ALBANY — Big flavor can be found at a number of small restaurants scattered throughout Albany. These eateries provide a diverse selection of culinary choices, ranging from soul food and Southern favorites to more adventurous choices for those seeking something different.
Dunbar’s BBQ & Soul Food is one of the oldest restaurants serving take-out only fare to loyal clientele for more than two decades.
“We are one of the only two soul food restaurants that we have here in Albany. We are best known for our ribs, Oxtail, and chit’lin’s,” Assistant Manager Davon Davis said.
Daily dinners include choices of fried chicken, quartered chicken, fried porkchops, ribs and hamburger steaks. Sides include mac and cheese, rice, and a variety of southern greens and vegetables. Oxtails are served a few days each week and chit’lin’s at least one day a week. Davis said Sunday’s menu includes “everything you would find at a southern Thanksgiving meal.” However, he warns that the chit’lin’s are usually gone by 3 p.m. A wide variety of entrees including catfish and snow crab legs are also available.
The restaurant is located at 1104 W. Gordon Ave. Dunbar’s is closed Monday and Tuesday, open Wednesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. Sunday’s hours are noon until 6 p.m. Menu options and announcements are available on Facebook at Cory Dunbar or by phone at (229) 435-3535
El Caribe, a Dominican restaurant, is one of Albany’s newest dining options.
“We have a variety of dishes, from sandwiches to traditional meals,” owner Manuel Reyes said. “We offer specials daily and an ala carte menu. When you order ala carte, it takes 15-20 minutes. You can dine in or take out.”
Another specialty of El Caribe is a fresh fruit bar for salads and smoothies. A variety of soft drinks and beer is available, as well to complement a diverse and flavorful menu that also includes empanadas, soups, quesadillas and mofongos. These classical Dominican dishes feature chicken, pork, seafood, and beef.
“We are here to serve the community and bring something different,” Reyes said. “I had a family member living down here. I came to visit and it was so quiet. It’s a good place to raise my kids.”
Reyes made the move to Albany from New York.
The restaurant is located at 425 W. Oglethorpe Blvd. It is closed Monday and open 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday with a breakfast menu as well. Sunday hours are noon until 5 p.m. Menu options and specials are available on Facebook at ELCARIBE or by phone at (229) 238-973. The restaurant also delivers.
2 SCOOPS & A DOG, where the virtue of an establishment’s chili dogs is a serious matter, has been dishing up a variety of lunch counter specials for more than three years.
The homemade chili sauce at 2 scoops is a serious contender for the crown, as are other items on the eclectic and changing menu.
“We have specialty items every day,” owner Nikki Williams said. “We are actually known for our signature chili dogs and our ice cream. We have one of the best homemade bacon cheeseburgers in town, and our homemade vegetable soup with a PBJ sandwich is a specialty. We will offer java table with hot coffee and muffins once the weather gets cool.”
The menu also includes fried porkchops, a homemade chicken salad platter, and fries, as well as homemade Blue Bell milkshakes and ice cream cups.
“We grow the business on three principals: excellent customer service, a No. 1 product and a decent price. When you come inside the store, you are part of the family,” Williams said.
One word of advice in regard to 2 Scoops is to check the Facebook page or call before you go to see what items are on the menu for the day as it tends to vary. Also, some items go quickly once word gets out that they’re being served.
The restaurant is located at 2208 Palmyra Road and is open from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. 2 SCOOPS is closed on Sundays.
Brothers New York Style Pizza sits just east of the Flint River and has been serving a variety of authentic New York style pizzas, sandwiches, and desserts for five years.
It was a twist of fate that led to owner Ivan Vega’s falling in love with pizza.
“I was 8 years old when I came to the U.S. from Ecuador,” Vega said. “I came to north New Jersey, and they brought a pizza over to the house. Since I was the smallest, I got the smallest little piece. It was the best thing I ever tasted; I fell in love. I wanted more, but there was no more, so I said to myself ‘When I get older, I’m going to have a pizza shop and eat all the pizza I want.
“At 17 years old, I graduated high school with honors and had a scholarship to Princeton, but I gave it up and opened my first pizza shop.”
The restaurant features a variety of salads including Greek, Caesar and antipasto. Pizzas include standard and stuffed pies, along with a bianca, featuring ricotta, mozzarella, and fresh garlic. Calzones, strombolis, and stuffed rolls come from the ovens as well. Hot and cold subs, gourmet pasta, appetizers and desserts are part of a full menu ranging from snacks to a four-course meal. If Italian isn’t your thing, wings, burgers and chicken can fill in the gap.
The restaurant is located at 207 E. Oglethorpe Blvd. and is open 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and noon until 9 p.m. on Sunday. Get information at Facebook at Brothers NY Style Pizza & more or phone (229) 405-3881. They also deliver “almost everywhere in Albany and Leesburg”.
Zaila’s Place opened April 2019 and offers a variety of soul food with daily specials, including fried pork chops, hamburger steak, meatloaf, turkey and dressing, oxtails, shrimp boil, fried chicken, and spaghetti. A variety of sides and vegetables are offered during the week with extra choices on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Prices vary according to selection.
“You can come in here any day and get a meal for $8,” said owner Lazaila Warren. “With the way the economy is, people still want to eat out and enjoy themselves. So I had to come up with something to bring people in. You can choose from fried chicken, tilapia, pork chop and catfish nuggets, or a grilled chicken quarter with two sides, a drink and a piece of cake.”
The restaurant is located at 1421 N. Jefferson St. It has a small area for seated dining and does a brisk take-out business. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and noon until 4 p.m. on Saturdays and every other Sunday. Get information at Facebook at Zaila’s Place or phone (229) 573-7414.
Each of these restaurants has a number of things in common. They have chosen Albany as their “home.” They survived the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 restrictions through perseverance and creativity. They focus on customer service, quality food, consistency, and value. If you become a regular, it won’t be long before they know your name and can probably fill your order without asking.