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Eats on the Cheap in Albany

Albany, NY is nothing if not diverse, complex, historic, engaging and, yes, full of restaurants and eateries that capture the city's vibe. What's especially appealing is that there are so many great options for meals that won't crush the wallet. Whether you're in the mood for sweet or spicy, take-out or stay-in, comfort food or something totally new, you won't have to go far in any direction to satisfy whatever craving has you eager to feed.

Taiwan Noodle

wonton soup

A popular Taiwanese cafe and restaurant, Taiwan Noodle on Central Ave. plays nicely into a current hot trend for dumplings, soup noodles and other Taiwanese specialties. The reviews are generally stellar for many dishes here, including fans who can't stop ordering the spicy minced pork or hot and sour dumplings. When they venture down the menu to try new items from the incredible list of homemade offerings, it's usually a big hit. Dim sum, rice dishes and bubble tea round out the menu. Order in or for takeout, it's no wonder this Albany restaurant is a local favorite with a big, loyal following.

LaZeez Restaurant

tikka bowl

For a taste of traditional Indian and Pakistani cuisine, try LaZeez Restaurant! This longstanding favorite on Central Ave. has been pleasing return customers and newcomers for years. Their menu features delicious coconut soup, beef curry, chicken tikka masala, lamb korma and more. Not only are their offerings tasty and affordable, but LaZeez uses fresh ingredients, cooked using a Clay Oven (Tandoor) and Indian Wok, which is called a karhai. There's a buffet for those who like to survey an array of dishes, or you can order off the menu - a bonus for diners who prefer to customize spice factor up or down.

Uncommon Grounds

uncommon grounds bagel

This cofffee spot opened in 1997 and has been like an old friend to thousands of customers ever since. What makes this popular Albany cafe continue to keep its mojo is that they keep things fresh. That includes ingredients, coffee-roasting passion and menu items. Specializing in house-made bagels, custom-made chopped salads, and, of course, freshly roasted coffee, Uncommon Grounds has been a tried-and-true go-to for satisfying breakfast or lunch or snack-time sustenance.

Madison's Pizza

pizza

Some joints just set out to make a good pizza, then there are those that try and elevate pizza-making to art. Madison's takes pizza to another level with the right ratio of sauce to cheese, plus gourmet pies like the Madison Special Cajun Chicken Pizza. Madison's also specializes in calzones and rolls, and their salads get two thumbs up from customers, too. Leave room for dessert: cheesecake, carrot cake, and (of course!) cannoli.

La Empanada Llama

empanada

After selling their delicious and authentic empanadas as an outdoor and festival vendor for 20 years, the Lloyd family expanded their menu and opened their first brick and mortar shop on Delaware Ave. in 2013. Since then, La Empanada Llama's signature dish may still be the empanada, but their culinary magic has brought a Peruvian twist to many classics. Arroz con Pollo, vegetarian mac and cheese, or the Aji de Gallina chicken filling for a really special empanada. Sweet options are yours, too, like Nutella and banana. For over two decades, La Empanada Llama has stuck with what they do best while adapting to new food trends with their array of healthy, gluten-free, and vegan options.

The Fountain Restaurant

pizza

You know those times when you and your family or friends are hungry but you can't come to a consensus about where to go because everyone wants something different? Well, you go here. The Fountain's diverse menu guarantees that everyone will find something to tickle the taste buds and fill the belly: Chicken wings, salads, nachos, hot meatball subs, cold roast beef sandwiches, bacon cheddar burgers, pizza, Italian dinner mainstays like eggplant or chicken parmigiana. You name it, they're going to have it.

The Excelsior Pub

sliced meat on a bun with chips

In a world full of pubs, it's amazing how a few of them really stand out with that perfect mix of neighborhood local atmosphere, endless beer taps and inventive menu items. The Excelsior ranks up there thanks, in part, to their nod to native New York state fare with some inspired names: Beef on Weck and the famous Garbage Plate. Local cheese, Buffalo wings and deep-fried New York cheesecake make this a place to go when no one's counting calories.

Sovrana Pizza

delicious eclairs

For a mouth-watering pizza, sub, or hero, stop by Sovrana! This hot spot has been a favorite for college students and locals since 1985. The Times Union once wrote, "It's a store, it's a bakery, it's a deli. In fact, many loyal customers are happy that not everyone knows just incredibly good the baked goods are at Sovrana's, especially the creamy eclairs. Mostly, it's crowded, and worth the quick wait in line." And for such good prices, you'll be happy you did!

Ted's Fish Fry

fish fry

With locations in Albany, Troy, Watervliet and Latham, there's a reason why Ted's Fish Fry charts high scores for local diners hankering for fish and chips. Of course, what helps boost Ted's appeal is that the menu goes beyond fried fish with all kinds of seafood options, plus hot dogs, burgers, steak sandwiches and a kids' menu. And you're never too old or full to add a milkshake to an All-American meal like the kind Ted's delivers in abundance. This place will fill you up without taking a week's pay for this seafood fix.

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