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BEST OF FOOD & DRINK:

Best Restaurant

Chez Sophie Bistro
2853 Route 9, Malta Ridge

Sophie Parker’s peerless legacy carries forth in a gleaming silver diner where you’ll find white-linen attitudes and a sense of dining as the art that it is. Chef Tonya Mahar works with fresh ingredients, enhancing their flavors in incredible ways. Owners Paul Parker and Cheryl Clark turn the rhythms of kitchen and dining room into music: a classical foundation with jazz riffs that sometimes sails into swing.

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Best New Restaurant

Cambridge Hotel

4 W. Main St., Cambridge

Now under the aegis of Master Chef John LaPosta, the Cambridge Hotel’s excellent food is complemented by beautiful guest rooms, so you can linger for breakfast. And he’s put a new, gourmet twist on the old apple pie à la mode tradition (it was invented here).

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Best Continental

Springwater Bistro
139 Union Ave., Saratoga Springs

Springwater calls it “international,” we call it continental—it’s a menu of familiar ingredients using far-flung techniques and touches. Chilled pea soup with salmon seviche, for instance, or tuna carpaccio touched with wasabi. An inventive and ever-changing menu will keep you coming back.

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Best International

dine
26 Henry St., Saratoga Springs

Global warming: International dining at Dine. Photo by Andrea Fischman.

If you like full-flavored cuisine with a twist, dine is the place, touting its daily-changing menu as “global adventures” from the cuisines of France, Asia and everywhere in between. Grab a reservation at the chef’s table:
Globetrotting Chef Steven Knopf brings a wealth of creativity, fluidity of presentation and extraordinary flavors to this intimate bistro. From starters such as coconut-lemongrass-scallop chowder and oyster-wasabi-champagne shooters (served in a shots glass, an espresso cup and a miniature stein) to such entrees as elk and root vegetable napoleon, striped wild sea bass with onion marmalade and pan-seared rare kangaroo to “sweets” (which are listed first on the board menu) such as pumpkin dumplings with caramel sauce, dine has “a little bit of weirdness for everyone,” as one employee once told us.

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Best Thai

Sushi Thai Garden
44 Phila St., Saratoga Springs

It’s new, it’s big, it has a wonderful green curry, and its good points don’t stop there. This restaurant understands the intricacies and distinctive qualities of the many varieties of Thai curry—and does wonderful things with sautés and skewers as well. And then there’s that Japanese angle, too.

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Best Chinese

Plum Blossom
685 Hoosick Road, Troy

The hot-and-sour soup is the best in the region, the lunch specials are an amazing bargain, and even goofy pseudo-Chinese items like General Tso’s chicken are nicely assembled. And there’s that amazing architecture, which continues to expand and improve each time we visit.

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Runner-up: Dumpling House, 120 Everett Road, Colonie.

Best Japanese

Bizen
17 Railroad St., Great Barrington, Mass.

Yearning Japanese: Bizen. Photo by Martin Benjamin

By far the best in the greater area, so much so that once you’ve eaten there, no other Japanese restaurant will suffice. A gleaming sushi bar takes center stage, where sushi aficionados can sit and watch sushi chef/owner Michael Marcus at work, fashioning the most incredible-looking and -tasting fish this side of San Francisco. Even those who are squeamish about sushi will develop instant cravings for the restaurant’s tempura dishes, its grilled apanese tapas or its organic produce (the corn on the cob is mind-boggling). Without exception, everything is flawlessly rendered and exquisitely tasty. Don’t forget to try something off the extensive list of Japanese estate sakes.

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Best Sushi

Miyako
192 N. Allen St., Albany

A piece of raw fish on a hand packed ball of rice, how difficult is that? Well at this place Sushi is an art form. The fish is so fresh you can hear the surf, the rice is a perfect texture and the two molded together—heaven. The rolls are very caringly and tightly prepared and loaded with all the good stuff. Enjoy the fun at the huge comfortable sushi bar, sit down at one of the many hibachi tables or get your fix to go. This is a sushi lover’s paradise.

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Best Vietnamese

Van’s vietnamese Restaurant
137 Madison Ave., Albany

While not as upscale as some other regional purveyors of this lightest and most subtle of southeastern Asian cuisines, Van’s nails the basics: It’s a great neighborhood restaurant in a neighborhood that desperately needs them, service is friendly and convivial, prices are fair for the generous portions served, and selections from the menu are reliably good. Recommended meal: an appetizer of crisp goi cuon and a scrumptious, satisfying bun tom nuong cha gio entrée . . . but you’re gonna have to go there to find out what they are.

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Best Korean

Ginza
551 Troy-Schenectady Road (Route 7), Latham

They’re at the back of the menu (last time we looked), but the Korean offerings here are the real thing, as the kimchi and bulgogi will quickly prove. If you’d rather have sushi, you’re still in the right place.

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Best French

Ferrandi’s
322 Route 67, Amsterdam

Here’s a place that takes Bastille Day very seriously. It’s not just French, it’s classic French, with special menus offered on holidays and wine-tastings galore. Mussels, escargot, coquille St. Jacques—you can pretend you’re in downtown Paris while on the outskirts of Amsterdam.

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Best Seafood

Scrimshaw
The Desmond, 660 Albany-Shaker Road, Colonie

It’s not a seafood restaurant per se—it’s one of the finer fine-dining establishments in the area—but the seafood side of the menu offers such excellent fare as sea scallops broiled with Chardonnay butter and live Maine lobster cooked to your liking, superbly done.

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Best German

Bavarian Chalet
Route 20, Guilderland

A formidable institution, this is a banquet house-sized eatery that still gives individual entrées the attention they deserve. Its potato pancakes are second to none. Wiener schnitzel, sauerbraten—all the classics are there.

Runner-Up: Brookside Inn, Route 30, Duanesburg.

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Best Scandinavian

Helsinki Café
284 Main St., Great Barrington, Mass.

It’s a blues café! It’s a teahouse! It’s the oddest restaurant you’ll visit, but you’ll be won over by its eclectic, Finnish-inspired fare. Try the borscht or gravlax, then sample a Red Square Reuben, in which tempeh and beets take the place of corned beef.

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Best mediterranean

BFS
1736 Western Ave., Albany
Newton Plaza, Latham

It’s a fusion deli-restaurant gourmet food counter. With fusion food, infused with Mediterranean specialties. You may walk in there thinking, oh, turkey sandwich, I guess—but you’ll walk out (or eat in) with something far more exciting.

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Best Indonesian

Yono’s
Armory Center, 64 Colvin Ave., Albany

Tucked into the second-floor rear of Vegas-on-the-Hudson, Yono’s continues its unique fine-dining tradition by offering a menu that’s half continental, half Indonesian—reflecting the heritage of Chef Yono Purnomo, who adds a unique, gourmet touch to everything he prepares.

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Best Southern

Hattie’s
45 Phila Street, Saratoga Springs

New owners Jasper Alexander and Elizabeth Monaco-Alexander carry on the tradition that has made this restaurant world-famous, with chef Jasper turning out the Southern-fried chicken, hop’ john and jambalaya that make this place unique.

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Best Steakhouse

The Bears’
Route 7, Duanesburg

Chef-owner Bob Payne doesn’t advertise and doesn’t even list his restaurant in the phone book. He doesn’t have to. Folks come from a long way around to enjoy what he does with tenderloin and sirloin as well as chops of lamb, pork and other meats.

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Best Indian Food

Shalimar Restaurant
31 Central Ave., Albany
405 fulton st., troy

We love it, and we’ve always loved it. When we get the craving for something Indian, Shalimar is where we turn. From the lamb korma and chicken vindaloo to the endless selection of vegetarian dishes, Shalimar wins this category hands down. It’s one place you can count on for a great meal with impeccable service at a cheap price.

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Best Fish Fry

Bob and Ron’s Fish Fry
1007 Central Ave, Albany

First and foremost, the old-school sign in front of the restaurant is one of the coolest in the Capital Region; on top of that, its fish fry stands head and gills above the rest. The steady stream of regulars at lunchtime, with the line often out the door, speaks for itself. For more than 50 years this family-run joint has been serving up the area’s tastiest seafood, including clams, scallops, fish fry and more. There’s nothing fancy about the décor, but who needs ambience when you have an age-old recipe that’s been passed down for generations? Don’t dilly-dally in line unless you like getting yelled at.

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Best Vegetarian

Shades of Green
187 Lark St. Albany

One sign of a great vegetarian restaurant is that it serves up dishes that even the most die-hard carnivores can’t resist. Whether it be the tempeh Reuben sandwich, the artichoke quesadillas or something from the endless selection of shakes, salads or soups, there’s always that one dish that you just can’t resist. What would Lark Street be without Shades of Green? Don’t forget to ask Sarah to do her cow-udder trick.

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Best Caribbean Food

Clayton’s Caribbean Restaurant
244 Washington Ave., Albany

Clayton’s may not be the place to go if you’re in a hurry, but it sure is the place to go if you’re hungry. A winner each year in the Best Caribbean and Spanish Cuisine category, Clayton’s is the spot when you’re craving island spices, beer and music. Where else in town can you find oxtail soup, real jerk chicken or goat roti this good? And the lunch buffet rocks.

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Best Cajun

Bayou Café
507 Saratoga Road, Scotia
79 N. Pearl St., Albany

Red beans and rice, jambalaya, gumbo—you won’t believe the homemade quality and flavors of these Southern specialties. You’d think Big Momma herself was in the kitchen. Traditional flavors in an upbeat zydeco-pumping atmosphere are matched by a great beer selection to cool the spicy tongue. If Cajun ain’t your thing, there’s a wide selection of Mexican and Southwestern dishes. Watch for the expansion of the Albany location.

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Best New American

Justin’s
301 Lark St., Albany

We’ve been wolfing down Justin’s signature jerk chicken, ropa vieja and spicy corn cakes for so long now that it’s easy to forget that the rest of the menu is constantly, seasonally refreshed and updated with some of the most inventive cuisine around. Cajun, Caribbean, Southwestern, contemporary American—and a pretty damn good burger, too.

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Best Old American

Jack’s Oyster House
42 State St., Albany

Yes, there’s an up-to-date menu alongside the old classics, but with that cavernous dining room and skillful sense of organization, you’re whisked back in time to when service and food really mattered. Chef Dale Miller has an unrivaled imagination and technique to match.

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Best Greek

The Chariot
5180 Western Ave., Guilderland

Basically, we’ve got two Greek restaurants—this one and the runner-up, A Taste of Greece on Lark Street—plus a couple of items on diner menus here and there. But the Chariot has been at it long enough to offer surefire fancy fare; in particular, the lamb dishes are superb. Try the runner-up for something more casual.

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Best Italian (Northern)

Café Capriccio
49 Grand St., Albany

Don’t ever change.

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Best Italian (Family)

Ferrari’s Ristorante
1254 Congress St., Schenectady

It’s a recent discovery for us, but Schenectady has known this place for nearly 30 years. You couldn’t be made to feel more welcome. Portions are huge. The parmigiana is outstanding. Homemade pasta is available. The chianti was probably bottled last week.

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Best Italian (The Family)

Caffé Italia

662 Central Ave., Albany

Maybe it’s just the look of the place. Outstanding food in an atmosphere possessing that little touch of formality that tells you it’s best to show respect. Veal Luciana—a beautiful thing.

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Best Italian (Vegetarian)

Antipasto’s
1028 Route 146 (Clifton Park Plaza), Clifton Park

Specialty salads, fancifully named pizzas, pasta dishes—you’ll hardly notice that meat doesn’t figure in. The menu gets fanciful with items like the Thos. Jefferson (baked polenta with portobellos), matched by a great list of wines and beers.

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Best Middle Eastern

Ali Baba
2243 15th St., Troy

The durum (wrapped) kabob is the best meal value in the area—and the finest gyro, too. The cold appetizer assortment with puffy lavash bread is a meal in itself. Turkish fare that’s terrific, in an unprepossessing storefront near RPI.

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Best Mexican

El Mariachi
62 Central Ave., Albany

We’re way beyond the tacos-and-burritos thing and into authentic Mexican dishes passed down via family recipes. From a pungent mole to a piquant red sauce, El Mariachi’s flavors will keep your lips dancing.

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Best Southwestern

Jake’s Round-Up
23 Main St., South Glens Falls

Actually, this place is insane, but in a cheerful, too-much-sarsaparilla way. A witty and inventive menu that includes Southwestern fare such as Texas barbecue and Mexican burritos. It’s ethnic grandma comfort food.

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Best Brunch

Justin’s
301 Lark St., Albany

Justin’s take on brunch is a perfect blend of the adventurous and the traditional: Not so nouvelle as to be unrecognizeable—conservative brunchers can get eggs Benedict, pancakes and the like—but not so predictable as to be interchangeable with any of the six billion other places offering brunch. Honestly, the near-religious experience of Justin’s casted hash and eggs is as close to church as some of us have come in a month of Sundays.

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Best Greasy spoon

Buttery Restaurant
111 Washington Ave., Albany

If grease is what you’re craving, grease is what it’s got . . . but such very tasty grease. When only a big side order of fries will satisfy us, the Buttery is where we head. Whether you’re ordering a grilled cheese sandwich, the Friday fish fry special, a big, juicy burger or an old-fashioned milk shake, this place always seems to hit the spot.

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Best Sandwich (Old School)

Andy & Sons
256 Delaware Ave., Albany

We’ve got just two words for you: Vinnie’s Choice. We don’t know who Vinnie is or what he had to choose from, but we’d like to commend him on a job well done: Fresh mozzarella, soprasetta and roasted peppers, all in a sandwich as big as your thigh—man, it’s good. Of course, there are plenty of other options, if for some reason you don’t trust Vinnie implicitly, as we do. There are cold sandwiches packed with flavorful dried meats and fresh cheeses, hot favorites like meatball and homemade sausage, and tons of sides and salads to fill out the plate. We’d go on at length, but it’s starting to approach lunchtime, and Andy & Sons is just down the road.

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Best Sandwich (New School)

Debbie’s Kitchen
456 Madison Ave., Albany

She wins nearly every year, but it’s not our fault. Will someone else please make a sandwich to rival Debbie’s? We’re getting embarrassed. She puts things together between bread that nobody else would ever imagine putting together, and it comes out tasting like manna from heaven. As for bread, you choose your own, and let us make a suggestion: Marble rye is the biggest, and you need big bread to control the humongous amount of ingredients that go into a Debbie’s sandwich. Even though you’ll have no room for it, you simply must have dessert—her brownies, cookies, cakes and the like are the bomb.

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Best Soft Ice Cream

Lickety Split
589 Columbia Turnpike, East Greenbush

This category has our largest street team, with ice-cream testers traveling far and wide to pick the cream of the crop (pun intended). No stranger to this award, East Greenbush’s Lickety Split won again.

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Best Lunchtime Vendor

The Healthy Café
Capitol Park, Albany

The Capitol stands down the street from Metroland’s offices, and lining the building’s back lawn on a weekday lunch hour are a slew of trucks serving food for the masses. There’s pizza, tacos, gyros and the like—whatever your little heart desires. But if you desire your little heart to stay healthy, we suggest you stop at the Healthy Café. It serves a wide assortment of tasty sandwiches and salads that are better than most.

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Best Place Most Likely to Nurture the Next Hemingway

Red Dot
321 Warren St., Hudson

Terrific burgers. Fish and chips. Continental specials. And those Belgian frites. If those aren’t arresting enough, it has a great, handsome bar and an atmosphere that will set the creative juices flowing in the most unimaginative bureaucrat.

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Best Bread

Perreca’s
33 N. Jay St., Schenectady

At five o’clock in the morning those crusty loaves start to emerge from the coal-fired ovens. By 9 AM, the last of the day’s bread passes from oven to shelf, so you’ll want to get to the tiny storefront early enough to snap up a still-warm loaf or two. Bread never tasted better.

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Best wings

Bayou Café
79 N. Pearl St., Albany

This is a category to start fights, we know it. The competition is fierce and the rules, frankly, are vague. But, for us, it comes to one word: pepper. Yes, the Bayou Café’s wings are appropriately seasoned with pepper, not just salt and vinegar. OK, and now that we’ve got your ear with that one word, here are a bunch of others: The wings also are the perfect size, with the perfect amount of meat on the bone—too little, you feel like carrion; too much, like Henry VIII. And they’re the perfect crispness. They’ve got good crunch, but aren’t desiccated; and they’re slathered with a perfectly robust and flavorful sauce that tastes as if it’s prepared, not merely unbottled.

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Best Pizza

Paesan’s
289 Ontario St, Albany

A taste of New York City pizza right here in Albany is what you get when you order from Paesan’s. This is a thin-crust-lover’s paradise. A first-time honoree, Paesan’s won us over with its quick delivery, garlic knots and
traditional-style pies. In this case, it’s all in the sauce.

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Smith’s Tavern
112 Maple Ave., Voorheesville

You can order a to-go pie, travel and reheat it, and the crust still tastes firm and great. Inventive toppings and cheerful service earn extra points.

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Wood you like some pizza: DeFazio's. Photo byTEri Currie

DeFazio’s
255 Fourth St., Troy

It’s mainly about crust, really, and these are wood-fired and taste just right for the gourmet toppings that are liberally applied.

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Fireside Pizzeria
1631 Eastern Parkway, Schenectady

Big sheets of pizza are a specialty at the Fireside, and it’s got that crucial ratio of cheese to toppings conquered. Great for takeout, but try to eat in—it’s a fun place with a family spirit.

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BEFF’s
15 Watervliet Ave., Albany
367-371 Delaware Ave., Delmar

Dough, sauce, cheese, maybe a topping or two—pizza, right? Wrong! Pizza is a gift from the gods and should be admired like a work of art. If you think pizza is an art form, then go to the pizza Louvre, either location—but we prefer outdoors in the parking lot in Delmar. Fresh ingredients, great crust, and if you can think of a topping, you can get it. Must-tries are the Buffalo wing pie and the shrimp scampi pie.

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Best Cheap Eats

Esperanto
6½ Caroline St., Saratoga Springs

Burritos, curries, wraps, stews, pizza slices and the famous “doughboy,” a meal in itself. Stop in for a quick bite, and suddenly you’re having a full-fledged meal.

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Best Deli

Gershon’s
1600 Union St., Schenectady

Such an institution! You want a type of sandwich? It’s probably on the menu. The turkey with chopped liver is to die for. And you’ll find Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray.

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Alatta late: Uncommon Grounds. Photo by Andrea Fischman.

Best Coffee Bar

Uncommon Grounds
402 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs

Nobody could understand the pain I felt . . . Yeah, I’m having a cuppa this Colombian bean, they roast it here . . . least of all Margaret. When she left me . . . Oh, yeah, the hard drive on my old one tanked, so I got this one with a DVD player . . . for that actor, I began to get in touch with feelings I thought I’d lost . . .

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Best Coffeehouse

Caffe Lena
47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs

It’s really the only coffeehouse, but it does serve good coffee during concerts by both revered and up-and-coming troubadours. A shot of Fernet-Branca in mine, please.

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Best Burger

Oliver’s Café
181 Freeman’s Bridge Road, Glenville

Made fresh, then offered in its pristine state or jazzed up with the chef’s latest twist. We’ve been enjoying it far too often with no disappointment, and the hand-cut fries don’t hurt.

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Best Breakfast

Country Corner
25 Church St., Saratoga Springs

It’s an unassuming little place, but the Country Corner has become one of Saratoga’s most popular breakfast joints. Unless you visit at an off-peak time, you’ll probably be waiting for a table. It’s the diner’s homemade charm that has won it so many loyal fans—the selection of homemade jams alone is worth the wait to get in. The fruit-filled pancakes are among the best we’ve ever had, and we also recommend the tasty potato pancakes, topped with applesauce or sour cream.

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Best Crepes

Ravenous
21 Phila St., Saratoga Springs

OK, so there may be no other place around dedicated solely to the thin, stuffed pancakes known as crepes, but Saratoga’s Ravenous deserves its own category. The worst thing about eating here is having to decide between the sweet and the savory crepes. The sweet crepes—filled with fruit or more hedonistic items like Nutella and caramel—make for a gratifying desert or a luxurious breakfast, while the savory crepes satisfy as a meal. Our favorite savory crepe—the California special—combines eggs, avocado and tomato to delicious effect.

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Best Ice Cream

Tollgate
1569 New Scotland Road, Slingerlands

Here's the scoop: Tollgate. Photo by Joe Putrock

Whenever locals seriously discuss the highest-quality ice cream in town, the inevitable mention of the Tollgate is met with nods of agreement. Its reputation is deserved. In addition to all the traditional flavors, it features concoctions that are creative without straying from the restaurant’s homey, authentically old-fashioned atmosphere (its delightful peanut butter and jelly, complete with jelly swirls and peanut clusters, tastes suspiciously like the sandwich). The Tollgate has not only the richest and creamiest ice cream in the area, but also the cheapest: a mountainous cone costs $2 including tax, a deal you just can’t get at Häagen-Dazs.

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Best Gelato

Aromi d’Italia
2050 Western Ave., Guilderland

“What the hell is ‘gelato’ anyway?” is what most asked when this category was brought up. In short, it’s Italian for ice cream—but it’s got only half the calories, and it’s much creamier. How do they do it? To answer that, head on down to Aromi d’Italia, where you’ll find a wealth of knowledge about this summertime favorite. More than 24 flavors to choose from, including melon, kiwi, tiramisù and white chocolate mousse.

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Best Children’s Menu

Scallions
404 Broadway, Saratoga Springs

How nice to bring the kids to a place where their dining options aren’t limited to hot dogs and chicken fingers. Fresh fruit and whole grains are prominently featured, but the neat thing is that everything is presented in a fun way that kids will enjoy. They’ll never even know that they’re eating healthy. Bonus points for the treasure chest from which kids can pick a prize when they leave, providing parents with a built-in incentive builder for good behavior.

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Best Outdoor Dining

Nicole’s Bistro at Quackenbush House
Clinton Avenue and Broadway, Albany

A perennial winner, Nicole’s boasts the most serenely lovely patio dining in the region—with highway overpasses and loud bars all around it, at that. But you wouldn’t notice those anyway, between soaking in the splendor of your immediate surroundings and savoring the delightfully inventive continental cuisine of Chef Daniel Smith.

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Best Outdoor Drinking

Adelphi Hotel
365 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs

Wandering through the Rose Room, a perfect summer veranda by the courtyard of the Adelphi Hotel, you feels like you’ve arrived in a luxurious, secret garden. Small tables and chairs set in intimate groupings, along with Adirondack chairs and a tropical forest of flowering plants, practically put you into Renoir’s Le Moulin de la Galette. A Cafe Adelphi (Vandermint, amaretto, coffee and whipped cream) and a slice of delicious, currant-adorned lemon cheesecake; a frozen peach daiquiri; or a Kir Royale (champagne and crème de cassis), sipped underneath a canopy of stars, will fill you with the feeling of a fantasy come true.

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Best Late-Night Dining

Justin’s
301 Lark St., Albany

Not only can you find interesting conversation and people-watching during the hours after most restaurants close their kitchens, you can also find excellent food served right up until 1 AM. Only the entrée section of the menu shuts down after 10 PM or so; you can still order off the extensive appetizer listing or the café menu, which features great sandwiches, salads, quesadillas and even a “café” version of the restaurant’s signature ropa vieja.

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Best Beer Selection

Man of Kent
4448 Route 7, Hoosick Falls

OK, beer snobs, bring your discerning palates to this English pub tucked away alongside Route 7 on your way to Vermont. Beyond the usual fare of Newcastle and Harp, Bass and Boddington’s, you’ll find a trove of respectable stouts and lagers, ales and porters. Enjoy your fine brew with a meal from the hearty, oh-so-English pub menu.

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Best Bagels

Coffee Planet Coffeehouse & Cafe

100 Milton Ave. (Route 50), Ballston Spa

This sweet little coffeehouse is becoming Ballston Spa’s hottest place to enjoy a cup of java and a bagel. The bagels are crunchy on the outside, tender in the midsection. The cinnamon-raisin doesn’t go overboard on sweetness, and the onion and seeded bagels come well supplied. Having one toasted is doubly satisfying. Add Coffee Planet’s plain, salmon, olive or veggie cream cheese—made fresh most mornings—and a Mind Streamer, and you’re off to the Happy Noshing Grounds.

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Best-Kept Secret

Arlington House

3532 Route 43, West Sand Lake

Classic American fare with terrific fusion dishes worked into the mix. Sleepy Sand Lake once was a bustling stagecoach stop, and this former hotel was a destination. Now you should go there for the seafood, the ambience and the relaxation.

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Best Restaurant Worth a Drive

The Prospect at Scribner Hollow Lodge

Route 23A, Hunter

It’s only a hour from Thruway exit 23, and you can enjoy an excellent dinner while gazing at Hunter Mountain’s ski-shorn face. The food is first-class; the wine list is amazing. Then visit the grotto for an intimate swim.

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Best Wine List

Friends Lake Inn
Friends Lake Road, Chestertown

It’s not just our opinion: Wine Spectator magazine gives this restaurant a Grand Award, putting it in the elite company of only 86 other restaurants in the world. As one critic put it, the list is an “oenophile’s atlas of good sipping . . . a dream book, a chance to fantasize over those vintages you’ll never afford and to enjoy the surprising goodness of the ones you can.”

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Best Wine by the Glass

The Ginger Man
234 Western Ave., Albany

Are you good at choosing wine? Here’s where to take a date so that you can really show off. Are you new at this stuff? Here’s where you go to learn about it. Sample more than 30 wines by the glass (and you’ve got more than 160 to choose from by the bottle).

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Best Wine Prices

Russo’s Dugout

43 Main St., South Glens Falls

Pat Russo has been collecting wine since Hector was a pup, and it awaits you in a capacious cellar where bargains abound. Sports memorabilia decorates the walls, Italian fare graces your plate, and you’ll sip wine you never thought you could afford.

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Best Desserts

Mrs. London’s
464 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs

Night and Day, you are the one—in this case, a rich confection of chocolate mousse, white and dark, fashioned into a gorgeous torte. Also a great place to enjoy a pot of tea while watching the downtown Broadway parade.

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Best Diner

Miss Albany Diner
893 Broadway, Albany

It makes its own hash, for starters, and MAD Irish Toast (a weekend brunch specialty), with its pecan cream cheese filling and whisky-soaked butterscotch sauce, is out of this world. Best of all, it’s an old-fashioned railroad-car diner where everyone seems to know everyone else.

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Best Power Lunch

Jack’s Oyster House
42 State St., Albany

The power is in Albany, and the power in Albany is downtown, and Jack’s is ideally situated. The old-fashioned dining room affords plenty of opportunity to eavesdrop. Don’t overlook the terrific burgers and the mouthwatering calf’s liver.

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Best Brew Pub

Malt River Brewing Company
Latham Circle Mall, Latham

Davidson Brothers Restaurant & Brewery
184 Glen St., Glens Falls

After swilling enough handcrafted beers to knock an Irishman off his barstool, we have a tie. Brewmaster Gary “Goose” Goslin is back at Malt River after a four-year hiatus, and you can sure taste it in the beers. His signature brew, Olde Albany Pale Ale, touches the traditional English pale ale with something very unique, a great finish on the tongue. The other brews are all also very good, most of all the Oatmeal Stout. Welcome back, Goose. Meanwhile, up north, the brews that come out of Davidson Brothers’ taps are truly labors of passion; everybody who works there is knowledgeable about the brewing process and has actually brewed his or her own. Since love goes in (as well as some great grains and malts), quality comes out. Cheers!

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Readers Poll Results:

Best American

  1. Hungry Horseman
  2. Jack’s Oyster House

Best Italian

  1. Carmine’s
  2. Lombardo’s

Best French/
Continental

  1. Ferrandi’s
  2. Chez Sophie

Best Seafood

  1. Real Seafood
  2. Red Lobster

Best Chinese

  1. Plum Blossom
  2. Ichiban

Best Japanese/Sushi

  1. Ichiban
  2. Hiro’s

Best Vietnamese/Thai

  1. My Linh
  2. Van’s

Best Mexican/
Southwestern

  1. El Loco
  2. El Mariachi (tie)
  3. Garcia’s

Best Southern/Soul Food

  1. Hattie’s
  2. Clayton’s

Best Caribbean

  1. Clayton’s

Best Indian/Pakistani

  1. Shalimar
  2. Sitar

Best Vegetarian

  1. Shades of Green
  2. Antipasto’s

Best Steakhouse

  1. Outback
  2. Barnsider

Best Burger

  1. Sutter’s
  2. Beff’s & Jack’s Drive In (tie)

Best Wings

  1. Ale House
  2. Wings Over Albany

Best Pizza

  1. I Love NY Pizza
  2. Pizza Hut

Best Diner

  1. 76 Diner
  2. Metro 20

Best Brunch

  1. Hungry Horseman
  2. Gideon Putnam

Best Bagels

  1. Bruegger’s
  2. Uncommon Grounds

Best Sandwiches/Subs

  1. BA’s Deli
  2. Subway
  3. Debbie’s Kitchen

Best Ice Cream

  1. Ben & Jerry’s
  2. Kurver Kreme

Best Coffee

  1. Dunkin Donuts
  2. Starbucks

Best Outdoor Dining

  1. Troy Pub & Brewery
  2. Van Dyck (tie)
  3. Jumpin’ Jack’s

Best Brew Pub

  1. Troy Pub & Brewery
  2. Big House

Best Martini

  1. 9 Maple Ave.
  2. Alibis (tie)

Best Restaurant to Take the Kids

  1. McDonald’s
  2. Chuck E. Cheese

Best Place to Eat at 3AM

  1. Denny’s
  2. Bob’s Diner
  3. 76 Diner

Best Bakery

  1. Bella Napoli
  2. Vanilla Bean

Best Produce

  1. Price Chopper
  2. Hannaford

Best BBQ

  1. Smokey Bones
  2. PJ’s BBQ



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