Nomad by Trade

A travel blog for the kid at heart.

Tag: New York

Albany dining guide

Albany, New York Dining Guide

One of my favorite things about traveling for work is getting to try new restaurants in the areas I visit. After eight weeks in Albany, New York, I’ve compiled my list of my nine favorite places to eat. Read on for my Albany dining guide.

C.H. Evans Brewing Company at the Albany Pump Station

Food at the Albany Pump Station - Albany Dining Guide

This brewery is housed in an old water pumping facility that was originally used to pump water from the Hudson river to supply the city. Nowadays instead of water tanks, it holds vats of beer, although the still-operational crane from its previous life still hangs above the dining room as a reminder of the past.

I was determined to order a salad, but a delicious BBQ pork entree caught my eye on the menu. The dish is layered with scalloped cheesy potatoes on the bottom and topped with pulled pork, melted white cheddar, and delicious BBQ sauce. Health-wise, it’s about as far away from a salad as you can get, but it was well-worth it.

Public House 42

I loved the atmosphere at this Irish pub. You had to climb down a few stairs to get into the half-street level bar felt a little like entering a secret hideout. There was a decent sized bar and a handful of tables, so between that and the low ceilings and dim lighting, it felt very intimate.

Shepherd's pie at Public House 42 - Albany dining guide

Their menu was pretty standard Irish pub food, so I went with a shepherd’s pie since that’s my perfect collection of foods all thrown together in a dish that warms your heart. I was a little disappointed by my first bite, but I think I just happened to get a dry part because the rest of the dish was amazing. When the mountain of food was set down in front of me, I figured I’d maybe get through half of it and take the rest home for leftovers the next day. I was wrong; I inhaled all but a few bites because I just couldn’t stop eating it. The veggies were crisp, the mashed potatoes were delicious, and the cheese baked on top had a perfect little bit of crunch to it.

Dinosaur BBQ

Pulled pork at Dinosaur BBQ in Troy, NY - Albany Dining Guide

You’ll have to head out of Albany a bit to visit this spot, but Troy is only a few minutes up the road and Dinosaur BBQ is well worth the short drive. It’s a New York chain, and I’ve been to several of their locations, including the original in Syracuse. Whenever I’m in New York state for work, I try to have dinner at one of these restaurants if I can find one nearby. All of the locations I’ve been to feature eclectic décor, and the  Troy location has the added benefit of an outdoor patio overlooking the Hudson River.

BBQ sauce at Dinosaur BBQ in Troy, NY - Albany Dining Guide

There are two different sauces on the table for you to dress your own meat – a regular and a spicy. I’m partial to pulled pork when I get BBQ, but I’ve been told by co-workers that their chicken is phenomenal as well. I always get their BBQ fried rice as a side because it’s both delicious and unique, and their macaroni and cheese and baked beans are great as well.

Pulled pork at Dinosaur BBQ - Albany Dining Guide

The Recovery Sports Grill

This small chain of sports bars has a few locations around the area, and it’s a great location to watch a game if you’re looking for good food to accompany it. The original location in Albany is fittingly right across from the medical center, and they’ve expanded to other locations in the area.

Thai chicken salad at the Recovery Room - Albany Dining Guide

I fell hard for their Thai peanut salad – I’m a picky eater, and I’m pretty sure this is the first time in my life that I’ve ordered a salad exactly as it appeared on the menu without asking for them to keep certain items off of it. it’s unique because it doesn’t come with dressing, substituting a delicious peanut sauce that is perfect for dipping the grilled chicken in. The cold noodles seemed like an odd choice at first, but they ended up being my favorite part of the salad.

Recovery Room in Albany, New York

Parish Public House

Ham po'boy from the Paris Public House - Albany Dining Guide

I inadvertently visited this bar/restaurant on Mardi Gras – I should’ve seen this coming since the menu is Cajun themed – and was pleased to find the place draped in beads and full of people celebrating. There was a live band playing for the first couple of minutes I was there, but they went on break when they finished that song. Unfortunately, the large crowd meant that most of the menu items I was interested in were gone, so I ended up with a ham po’ boy sandwich to go. I was a little disappointed because I’m used to po’ boys being served hot, so when I got back to the hotel room and found out that it was cold, I wasn’t thrill. The ham was fantastic though, and the bread was top notch.

Macaroni and cheese at the Paris Public House - Albany Dining Guide

I naturally had to go back again to try what I really wanted, and was thoroughly delighted by their crawfish and tasso ham mac and cheese (I ordered it with just ham). It was incredible. It’s some of the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had.

The Olde English Pub

English phone booth at the Olde English Pub in Albany, New York

This English pub is adorable. It really looked like a little cottage, and the interior was well-themed. There’s a cute little garden in the front that  features a classic red English photo booth. The first level of the restaurant has a perfect neighborhood-style bar that was lined with patrons. I happened to stumble across trivia night, so while I didn’t play, I also enjoyed listening to the questions being read off.

Fish 'n chips at the Olde English Pub - Albany dining guide

I chose to sit upstairs where it was a bit quieter and had some fantastic fish and chips. I’m not generally a fan of fish, but theirs looked good enough that I decided to try it and I was not disappointed. The batter was perfectly crispy, and I left completely stuffed.

Wellington’s

Wellington’s caught my eye as I was walking back to my car from another restaurant, so I made a point to visit it later in the week. I was mostly drawn to the sleek décor seen through the large windows, so I checked out their menu online and decided to give it a try. I got a fantastic seat in an armchair by the window, and I even got a view of the capitol building.

I started off with their Saratoga kettle chips since they were only 99 cents. I was glad they were so cheap, because I didn’t like whatever seasoning they used and only ate a few of them. The restaurant was redeemed by the next two courses though.

Though their menu has numerous fine dining options, I opted for a simple caesar salad with grilled chicken added. I really liked it despite the fact that I forgot to ask for the dressing on the side so it had a little more on it than I usually use. The lettuce was chopped into the perfect size to eat it gracefully – a vastly underrated quality in salads if you ask me – and there were large croutons that offered a delicious crunch. The chicken on top was what blew me away though. Most of the time when you add chicken to a salad, you get a sad, bland little piece of luke warm meat. This was not the case at Wellington’s. The chicken I got was so good that I’d gladly order it for an entrée if that was an option. It was steaming hot and coated in a delicious seasoning that gave it just a little bit of a spicy kick.

I almost never order dessert when I’m eating out, but there was a “pumpkin pie” option that was so different that I couldn’t pass it up. It came with two cinnamon waffle triangles with pumpkin gelato and cinnamon whipped crème all stacked together. It was a little melted by the time it was brought to me, but it still tasted fantastic. I love finding unique things like that, and I especially love pumpkin pie.

City Beer Hall

City Beer Hall in Albany, New York

This bar and restaurant was recommended by a local. It has a cool, biergarten-like atmosphere with large tables and benches on the first floor. There’s a large bar area with tons of beers on draft and in bottles and cans. If you’re feeling adventurous, they even have a mechanical bull to try.

Food at City Beer Hall - Albany Dining Guide

I had an incredible pulled pork sandwich with a side of fries. I’m somewhat picky about pulled pork, and this was perfectly moist and not too fatty. The fries were also my favorite style of battered crispiness.

Capitol Melts

I found myself in Albany on National Grilled Cheese Day, so what better way to celebrate than by having lunch at Capitol Melts, a grilled cheese place just down the hill from the capitol building? I had an incredible mac & cheese melt with added bacon. The mac & cheese was good enough that you could just eat that – you can, in fact, just order it as a side. It was the perfect way to celebrate Grilled Cheese Day.

Grilled macaroni and cheese at Capitol Melts - Albany dining guide

Capitol Melts is a great place to grab a quick lunch during the week. It’s only open until 2 pm on weekdays, so you’ll have to time your visit for the workweek. It’s a fast counter-service style place, so you’ll be able to grab your food and get back to work quickly if you’re in the area.

Have you visited any of these restaurants? Did I miss any favorites that I should hit if I go back again? Let me know in the comments.

Read more posts about my work travels here:

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From BBQ to beer halls, Albany, New York has some great restaurants. Check out the Albany dining guide for the best places to eat.

From BBQ to beer halls, Albany, New York has some great restaurants. Check out the Albany dining guide for the best places to eat. From BBQ to beer halls, Albany, New York has some great restaurants. Check out the Albany dining guide for the best places to eat.
Sunset at Presque Isle State Park in Erie, PA - The fun side of business travel

The Fun Side of Business Travel

I’ve spent the last few years traveling for work almost every week. I’m notorious amongst my coworkers for spending my evenings out exploring town and finding interesting things to do after work. The chance to travel the country on my company’s dime is too good to waste watching tv in the hotel, so I try to take advantage of this opportunity to see and do as much as I can. Along with some other travel bloggers, here are some of my favorite fun things to do on business trips in the United States.

Waldameer Water World – Erie, PA

Waldameer Park in Erie, Pennsylvania

One of my most surprisingly fun buisness trips was to Erie, Pennsylvania. I found Waldameer, a little amusement park near the lake, and was thrilled to discover that it was pay-per-ride. That meant that instead of having to buy a full admission ticket to ride a couple of roller coasters, I could buy just enough credits to ride what I wanted. Their biggest ride is a coaster called the Ravine Flyer II. I wasn’t expecting much, but I was absolutely blown away. I ended up going back to buy more credits just so I could ride it again. Afterward, I looked up the ride, and it turns out that it’s one of the highest rated wooden roller coasters in the country. It deserves every accolade. I finished the evening at nearby Presque Isle State Park, watching the sunset over Lake Erie from one of the many beaches.

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Spaghetti Eis in Munich, Germany

The Coolest Ice Cream in the World

A trip to the local ice cream shop is great, but the world offers so much more than just a scoop of chocolate or vanilla. Summer is heating up in the Northern Hemisphere, so it’s the perfect time to indulge in an icy cold treat. Check out this list of the coolest ice cream in the world from a group of globetrotting travel bloggers.

Eyescream & Friends – Barcelona, Spain

By Kylie from Between England & Iowa

Eyescream & Friends in Barcelona, Spain

Photo by Kylie

Eyescream & Friends originated in the Barceloneta neighbourhood in Barcelona, Spain and have since spread to several locations around the world.  They serve shaved gelato that look like ‘splat monsters!’  There are 7 different flavours to choose from, including one frozen yoghurt flavour, then 2 little sugar eyeballs are placed on top.  Each of the flavours create a different colour Eyescream & Friends character!   Next, customers choose 2 pots from a huge range of toppings, anything from different flavoured sauces (I tried watermelon!), gummy bears, variations of chocolate, sprinkles, nuts and many more!  The bowl of shaved gelato, the 2 topping pots and a spoon, all slot into a handy take out box…that also make for a good Instagram picture!

See more from Kylie on Facebook and Twitter.

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Minelot Falls in Thacher State Park

Thacher State Park

If you’re a fan of waterfalls, Thacher State Park might be a perfect escape in the New York capital region. Located about half an hour west of Albany, it’s a great spot to visit if you find yourself in the area. It’s an easy drive, and at only $6/vehicle for a day pass, it’s an affordable place to explore.

I visited in the evening after work, so I didn’t have time to explore the whole park. Even though I only had a couple of hours before dark, playing in nature beats sitting in a hotel room watching bad tv reruns any day. Based on recommendations from some of the locals I was working with, I focused on the Indian Ladder trail. It’s a relatively easy hike that can be completed in less than an hour if you don’t spend too much time enjoying the scenery. From end to end, the trail is about half a mile.

Minelot Falls in Thacher State Park

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Niagara Falls State Park

After spending the weekend on the Canadian Side of Niagara Falls, I decided to pay a visit to Niagara Falls State Park, on the New York side. Not only does it offer the closest overlooks of the falls, but it’s the oldest state park in the country. Even better: it’s open 24/7, so you can experience the majesty of the falls any time of day.
American Falls lit up at night viewed from Niagara Falls State Park in New York

I went back at night a few weeks later to see the lights.

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A Weekend in Niagara Falls

While I was working in the Buffalo area, I had to stay out there for a weekend. Since it’s so close to Niagara Falls, and Niagara Falls is only a few hours from home, I invited my boyfriend to join me on a semi-work-funded mini-vacation. Niagara Falls is the perfect weekend destination. There’s just the right amount of scenery, attractions, and nightlife to keep you entertained in any season.

Wandering Buffalo

He had to drive in from Detroit after working a full day, so I had Friday evening to kill on my own. I decided to head to downtown Buffalo to find some dinner, but quickly realized that that wasn’t in the cards because the Sabres had a home game that night. I wandered around a little looking for somewhere to pull over so I could look up some other areas on my phone and ended up stumbling across an outdoor hockey rink with a bar and restaurant attached. That was good enough for me, so I grabbed a seat at the bar and watched some kids play through the glass. It was such a cool location right along the river and as a life-long hockey addict, I loved hearing the sounds of pucks and skates echoing while I had my dinner.

Outdoor hockey rink in Buffalo, New York

When I was done eating, I decided that it was time to head up to Niagara Falls to check into the hotel. I had booked the Holiday Inn on the Canadian side because it’s super cheap (at least during the winter), only a couple blocks from the falls, and I generally have good experiences at IHG properties. I had looked and looked to try to find a reasonably priced room with a view of the falls, but I ended up choosing price over such niceties and was generally pleased. I also appreciated the free parking right on site.

Waterfall Fireworks

I was planning to wait to go see the falls until the next morning with my boyfriend, but the hotel clerk mentioned that there were fireworks displays on Friday nights and I wasn’t going to pass up a chance to see fireworks over a waterfall. I walked down to the overlook and tried to find a spot that would allow me to see the fireworks over the Canadian falls. This would’ve required a lot more walking than I was prepared to do at that point because the location the fireworks were being shot off from was further down by the American falls.

Fireworks display at Niagara Falls

The fireworks show was nothing mind-blowing, but it was kind of neat. It’s definitely a unique setting for a display like that. It wasn’t very crowded on a Friday night in December, but I would imagine it could be pretty crowded in more popular tourist seasons. The fireworks don’t go up very high, so getting there early to grab a spot by the railing would be a good idea if it looks like it’s going to be crowded.

Of course, the lights on the falls provide a spectacular enough view that there’s really no need to dress them up any further, but fireworks are always appreciated by this blogger.

The Main Attraction

If you’re visiting Niagara Falls, you’re obviously going to spend some time enjoying the view of Mother Nature’s handiwork. When we got up the next morning, we grabbed breakfast across the street from the hotel at the Fallsview Casino. We ate at the Famous Diner, a little restaurant with thoroughly cute décor and delicious food.

American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls in Niagara Falls, New York

The American side. The Canadians definitely won the waterfall game.

After that, we started our walk along the overlooks at the falls. We stopped to take pictures from every imaginable angle, of course. My boyfriend had never been there before, and it had been years since I visited, so we took our time enjoying the view. You get the best wide-angle view from a little ways down the walkway, but don’t miss the chance to look straight down at the brink of the falls. The thunderous roar and sight of the water rushing over the edge really gives you a feel for the power of the river as it tumbles downward.

Brink of Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls, Ontario

Clifton Hill

I had discovered a coupon for a thing called a Beaver Tail in one of the guidebooks at the hotel, and as a lover of all things sugary, I absolutely had to have one. We walked down to Clifton Hill, what I would classify as the cheesy tourist area of Niagara Falls, and hunted down the delicious fried pastries covered in an assortment of sugary toppings. It’s both very good and infuriating that there isn’t an easily accessible location where I can get these little bites of heaven on a regular basis.

Beaver tails on Clifton Hill in Niagara Falls

This was eight kinds of delicious.

If you’re looking for family fun, this is the place you want to be. Every corner had attractions ranging from fun houses to wax museums to Ripley’s Believe it or Not. Even on a chilly day in the off-season, it was bustling with people.

Exploring outside of town

We opted out of the cheesy tourist attractions (sadly, the Maid of the Mist boats were not running since it was winter) and instead hopped into the car to drive up to the whirlpool where the river takes a sharp turn to the right. It’s so pretty up there and we got a good view from the cable car platforms that were closed for the season. We decided to keep going up to Niagara-on-the-Lake and stopped at a few other scenic overlooks along the way.

Whirlpool at Niagara Falls

Niagara-on-the-Lake was a cute little town, but it was swarmed with crowds of people that day. There appeared to be some sort of festival going on, but we couldn’t figure out what it was. We ended up finally finding a place to park at a little lakeside park, so we walked down to Lake Ontario and climbed around some of the boulders on the shore.

Dinner with a view at the Skylon Tower

We had dinner reservations at the rotating restaurant at the Skylon Tower for their early prix fixe meal. This also entitled us to a free trip to the top of the tower. Don’t make the mistake we did – go early for your reservation. We showed up with enough time to ride to the top before our time slot, but we ended up seated in the interior of the restaurant behind a tall group of people (seriously good genes in that family) so we couldn’t see anything out the windows.

American Falls in Niagara Falls, New York lit up at night

Since that was kind of the point of eating there, I asked if there was anywhere to move. All of the window tables were full, but we were offered a pager to wait for one to clear. We decided to do that and headed up to the observation deck to kill some time before we could eat. When our buzzer rang, we went back down and were seated at a perfect table, but discovered that we were no longer allowed to order off of the prix fixe menu. It made dinner a LOT more expensive, and I wished that the staff had told us that waiting for a table would mean that we’d have to take the late dinner menu.

The food was delicious though, and even my boyfriend who hadn’t been feeling great all day downed his entire dinner. You really can’t beat the view from up there, and my boyfriend was excited to have his first meal in a rotating restaurant. I’d never been up in the tower on my previous visits, and getting an aerial view of the falls was amazing. They’re especially beautiful at night, and spending that much time up in the tower gave us a chance to see the lights rotate through the different color patterns.

We had also gotten free tickets to the Skylon Tower from the hotel, so we decided to use those the next morning to check out the view during the day. I wouldn’t have paid to go up again, but since they were free there wasn’t much sense in letting them go to waste. Daylight definitely brings a different perspective to the falls. Whereas the lights at night give them a soft, dreamy feel, seeing the roaring water tumbling down into the gorge during the day gives a much more impressive insight into the raw power of mother nature.

Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls, Canada from the Skylon Tower

Ice wine

This part of Ontario is actually quite famous for its wine. The Canadian climate also provides for a unique type of treat: ice wine. This super sweet local specialty is made by allowing grapes to freeze on the vine and then very quickly harvesting them while they’re still frozen. I don’t know a lot about the wine-making process (outside of that one episode of I Love Lucy), but the freezing process somehow makes the wine extra sugary, which, as noted above, is exactly my kind of thing.

We took the ice wine home and drank it a couple weeks later and it was incredible. I’m not a wine fan at all, but this was so sweet it was more like drinking juice. It’s hard (and expensive) to find elsewhere, but if you find yourself in the Ontario wine region at any point, definitely make a point to try it.

Have you visited Niagara Falls? What’s your favorite thing to do there? Let me know in the comments.

Read about another winter weekend adventure in Canada, and my visit to the other side of the Falls:

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Niagara Falls is the perfect weekend destination. There's just the right amount of scenery, attractions, and nightlife to keep you entertained in any season.

Niagara Falls is the perfect weekend destination. There's just the right amount of scenery, attractions, and nightlife to keep you entertained in any season. Niagara Falls is the perfect weekend destination. There's just the right amount of scenery, attractions, and nightlife to keep you entertained in any season. Niagara Falls is the perfect weekend destination. There's just the right amount of scenery, attractions, and nightlife to keep you entertained in any season.

Highlights of a couples weekend in Niagara Falls, including the best sights, dining, the Skylon Tower, and ice wine.Pin - Niagara2Pin - Niagara3Pin - Niagara4

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