Food and Drink
TGI Friday’s, Various Locations
With a list of appetizers that will make your mouth water, TGI Friday’s offers the best meal before your meal. The sesame Jack chicken strips are their hottest seller, but the appetizer menu also features crispy green bean fries, Zen chicken pot stickers and fried mac and cheese, all of which are reasonably priced. Mixed with a great atmosphere and delicious entrees and desserts, this restaurant helps make any day feel like Friday.
3. The Cheesecake Factory
Bruegger’s Bagels, Various Locations
A winner three years in a row, Bruegger’s Bagels first location was in Troy 25 years ago and has since expanded to approximately 269 locations all over the country. Offering kettle-boiled bagels in a number of flavors and specialty cream cheeses to go along, you’ll want to try every combination. Offering a whole menu of sandwiches as well, these bagels aren’t just for breakfast anymore.
2. Panera Bread
3. Uncommon Grounds Coffee & Bagels
Bella Napoli Italian American Bakery, Latham & Troy
As the repeat winner for best bakery for the fifth year, the Mainella family keeps their display cases stocked at all times, especially of canolis, their most popular item. Also featuring Italian breads and rolls, cookies, cakes and more, it’s no wonder that Bella Napoli goes through 15,000 pounds of flour a week! Visit soon, but be sure to pace yourself with these authentic confections straight from the Old Country.
2. Zachary’s Pastry Shoppe
3. Schuyler Bakery
Best Beer Selection
Mahar’s Public Bar, Albany
If you love beers from around the world then Mahar’s is the place for you. With cask beers, locals and imports to choose from, as well as a global beer tour, this bar will turn even the most inexperienced drinker into a pro. You can drink at ease with bartenders who know their stuff and a relaxed atmosphere that’s focused purely on the beer.
2. Old Chicago
3. Albany Pump Station
Best Birthday Cakes
Hannaford Supermarkets, Various Locations
Whether you’re celebrating your 4th birthday or your 40th, you want a cake that’s both delicious and festive. Hannaford Supermarkets offer a selection of theme cakes (as well as personalization) so you get exactly what you want on your special day. Pick your colors, cake flavor and frosting and don’t forget to make a wish!
2. Price Chopper
3. Bella Napoli Italian American Bakery
Nicole’s Bistro, Albany
Combining the best of French and American cuisine, Nicole’s Bistro has been satisfying customers since 1985. Located in the historic Quackenbush House, diners looking for a taste of Europe are saying “Oui, Oui!” to traditional Parisian dishes. Nicole’s also offers homemade desserts, specialty coffees and malts that will have you picturing yourself on the banks of the Seine.
2. Vin Santo Tapas & Wine Bar
3. Cella Bistro
Best Dining on a Budget
Best Lunch Spot
Panera Bread, Various Locations
With an assortment of oven-fresh artisan and specialty breads, salads, soups and desserts, it’s obvious why Panera was a multi-category winner. A carb-lover’s dream, the breads are great on their unique sandwiches, dipped in soup or perfect on their own. A hip place for locals to meet friends for a bite to eat, Panera offers something for everyone.
2. Perreca’s Bakery
3. Bountiful Bread
Dining on a Budget
2. Bombers Burrito Bar
2. Johnny B’s Glenmont Diner
3. Mochablend Café
3. Gershon’s Deli & Caterers
2. Bountiful Bread
3. Illium Café
Best Late Night Dining
Denny’s, Various Locations
If a restaurant prides itself on serving breakfast 24-hours a day seven days a week, it better be good. Luckily for returning champ Denny’s (and for us) they have the best breakfast around. With signature slams, omelets and scrambles, you can get your early-morning favorites anytime. For night owls this is an added bonus, as Denny’s was also voted best late-night dining with a menu that features family-style entrees and kids choices.
3. Alexis Diner
Late Night Dining
2. 76 Diner
3. Bob’s Diner
Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Various Locations
If Red Robin knows one thing, it’s great burgers. From classic gourmet burgers to “knife and forkers” to adventuresome burgers, there’s a burger for everyone and each is served with bottomless steak fries. This kid (and wallet) friendly restaurant has been your favorite for four years and counting.
2. Five Guys Burgers and Fries
Best Chicken Wings
Wings Over Albany, Albany
With their slogan, “Home of the Wing Professionals”, this franchise aims to deliver high quality food for a fair amount of money. Claiming to serve the largest, meatiest, tastiest wings available, you seem to agree. With buffalo flavors ranging from milder sauces to those that will have you breathing fire, they also offer unique flavors like Honey Lime, Jamaican Jerk, Lemon Pepper and more. Get your napkins and your taste buds ready!
2. Scubbers Hot Wings
3. Ralph’s Tavern
Wendy’s, Various Locations
Looking for something low in fat and high in fiber that tastes great? No, we’re not talking about the latest diet craze; we’re talking about the chili at Wendy’s. Rich and meaty with only 220 calories and six grams of fat, you wouldn’t expect such a dish from a fast-food place. Order a small for a side dish or a large for a hearty meal.
2. Stewarts Shops
3. Chili’s Grill & Bar
Dunkin Donuts, Various Locations
For those who can’t get through the day without a serious caffeine fix, this franchise is the number one spot for a hot cup of java. You can thank them for keeping you awake during your 8am meeting and for your second wind while driving the kids to practice. They treat their coffee like a fine wine, ensuring the highest of quality, all while keeping America (and the Capital Region) running.
3. Stewart’s Shops
Gershon’s Deli & Caterers, Schenectady
The area’s oldest kosher-style deli, Gershon’s has been serving you for decades, and is just as good as when it first opened. Offering New York style deli favorites like triple-decker sandwiches and homemade soups, as well as a complete catering menu, this place does it all. Sit inside or out and enjoy the ambience, the staff, and of course, the food.
2. Roma Food Imports
3. Maurice’s Sandwich Shop
The Cheesecake Factory, Albany
What’s in a name? Everything when it comes to The Cheesecake Factory! This franchise originally started out strictly making quality cheesecakes, but has grown to include an extensive menu. With over 30 varieties to choose from, even the pickiest dessert-lovers will find their match.
2. Grandma’s Country Restaurant
3. Mrs. London’s Bakery
Best Early Bird Special
Alexis Diner, Troy
With over 300 menu items that feature everything from your favorite breakfast items and burgers to steak and seafood specials, Alexis Diner combines great food, friendly service and a true diner atmosphere that can’t be beat. For the early bird who can’t wait to dig in to classic American fare, this is the place for you.
2. 76 Diner
3. Topp’s Diner
Early Bird Special
2. Butcher Block Steak & Seafood
3. Lombardo’s Restaurant
Best Fine Dining
Angelo’s 677 Prime, Albany
Beautiful cherry cabinets, gorgeous hardwood and tile flooring, plush leather chairs and fine art exhibited on the walls—and that’s even before you taste the food! The intimate surroundings coupled with signature USDA Prime Aged steaks, seafood, decadent desserts and the finest wines make this restaurant the clear choice for fine dining at its best.
2. Tosca Grille
3. Jack’s Oyster House
2. Delmonico’s Italian Steakhouse
3. The Bears’ Steakhouse
Best Fish Fry
Ted’s Fish Fry, Various Locations
For over 50 years, Ted’s Fish Fry has been serving up the best that fried seafood has to offer and is in its third year in the number one spot. With three locations in the Capital Region, it is an inexpensive throwback to the days when waitresses would yell the orders out to the cooks. Along with their authentic fried fish platters, diners can get onion rings, clam rolls, chili dogs and more, and wash it down with an old-fashioned milk shake. Mmm…..mmm!
2. Bob and Ron’s Fish Fry
3. Harbor House
Best French Fries
Five Guys Burger and Fries,
Originating in Virginia and spreading to locations across the country, this chain is committed to serving only the highest quality burgers and fries. The small order of their homemade fries is the perfect side for their always fresh, never frozen ground-beef burgers, while the large portion is a meal in itself. You can get them in the traditional Five Guys style or Cajun, both sure to keep you coming back for more.
3. Red Robin Gourmet Burgers
Best Happy Hour
JT Maxie’s Bar and Grill, Albany
Looking to kick back and have a few drinks while enjoying tavern specialties and live music? JT Maxie’s is your destination of choice for the third year in a row. With a patio for live entertainment and dining in nice weather and karaoke that attracts big crowds, you’ll never know who you’ll run into while sipping your drink specials.
2. Chili’s Bar and Grill
3. The Lionheart Pub
Best Homemade Pies
Grandma’s Country Restaurant, Albany
Nothing is ever as good as Grandma used to make, as is evident with returning champ for best pies, Grandma’s Country Restaurant. With best sellers like Swiss chocolate almond and the All-American apple, whoever said you shouldn’t have pie for dinner?
2. Lakeside Farms and Cider Mill
3. FoCastle Farm Country Store
Best Hot Dog
Hot Dog Charlie’s, Various Locations
Spanning three generations, this family-run business started in Troy in 1922. Since then, their success has continued to grow, due in part to Charlie’s Famous Chili Meat Sauce, which is a secret family recipe that has yet to be duplicated. Get a dog with all the fixings and you won’t be disappointed.
2. Gus’s Hot Dogs
3. Mike’s Famous Hot Dogs
Best Ice Cream Stand
Kurver Kreme, Albany
For many, the best part of spring is when the ice cream stands re-open for the season. Nothing beats cold soft serve sitting high atop a crunchy cone. Kurver Kreme offers flavors like coffee, strawberry cheesecake, hazelnut, blueberry and more, with sherbet and low-fat yogurt for the calorie-conscious. Wonder when they will feature your favorite flavor? The efficient staff usually knows ahead of time, so give them a call.
2. Curry Freeze
3. Lickety Split
Best Kid-Friendly Dining
Friendly’s, Various Locations
Desperate for a meal that you don’t have to cook, but need someplace that you can bring the kids without being sneered at by fellow diners? Friendly’s is the place to enjoy affordable and delicious food (and ice cream) and has consistently been named best place to take the little ones. Let your kids pick out their own meals, complete with a Happy Ending sundae that should keep them satisfied, at least until you get home.
2. Red Robin Gourmet Burgers
3. Chuck E. Cheese’s
Noche Lounge, Albany
Stop sitting around in your sweats wishing you were at a swanky New York City bar, sipping the latest in cocktail creations. Put on your most stylish attire and head to Noche on Broadway. With a Manhattan-like feel, this night-spot is sure to satisfy your martini needs, set in the emerging warehouse district of downtown Albany.
2. 205 at the Holiday Inn
3. Alibi’s Martini Lounge
Best New Restaurant
Aperitivo Bistro, Schenectady
Bringing Piattini, which is Italian for “small plates”, to Schenectady, Apertivo Bistro opened six months ago and features the equivalent of Tapas, smaller portions that are meant to be shared for a light supper. Moderate prices, an impressive menu and chic metropolitan décor make it the perfect spot to stop before a night of theater at Proctors.
2. P.F. Chang’s China Bistro
3. Old Chicago
Best Outdoor Dining
The Waters Edge Lighthouse, Glenville
Open since 2005, this dining destination features a beautiful outdoor patio overlooking the Mohawk River. With a light fare and a fine dining menu, sit back and enjoy the food and the view.
2. Lanie’s Café
3. Jumpin Jack’s Drive-In
Paesan’s Pizza, Various Locations
Whether it’s during the game, while watching a movie, or as a late-night snack, pizza can be enjoyed any time of day or night. With numerous locations, Paesan’s serves up pies with all of your favorite toppings, not to mention specialty pizzas like chicken marsala and stuffed meat pie for when you are bored of the same old thing. With so many pizza places to choose from in the area, Paesan’s stands the clear winner among college students and adults alike.
2. I Love NY Pizza (Troy)
3. Fountain Restaurant
Valenti’s Pizzeria & Pub, Troy
Beff’s, Albany and Delmar (Tie)
Sometimes the most casual places are the best places. With so many great choices for pub food in the area, our readers couldn’t pick just one. Both Valenti’s Pizzeria & Pub and Beff’s offer great-tasting pub favorites that go great with a cold draft. And you can’t beat the fun comfortable atmosphere and friendly service that makes you feel like part of the family.
2. Pinhead Susan’s
3. Purple Pub
Smokey Bones Barbeque and Grill, Colonie
There’s no question that Smokey Bones knows good ribs. Hungry diners can choose from Smoked St. Louis Style Ribs, Baby Back Ribs or the 50/50 Combo. They are finger-licking good right down to the bone. The real question is, will it be a half or a full rack?
2. LT’s Grill
3. PJ’s Bar-B-Q
Best Romantic Dining
Can’t charter a private jet to France to take your date out for a romantic dinner? Join the club. So, stay local and head to Provence in Stuyvesant Plaza. This intimate and charming spot mixes the best of French and Mediterranean cuisine with an award-winning wine list. The restaurant will leave you feeling amorous, and just think of the time you saved on the commute!
2. Tosca Grille
3. Café Capriccio
Best Sports Bar
The Stadium Café, Saratoga Springs
Whether you’re there to watch the big game or to spend quality time with friends, The Stadium Café offers a family atmosphere, authentic sports memorabilia and 25 plasma and high definition projection TVs. The food is great too, with meals from salads to club sandwiches to burgers, all of which are easy to eat while keeping tabs on who has the ball.
2. Legends Sports Lounge
3. Recovery Room Sports Grill
Subway, Various Locations
With just under 30,000 franchises in 86 countries worldwide, it’s safe to say Jared isn’t the only loyal customer of Subway. Featuring fresh favorites that are only six grams of fat or less, toasted subs, as well as choices for kids, this chain is a healthy alternative to fast food that’s fit for the whole family.
2. Pellegrino Importing Co.
3. McCarroll’s The Village Butcher
Koto Japanese Steak House, Latham
Known for their authentic Japanese food ranging from raw sushi and sashimi to cooked dishes like beef teriyaki, Koto is once again winner for best sushi. Looking for an exotic and unique dining experience? You’ll love their Hibachi Grill, where chefs prepare a mouth-watering meal of fresh vegetables, choice cut meats, seafood and other delights right before your eyes.
2. Ichiban Restaurant
3. Okinawa Chinese & Japanese Cuisine
Applebee’s, Various Locations
Okinawa Chinese Japanese Cuisine, Wynantskill (Tie)
Whether you’re a busy parent with no time to cook or a lazy college student who just can’t endure another night of dining hall food, sometimes ordering take-out can be a blessing. Applebee’s Carside to Go makes it easy – you don’t even have to get out of your car! Simply call in your order then pull up to the restaurant and it will be brought to you. Craving spicy tuna rolls instead of a burger? Bring home fresh sushi or other Asian-inspired dishes from Okinawa to enjoy in the comfort of your own home.
2. Paesan’s Pizza
3. Amazing Wok
Vin Santo Tapas & Wine Bar, Latham
Answering the call for innovative and adventurous dining, Vin Santo’s offers up the Tapas style and an impressive menu ranging from fresh oysters and seared Ahi tuna to burger sliders and local and international cheese plates. Complemented by their eclectic wines from around the world, it’s the perfect place to go with a group of friends looking for great food and great company.
2. Midtown Tap & Tea Room
3. Cella Bistro
Best Troy Restaurant
Tosca Grille, Troy
Fine dining, accompanied by elegant ambience and an extensive wine list, Tosca Grille has become a destination spot. Beginning May 31 they will even feature a Jazz Night in their Victorian Ballroom every Thursday.
2. LoPorto’s Ristorante
3. Red Front Restaurant & Tavern
Best Wine List
The Wine Bar and Bistro, Albany
Nothing is better than the scent and taste of a perfectly-aged wine. At this hidden-away spot located on the increasingly hip Lark Street, the Wine Bar and Bistro is under new ownership and better than ever. With a large selection of reasonably priced wine that even the most novice wine lover could navigate through, you’ll be smelling, swirling and sipping your way through all they have to offer.
2. Wine Down Lounge
3. The Gingerman
Restaurant by cuisine
Casey’s Restaurant, Rensselaer
2. Jack’s Oyster House 3. McGuire’s Restaurant
Bayou Café, Albany & Glenville
2. Hattie’s Restaurant 3. Carolina House
Roy’s Caribbean Restaurant & Grocery, Albany
2. Kenneth’s Taste Bud 3. Lime
P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Albany
2. Plum Blossom Chinese Restaurant 3. Yip’s Chinese Restaurant
2. Nicole’s Bistro 3. Chez Sophie
BFS Restaurant, Albany
2. The Chariot 3. A Taste of Greece
Sitar Restaurant, Albany
2. Karavalli 3. New Haweli Fine Indian
Yono’s Restaurant, Albany
Ferrari’s Ristorante, Schenectady
2. Paolo Lombardi’s Ristorante 3. Villa Valenti
Koto Japanese Steak House, Albany
2. Hiro’s Japanese Restaurant 3. Ichiban
Rita’s Lebanese Café, Albany
2. Al-Baraki 3. BFS Restaurant
BFS Restaurant, Albany
2. Ali Baba Kabob House 3. Hidden Café
El Loco Mexican Café, Albany
2. El Mariachi Mexican Restaurant 3. Panchos Mexican Restaurant
Real Seafood Company, Albany
2. Red Lobster 3. Weathervane
Angelo’s 677 Prime, Albany
2. Delmonico’s Italian Steakhouse 3. The Bears’ Steakhouse
Bangkok Thai Bistro, Schenectady
2. Sushi Thai Garden 3. Sukhothai
Van’s Vietnamese Restaurant, Albany
My Linh, Albany (Tie)
2. Restaurant Saigon
Antipasto’s Vegetarian Bistro and Wine Bar, Clifton Park
2. Four Season’s Natural Food 3. Oliver’s Naturals
Restaurant by county
Angelo’s 677 Prime, Albany
2. Jack’s Oyster House
3. Café Capriccio
Carolina House, Kinderhook
2. Jackson’s Old Chatham House
White Holland House, Gloversville
2. Union Hall Inn
3. Plaza Pizza & Pasta
Basement Bistro, Earlton
2. Pegasus Restaurant
3. Greene Mountain View Inn
Raindancer Restaurant, Amsterdam
2. Crystal Bar & Restaurant
Otesaga Hotel, Cooperstown
2. Hoffman Lane Bistro and Alex & Ika (Tie)
Paolo Lombardi’s Ristorante, Wynantskill
2. Casey’s Restaurant
3. Villa Valenti
Chianti Il Ristorante, Saratoga Springs
2. Olde Bryan Inn
3. Longfellows Restaurant
Glen Sanders Mansion, Scotia
2. Cornell’s Restaurant
3. Canali’s Restaurant
George Mann Tory Tavern, Schoharie
2. Hubies Restaurant & Pizzaria
3. Parrott House
Log Jam, Lake George
2. Davidson Brothers
3. Friends Lake Inn
Best Car Wash
Hoffman’s Car Wash, Various Locations
Did someone write “Wash Me” on the side of your car? If so, it’s time to check out one of Hoffman’s 14 car wash locations in the Capital Region; there’s one practically around every corner! With over 35 years of experience, modern equipment and a well-trained staff, you know your car will be in good hands.
2. Raindancer Car Wash
3. Colonial Car Wash
Glen Sanders Mansion, Scotia
Angelo Mazzone purchased the Glen Sanders Mansion in 1988 and expanded Mansion Catering into a thriving, full-service business. Available for corporate functions and social events alike, the Mansion provides catering on site and off and nearly 85 percent of their business is weddings. “We go above and beyond what people expect when it comes to quality and service,” said Director of Marketing Cathy Gatta. “We’re event planners who are there from day one to your wedding day and will accommodate nearly any request to make your occasion special.” Gatta is proud of the recognition from their patrons.
2. Old Daley Inn Catering Co.
3. Classe Catering
Dwindling fast are the dating services where you put your fate in the hands of strangers (not to mention pay a fortune). In the past few years, online dating has become increasingly popular. The best part? You get to choose who you want to date. With everyone’s busy schedules, sitting home and perusing possible matches is a lot easier (and relaxing) than having to get dressed up for a night on the town in hopes of meeting someone, which may or may not happen! Match.com, which started in 1995 and claims that more than 200,000 people find their mate every year, is your pick for best dating service. CRL staffers weren’t surprised—they have been to a few weddings made possible by this popular online dating site.
2. It’s Just Lunch
Best Day Spa
Kimberley’s… A Day Spa, Ltd. Latham
A cosmetologist by trade, owner Kimberley Comiskey built Kimberley’s A Day Spa into a full service salon and spa with 100 employees and 20 years of service. She cites the education of her staff as the number one reason she’s successful. Before they work with a clients, the staff spend weeks and months in-house training, going above and beyond their trade-school education. “It’s great that our customers took the time to vote and thought of acknowledging us,” she said.
2. Jean Paul Spa
3. Serenity Day Spa
2. Jean Paul
3. Simply Irresistible Hair
Best Fitness Center
Curves, East Greenbush
Dedicated to providing affordable, one-stop exercise and nutritional information for women, Curves is the largest fitness franchise in the world. The comfortable and supportive environment is specially designed for women, many of whom are going to the gym for the first time. They pride themselves on providing a “doable” and fun fitness program, offering all the encouragement you need to be successful and healthy.
2. Planet Fitness
3. YMCA Guilderland
Best Men’s Hair Salon
Gregory’s Barbershop, Various Locations
With highly trained Master Barbers, you won’t get your average haircut at Gregory’s. Here, you are pampered with warm towels, hot-lather shaves and razor cuts. Sick of the gray and want a younger look? They also do color. Other services include facials, eyebrow waxing, highlighting and scalp massages. No one ever said women were the only ones who should enjoy some pampering.
2. Rumors IV Men
3. Simply Irresistible Hair
Best Women’s Hair Salon
Jean Paul Spa, Albany
If our Mother’s Day Makeover recipient Marianne Kulzer is any indication, it’s no wonder why Jean Paul Spa has won this category four times in a row. For over 30 years, owner Jean Claude Simille has provided world class service, offering a wide range of hair and spa treatments. Whether you want a cut and dry, color or extensions, Jean Paul Spa’s team of professionals will make you look like a star.
2. Simply Irresistible Hair
Best Pilates Center
Best Yoga Center
Pilates and yoga have become two of the trendiest fitness programs out there. Just because they are popular though, doesn’t mean you have to shell out a ton of money to partake. In fact, just head down to the YMCA and learn the fundamentals of both programs in a relaxed and pressure-free environment.
2. Albany Pilates Center
3. Just Pilates
2. The Kula Experience
3. Washington Park Yoga
Best Children’s Museum
Children’s Museum of Science and Technology, Troy
Inspiring young minds to discover new things about science and technology, your child will never know they are learning because they will be having too much fun at this local museum. Whether they are interested in the weather, power and energy or love to look at the stars and think of far off places, imaginations will run wild and you might just learn something yourself!
2. The Children’s Museum at Saratoga
3. Schenectady Museum
Best Comedy Club
The Comedy Works, Albany
“What distinguishes us from other clubs is that we put on great shows,” said Tom Nicchi, who has owned The Comedy Works for 26 years. “Our motto is exceeding expectations. We always go for the ‘Wow!’ factor and make sure people are getting a good value for their money.” The club sits on the corner of State and Eagle Streets in downtown Albany in an exquisite, historical ballroom. Nicchi packages high quality food and talent with dinner and show packages for $49.95 featuring two national acts.
2. Proctor’s Theatre
3. Tess’ Lark Tavern
Best Concert Hall
Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy
Giving the gift of the arts to the community since 1823, Troy Music Hall has hosted famous artists, season after season. Legendary performers like Ella Fitzgerald and Yo-Yo Ma, once-in-a-lifetime concerts, and hilarious comedy all combined in a historic building with world-renowned acoustics. So what are you waiting for? Get your tickets now!
2. The Palace Theatre and SPAC (tie)
3. Revolution Hall
Tulip Festival, Albany
Every Mother’s Day weekend the City of Albany comes alive with the bright colors of over 200,000 tulips. Walk around Washington Park and find your favorite varieties or enjoy watching them sprout up as you drive by one of the many planters or beds around the city. This year’s festival will include new attractions and events, like the unique art installation “Night Fire”, acoustic music and a wellness garden.
2. Lark Fest
3. Irish Festival
Valenti’s Pizzeria & Pub, Troy
Who doesn’t love getting up on stage and singing their favorite karaoke songs? Every Friday at Valenti’s is “The Karaoke Crocodile Show”, hosted by DJ Kenny Casanova. This interactive, fan-friendly show is complete with music, dancing, prize give-a-ways and more. Now the only thing left to do is pick a song.
2. JT Maxie’s Bar and Grill
3. Oh Bar
Best Live Music
Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC)
Built in 1966, SPAC is the summer home of both the New York City Ballet and Philadelphia Orchestra and hosts concerts for all audiences, in addition to festivals and local graduation ceremonies. “We have a dynamic combination of diverse, world-class programming, brilliant artistry, a lush lawn and an iconic, newly renovated amphitheatre in a beautiful state park,” said Marcia White, SPAC president and executive director. SPAC provides the ‘total experience’ whether it involves gourmet dining at the Hall of Springs or bringing a blanket and backpack and watching a performance under the stars. White invites you to “experience the magic of SPAC and join the generations of audiences who have found the love of art here.”
2. Alive at Five
3. Bayou Café
Best Local Band
Best Local Musicians
Sirsy duo Melanie Krahmer and Rich Libutti released their first CD in 2000 and have been playing together ever since. Lead singer Krahmer plays the drums and the flute and Libutti plays the guitar. Both performers also play bass. “We’re able to sound like a four-piece band, but we write and perform original music,” said Krahmer. Highly influenced by the Beatles, Sirsy is often compared to the White Stripes. Krahmer describes their sound as “fiery, soulful, indie-pop that rocks.” Making their living as musicians, the duo notes, “We never lose sight of how lucky we are to have our fans. We’re never too ‘cool’ for the audience and they feel they have a personal connection with us.” Unsigned, Sirsy has recorded four full-length albums and one acoustic recording—all based on donations from fans.
2. Hair of the Dog
3. Ten Year Vamp
Best Local Musicians
2. Ernie Williams
3. Erin Harkes
Best Movie Theater
Spectrum 8 Theatres, Albany
Need a chanage from huge corporate megaplexes that only show Hollywood blockbusters? This locally-owned theater opened in 1983 and offers a more intimate movie-going experience with a dash of culture thrown in. From their home-baked goods, real butter popcorn and slide shows featuring the work of local artists, the art deco atmosphere and a selection of independent films lend itself to an experience that will rival a visit to the mall.
2. Crossgates Regal Cinema
3. Bowtie Cinemas
New York State Museum, Albany
A can’t miss tourist spot in Albany, the New York State Museum offers art, history and culture all under one roof. With ongoing exhibits like the Adirondack Wilderness, Harlem in the 20s, and the World Trade Center: Rescue, Recovery, Response, you could spend hours exploring and learning. The museum presents approximately 12 new exhibits each year, so even locals can visit over and over and still discover something new.
2. Albany Institute of History & Art
3. MASS MoCA
Best Theatre for Plays/Musicals
Proctor’s Theatre, Schenectady
Proctor’s Theatre in Schenectady was originally built in 1926 to showcase vaudeville acts. Closed in the 70s due to financial troubles, the building was purchased from the city for $1 by local volunteers and re-opened in 1979. Today, it’s a hot spot for theatre-goers to enjoy national Broadway plays such as “Mama Mia” “Movin’ Out” and many others. Director of Marking & PR Kathy Jarvis notes the ambiance and architecture of Proctor’s Historical Building, as well as the patrons, for their success. “They tell us what they like and want to see because we’re known for bringing in national Broadway tours.”
2. Capital Repertory Theatre
3. The Palace Theatre
Best Summer Fair
Altamont Fair, Altamont
Representing Albany, Schenectady and Greene County, this annual fair features live music and entertainment, vendors, animals, arts & crafts, 4H exhibits, carnival games, rides and more. Attendance increases year after year, as it is a great place to bring the kids and enjoy a day of summer fun.
2. Schaghticoke Fair
3. Washington County Fair
Albany Symphony Orchestra, Albany
A well-played live presentation of music can be a truly moving experience. The Albany Symphony Orchestra is one of the region’s oldest and most revered music and cultural organizations with a mission to bring top quality musical programming to an audience from all cultural and economic backgrounds. Let the music wash over you and open your imagination!
2. Empire State Youth Orchestra
3. Schenectady Symphony Orchestra
River Street, Troy
Instead of voting for just one antiques store in the Capital Region, you voted for a whole street! River Street in Troy is practically antique paradise, with store after store of amazing finds. Spend an afternoon going through each one and see what treasures from the past you can make new again.
2. Bournebrook Antique Center
3. Black Sheep Antique Center
Best Bargain Shopping
Marshalls, Various Locations
Trends in fashion come and go in the blink of an eye, and it’s hard to stay on top of them and stay on a budget. Marshalls makes it easy though, offering designer names at incredible values. Not only can you find a great outfit for any occasion, they also have items for the home. Now you can look and feel like a million bucks, and no one has to know how much you really spent!
2. Christmas Tree Shop
Best Bike Shop
Downtube Cycle Works, Albany
Based in downtown Albany, Downtube Cycle Works has 36 years of strong riding behind their name. “We’re known for our personalized service and attention and high-quality repair work,” said Manager Eric Whalen. Unlike their competition, which diverges into skis and water sports, Downtube specializes in doing one thing well—dealing in bikes and related equipment. Offering service specials during the off season keeps them going through the winter, and as Whalen puts it “hopefully, we can continue servicing our customers for another 36 years.”
2. Steiner’s Sports
3. Plaine & Son
Barnes and Noble, Various Locations
Your one-stop-shop for music, movies, home office and video games, Barnes and Noble is most famous for its’ vast selection of books. Whether you want to pick up the latest best seller or need a how-to book for your next home project, you’ll find it all here. Not looking for anything in particular and just want to browse? You can easily spend hours leafing through title after title.
3. The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza
Best Bridal Boutique
Annette Bridals, Inc., Albany
The perfect wedding day requires the perfect dress. Annette Bridals in Albany has 34 years of experience helping to match the bride with her perfect dress. Alterations, done in-house, are a big part of their business. Annette Bridals offers designer names including LaSposa and Maggie Sottero, but avoids dresses priced above $2,000.
2. David’s Bridal
3. Bridal Gallery by Yvonne
Best Chocolate Shop
Uncle Sam’s Candy, Schenectady
When it comes to chocolate, nothing beats Uncle Sam’s candy with a 79-year tradition of sweetening people’s lives. Owner Joe Suhrada recognized that when he purchased the shop 19 years ago. “Chocolate is recession-proof: even when times are tough, people will still purchase an inexpensive, sweet indulgence.” He credits his success to customer service, extended hours and having the best chocolates at affordable prices. “We’re flattered to be acknowledged for the second year in a row.”
3. Chocolate Gecko
Best Cigar Shop
Habana Premium Cigar Shoppe, Albany
A real tobacco store with a friendly and knowledgeable staff, Habana Premium Cigar Shoppe has everything you need, whether you are a cigar novice or enthusiast. With hundreds of premium cigars to choose from, as well as cigar cutters, humidors, cases, accessories and more, there is something for every smoker’s needs.
2. Edleez Inc. Tobacco, Pipes & Cigars and DeJa Vu(tie)
Best Clothing Boutique
Can’t get to New York City for the latest designer duds? Head to Circles, located in Stuyvesant Plaza, for a touch of Manhattan right in the Capital Region. Formalwear, sportswear, jewelry, shoes and more, Circles will have you looking your best in this season’s must-haves.
2. Truly Rhe
3. Deanna’s Country Shoppe
Best Consignment Shop
Something Olde, Something New, Slingerlands
Karen Moses and Julie Hillard truly believe that “variety is the spice of life.” Co-owners of Slingerlands-based consignment shop Something Olde, Something New, the women have been in business for 10 years. “We sell everything from furniture and clothing to linens, housewares, depression glass and some vintage antiques,” said Moses, who notes that their prices are much better than traditional antique dealers. “You can’t beat our variety. The store is organized and we have something new every day.”
2. Worth Repeating
3. Liz’s Closet
Best Farmers Market
Troy Waterfront Farmers Market, Troy
Dozens of specialty food growers, bakers, chefs and artisans come out every Saturday from summer through winter to offer the freshest and finest in Troy. From baked goods, meats and fresh produce, to flowers, household items and pottery, you’ll find the best in locally made and cultivated goods. More than just a market, this repeat winner is a gathering place for the community to hear live music, enjoy great food and contribute to the local economy.
2. Saratoga Farmers Market
3. Capital District Farmers Market, Menands
Frank Gallo & Son Florist, Various Locations
A family-owned business since 1930, Frank Gallo & Son Florist prides itself on the commitment to providing good quality and service at all six locations. “Quality is about having a wide variety of fresh flowers with creative, updated designs,” explained Frank Gallo, Jr. “When it comes to service, we’re responsive to the customers needs. We’ll accommodate them and make special deliveries or whatever it takes.”
2. Price Chopper Floral Department
3. Emil J. Nagengast
Best Garden Nursery
Faddegon’s Nursery Inc., Latham
Owned and operated by the Faddegon family, this nursery has been in business since 1920. They boast a 40-acre garden center and landscape facility and are the largest interior plantscape company in the region. Their plant specialists and certified nurserymen can help you find the supplies and tools you’ll need to cultivate your green thumb.
2. Hewitt’s Garden Center
3. Troy Landscaping Supply
Best Gift Shop
Krafts By Kim, Rensselaer
Need something to spruce up your living room? Or how about a wreath on your front door to welcome visitors? Look no further than Krafts by Kim. A great place to go for home and gift ideas, Kim Edberg is more than willing to help you with your decorating needs.
2. Wit’s End Giftique
3. The Country Trunk
Best Hardware Store
True Value, Various Locations
One of the world’s largest retailer-owned hardware cooperatives in the world, True Value has everything you need from power tools to plumbing to paint. Getting your garden ready for spring or finally getting around to re-doing your kitchen? Visit one of their many locations for the supplies you need and helpful experts who can point you in the right direction.
3. The Home Depot
Best Health Food Store
Honest Weight Food Co-op, Albany
Providing the community with affordable, high quality natural foods and products, Honest Weight, our winner for the second year in a row, is on a mission to promote healthy living while respecting humanity and the earth. Aside from their natural grocery selection, the co-op provides free workshops, lectures, cooking classes and special events for members and the community.
2. Uncle Sam’s Good Natural Products
3. Four Season’s Natural Foods
Frank Adams Jewelers, Albany & Saratoga
Frank Adams Jewelers is a third-generation, family-run business with 85 years of success backing its name. Founded by Frank, the store is now run by his son David and David’s daughter Kimberly. “We offer some of the finest jewelry in the area,” said Manager Tim Ryan. “Between the quality of our merchandise and the number of years in business, we know our audience and the marketplace and what people are looking for.”
2. Northeastern Fine Jewelry
3. Mayfair Jewelers
Best Liquor Store
Exit 9 Wine & Liquor, Clifton Park
Whether you’re throwing a party or just want to kick back with a cocktail, Exit 9 will surely have what you’re looking for. One of the biggest wine and liquor stores around, they have a vast selection and very reasonable prices. Saving money on your favorite spirits? Now that’s a reason to celebrate.
2. All-Star Wine & Spirits
3. Wine–Skill Wine & Spirits
Best Menswear Shop
After over 80 years in the menswear business, Spector’s is finding continued success in their new Colonie Center location. Whether you’re looking for a new suit and tie for work or a fancier look for a special event, they can help you dress the part.
2. Jos. A. Bank Clothiers
3. Men’s Wearhouse
Best Music Store
FYE, Various Locations
With initials meaning “For Your Entertainment”, this store doesn’t disappoint and has been your top pick year after year. Featuring all the latest music, movie and video game releases, the media lover in you will be like a kid in a candy store. Even those with eclectic music tastes will find their favorites. Feel free to sample the tunes before you buy at the listening stations set up around the store.
2. Best Buy
3. Last Vestige
Best Shoe Store
Saratoga Shoe Depot, Saratoga Springs & Delmar
Providing shoppers with a wide selection of today’s fashions, Saratoga Shoe Depot doesn’t just deal in shoes, but in apparel, jewelry and accessories as well. Whether you’re in need of a pair of night-on-the-town shoes or just something pretty to show off your pedicure, you’ll be met with trendy styles and cool prices at both locations.
2. DSW Shoe Warehouse
3. Delmar Bootery
Best Sporting Goods Store
Dick’s Sporting Goods, Various Locations
Whether you are into basketball and football or enjoy golf and tennis, Dick’s has all the equipment and apparel you need to look like a pro. Winter, spring, summer and fall, this sporting goods haven has everything you could ever want, all for reasonable prices. After all, their motto is, “All athletes have their season, and every season starts at Dick’s.”
2. Sports Authority
3. Olympia Sports
Best Used Bookstore
The Book Barn, Latham
There’s nothing more relaxing than curling up with a good book; it’s even better knowing you got a deal on it. Book Barn carries the best selection of used books, which means expanding your home library at a fraction of the cost of shopping at a retail giant. Peruse older novels that are now out of print, some newer titles and find a great selection of children’s titles for the little ones.
2. Good Buy Books
3. Lyrical Ballad Bookstore
Best Wine Store
All-Star Wine and Spirits, Latham
Located in the Latham Farms Shopping Center, All-Star is open seven days a week for all your adult-beverage needs. One of the biggest wine and liquor shops around, they have great deals on a wide selection of wines. You can shop by price, type and country. Now, what’ll it be – red or white?
2. Exit 9 Wine & Liquor
3. Empire Wine and Liquor
Best Bed & Breakfast
The Inn at Saratoga, Saratoga
The oldest operating hotel in Saratoga, the Inn was built in 1848 to accommodate the influx of tourists looking to enjoy recreation, horse racing and the arts. Remaining largely unchanged, the Victorian-style destination is still recognized for its’ hospitality and service. An interesting fact about the Inn: 20 percent of all the energy consumed by the building is generated by wind turbines, thanks to their commitment to a cleaner world.
2. Mansion Hill Inn & Restaurant
3. Friends Lake Inn
Best Bike Trail
Mohawk-Hudson Bike/Hike Trail
As part of the state-wide Canalway Trail that follows the Erie Canal from Buffalo to Albany, the Mohawk-Hudson Bike/Hike Trail was constructed in the late 1970s and early 80s. The 60-mile long trail connects Albany and Schenectady counties and is made up of mostly asphalt. Whether you are walking, biking, rollerblading or cross-country skiing, you’ll take in beautiful views while staying healthy.
2. Corning Preserve Trail
3. Albany Pine Bush
Best Day Trip
The kids want to go to an amusement park, Dad wants to go fishing and Mom wants to shop. It may seem impossible to do in one day, but not if you pack up the car and head to Lake George. With beautiful surroundings and something for everyone in the family, it’s the perfect place to spend the day. There is so much to do and see that you’ll be coming back again and again.
2. Manchester, VT
3. New York City
Best Public Golf Course
Town of Colonie Golf Course, Colonie
The third time is the charm for this returning winner for best golf course. The 36-hole green allows residents to enjoy their passion for the game and test their skills without having to pay an arm and a leg. Golf lessons from pros, a snack bar on the course, as well as a bar and restaurant on-site make this course a hole-in-one.
2. Saratoga National Golf Club
3. Capital Hills at Albany
Best Private Golf Course
Wolfert’s Roost Country Club, Albany
The renowned golf course at Wolfert’s Roost was built in 1915 and since then has altered and expanded to include 18 holes and one of the first automatic irrigation systems in the area. One of the finest country clubs in the northeast, they maintain a strong family focus and a unique camaraderie among their members. Boasting fine food, service and exceptional sports facilities, members here enjoy all that country club living (and golfing) has to offer.
2. The Edison Club
3. Albany Country Club
Best Hiking Trail
Best Picnic Spot
Best Place to Go For a Walk
John Boyd Thacher State Park, Voorheesville
A popular choice on our survey year after year, Thacher Park provides a spectacular panorama of the Hudson-Mohawk Valleys and the Adirondack and Green Mountains. Situated along the Helderberg Escarpment, the park has numerous picnic areas with nine shelters that can be reserved, as well as the famous Indian Ladder Trail with over 12 additional miles of trails for hiking and biking, as well as playgrounds and ball fields. This is a must-visit spot for any nature lover.
2. Plotterkill Preserve
3. Grafton Lakes State Park
2. Washington Park
3. Saratoga State Park
Place to Go For a Walk
2. The Crossings
3. Corning Preserve
The Desmond, Albany
Independently owned, The Desmond is truly a one-of-a-kind lodging experience. Opened in 1974, the hotel resembles an 18th century colonial village. Built around large indoor courtyards with skylights, landscaping and indoor pools, guests will find their rooms behind quaint village storefronts and residence facades. Perfect for a special event or wedding, or simply a relaxing weekend with your significant other, you’ll be sure to have a quality experience at one of the area’s finest hotels.
2. 74 State
3. Albany Marriott
Best Place to Go Ice Skating
Empire State Plaza, Albany
An outdoor rink in the center of downtown Albany, Empire State Plaza has been voted the best place to practice your Triple Lutz or just enjoy a relaxing skate. Surrounded by government buildings and The Egg, you can’t beat the location or the price. Admission to the rink is free and coin lockers only cost a quarter (let’s face it – not much costs a quarter these days). It’s a great place to bring the kids or to go on a romantic skate with the one you love.
2. Hudson Valley Community College
3. Frear Park
Best Kid’s Camp
Camp Chingachgook, Lake George
With a spectacular location on one of the cleanest lakes in the country, a dedicated staff, and modern, yet rustic facilities, Chingachgook is the perfect place to send your kids for summer fun they won’t soon forget. They offer a wide variety of water and land-based activities, programs for teens and adults and “time to play, learn and just be.”
2. Crane Lake Camp
3. Children’s Museum of Science & Technology
Washington Park, Albany
Home to the Annual Tulip Festival, Park Playhouse, Capital Holiday Lights and so much more, Washington Park is in the heart of Albany. The park comes alive in the warmer months when the flowers begin to bloom, couples take romantic walks and Frisbees fly overhead. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy being outdoors, and it’s close enough to feel like your own backyard without worrying about the upkeep!
2. John Boyd Thacher State Park
3. Saratoga State Park
Best Place to Spend a Rainy Day
Crossgates Mall, Albany
How about a little retail therapy to cure the rainy-day blues? Crossgates Mall was voted the best place to spend those dismal, wet days and is also the region’s premier shopping, dining and entertainment destination. With an impressive selection of retail stores, services and restaurants, your day will be brighter in no time.
2. New York State Museum
Best Place to Meet Singles
Starbucks, Various Locations
Looking for love? Tried speed dating and had no luck? Why not head to Starbucks? You might just catch the eye of someone as you sip your latte. Voted best place to meet singles in the area, this coffee chain offers a hip and laidback setting, just the locale you need to strike up a conversation and potentially find your mate.
3. Price Chopper
Best Place for Sledding/Tubing
Frear Park, Troy
Every sledding daredevil knows the best place to enjoy fast runs and exciting jumps in the Capital Region is Frear Park in Troy, and it has been voted number one year after year. The park closes its’ golf course in the winter months and transforms into a heart-pounding, speed-chaser’s paradise. When you’re done on the make-shift slopes, head into the park’s restaurant and golfer’s bar for a cup of hot chocolate and gear up to do it all again.
2. West Mountain
3. Central Park, Schenectady
Best Reception Hall
Franklin Plaza, Troy
Built in 1923, Franklin Plaza offers a unique and charming ambience for any special occasion. They offer multiple ballroom choices, as well as elegant architecture, superb cuisine and a professional staff. Their goal is to make your special day unforgettable with flexibility, convenience and world-class accommodations.
2. Glen Sanders Mansion
3. Canfield Casino
Best Romantic Getaway
Mirror Lake Inn, Lake Placid
Readers voted The Mirror Lake Inn as best romantic getaway and we know why— reconnect with that special someone as you cozy up in front of the fireplace or in one of their whirlpools while enjoying gorgeous views of the Adirondack Mountains and Mirror Lake. Their reservationists are more than willing to help you plan your trip so you will have nothing to worry about other than what to have for dinner at their five-star restaurant, “The View”.
2. Friends Lake Inn
3. Lake Placid Lodge
Best Ski Area
Gore Mountain, North Creek
With a season that runs from mid-November to mid-April, 84 different trails and over 347 skiable acres, it’s no surprise skiers and snowboarders picked Gore as their mountain of choice. As if the terrain, lessons and programs weren’t reason enough to go, they even have an “excuse generator” on their website for when you need a quick way to get out of work and hit the slopes.
2. Jiminy Peak
3. Whiteface Mountain
Best Weekend Getaway
We all need to get away for a few days now and again, and you’ve voted Lake Placid your favorite weekend destination for the fourth year in a row. Set in the beautiful Adirondacks, the natural wonders are a destination all their own. With sports, dining, shopping and more. You won’t know what to do first! Before you know it, this weekend trip will turn into an extended stay.
2. New York City
3. Lake George
Local People and Media
Liz Bishop, CBS 6
Liz Bishop, a University at Albany graduate, has covered a wide variety of assignments over the past two decades at CBS 6, and is one of the pioneers of the all-woman newscast. She was even the first woman reporter allowed in the New York Yankees locker room in the mid-70s after the Supreme Court ruled it should be open to female journalists. Bishop has won numerous awards for her reporting, including a prestigious Edward R. Murrow award and a New York Emmy, in addition to being our winner for best anchor for the second year in a row.
2. John Gray
3. Lydia Kulbida
Best Local Artist
Joseph Parker began making art when he was just eight–years–old. Now 68, he paints, sculpts, draws and is currently focusing on metal work and illustrating a book. He studied with the Art Students League in Paris, where he met his late wife Sophie (of Chez Sophie restaurant fame in Saratoga). Aside from his gallery and workshop in Hadley, you can find his work displayed at the restaurant. What inspires him to continue creating? “Life!”
2. Frankie Flores
3. Tommy Watkins
Steve Caporizzo, WTEN Channel 10
Channel 10 meteorologist Steve Caporizzo has been fascinated with the weather since age nine. He started broadcasting the weather in 1980 and 28-years-later, 18 with WTEN, he still questions why the weather does what it does. “It’s always a learning experience,” he said. “If I wasn’t on TV, I’d still study the weather as a hobby.” Caporizzo’s forecasts run at 5, 5:30, 6 and 11pm and he works at home from 6 to 9am providing radio forecasts for WGNA, ESPN Radio and 105.7 The Buzz. A stickler for details, he too gets frustrated when his forecasts lack accuracy. “I think people in the Northeast don’t expect 100 percent accuracy; if I lived in Arizona, it would be a different story!” The variable topography along the Mohawk River, Adirondacks and Berkshires proves challenging, but Caporizzo feels predicting the severe weather—something he says occurs about 50 days per year in this region—is of the utmost importance. “If I can save one person’s life, I’ve done my job.”
2. Bob Kovachick
3. Steve LaPointe
Best Newspaper Columnist
Fred LeBrun, Times Union
With 40 years in the newspaper business, Fred LeBrun worked his way up from a clerk to an award-winning journalist. Recently scaling back from four columns a week to two, he can be read in the metro section of the Times Union covering topics from the outdoors to special projects. His insightful and eloquent articles are a must-read.
2. John Gray
3. Paul Grondahl
Best Radio Personality
The FLY-92 Morning Rush
Since September 2006, the Fly-92 Morning Rush featuring co-hosts Brian Cody, Chrissy Cavotta and Jim Clark have been providing alternative morning radio for the Capital Region. “We cover everything from sensitive subject matter to the silly and absurd,” said Cody, who began his radio career in 1994. The show uses little scripting and cites their “realness” as what sets them apart. “We discuss a variety of subjects and we’re open and honest with the callers. We work hard and it’s our passion, but we don’t take it too seriously.” To prove his honesty, Cody confessed that he asked listeners to vote for them—but only if they liked what they heard!
2. Ric Mitchell and Laura Daniels
3. Paul Vandenberg