A Foodie’s Guide to the Best Places to Eat in New York’s Capital Region

The cat is finally out of the bag. When I went to school at Siena, I was the kid that always ventured out to find new places to eat. I was always up for an excuse to get away from crappy dining hall food. I ended up going to way more than just this list (sorry bank account). But these are the no-fail restaurants that your stomachs with thank me for and your bank accounts will hate me for.

Breakfast/Brunch

Iron Gate Café

Location: 182 Washington Ave, Albany, NY

You haven’t met brunch until you met Iron Gate Cafe. I’ve never posted so many Instagram pictures of the same exact sandwich. Although Iron Gate Café has many great options, I always get a Turkey B.L.A.T. (bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato) with home fries. It’s a no-fail order but one day I hope to get risky enough to try their cinnamon roll pancakes… it just screams heavenly. If you go to any of the places on this list visit this one.

(Pictures from their Instagram)

Uncommon Grounds

Location: 402 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY

The bagel options are limited in upstate New York. That is coming from a girl who has been forced fed many New Jersey bagels in her lifetime. If you’re from New Jersey, Long Island, or New York City, I promise these bagels are more edible than Dunkin Donuts and Bruegger’s Bagels. You won’t be disappointed.

Other brunch options to try: B-Rads, The Shop, Iron Roost, and Madison Cafe.

Lunch/Dinner

Troy’s Kitchen

Location: 77 Congress St, Troy, NY

Troy’s Kitchen definitely is the most unique restaurant on this list because of the atmosphere. Troy’s Kitchen is set up like a food court with high-quality startup restaurants. Restaurants apply to be apart of Troy Kitchen and leave the food court once they have made enough money to start their own restaurant. This means new restaurants come and go very frequently. Troy’s Kitchen also organizes events like open karaoke, dress up nights, and live jazz shows. If you’re grabbing a bite to eat with people who like options, head over to Troy’s Kitchen.

Genoa

Location: 435 Loudon Rd, Albany, NY

I went here so many times that the employees knew my order. To some, that may be embarrassing or sad but man, am so I proud. Genoa is the best place to get sandwiches… dare I say ever? Every time I would go to their shop I would try and get something new but I would always end up with a toasted Mardi Gras. If you go to Siena or in the Latham area get your butt over to this sandwich shop right now! This is what I miss the most.

Sliding Dirty- Troy, NY

Slidin’ Dirty

Location: 9 1st St, Troy, NY

In the mood for tacos but also kind of want a burger? Well, at Sliding Dirty you can have it both! The restaurant is set up so that you can try a little of everything… a perfect restaurant for someone as indecisive as me. I’m a big fan of the simple sliders but they also have incredible mac and cheese bites. According to my brother, they also have a great selection of craft beer. A win-win.

Crave Burgers and Frozen Yogurt

Location: 217 Western Ave, Albany, NY

Hungover and want delicious, greasy food? Well, Crave Burger is here to serve your hungover dreams properly. This incredibly rich burger will have you full way past lunch and dinner. They have a variety of different burgers that will have you wanting it all. No worries, you can always come back for more. I highly recommend their fries as well as their burgers.

Garlic Lovers

Location: 235 N Greenbush Rd # 1, Troy, NY

This little hole in the wall will make you question everything. If you love Mediterranean food then this is the perfect spot for you. Everything they have is incredible but their calamari is one of my favorites. Try your hardest not to fill up on the pita bread before dinner because their main meals are something you’ll dream about.

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Crisp

Location: 594 New Loudon Rd, Latham, NY

I was a little hesitant about putting this on my list because most Siena college kids are sick of escaping to Crisp. However, their potato salad and complimentary mini red velvet cupcakes have earned a place in my heart. I would always get the Serra Nevada sandwich with potato salad.

Dinosaur Barbecue 

Location: 377 River St, Troy, NY

Whenever Rob and I went out to dinner, we would most likely end up at Dinosaur Barbecue. There is something about smoked food and barbecue sauce that can fix any bad grade or pesky assignment. They also do pick up for your convenience! Try the pulled pork and mash potatoes… you can thank me later!

Dessert

Cheesecake Machismo

Location: 293 Hamilton St, Albany, NY

All I wanted for my college graduation was a Green Tea slice from Cheesecake Machismo. I lucked out and received a monster cake (a cheesecake with 12-16 different cheesecake slices). After trying this cheesecake, you’ll never think Cheesecake Factory is good. Each slice is $6 and are all incredible. Plus, the little shop is adorable with little action figures decorating the walls.

(Pictures from their Instagram)

Cider Belly

Location: 25 N Pearl St, Albany, NY

I get my sweet-tooth from my mother. If you ever met my mother she is this tiny little woman who loves sweets. Her biggest weakness is ice cream and donuts. If you’re a big donut fan like her, I would rush over to Cider Belly and try their fresh donuts. They pride themselves on making wholesome donuts that are always fresh and not preserved. If you’re lucky, they’ll sneak in an extra donut later. Make sure you check their website though because they have the worst hours ever.

Emack and Bolio’s

Location: 366 Delaware Ave, Albany, NY

I know, I know, I know. This is a chain but hear me out. Coming from Connecticut, I had never been to an Emack and Bolio so I get to include it on my list. (I’m stubborn. I know). If you’re like me and have never heard of Emack and Bolio’s, this is the king of all ice cream cones. They have any cone you’ve ever dreamed of. Fruitloop, cocoa pebbles, s’mores… can you hear my stomach grumbling? If the cones aren’t enough to make you go then you need to try their incredible rich and cream ice cream.

(Pictures from their Instagram)

The Cookie Factory

Location: 520 Congress St, Troy, NY

Luckily for me, I realized a few months ago that I can actually purchase my favorite cookies right in Connecticut (thank God). These fudge fancies are some of the best cookies you’ll ever have and they’re filling enough for you to have one and be done. If you’re trying to celebrate something special the Cookie Factory also makes an extensive line of cakes and goodies for you to choose from. If you’re craving a good, Italian cookie the Cookie Factory is calling your name.

Grab a Good Drink

Nine Pin

Location: 929 Broadway, Albany, NY

Nine Pin is located in the heart of Albany and it tastes like the nectar from above. Two of my friends and I wandered to Nine Pin after we heard they were making a tequila cider. Two of my favorite things in one? Count me in. Be on the lookout for their unique ciders and grab a bite to eat.

Ama Cocina

Location: 4 Sheridan Ave, Albany, NY

I have this sick love for tequila. Ama Cocina offers every tequila your heart desires alongside incredible margaritas. If you’re obsessed with ice drink, check out this place and order a bunch of their appetizers. No worries, if tequila has done you dirty in the past there is always beer.

Brown Brewing Co and Druthers are also great options for drinking craft beer. Personally, I don’t drink beer but my brother is a brewer and loves both of these places. Plus, Druthers has mac and cheese that will warm your soul.

Have you been to any of these places or been to any other restaurants in the capital region? Let me know in the comments down below.

As always,

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What to Wear to a Horse Race

Hello darling! This past weekend, my college hosted a 100 days post graduation event at the Saratoga Race Track. I know it sounds insanely early, but our class needed it. It was so refreshing hearing how well people are already doing and how eager they are to take on life.

For those who have never been to a horse race, it is quite an experience. The pure joy people get just by placing bets as low as $1 is phenomenal. If you’re like one of my friends you may win $80-$300 in a day or if you’re like me you’ll win $5. Regardless how much you win, it’s a blast.

My first time going was last year and I was thrilled that I was able to go again. This time I didn’t wear a floppy hat but instead a cute dress from Loft and this fun little necklace from J.Crew. (The necklace is on sale online for $24.55, but I purchased it for $14.99. Check the outlet store for a cheaper price).

What to bring: sunscreen, sunglasses, alcohol (no glass bottles are allowed), water, chair, and lunch. 

You’re going to be out in the sun so make sure you hydrate and keep your skin protected! Alcohol is allowed to be brought in coolers but glass is prohibited. Most people go to the track very early and claim a table or area with chairs/table clothes. If you want a good spot, get there very early and bring a few chairs. You’ll thank yourself later in the day. 

Saratoga Track

Tip: Go for lighter colors because it will keep you cool. Add a bright color accessory if you think your outfit is too dull. 

I made the mistake of wearing a navy dress last year and was seriously regretting it. I was incredibly happy in this light colored dress. Plus, I was able to wear my fun new necklace! Rob kept telling me that it looked like a fishing lure… oh well, I like it!

Tip: Wear comfortable shoes.

There is a solid 50% girls who wear wedges/heels and another 50% who wear flats/sandals. I definitely recommend going for the comfier option because you’ll be on your feet most of they day placing bets or watching the actual race. The shoes I’m wearing might be super weird looking but oh-my-god nothing is comfier than these sandals. I talked about them two years ago and still am madly in love with them.

Saratoga TrackSaratoga Track

Tip: Wear something that is lightweight and you can easily move in.

Luckily for me, this adorable dress has a little peep hole in the back of the dress. The fun dress, romper, or skirt might be a great idea at the time but if you’re constantly pulling it down or having to readjust it you’re going to have a bad time at the track. Plus, don’t you want to focus that time on actually winning some mulah? Go for the option that you’re comfiest in. 

Tip: Saratoga hotels are super expensive. Try staying in a neighboring city. 

We actually bought our hotel super late so we weren’t able to get a hotel closer to Saratoga. I would recommend Malta or Ballston Spa. We ended up staying in the Hilton in Albany. We really enjoyed it mainly because we were able to eat brunch at Iron Gate. The Uber ride is about $47 to Saratoga, but we actually lucked out with one of our friends driving there. Definitely not that bad considering you’d save $100-$300 by staying further away.

Have you ever been to the track? Do you have any betting tricks up your sleeve? Let me know in the comments down below.

As always,

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Saratoga Race Track

Hello darlings! This past weekend, I went to the Saratoga Race Track with some of my college friends. It was my first time ever going to a horse race and I thought it was such a thrilling experience.

We arrived to the track around 11 and made a big circle out of lawn chairs, coolers, and my lovely Siena blanket (I can’t go anywhere without that thing). After we set up shop, we decided to walk around and check out where everything is. In a weird way, it almost looks like it was set up like a classier warp tour. There are all these random concession stands everywhere and people scattered about.

While we were walking around, we got to see some jockeys walk by with their horses. I was shocked how close you could get to them. At other sporting events, you would be triple the length away from them and have to spend oodles of money in order to get that close.

 

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I decided to go all out and get a hat for the track. Some women wore these crazy elaborate hats that could be spotted from a mile away. Clearly, they loved going to the track. I was actually really surprised that not many women wore hats. I’m still glad I spent a solid $12 at Target on my hat.

As for the dress, I decided to get this navy, lace dress. Abercrombie and Fitch is actually having a sale on the dress. It’s $24, in stores, and it is such an easy dress to just throw on and do whatever in it. I would love wearing this dress to brunch or even to date night with some red heels. I’m in love with the lace detailing and the cut out on the back. I was actually wishing I was going to get a tan on my back from the weird cutout. Unfortunately, the day we went was a little cloudy. Maybe next time.

The earrings are from J.Crew and I fall head over heels for them every time I wear them. I think they add just the perfect about of color to this otherwise neutral outfit.

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Micky, Courtney, Sam, and I decided to all get matching camp chairs at Walmart. We want to iron patches all over them.

At the end of the day, I won $4 and lost about $10. The whole time I was there I was thinking about the betting as if I was at a concert. You would normally pay $60+ for a good concert. I only made dollar bets, but if I wanted to get risky I could have tried betting $10-$15. There were 11 races and I bet on 8 of them. I loved picking which horse was going to win. Trust me, it’s exciting when your horse actually wins.

As for my first time betting on something, I say it was a marvelous time. Have you ever went to a horse race? What is your opinion on horse races?

As always,

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Chowderfest 2016

Hello darlings! This past weekend, I went to Chowderfest in Saratoga with my brother, his girlfriend, Robert, and his friend from home. For those who don’t know what Chowderfest is, it’s an annual chowder competition. Restaurants in Saratoga compete to win the title of best chowder. This year, there were 80 competitors. The way it works is you run around Saratoga, pay a dollar for the chowder, then a large man has to roll you to your car because you’re so full. Okay, so maybe not the last one, but you get the point. My belly ended up being filled up with tons and tons of chowder… I’m not complaining. Although they were all good, I had some favorites…

We went to Durthers first. It was a clear winner in my book. There was everything imaginable inside the chowder. Pulled pork, clams, corn, croutons, cheese, and probably a few more things I’m forgetting to name. We loved it so much we actually went back and bought another before we left.


After Druthers, we hopped on the next line to get The Stadium Cafe’s chowder. Their chowder was made with smoked apple cheddar, chicken, and prosciutto. I really liked this one as well. They gave you little oyster crackers to go with it.

We then crossed the street to get chipotle crumbled chowder at Boca Bistro. There was a good amount of oysters in the chowder, which was different from all the other chowders. Next to Boca Bistro, was a little juice bar offering free juice samples. They were interesting to say the least… I’m more of a smoothie/water girl myself.

We then turned the corner and went to get a ruben chowder at Bailey’s Cafe. The line moved pretty slow compared to the other three. The line was moving so slow that there was even a window in the tent that was offering beer. This was probably my least favorite chowder. The ratio of ruben to chowder was a little off in my cup. I got a giant chunk of ruben that I gladly gave to my brother.

Across the street was Park Side Eatery that was serving a tequila chowder with cactus in it. Definitely the most creative chowder at Chowderfest. I couldn’t taste the tequila in the chowder, but I did get a little cactus in my bowl. There was also big chucks of chicken in it, which was fantastic addition to the chowder. However, there wasn’t much flavor so I’d rate this second to last but ranks first in portion and creativity.

My friends brought me a Seven Horse chowder that was really creamy. I would love to tell you what was in it, but I really have no idea. All I know was that it was delicious.

We then went up the street more and got a cup from Hatties. They had corn bread chowder which consisted of a soupy chowder with a little nugget of corn bread. This one had a lot of flavor. I would rate Hattie’s chowder as a little above average… I think third on my list.

 

So, I’m not a huge fan on buffalo sauce. I’m just a wimp with spices, I guess. I feel like my roommate, Courtney, is trying to bring me to the dark side. Aside from that, we waited in line at Dangos for almost an hour to get their chicken wing chowder. It was seasoned with buffalo sauce, but I LOVED it. Four days later and I’m still thinking about it.


Overall, Chowderfest was a lovely time. My rankings based on chowder we tried:

  1. Druthers
  2. Dangos
  3. Hatties
  4. The Stadium Cafe
  5. Seven Horse
  6. Park Side Eatery
  7. Bailey’s Cafe

I’m already excited for next year to see what new kinds they’ll all make. It was very cold so if you decide to ever go to Chowderfest at Saratoga you might want to read my article on HerCampus on how to stay warm.

The funny part was that only one of the chowders we had won (Druthers). Here are the contestants that won:

People’s Choice: Gaffneys Restaurant, Southwest Shrimp & Grilled Corn Chowder with a Crab Popper Wonton
People’s Choice under 1,000 bowls: Dock Browns Lakeside Tavern, Shrimp Corn Chowder
Most Chowder Served: Druthers, Southwest Chowder
Best On Broadway: Thirsty Owl Outlet and Wine Garden
Best Off Broadway: West Side Stadium, Seafood Chowder with Clams, Crab, Corn, Potato topped with Fried Cornbread Stick
Best Non Downtown: Dock Browns Lakeside Tavern, Shrimp Corn Chowder
Best Newcomer: Carson’s Woodside Tavern, Cheesy Chicken Quesadilla Soup
Best Dessert Chowder: TC Paris, Mini Tirami-sea Cupcake

Next year I’ll just have to try Gaffneys!

I hope this post didn’t make you too hungry! Do you like Chowder? Let me know in the comments if this made your mouth water a little bit!

As always,

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