democrats, Republicans, Draconian issuance of parking tickets, drugs, health care, state employee retirement benefits, hotel for judges, Jerry Jennings, Anton Konev, Lark Fest, state lottery, Metroplex, state Legislature, overtime pay,  rich old white dudes, roundabouts, Schenectady Metroplex, Social Security, social services, special interest groups, the empty group home in Niskayuna, the fleet of Tahoes outside of City Hall, towing cars, Troy City Hall, unemployment benefits, welfare, Animal Control, carpeting the capitol, charter schools, Chris Gibson, Global Foundries, government consultants, 787, NYRA, member items, state parks, tax breaks for the wealthy, the capitol crane.

Best Way to Lure People to the Capital Region

Better downtown area, parking, a new slogan: “We’re cooler than you think,” nanotech, alcohol, Alive at Five, Fests, Angelina Jolie, the arts scene, awesome location, great food, Bombers, beer, candy, cash and cheap women, college, concerts, low cost of living, develop the riverfronts, EMPAC, Empire State Plaza, historic architecture, invest in education, jobs, lodging/dining packages, make state workers live here, marriage equality, music, outdoor activities, reopen the Lark Tavern, Saratoga, not a conference center, Spring, the Ruck, Victorian Stroll, awesome radio, bananas, build a biodome, high-speed rail, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, fall foliage, address the abandoned-buildings problem, hugs, free regional WiFi, better bike lanes, stockades for politicians, kettle corn vendors, long shots of the city sky line, small city charm, free snow!

Best Time to be Had in the Capital Region for Under $10

’80s night at the Fuze Box, Adirondack Balloon Fest, roller derby, a bike ride along the Hudson, Albany Civic Theater pay-what-you-will preview nights, Alive at Five, Central and Lexington avenues at  4 AM, Cheesecake Machismo’s $5 slice and a coffee special, Chowderfest, Corn Mazes, the Crossings, the State Museum, Famous Lunch, the Farmers Museum, free concerts at Tawasentha, fests and street fairs, Guptil’s, hardcore shows at Bogies, Jumpin’ Jacks, line dancing with Kevin Richards, Meet Swap Dance at the women’s building, Outer Zone laser tag, Park Playhouse, bowling at the Playdium, Saratoga Race Track, Central Park’s disc golf course, sledding, movies at the Spectrum, hiking the state parks, events at the Sanctuary for Independent Media, dodgeball at the Armory, a fall day at Indian Ladder Farms, a gelato from Crisan and a nice sunny walk in Washington Park, beer and good friends at Palais Royale, Albany Art Room, local art nights, Bombers’ taco buffet, Capital Underground free shows, free Capitol tour, cliff jumping  in Ravena, dollar night at the Washington Tavern, open mics, Scooter Pie at Midnight, observation deck of the Empire State Plaza, b3nson shows, yo mama

Best Place to See and Be Seen

677 Prime, AIDS Council’s Beaujolais Nouveau Wine Celebration, Alive at Five, b3nson shows, Wolff’s Beirgarten, Bogie’s, Central Park, Divinyl Revolution, Facebook, Jillian’s, Keep Albany Boring party, Lark Street, Marketplace Gallery, McGeary’s, New World Bistro Bar, Troy farmer’s market, Proctors, Roller Derby, Saratoga Race Track, the Crossings, timesunion.com/seen, Vapor, Washington Park, Crossgates Mall, Desperate Annie’s, Fuzebox, Pearl Street, Savannah’s, SPAC lawn, Troy Night Out

Best Thing That Could Happen to Albany

787 gets ripped out and people start little farmsteads on the Hudson, a casino, a different mayor, a living history of Fort Orange, a zoo, AAA baseball, an underage venue, Andrew Cuomo, annex Rensselaer, better parking, Cloverfield, Convention Center, crime reduction, get rid of the gangs, high-speed rail, improved public transportation, lower taxes, marriage equality, more vegan restaurants, recognition of our indie arts scene, a functioning police force, Proctors Albany, rehab abandoned buildings, reopen the Lark Tavern, restore State Museum hours, return of the Ed Wood Film Festival, robots, Trader Joe’s, a severe banking error in our favor, Central  Warehouse converted to condos, cyclist-friendly roads, honest politics, a regime change, Salt 2, a satellite community college in the old Livingston School, state starts paying for public use, the money intended for the convention center is used to fill in potholes, reopen the public bathhouse, restore ice skating to the plaza, lower CDTA fare back to $1, and reinvest in Albany’s public schools, spring.

Best Thing That Could Happen to Troy

A new mayor, a permanent City Hall, a robust manufacturing sector, AAA Baseball, Already did: Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, if anything would stay open past  8 PM, traffic control to HVCC, Bombers, close River Street as a pedestrian walkway, easier public transportation, go carts, live music venues, lower property taxes, free parking, a movie theater, restore the old Proctors, rename the Joe, small business grants, tech jobs, it’s happening . . . a slow renaissance.

Best Thing That Could Happen to Saratoga Springs

A big, well-funded local bookstore takes the Borders space, diversity, high-speed rail, a new mayor, a real casino, an attitude adjustment, better bands at SPAC, better parking, bordellos, Trader Joe’s, cheaper golf, extended racing season, get rid of chain stores, go Democratic, affordable housing, stop developing it, kick NYRA out, land preservation, fewer tourists, make it legal to sit on the horse statues, a gay bar, a flea market, improve the free skate park, revamp the train station, investment in social services, rickshaws for the rich, serve humble pie, the condo market collapses, thoroughbred polar bear racing

Best Thing That Could Happen to the ’Burbs

$10/gal gas, architectural redesign, an influx of drive-in movie theaters, anything but black shutters, better bus routes, bike lanes, cheaper electric cars and hybrids, ding-dong ditch, diversity, reforestation, high-speed rail, house parties, lower taxes, more independent restaurants and stores, more music venues, more parks, more things for kids and teens to do, sidewalks and street lights, Super Target, bike paths and greenspace, Trader Joe’s, conversion of lawns to food gardens, enforce zoning laws, free garbage pickup, glass houses, large-scale road repaving, it comes out on Blu-Ray for under $10 . . . I read this as “best thing that could happen to the Beibs.”

Best Evidence That the Region is Looking Up

518fever.com, All-American City, Andrew Cuomo, Barack Obama keeps visiting, beat cops, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Global Foundries, good hardcore scene, great art shows, poetry nights, music acts, I have a job now, I can see up its nose, lots of places to get burritos, safer streets, focus on tech education, more jobs, prevalence of Pride Alliance clubs in schools, Schenectady, backyard chickens, youth positivity

Best Local Celebrity Whom You’d Like To Marry for Their Money

Andrew Cuomo, state lottery winners, Billy Fucillo, Carl Paladino, Ed Dague, Eli Hargrave, Erin Harkes, Glenn Slingerland, Jerry Jennings, Jimmy Fallon, Joe Bruno, John Gray, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kara DePaula, Liz Bishop, Mary Lou Whitney, Matt Baumgartner, the Mayor of Lark Street, Nipper, Martin, Harding and Mazzotti, Rachael Ray, Ric Orlando, Tess Collins, Steve Caparizzo, DJ Thomas, Tommy Love, Dan Bozile, Ashley Pond, Jessica Layton, Steve Barnes, thanks I’ll make my own money.

Best-Kept Secret in the Capital Region

Albany Curling Club, Albany Legends Games, Albany Strength, Albany’s thriving theater scene, all the parks, Arkell Museum, Aunt Katie’s Attic, Balance Massage Studio, Bing Bamboo Room Burlesque, Bliss Gifts and Home Decor, Buckingham Pond, Cheesecake Machismo, Chez Daisie, Cook’s Park, East Greenbush Regal Cinema, Esperanto’s Doughboys, Germano’s Auto Repair, Grant Cottage, Jake Moon’s, Keep Albany Boring, Laughs on Lark, the Stockade District, Lincoln Park Pool, Mary’s Hole Troy River, Palais Royal, Pizza Gram, the poetry scene, Rensselaer County waterfalls, Rolf’s Pork Store, Salsa Latina’s carnitas, Trivia Nights, U.S. Water Ski Show Team, Union College hockey, All Good Bakers community share bakery, Beirut Restaurant, Bros. Tacos, Cooper’s Cave, Discap local disc golf club, Divinyl Revolution, Grafton Peace Pagoda, Prism Glassworks, Shavers Pond, Sinster, the Dovecote Arts Studio, the Hidden Café, vegan and gluten-free menus at New World Bistro Bar, the observation deck at the Empire State Plaza, Central Park’s rose garden.

Best Add Your Own Category!

Activity: Adirondack Balloon Flights; Animal Hospital: Nassau Vet; Beard: Ryan Farrell; Dinosaur: Triceratops; Dishwasher: Michael Hickok; Gay Radio Show: HomoRadio WRPI 91.5 FM; Dog Rescue: Peppertree; Nonprofit: Capital District Community Gardens; Latino Tapper: Lajas; Holiday Display: Lights in the Park; Place to Take Your Toddler: Tree Pad in Malta; Polish Restaurant: Muza; Sledding: Frear Park; World Music: Taina Asili y la Banda Rebalde; Comedian: Cranman; Community Revival: Hudson; Potholes: Western Avenue; Local Clothing Brand: Fresh Prints Clothing; Terrible Politician: Anton Konev; Reason to move out of Center Square: paying to park in your own neighborhood; Annual Event: Wolff’s Oktoberfest; Local Sports Team: Valley Cats; Margarita: Salsa Latina; Spot to Unwind: Edleez Tobacco; Used Game Store: Pastime Legends; Vintage Shop: Aunt Katie’s Attic; Bingo: Celtic Hall; Burlesque: Bing Bamboo Room Burlesque; Children’s Parties: Art Smarts; Diaper Service: Sonrise Diaper Service; Drag Queen: Whiskey Sour; Best of List: Metroland; Landmark: the Egg; Reuse of Old Buildings: Pioneer Market and Pfeil’s Hardware; When I’m Super Drunk I Like to Eat: Hot Dog Charlie’s [Editors note: Hot Dog Charlie’s closes at 8].