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Readers Poll: Food & Drink

by The Staff on March 8, 2012




Food & Drink


Best American

1. New World Bistro Bar

2. McGeary’s Irish Pub

3. Albany Pump Station

These are three very different “American”-style dining (and drinking) experiences, but we see one thing in common among the three: fun. We’d say more nice things about New World Bistro Bar, but this is not their only win.


Best Italian

1. Café Capriccio

2. Café Italia

3. Lombardo’s

Regionalism gets favoritism: In a close race, Capriccio, which brings Tuscan cuisine to local gourmands, wins yet again.


Best French/Continental

1. Provence

2. The Epicurean Bistro & Wine Bar

3. La Serre

The Epicurean is still relatively new, and some of our French-food-loving readers may be just learning about it; La Serre has been around so long on its downtown side street that it’s easy to forget it’s still there. Neither new nor old, but much loved for its established, dependable cuisine, Provence finished well ahead of the others.


Best Seafood

1. Reel Seafood Co.

2. Red Lobster

3. Jack’s Oyster House

Seafood wins in a tidal wave over Lobster and Oysters, as Reel Seafood Co. on Wolf Road tallies higher than popular Red Lobster across the street and the beloved downtown-Albany classic Jack’s Oyster House.


Best Chinese

1. Ichiban

2. Plum Blossom

3. Ala Shanghai

This was a tight race, but old favorites Ichiban’s fortunes were best.


Best Japanese

1. Koto Japanese Steakhouse

2. Hana Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar

3. Ichiban

You just can’t beat dinner and a show. Especially when there’s knife throwing, egg tossing, and shrimp materializing out of thin air.


Best Vietnamese/Thai

1. Van’s Vietnamese Restaurant

2. Sukhothai

3. Blue Spice Thai

Why not spring into the season with some of clear winner Van’s delicious spring rolls?


Best Mexican/Southwest

1. El Mariachi

2. El Loco

3. Bombers

Holy mole: El Mariachi clobbered the competition, again. Maybe it’s the mole sauce–or the 80-plus tequila menu.


Best Southern/Soul

1. Hattie’s

2. Capital Q Smokehouse

3. Café Nola

Saratoga landmark Hattie’s won by a comfortable margin, but credit the ardor of Capital Q’s fans for voting them into multiple categories.


Best Caribbean

1. Roy’s Caribbean Restaurant

2. First Choice Caribbean

3. Orchids Restaurant

Roy’s was the clear winner among these three delicious options for island food.


Best Indian/Pakistani

1. Shalimar

2. Karavalli

3. Jewel of India on Lark

This win comes with an “I Love NY Pizza” asterisk: There are multiple Shalimars with multiple owners.


Best Greek

1. Athos

2. Anton’s

3. BFS Restaurant

The more upscale, classic-Greek Athos won comfortably over the smaller, more sandwich-and-gyro-oriented (but also very tasty) Anton’s. Third-place finisher BFS is more broadly Mediterranean, but you can see (and taste) the connection.


Best International

1. New World Bistro Bar

2. Yono’s

3. Ali Baba

New World won by a solid margin in a category that featured a dizzying array of cuisines.


Best Vegetarian

1. New World Bistro Bar

2. Antipasto’s

3. Lil’ Buddha

This was a very tight contest, but New World still scored the win. Is there anything you don’t love about Ric Orlando’s joint?


Best Steakhouse

1. Angelo’s 677 Prime

2. Delmonico’s Italian Steakhouse

3. The Barnsider

An elegant setting and a great cut of beef: That’s why Angelo’s 677 Prime wins again.


Best Barbecue

1. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

2. Capital Q Smokehouse

3. PJ’s Bar-B-Que

You sure love barbecue; this category had more overall votes than Best Meteorologist. Capital Q lost to Dinosaur by 90 votes and still would have won most other categories.


Best Brew Pub

1. Brown’s Brewing Co.

2. Albany Pump Station

3. Davidson Brothers Brewing Company

Brown’s sure is doing something right with the brew (and the food and the vibe); the place is frequently packed, and it won by a wide margin in a category that received heavy voting. Despite losing by dozens of votes, Albany Pump Station still scored a respectable second.


Best Beer Selection

1. Mahar’s

2. The Ruck

3. City Beer Hall

It was a close race for second. While we agree that the Ruck and City Beer Hall are awesome, we also agree that Mahar’s huge 100-vote margin of victory is justified. They have it all.


Best Diner

1. Miss Albany Diner

2. Latham ’76 Restaurant

3. Gateway Diner

The memories endure.


Best Deli

1. Gershon’s Deli

2. Cardona’s Market

3. Deli & Brew

Is it lunchtime yet? Just thinking about these places makes us hungry.


Best Brunch

1. Café Madison

2. Iron Gate Café

3. New World Bistro Bar

No surprise that Café Madison took this category as usual—just check out the lines on Saturday and Sunday mornings. But the creative brunch menus at Iron Gate and New World have made this category more interesting in recent years.


Best Outdoor Dining

1. Brown’s Brewing Co.

2. El Mariachi

3. The Wine Bar & Bistro on Lark

You chose three urban delights in voting as close as can be—without there being a three-way tie. We’re not surprised that the place to enjoy a delicious beer and a river view won.


Best Cheap Eats

1. Bombers Burrito Bar

2. Gus’ Hot Dogs

3. (TIE) Capital Q Smokehouse, Esperanto

This was relatively close, but Bombers wins again—and having a second location can’t hurt. Now let’s hear it for a third . . .


Best Burger

1. Five Guys Burgers & Fries

2. McGeary’s Irish Pub

3. Juicy Burger

Five burger chefs on the grill, five kinds of cheese to choose from, and more than five area locations: Maybe that’s why Five Guys won by about five times the votes.


Best Wings

1. Wings Over Albany

2. (TIE) Bombers Burrito Bar, The Ruck

It seems fitting that the joint with “wings” in the name won. Also, they have great wings.


Best Pizza

1. I Love NY Pizza

2. DeFazio’s

3. Paesan’s Pizza

With regard to the winner we must ask, dear reader: Which one?


Best Bagels

1. Uncommon Grounds

2. Bruegger’s

3. Price Chopper

There was heavy voting in this category, with Uncommon Grounds managing a 15-vote victory. Price Chopper may have been a distant third, but still received plenty of votes.


Best Sandwiches/Subs

1. Subway

2. Deli & Brew

3. DiBella’s

A close race, but those convenient new downtown Albany locations probably put Subway over the top.


Best Ice Cream

1. Stewart’s Shops

2. Emack and Bolio’s

3. Ben & Jerry’s

Look how our own unpretentious regional chain and its un-fancy but tasty ice cream beat out the gourmet brands from out of state—with double the votes!


Best Coffee

1. Dunkin’ Donuts

2. Uncommon Grounds

3. Starbucks

The locals came close, but Dunkin’ Donuts’ sheer volume made them unstoppable.


Best Desserts

1. Villa Italia Pasticceria

2. Crisan Bakery & Edible Art Gallery

3. The Cheesecake Factory

Desserts don’t get much more artful and delicious than at Villa Italia and Crisan, two local bakeries that finished in an extremely close one-two—and well ahead of the, um, factory.


Best Bakery (Dessert/Pastry)

1. Villa Italia Pasticceria

2. Bella Napoli

3. Crisan Bakery & Edible Art Gallery

Readers didn’t treat this category much differently than Best Desserts, except that Bella Napoli suddenly surged into the picture and just fell short to Villa Italia by a cannoli or two . . .


Best Bakery (Bread)

1. Perecca’s Bakery

2. Panera Bread

3. All Good Bakers

Some things never change: like Perecca’s heavenly Italian bread, and our readers’ appreciation of it.


Best Wine List

1. The Wine Bar & Bistro on Lark

2. The Ginger Man

3. Antipasto’s

A terrific selection made the Wine Bar & Bistro on Lark the runaway winner.


Best Indian Buffet

1. Shalimar

2. Lazeez

3. Karavalli

The Capital Region will look back on this as the golden age of Indian buffets.


Best Tapas/Small Plates

1. Midtown Tap & Tea Room

2. Aperitivo Bistro

3. The Wine Bar & Bistro on Lark

A very close race.


Best Breakfast

1. Café Madison

2. Miss Albany Diner

3. Denny’s

You voted them as the place for the best brunch, so this result is just logical.


Best Restaurant To Take a Date

1. New World Bistro Bar

2. The Wine Bar & Bistro on Lark

3. The Ginger Man

A real no-brainer: Is there a more convenient spot for a dinner-and-a-movie date?


Best Restaurant To Take the Kids

1. Red Robin

2. TGI Friday’s

3. Wolf’s 1-11

When you want the kids to have a happy sit-down meal.


Best Restaurant for a Power Lunch

1. Jack’s Oyster House

2. Angelo’s 677 Prime

3. Panera Bread

The same thing happens every year: Readers appropriately pick the revered institution on Albany’s State Street where many a deal has gone down over the years, and the newer, but no less power-worthy steakhouse on Broadway. And then third place goes to a soup-and-sandwich chain where you pick up your order when your little buzzer goes off.


Best Restaurant To Eat at 3 AM

1. Café 217

2. Denny’s

3. Bob’s Diner

Café 217, with its dinner-at-dawn menu and charming interior, squeaked ahead of Denny’s with one (tasteful) vote. The steak-and-eggs at Bob’s Diner must be pretty good, too; the round-the-clock Watervliet eatery came in a close third.