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A Few of Our Favorite Spots in Schenectady

November 11, 2015

Hi there, Kristen here.

After a busy afternoon at work yesterday, I came home expecting to scarf down leftovers and make some meatballs for lunches tomorrow while my husband worked late. I was absolutely exhausted, and feeling a little shaky with hunger. Instead, while I was letting the dogs outside, my husband walked in with burritos from La Mexicana! “Are you my hero?” I asked. “No,” he replied, “They were out of carnitas, so I got the chicken.” Still, he’s my hero. Plus, the first bite of my burrito was almost entirely guacamole, so that was pretty exciting. If you’re into that sort of thing.

It has been a crazy few weeks here at our house. Between having a lot of company, me going back to work part time, and trying to catch up on housework, we have been relying more heavily on eating out and take out. While this is not ideal, it has been delicious because we are lucky enough to live near some really awesome restaurants. So while I don’t currently have any recipes to share (yet! Friendsgiving is this weekend!), I can share with you some of my favorite restaurants in and near Schenectady, and what you should be sure to order there.

La Mexicana

Located on State street in Schenectady is a small restaurant attached to a Mexican grocery store. They do have a small room if you would like to sit down, and I heard that they now serve drinks if that interests you. We usually just get take out and eat at home. While you’re at La Mexicana, I recommend that you try the carnitas burrito and the carnitas tacos, although the spicy chicken is really good too. The burrito is huge, so if you don’t want to feel stuffed, definitely get yourself a few $2 tacos and use the green sauce. My husband prefers the red, so maybe you should just try both and see which you like better. Tips: the enchiladas there are only okay. If you want really good enchiladas go to Casa Real on Altamonte Avenue in Rotterdam. That is the best hot plate Mexican restaurant that we have discovered close to our house. Also, at La Mexicana, don’t ask for extra guacamole on your burrito. The only times we have ever done that, we have gotten no guacamole. Don’t be presumptuous, just let the guacamole happen the way its going to happen.

 

Jasmine Thai

I first tasted Thai food at Ilana’s 22nd birthday when I first started dating her brother. It’s been true love ever since. Thai food. And my husband. We were very excited to discover this little gem on Broadway in Schenectady, very close to where we live. We go so often that the staff now recognizes my husband when he calls and picks up the food. Our usual order is Chicken Mango Curry and Prik Pow Fried Rice, with the spring rolls to start. You’ll want to drink the plum sauce that comes with the spring rolls. I am telling you the truest thing you’ll ever hear. We have also tried the Pineapple Fried Rice, the Pad Thai, and the Drunken Noodles. We have never been disappointed.  Just make sure you inquire about the level of spice because things can get pretty hot! Also, they are closed on Sunday, when you will inevitably be craving thai. Don’t go to a different thai food place. Just get something else. My friends and I have made that mistake.

The Bier Abbey

The Bier Abbey is located on Union Street in Schenectady. You’ll go for the extensive rotating beer list, but you’ll stay for the Abbey Cheese Fries and the wings in bierbeque sauce. We have tried other things on the menu, the burgers, the salads, the chicken fingers- one of my friends even tried the brussel sprouts. It’s all good stuff. Ultimately, we always return to the fries and wings for the perfect accompaniment to the beer.  It’s a good spot for a date night or to bring friends! As for beer, my husband loves IPA’s and I enjoy dark beers. If you are anything like me, my old reliable there is always Beanhead. If you are uncertain- order a 4 oz. just to try it.

 

Cella Bistro

I first walked into Cella Bistro wearing cutoffs and a tank top and I felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Don’t be like me guys. To clarify, no one made me feel that way but myself- it was just a little fancier than I expected. We now reserve Cella Bistro for special occasions like anniversaries or birthdays since it is a little expensive. We discovered Cella Bistro not long after we moved upstate. It’s located on Rosa Road, not far from our old apartment complex. I always thought of Cella Bistro as nontraditional Italian food, but really, their menu offers so much more. I also discovered that they use  mostly local ingredients, which is really cool.  If you go, be sure to sit in the front by the bar, where the Tapas menu is always offered. There are a few delicious constants, such as the bread and cheese fondue, and the beef rib, but the menu offers something new each day. My husband and I usually choose a small plate to share and split the spinach and arugula salad in addition to our meals.  My absolute favorite dish is the Roasted Poblanos- a vegetarian dish-peppers stuffed with rice and beans and smothered in some kind of creamy white cheese.  My husband has gotten the duck, the steak and the bolognese, and has been thrilled with everything that he ordered. If you are in the area, I definitely recommend Cella Bistro for your next special occasion. Order a French Martini for me!

Ambition Coffee and Eatery

Ambition is the coolest allegedly haunted sandwich shop that you have ever been to. Its located on Jay Street in Schenectady, a place which Harry Potter fans will recognize as resembling Diagon Alley. It is covered in bottle cap decor, cute knick knacks and pictures of celebrities. I even discovered a picture of young Brad Pitt in the bathroom. My husband tells me that there is one of Madonna in the men’s room. I have only been there for lunch, but apparently they also have breakfast and are open late enough for dinner on the nights that there are shows at Proctors- our local theater. The sandwiches are all delicious and have funky names. We have gotten the Ambition, and Jeremy’s Package. There are apples, bacon, and cranberry pesto involved. Oh- and did I mention the pretzel bread? I’ve also tried multiple soups, gazpacho, and their coffee-  everything has been delicious. Just go there.

Oliver’s Cafe

I will leave you with this one last place, Oliver’s, although I am realizing that I have a lot of favorite places that I haven’t mentioned.  Perhaps there will be a part two forthcoming, but for real. Not like that time we were going to do a part deux of our Fall beer tasting, but instead my husband drank it all and did not describe it to me. There will be an actual part two.  We have not even covered dessert. Or sushi. My husband loves sushi.

Oliver’s is actually just outside of Schenectady, over the bridge in Glenville. Anyway, it is open for breakfast and lunch, but we just go there for breakfast.  The breakfasts are amazing. If you have not learned by now, I am a creature of habit, and I tend to have a favorite dish at every restaurant that I go to, and I order it every time. At Oliver’s, that dish is the Texas Benedict. Its a poached egg and sausage on an english muffin, covered in sausage gravy. You get two of those, plus home fries that are more like chunks of baked potato that have been lightly fried in some kind of delicious, mysterious grease. I recommend eating half and saving half for the next day. Or you will probably get sick. But you won’t be sorry, because your breakfast was that good. They also have other exciting things like cornbread french toast and giant pancakes. Really though, who cares? Just get the Texas Benedict and make sure you bring cash! They don’t accept cards. Go early or expect a little bit of a wait. I promise it will be worth it.

Well that’s it for today folks! I’ll be back soon to document Friendsgiving and share some of our recipes!

 

 

 

 

 

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