JOHN WALLACE: Where are some of the best places to eat in town?

GUEST COMMENTARY: Great tastes for everyone in Albany

John Wallace

John Wallace

I recently ate at a new restaurant in town. Well, it was new to me, but they tell me it opened in February.

I have got to get out more often.

It may be the tastiest food I have had since moving to Albany 20 years ago. OK, the second best after your Mama’s cooking. But it put me in mind of all the great places to eat in Albany.

Now, I know that any list of great places to eat is subjective. I know if I say that B&B Barbeque is the best barbeque in town, you will say that Sonny’s is the best. My wife liked Wagner’s. They are all fine barbecue, as are many other barbecues in town. And I believe I have tried them all. But B&B is the one I go back to the most. Ambiance, portions and price are big factors in my picks. In all fairness, no one in town has a better salad bar than Sonny’s, and I am not backing down from that statement.

My go-to steakhouse is Longhorns. I remember the first time we went. We were in a sour mood for some reason and I didn’t like where they sat us, I didn’t like how long it took for the waiter to notice us and the appetizers seemed overly expensive. The onion rings, in my opinion were a poor imitation of the Blooming Onions at Outback, which we also enjoy. Then they brought the steak to our table. I never realized that steak could taste so good. I don’t know if it was the prairie dust they sprinkled on there or what, but I was hooked. They are expensive but they are worth it.

I had a Philly cheesesteak in Philadelphia once and, I gotta tell ya, I was not impressed. Of course, it was at the airport, so it may not be a fair representation of this delicacy. I know that Geno’s or Pat’s in Philly, across the street from each other, set the standard, but I haven’t been to either yet. But it is a dream of mine to go there. In Albany, the best I have ever had is at the Publix on Dawson Road. They make it with rib eye, cheese and onion and fresh roll,s and my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

I just made up my mind where I am having lunch today.

When I think Italian, I think Picnic Pizza. One of Albany’s best-kept secrets. Some of the friendliest waitresses in Albany, and that’s saying a lot. Hey, Myrtle! It’s like you went to your friend’s house to eat.

I really enjoyed the one on Slappey for the flatout best Italian food around. And there was the family atmosphere of Vinnie and Mamma Gina and the girls. And their kids. The portions? Abbondanza. The ambiance? Mangia paisano. I miss that joint. The one up by the mall, the original one, carries on the tradition. But my first was on Slappey and you know what they say about the first one. You never forget it.

Breakfast anyone? I used to like the Corner Café, but I was hooked on them since they were downtown and the Bittermans ran the Bagel Break. I may not have been their first customer, but I was there on opening day. But then I really like bagels. Remember, the bagels were fresh out of the oven and would melt in your mouth.

Now, flatout best breakfast in town: Pearly’s;

Chinese: The Ricebowl in Leesburg;

Mexican: La Puente in East Albany;

Fish: It’s simple. The Catch.

Although I have never heard a bad thing about Nothing Fancy, I have not gotten there yet. It’s on my bucket list.

OK, the reason I got started on all this mess was the new place I discovered, like Columbus discovered America. Remember the Ordinary Coyote over on Meredyth? Hands down the coolest looking place in town. They opened a new restaurant there called Baja’s. Actually, they opened in February, but I just found them.

I have eaten there twice in two days and I am telling everyone I see. The food is out of this world. A little on the expensive side, but consider the neighborhood. I had the Santa Barbara enchiladas with scallops and the roasted Poblano pepper with lime chicken and now I plan to work my way through the menu. But don’t take my word for it. Go. Treat yourself. Why not? You deserve it.

John Wallace is a resident of Leesburg.