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
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.
1. Café Capriccio
Café Capriccio is quite simply an institution of fine Northern Italian cuisine. The results in this category are not a bit surprising.
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 . . .
1. Reel Seafood Co.
2. Red Lobster
3. Jack’s Oyster House
Koto’s commercials won them third place in that category, but their food did the talking here.
1. Blue Spice
2. Van’s Vietnamese Restaurant
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
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.
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.
1. El Mariachi’s
2. El Loco
Results here were surprisingly close, given the fact that El Mariachi’s has two locations.
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.
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.
1. New World Bistro Bar
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.
1. New World Bistro Bar
3. Honest Weight
Just order the Bluecorn Crusted Seitan Medallions and you’ll understand why.
1. 677 Prime
A good cut is going to cost you a couple pennies more but, oh, is it worth it.
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
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
2. Wolff’s Biergarten
The numbers were easy to do here. Mahar’s won by almost as many beers as they have available.
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.
3. Deli & Brew
You just can’t beat Gershon’s meat.
1. Café Madison
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
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.
1. Old Daley Inn
2. Glen Sanders
No matter what your special occasion may be, Old Daley Inn will keep your guests fed and happy.
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.
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.
1. I Love NY Pizza
No tournament necessary. I Love won this normally contentious category handily.
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.
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
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.
1. Dunkin Donuts
2. Uncommon Grounds
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.
1. Cheescake Factory
2. Villa Italia
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
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)
3. Bella Napoli
Perreca’s hasn’t changed a thing about the operation in decades. No reason to.
Best Indian Buffet
2. Curry House
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
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
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
With tapas, quality is as important as variety, and Mid Town has both in spades.
Best Place to Eat at 3am
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.
1. Café Madison
2. Miss Albany Diner
The weekend lines do not lie. Café Madison treats breakfast like the most important meal of the day.
2. Plum Blossom
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
Your choice was crystal clear.
Best Appliance Store
2. Best Buy
Good to see Green’s holding its own with the big boys.
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.
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.
Barnes & Noble
Friar Tuck Book Shop
Coulson’s might be the original newsstand.
Best Internet Provider
Time Warner Road Runner
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
George’s Market & Nursery
Hewitt’s straight-up mulched the competition.
Lark Street Flower
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
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.
Best Furniture Store
Old Brick 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
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
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
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
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
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
Readers love buying their shoes at the Warehouse. Macy’s and Payless finish a very distant second and third.
Best Consignment Clothing Store
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?
Northeast Fine Jewelery
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 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
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
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.
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
But if you don’t already have a computer, how are you going to get online?
Best Place to Service a Computer
But if your computer doesn’t work, how are you going to find a place to service it?
Best Shopping (Plaza)
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)
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)
Keep voting for Manhattan in this category, and maybe someday we’ll get that high-speed rail.
Best Shopping (Outlet)
Neatly packaged hippie jam bands isn’t all Vermont has. They also have some great consumerist oasis. Who woulda known?
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
River Street Beat Shop
Ask a crate digger: Last Vestige has all the rare cuts.
Best Record Store (new)
Last Vestige Music Shop
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.
1. New York State Museum
2. Albany Institute of History & Art
3. MASS MoCA
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
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
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
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.
1. Oh Bar
2. Bourbon Street Bar & Grill
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
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
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
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!
Best Local Indie-Rock Band
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
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
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
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
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
This . . . was . . . close. And we love our anchorwomen.
Best Local Meteorologist
The first- and second-place finishers were close, but WNYT’s Kovachick edged out WTEN’s Caporizzo by 10 votes.
Best Local Sportscaster
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
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
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
(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
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’s strong narrative stories remain your favorite by a significant margin.
Best Local TV Commercial
It’s very large.
Best Local Website (News)
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
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
Lights in the winter, tulips in the spring, outdoor theater in the summer and gorgeous fall foliage—Washington Park has it all.
Central Park, Schenectady
Whether you’re the slide, swings or merry-go-round type, these are places to get your fix.
Best Day Trip
New York City
A day spent in any of these places is going to yield a vastly different experience, but they’re all recommended.
Best Bike Ride
Mohawk River Trail
There’s no better way to appreciate the Albany waterfront than on a bike.
Best Running Trail
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
And to think the state nearly closed the gates last year . . .
Best Rock Climbing
Albany Indoor Rockgym
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.
A whole celestial body of health.
Best Laser Tag
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
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
Susan Brooks at Commerford Chiropractic
Names to remember next time you have to dig your car out from two feet of frozen slush.
Center for Nia and Yoga, Heartspace Yoga and Healing Arts
How perfectly selfless that two of the area’s premiere studios should share the top honor.
Best Golf Courses
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.
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
Hudson Valley Community College
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
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
Another close race, but Diamond 8 sunk it in the corner pocket.
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.
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
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)
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
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.
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.
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, 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
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 $250,00 for shelters and rescues throughout the region.
Best Local Charity
Mohawk-Hudson Humane Society
Ronald McDonald House
Albany Damien Center
It was a close race between these local do-gooders, who together provide aid to animals, seriously ill children and their families, and those living with HIV/AIDS, but the Humane Society won by a hair.
For backstroke or crawl, readers like this pool best of all.
Moreau Lake State Park
One of these days, spring will come again, and you’ll get to trade your parka for a pup tent—we promise. In the meantime, you can start daydreaming about these top spots for smores and sunshine.
Best In-Store Pet
Caymus and Shafer at All-Star Wine & Liquor
May and Atticus at Aunt Katie’s attic
Liam at Davey Jones’ Locker
A little furry friend goes a long way in making a shop feel like home, and these beasties are your favorites, paws down.
Best Use of Public Funds
Public education, libraries, Albany trash pick-up, Alive at Five, AMD, bike racks, Troy City Hall demolition, Delaware Avenue revitalization, Catholic Charities, CDTA, Schenectady Metroplex, Exit 6, food pantries, homeless shelters, state parks, Larkfest, Capital Holiday Lights in the Park, Mayor’s Office of Energy & Sustainability, NYS Museum, Park Playhouse, public employees who provide essential services, riverside development, roundabouts, snow removal, social welfare, South End revitalization, state employees, Summer Youth Employment Program, tax returns, Times Union Center upgrades, Tulip Fest, Victoria Pool, Amtrak, community policing, Albany Convention Center, fixing our *#&$^* roads, health care, Saratoga Racetrack, SUNY, the arts, WAMC, WEXT, WMHT, they use our public funds?
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].