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Food & Drink

Best Restaurant for a Power Lunch

1. Vin Santo

2. Jack’s Oyster House

3. Angelo’s 677 Prime

We thought breakfast was the most important meal, but our readers seem to disagree.

Best Restaurant to Take a Date

1. Jack’s Oyster House

2. Café Capriccio

3. Justin’s

Looking to impress a babe or hot dude? These three restaurant studs show the opposite sex that you know swank and you’ve got money in the bank.

Best Restaurant to Take the Kids

1. Friendly’s

2. Red Robin

3. Chuck E. Cheese

Ice cream! Yay! Peanut-butter-cup-Friend-Z! Whoo! Chicken tenders! Pizza! Brawling moms in Chuck E. Cheese! Boo!

Best Indian Buffet

1. Shalimar (Albany)

2. Curry House

3. Tandoor Palace

Shalimar on Central Avenue in Albany is an old standby that barely ever faces a true challenge, and with good reason—Shalimar has great naan and even better Tandoori chicken.

Best Chinese Buffet

1. Capital Buffet (Wolf Road)

2. Dragon Buffet (Central Avenue)

3. Golden Phoenix (Niskayuna)

Pardon us while we gorge . . . yum . . . yum . . . *burp* Capital Buffet rules!

Best Bakery (dessert/pastries)

1. Bella Napoli

2. Villa Italia

3. Mrs. London’s

Is that a cannoli in your pocket or are you just happy to see us? Oh, it is a cannoli! Can we have a bite?

Best Bakery (breads)

1. Panera (all locations)

2. Perreca’s

3. Bountiful Bread

Voters in this category must not get out much. Yes, there is a Panera Bread in just about every local strip mall but that does not make them best bakery. Oh, what us Metrolanders would give to be graced by the return of clearly superior fake bakery chain Au Bon Pain. Until its return we will have to patronize, you know, real bakeries. Shucks!

Best Wine List

1. The Ginger Man

2. The Wine Bar

3. Vin Santo

Frankly, we’re a little surprised that the place with “wine” in its name didn’t come out on top. But then, the Ginger Man does have a selection of, like, three billion bottles.

Best Martini

1. Peking & Alibi’s

2. Justin’s

3. Blue 82

Like we always say, the best martini is the next one, and these three establishments keep ’em flowing.

Best Coffee

1. Dunkin’ Donuts

2. Starbucks

3. Daily Grind

It must be that Milky Way-flavored hot chocolate that draws our readers to Dunkin’ Donuts (excuse us while we retch). But seriously folks, with a bevy of amazing local coffee shops like Daily Grind, Perfect Blend, the Ultraviolet Café and Muddy Cup, maybe its time you guys hit a coffee shop without a drive-thru and microwaved faux-egg sandwiches.

Best Dessert

1. Cheesecake Factory

2. Villa Italia

3. Bella Napoli

There is no better way to get that bloated feeling you so love than to finish your night off at Colonie Center with a mound of cheesecake in your gullet.

Best Subs/Sandwiches

1. Subway

2. Maurice’s

3. Debbie’s Kitchen

This explains all the entries we received from guys named Jared.

Best Bagels

1. Bruegger’s

2. Uncommon Grounds

3. Price Chopper

Bruegger’s and Uncommon Grounds are both great places to grab a bagel, no doubt. But Price Chopper? Next thing you know you guys are going to vote Price Chopper Best Florist. Oh wait—you did.

Best Pizza

1. I Love NY (Troy)

2. Paesans

3. Inferno

I Love NY in Troy keeps the pizza bubbling late, late into the night.

Best Wings

1. Wings Over Albany

2. Bombers

3. Mild Wally’s

Pardon our error—we misread this at first and thought our readers had voted in an obscure Paul McCartney live album.

Best Burger

1. Red Robin

2. Five Guys Burgers & Fries

3. Sutter’s Mill

People love ’em some robin burgers—er, hamburgers.

Best Cheap Eats

1. Bombers Burrito Bar

2. McDonald’s

3. Taco Bell

Taco Bell? Really?

Best Catering

1. Glen Sanders Mansion

2. Old Daley Inn

3. Classe Catering

The winner brings a mansion of food.

Best Vietnamese

1. My Linh

2. Bangkok Thai

3. Van’s

My Linh? Sure. Van’s? Check. Bangkok Thai? Um, that’s a Thai restaurant.

Best Brunch

1. Café Madison

2. Gideon Putnam

3. Justin’s

The new-ish Café Madison won your stomachs with its lovely brunch fare, with the Gideon Putnam and Justin’s considered almost as irresistible.

Best Outdoor Dining

1. Nicole’s Bistro

2. Jumpin’ Jack’s

3. The Lighthouse

We know it’s a difficult time of year to think about this kind of thing. Thanks for making the leap.

Best Diner

1. Miss Albany

2. Gateway

3. Latham 76

The Gateway done gone and got made up all nice for you, and the best you can do is give it No. 2?

Best Brew Pub

1. Brown’s Brewing Co.

2. Albany Pump Station

3. Troy Brew Pub

Brown’s Brewing Co. is such a fine brew pub that voters selected it as both their first and third place winner in this category. (Note: It hasn’t been the Troy Brew Pub in, like, a century.) Browns’ brewed-on-premises-beer is a treat along with their hearty menu. You might even catch a few Metrolanders taking in a brewsky and watching the Hudson on Browns’ alluring deck during the summer months.

Best Beer Selection

1. Mahar’s

2. Lionheart

3. Albany Pump Station

Mahar’s is the home for hardcore brew fanatics from all walks of life.

Best Steakhouse

1. Angelo’s 677 Prime

2. Delmonico’s Italian

3. Outback

Outside of Kansas City, you ain’t find a better steak anywhere.

Best BBQ

1. Smokey Bones

2. PJ’s

3. Giffy’s

These fine restaurants specialize in the biggest, sloppiest good ole eatin’ around.

Best International

1. Yono’s

2. Avenue A

3. Café Helsinki (Great Barrington, Mass.)

We’ve been all around this big, crazy world, and yup, you’re right: These are the best international restaurants.

Best Vegetarian

1. Antipasto’s

2. Four Seasons

3. Shake Shake Mamas

Vegetarians in the Capital Region have no reason to complain—these are some top-notch offerings.

Best Greek

1. A Taste of Greece

2. Grecian Garden

3. The Chariot

A traditional favorite wins.

Best Southern/Soul Food

1. Hattie’s

2. Magnolia’s on the Park

3. Southern Bistro

We could eat fried chicken every meal, every day. Seriously.

Best Mexican/Southwestern

1. El Mariachi

2. El Loco

3. Garcia’s

Strength in numbers (there are three of them now) helps El Mariachi return to the top of the chart.

Best Indian/Pakistani

1. Sitar

2. Shalimar

3. Karavalli

Funny thing—Sitar is also the one Indian musical instrument that most people can name off the top of their heads.

Best Caribbean

1.Clayton’s

2. Roy’s

3. Lime

People, people, people: It’s time to work through those five stages of grief, because Clayton’s is long gone.

Best Deli

1. Gershon’s

2. Maurice’s

3. Andy’s Import

A very close race. Clearly our readers were in a . . . wait for it . . . pickle.

Best Tapas

1. Vin Santo

2. Midtown Tap and Tea Room

3. Apertivo

Again, we need to get our eyes checked: We thought you awarded best tapes to Vin Diesel. Which doesn’t make much sense. But, whatever.

Best Place to Eat at 3 AM

1. Denny’s

2. Bob’s Diner

3. 76 Diner

The category is “Best Place to Eat at 3 AM” not best place to wait out your buzz over undercooked eggs. So by default, Bob’s Diner and 76 Diner should be No. 1 and No. 2 with Denny’s being relegated to the land of chain-restaurant shame.

Best Japanese/Sushi

1. Ichiban

2. Koto

3. Hiro’s

Great. Now we are gonna be about Teriyaki all day. Thanks.

Best Chinese

1. PF Chang’s

2. Emporer’s

3. Plum Blossom

PF Chang’s huh? Em, have you folks been to second- and third-place Emperor’s or Plum Blossom? Their more authentic Chinese cuisine exposes PF Chang’s as the mall-chain imposter we all know it is. But man, what about them lettuce wraps?

Best Seafood

1. Real Seafood Co.

2. Red Lobster

3. Jack’s Oyster House

Ah, we do enjoy our close proximity to the Hudson River.

Best French

1. Provence

2. Nicole’s Bistro

3. Chez Sophie

Every year some clown writes in “my senior-year girlfriend” for this category, and we die a little inside each time.

Best American

1. Justin’s

2. Red Robin

3. Cheesecake Factory

There’s a reason for the running joke, “If you want to find a Metrolander check Justin’s.” That’s because Justin’s is a great place to devour burgers, inhale martinis and enjoy a delicious café ropa. And it’s across the street.

Best Italian

1. Café Capriccio

2. Lombardo’s

3. Ferrari’s

You got a problem wit dis? Apparently not, as you, our readers, made the call here.

Best Breakfast

1. Café Madison

2. Denny’s

3. International House of Pancakes

Again with the Denny’s. But IHOP, too? Are you trying to hurt our feelings?

Best Ice Cream

1. Ben & Jerry’s

2. Stewart’s

3. Cold Stone Creamery

Metrolanders have trouble deciding the Best Ice Cream category because if there is ice cream in front of us we eat in indiscriminately. But we have to agree with readers that Ben & Jerry’s is top dog. If you leave some at our front door we will eat it.

Arts & Entertainment

Best Movie Theater

1. Spectrum 8 Theatres

2. Regal Crossgates 18

3. Bow Tie Cinemas Movieland

It’s been a long time since Schenectady had an entry in this category. Welcome back.

Best Museum

1. New York State Museum

2. Albany Institute of History & Art

3. (TIE) MASS MoCA, Clark Art Institute

Duh! It’s the New York State Museum, it has to win!

Best Art Gallery

1. Albany Institute of History & Art

2. Kismet Gallery

3. Clark Art Institute

Kismet beats the Clark? Nothing against that funky new kid on the Troy scene, but you must thinking with your stomachs. (OK, the Clark’s a museum, not a gallery, but still.)

Best Live Theater Venue

1. Proctors Theatre

2. Capital Repertory Theatre

3. Cohoes Music Hall

Proctors’ giant expansion has paid off! Not that there’s a prize for winning the Metroland Readers Poll or anything, but good for them.

Best Children’s Arts Programming

1. Steamer No. 10 Theatre

2. Proctors Theatre

3. The Egg

This one’s for the children.

Best Local Performing Arts Organization

1. Saratoga Performing Arts Center

2. Capital Repertory Theatre

3. Proctors Theatre

SPAC, like Mac, is back.

Best Local Visual Artist

1. Val Tran

2. Janet Tanguay

3. Tommy Watkins

Clearly our readers like what they see.

Best Local Filmmaker

1. John Sayles

2. Sean Cranston

3. Penny Lane

Sayles was a very busy man last year, and now he takes the gold again.

Best Local Author

1. William Kennedy

2. Paul Grondahl

3. Vince Zandri

Quick: Name an Albany author other than William Kennedy! At least a few of you can.

Best Local Poet

1. R.M. Englehardt

2. Mary Panza

3. Dan Wilcox

Roses are red/violets are blue/we love local poets/and so do our readers.

Best Local Solo Musician

1. Erin Harkes

2. Ashley Pond

3. Sean Rowe

Harkes makes her perennial visit to the top of the chart, with newcomer Pond nipping at her heels.

Best Live Music Venue

1. Revolution Hall

2. Northern Lights

3. Saratoga Performing Arts Center

Rev Hall continues to improve year after year, and our readers have taken notice.

Best Dance Club/Dance Night

1. Jillian’s

2. Skyline

3. Sneaky Pete’s

Shaking it at Jillian’s is where it is at.

Best Open Mic

1. Tess’ Lark Tavern

2. Muddy Cup

3. Valentine’s

Our readers seem to be conflicted: They gave further credence to the Lark’s “Best Damn Open Mic Ever,” while awarding third place to an event that hasn’t existed in quite some time.

Best Karaoke

1. Bourbon Street

2. (TIE) Maxie’s, Oh Bar

For those of you who still think it’s the ’90s. In Japan.

Best Country Band

1. Back 40 Band

2. Rene Luccier & Rainwater

3. Aged in the Hills

Yee-haw. Ride ’em, cowgirls.

Best Local Blues/R&B Band

1. Ernie Williams

2. Bluz House Rockers

3. The Foy Brothers

It’s age before beauty when it comes to the blues, as Williams continues his march to world domination, one readers-poll win at a time.

Best Local Jazz Band

1. Brian Patneaude Quartet

2. Adrian Cohen Trio

3. George Muscatello

These three names look awfully familiar. Probably because, between the three, they play out about 15 nights a week.

Best Punk Band

1. The Erotics

2. King & Crown

3. (TIE) Murderer’s Row, Blasé Debris

The Erotics usually self-identify as a hard-rock band, but they’re also more punk rock than you’ll ever be. Nyah.

Best Local Hip-hop Artist

1. Sinister

2. Origin

3. Shyste

“Sinister is good for the kids!”

PCAP: Super 400

PCRED: Shannon DeCelle

Best Local Rock Band

1. Super 400

2. The Blisterz

3. Stuck on Stupid

The veteran power trio trump the newcomers once again.

Best Local Alternative Band

1. Sirsy

2. Ten Year Vamp

3. Dead-Lift

Sirsy need to buy y’all something nice. This is like the millionth time they topped this category.

Best Cover Band

1. Hair of the Dog

2. The Refrigerators

3. Wylder

We guess Hair of the Dog technically are a cover band, but is there really any new Celtic traditional music?

Best Tribute Band

1. Horror Business

2. The Deadbeats

3. (TIE) British Steel, Slip-Not

Memory check: We’ve got the Misfits, Grateful Dead, Judas Priest and . . . who’s that last one?

Best Metal/Hardcore Band

1. In the Casket

2. Last Call

3. (TIE) Brick by Brick, Held Under

Y’all are so morbid! Where are the bunnies and flowers?

Best Local DJ

1. DJ Dread

2. DJ Lady Luck

3. DJ Turnstyle

Coming to a house party near you!

Goods & Services

Best Optical Store

1. Empire Vision

2. Lens Crafters

3. DiNapoli Opticians

You had your eyes on Empire Vision for this category, but Lens Crafters and DiNapoli weren’t far behind.

Best Appliance Store

1. Best Buy

2. Sears

3. Lowe’s

Best Buy is an evil temptress. Beware her siren call!

Best Antiques

1. River Street in Troy

2. (tie) Aunt Katie’s Attic, Madison Art and Antiques

We are blessed with many nifty shops to go to for treasures.

Best Bookstore

1. Borders

2. Barnes and Noble

3. Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza

Barnes and Noble vs. Borders is a debate we at Metroland have had in our personal lives with our significant others. We prefer Borders as far as massive, overly stocked bookstore chains go; our significant other prefered Barnes and Noble—that is until it moved to Colonie Center. It seems readers have sided with us (nyah, nyah!) and now that that argument is settled, get in the car and go to the Book House.

Best Newsstand

1. Coulson’s

2. Barnes and Noble

3. Borders

Coulson’s holds it down for local periodical purveyors.

Best Internet Provider

1. Road Runner

2. Verizon

3. AOL

Oddly enough, Road Runner also won “Best at Not Being Eaten by a Coyote.”

Best Garden Store/Nursery

1. Hewitt’s

2. Faddegan’s

3. Home Depot

As it was in the beginning and shall ever be, y’all love Hewitt’s.

Best Florist

1. Price Chopper

2. (tie) Danker, Gallo

4. Nagengast

LOL! Excuse us for a second while we regain or composure. Price Chopper is best florist? Come on guys, you are not supposed to admit that, not even in an anonymous survey—it ruins it for the rest of us Don Juans.

Best Home Electronics Store

1. Best Buy

2. Hippo’s

3. Circuit City

Best Buy for that kitchen-counter TV; Hippo’s for your complete home entertainment center; and Circuit City for when the Best Buy parking lot is full.

Best Furniture Store

1. Taft Furniture

2. Old Brick

3. Raymour and Flanigan

We know you can’t resist the huge selection, mega showroom and massive parking lot of Taft Furniture in Colonie.

Best Pet Supply Store

1. Petsmart

2. Petco

3. Benson’s Pet Center

Nice to see local chain Benson’s—with convenient locations in Saratoga Springs, Clifton Park, Colonie and Queensbury—show again in this category.

Best Gift Store

1. Romeo’s

2. Wit’s End Giftique

3. Hallmark

Really, could there be three more different gifting experiences? Hallmark shops brighten plazas and malls; the Wit’s End Giftique is an indescribable Clifton Park wonderland; and Romeo’s is Lark Street.

Best Wine/Liquor Store

1. Exit 9 Wine and Liquor

2. All Star Wine & Spirits

3. Empire Wine

When it comes to drinking, you people are all about volume.

Best Vintage Store

1. Salvation Army

2. Plato’s Closet

3. Last Vestige Record Shop

The old standby makes an impressive showing while Last Vestige sneaks in to yet another category.

Best Women’s Clothing Store

1. Macy’s

2. Circles

3. (tie) Ann Taylor Loft, Some Girls

The ladies love Macy’s; but it’s also nice to see some appreciation for local indies Circles and Some Girls.

Best Men’s Clothing Store

1. Macy’s

2. JC Penney

3. Old Navy

And gentlemen love Macy’s, too.

Best Children’s Clothing Store

1. Gap

2. Children’s Place

3. Wal-Mart

For once, we’re with the Wal-Mart shoppers. Do you think that 14-year-old girl chained to the sewing machine gets paid more if your kid’s jeans have a fancy label?

Best Women’s Shoe Store

1. DSW

2. Macy’s

3. Payless Shoe Stores

Bargains win, but style isn’t far behind.

Best Men’s Shoe Store

1. DSW

2. Macy’s

3. Shoe Depot

Again with DSW—whither the shoe stores of our youth?

Best Women’s Haircut

1. Jean Paul Spa

2. Rumors

3. Fantastic Sam’s

Winner Jean Paul Spa is a Capital Region legend.

Best Men’s Haircut

1. Rumors IV Men

2. (tie) Fantastic Sam’s, Super Cuts

4. Gregory’s Barbershop

There are some great places to get a haircut around here; maybe we should get one.

Best Sporting Goods Store

1. Dick’s

2. Sports Authority

3. (tie) Goldstock’s, Eastern Mountain Sports

The mall-and-plaza chain wins again.

Best Head Shop

1. DeJa Vu

2. Orion

3. Shining Star

And of course by “head shop,” we mean a fine place to buy implements to smoke tobacco. Only tobacco.

Best Holistic Shop

1. Peaceful Inspirations

2. (tie) Delmar Health Hut, Earthly Delights, Delmar Wellness

For those who want to live well.

Arlene’s Artist Materials

PHOTO: Leif Zurmuhlen

Best Art Supply Store

1. Arlene’s Artist Materials

2. Michael’s

3. Central Art Supply

Arlene’s is another great, longtime Capital Region mainstay that deserves all the kudos it gets.

Best Bike Shop

1. Downtube

2. Plaines

3. (tie) Dick’s, Freeman’s Bridge

The Downtube wins again.

Best Toy Store

1. Toys ‘R’ Us

2. KayBee

3. Toymaker

It’s the cute giraffe, isn’t it?

Best Video Rental

1. Hollywood Video

2. Blockbuster

3. Netflix

We kinda expected those red boxes outside Price Choppers to make the list this year, but your choices are exactly the same as last year’s.

Best Tattoo

1. Lark St. Tattoo

2. Spaulding

3. Jammin’ Ink

Get inked!

Best Cellular Service

1. Verizon

2. AT&T

3. Sprint

Can you hear us now?

Best Jeweler

1. Northeastern Fine Jewelers

2. Kay Jewelers

3. Hannoush Jewelers

For when he or she is really, really, really worth it.

Best Day Spa

1. Kimberley’s, A Day Spa

2. Jean Paul Spa

3. Crystal Spa

We’re impressed at how willing our readers are to pamper themselves.

Best Musical Instrument Store

1. Guitar Center

2. Parkway Music

3. Drome Sound

Guitar Center, the superstore, wins, but locally owned faves Parkway and Drome remain in your hearts.

Best Farmers Market

1. Troy

2. Saratoga

3. Empire State Plaza

Because you’re all about the local freshness.

Best Produce

1. Price Chopper

2. Hannaford

3. W.F. Ryan’s

You win again, Price Chopper! We salute you!

Best Place to Buy a Computer

1. Best Buy

2. Dell Online

3. Apple Store

Bow to the massiveness that is Best Buy, consumer slaves.

Best Place to Service a Computer

1. Best Buy

2. Apple Store

3. Computer Renaissance

The Geek Squad owns you, apparently.

Best Shopping (Plaza)

1. Stuyvesant Plaza

2. Colonie Center

3. Mohawk Commons

See what you’ve done, Colonie Center? By sprucing yourself up with new stores sporting direct parking-lot access, you’ve managed to place in both the plaza and mall categories. Well played, but—Stuyvesant Plaza wins again anyway.

Best Shopping (Mall)

1. Crossgates Mall

2. Colonie Center

3. Rotterdam Square Mall

The Guilderland behemoth wins again. Colonie Center places second again. Rotterdam Square Mall takes third again.

Best Shopping (City)

1. Saratoga Springs

2. Albany

3. New York

Zing! That New York City made it on this list is clearly a cry for help from Capital Region consumers.

Best Shopping (Outlet)

1. Lee, Mass.

2. Lake George

3. Woodbury Commons

For those bargains that are worth the drive.

Best Supermarket

1. Price Chopper

2. Hannaford

3. Honest Weight Food Coop

You know how the Golubs win this one every year? Location, location, location.

Best Health Food Store

1. Honest Weight Food Coop

2. Green Grocer

3. Earthly Delights

So many places to get healthy food, and yet we still eat Doritos. (Cool Ranch flavor, of course.)

Best Record Store (used)

1. Last Vestige Music Shop

2. FYE

3. River Street Beat Shop

With two urban-friendly locations in Albany and Saratoga Springs, Last Vestige is your main source for those old 45s newish CDs.

Best Record Store (new)

1. FYE

2. Best Buy

3. Coconuts

It’s a measure of the state of the (new) retail music business that your third-place pick is long gone from the Capital Region scene.

Media

Best Local TV News

1. WNYT 13

2. Capital News 9

3. WTEN 10

WNYT is a news station and it won. What now John Gray? What now?

Best Local TV News Anchor

1. Lydia Kulbida

2. Benita Zahn

3. Jim Kambrich

The Amazon woman of news is victorious. All beware.

Best Local Meteorologist

1. Bob Kovachic

2. Steve Caparizzo

3. Pail Caino

Take that skiing weatherman! Take that!

Best Local Sportscaster

1. Roger Wyland

2. Rich Becker

3. Dan Murphy

Sports? We will take your word for it on this one. We don’t want to strain anything.

Best News Radio Station

1. WAMC

2. WGY

3. NPR

1(800) 323-9262, 1(800) 323-9262! Sing it with us!

Best Local Music Radio Station

1. WEQX

2. WRPI

3. WGNA

WEQX, the only radio station where we can still hear non-singles by our favorite indie artists. Bless you WEQX.

Best Local Radio DJ

1. Ralph Renna

2. Willobee

3. Jason Keller

Yah brah, Renna is the tits brah!

Best Local Publication

1. Metroland

2. Times Union

3. Chronogram

Ownage! Our independently owned alternative news source dominates the mainstream press. Our condolences go out to Chronogram.

Best Local Arts Coverage

1. Metroland

2. Times Union

3. Chronogram

Metroland: where the art be covered.

Best Local Print Journalist

1. Fred LeBrun

2. Carl Strock

3. Chet Hardin

Fred LeBrun and Carl Strock, two fine local columnists. (Does Fred really do the journalisms anymore, though?) Ah well, at least the top two entrants are human. Chet Hardin is not a real person, he is a journamalism robot designed by RPI scientists to write about Troybecca and geek out about nanobots.

Best Local News Website

1. TimesUnion.com

2. CapitalNews9.com

3. WNYT.com

TimesUnion.com, you can have the win this year, but beware when we do our Web redesign, Metroland will own this category. Honest! Promise!

Best Local Community Website

1. TimesUnion.com

2. Metroland.net

3. Craigslist.com

TumesUnion.com has a great interactive community where political lackeys slag each other all day long. We can’t get enough of it! The local bloggers are also pretty cool. We should get some of those. . . . Screw it, we will just stick to the lol cats. Oh, and . . . ahem . . . Craigslist is in San Francisco.

Best Local Arts Website

1. Metroland.net

2. TimesUnion.com

3. ArtnSoul.com/Gailsez.com

Metroland hearts the arts!

Best Local Music Website

1. Crumbs.net

2. Metroland.net

3. Rockive.com

Local music is rad. The Internet is fab. Combining the two is just crazy. Thank you for thinking of it Crumbs.

Best Local Blog

1.Capital Confidential, TimesUnion.com

2. Table Hopping, TimesUnion.com

3 Albany Eye

We worried after Liz Benjamin’s departure that Capital Confidential might take a turn for the worse. But Capital Confidential still keeps us informed about all the intrigue at the capitol. But Albany Eye? ALBANY EYE IS DEAD, PEOPLE. DEAD! DEAD! DEAD!

People & Places

Best Park

1. Washington Park, Albany

2. The Crossings, Colonie

3. Central Park, Schenectady

Washington Park is simply the best.

Best Playground

1. The Crossings, Colonie

2. Washington Park, Albany

3. Central Park, Schenectady

It’s the parking, right? That’s why you prefer the Crossings to Albany’s jewel?

Best Day Trip

1. Lake George

2. New York City

3. Saratoga Springs

And the Berkshires think they’re all that.

Best Bike Ride

1. Mohawk River Trail

2. Corning Preserve

3. The Crossings

Our readers aren’t just spinning their wheels here.

Best Running Trail

1. Mohawk River Trail

2. Corning Preserve

3. The Crossings

Whether biking or running, our readers have made their favorites clear.

Best Hiking/ Nature Trail

1. Thacher Park

2. Five Rivers Environmental Education Center

3. Albany Pine Bush Preserve

Little has changed with nature: This is exactly what our readers said last year.

Best Rock Climbing

1. Albany Indoor Rock Gym

2. Electric City Rock Gym

3. Indian Ladder Trail (Thacher Park)

Because they’re all closer than the Grand Canyon.

Best Gym

1. Planet Fitness

2. Gold’s Gym

3. YMCA

Where to go when you want to get fit.

Best Massage Therapist

1. Tricia Logiudice, Alternative Health Services

2. Mary Panza, Balance Massage

3. Jill Handford, 20 Mall

These ladies all have the right touch.

Best Yoga/Pilates

1. The Movement Lab

2. Best Fitness

3. YMCA

You think you got strong abs? Spend a half hour with Julie Rose at The Movement Lab.

Best Golf Course

1. Saratoga National Golf Course

2. Capital Hills at Albany

3. Colonie Country Club

Since we haven’t invested in those fancy golf pants, we’ll just have to take your word on this one.

Best Mini Golf

1. Hoffman’s Playland

2. Oasis Family Fun Park

3. Funplex

Playland! Fun Park! Funplex! We get the idea.

Best Skiing/Snowboarding

1. Gore Mountain

2. Jiminy Peak

3. Killington

We gotta agree, these are our favorite mountains to race down to our deaths.

Best Ice Skating

1. Empire State Plaza

2. Swinburne

3. Central Park (Schenectady)

Oh, to twirl on our skates on a sunny day in the plaza.

Playdium

PHOTO: Alicia Solsman

Best Bowling Alley

1. Playdium

2. Sunset Lanes

3. Latham Bowl

Perennial fave the Playdium wins again.

Best Pool Hall

1. Diamond Eight Billiards

2. Golden Cue

3. Trick Shot Billiard Hall

Rack ’em up and shoot.

Best Bar

1. Tess’ Lark Tavern

2. Bombers

3. Bayou Café

Tess Collins has a sign up behind the bar at the Lark Tavern, “Where Good Friends Meet.” You obviously agree, because Tess’ Lark Tavern is again the winner. Bombers and the Bayou are new to this list, this year.

Best Hook-Up Bar

1. Jillian’s

2. Bayou Café

3. Oh Bar

What, nobody gets lucky in Saratoga Springs, Troy, Schenectady or Hudson?

Best Gay Bar

1. Oh Bar

2. Water Works

3. (tie) Club Phoenix, Rocks

We’re not surprised Oh Bar won; it’s right next to Metroland world headquarters and it always sounds like a gay old time is being had by all.

Best Wine Bar

1. The Wine Bar

2. The Ginger Man

3. Vin Santo

For when you’re particular about your pinots and merlots.

Best Happy Hour

1. Bombers

2. Jillian’s

3. Lionheart

Albany—uptown and down—is the place to bend an elbow after a long day at work.

Best Strip Club

1. DiCarlo’s

2. Nite Moves

3. Double Vision

We don’t typically allow ballot-stuffing, but we’ll give John Sweeney a pass here as he’s our resident expert on the topic.

Best Bartender

1. Kevin McLaughlin, Potter’s Tavern, Troy

2. Tess, Tess’ Lark Tavern

3. Susie, Susie’s

You remain particular about the fine art of mixology.

Best Server

1. Aleph Ashline, Justin’s

2. Sarah, Tess’ Lark Tavern

3. (tie) Albert, Italian American Community Center and Michael, Café Capriccio

We can’t argue with Aleph—he’s one of our favorites too. We’re reasonably certain there are two Sarahs currently serving at the Lark, so we’ll consider that a tie.

Best Public Official

1. Jerry Jennings

2. Eliot Spitzer

3. David Soares

Oh boy, has Spitzer’s approval rating taken a dive or what?

Best Citizen Advocate

1. Alice Green

2. Jerry Jennings

3. Barbara Smith

Jerry? Really? We’re speechless.

Steve Caporizzo

PHOTO: Joe Putrock

Best Animal Advocate

1. Steve Caporizzo

2. Ward Stone

3. ASPCA

Hey, we like News 10 meteorologist Steve Caporizzo too! And longtime DEC mainstay Ward Stone. And the ASPCA. Because we’re all about the puppies and kitties and duckies, too.

Best Local Charity

1. Salvation Army

2. Equinox

3. Ronald McDonald House

Metroland staff must have come in fourth.

Best Swimming Pool

1. Victoria Pool, Saratoga

2. YMCA

3. Colonie Town Pool

This is one of those categories in which the Best Of and Readers’ Picks issues agree: Victoria Pool is the best.

Best Swimming Hole

1. Grafton State Park

2. Lake George

3. Plotter Kill

We’re down with Grafton, but Lake George is a bit . . . large to be considered a “swimming hole,” don’t you think?

Best Campgrounds

1. Lake George

2. Moreau State Park

3. Thompson’s Lake

Apparently, it’s all about being near the water.

Best In-Store Pet

1. Amber the cat, Sweater Venture

2. Dutch, At the Warehouse

3. Dogs, All Star Wine and Spirits

O hai. We can has retail?

Etc.

Best Use of Public Funds

Libraries; CDTA; Empire State Plaza Christmas-tree lighting; landscaping; new roundabouts; downtown Schenectady revitalization; a convention center; Capital District Community Gardens’ Veggie Mobile; WinterFest Albany; Alive at Five; Menands park program; Lake George Land Conservancy; Joseph L. Bruno Stadium; gardens in Washington Park; bridge to Albany waterfront; 1-800-POTHOLE; Albany Center Galleries; Albany college of nanotechnology; anything that makes Bruno mad; Child Health Plus; dredging of Hudson River for PBCs; education; Jerry Jennings’ tan; giving us a neat obstacle course of potholes and speed bumps in 55 mph zones; feeding and housing the homeless; NYRA; politicians investigating politicians; the Crossings of Colonie; Tulip Festival; free ice skating at the Empire State Plaza; fireworks; David Sores; Park Playhouse; medical research; Music Mobile; public parks; revitalization of Cohoes falls and mills; state workers; Star program.

Best Misuse of Public Funds

Paving at gun club in Colonie; AMD/Luther Forest subsidies; Spitzer; Bruno; Albany police; roads; East Greenbush School District; Schenectady police; convention center; downtown Schenectady; Empire State Plaza; politicians; Albany Aquaducks; new roundabouts; Bruno’s helicopter rides; charter schools; dredging the Hudson; Harry Tutunjian moving Troy City Hall; Mayor Stratton’s raise; Schenectady Metroplex; political campaigns; predatory towing by Joe’s Garage; prisons; Rockefeller drug laws; the Crossings of Colonie; my boss’ salary; security cameras; Albany plowing contracts; using the Troy PD to close the Hudson Duster; war; welfare; mounted policemen; red tape.

Best Way to Lure People to the Capital Region

“I lost my puppy; want to help me find it?”; 85-cent drafts at WTs; develop a waterfront shopping and entertainment district; Albany Aquaducks; alcohol; Alive at Five; the arts scene; better jobs; natural resources; better public transportation and bike commuting; the convention center; cake; candy; cash; chloroform; colleges; call it “Tech Valley;” downtown shopping and eateries; foliage; get rid of the drugs, slums and gang violence; high-speed train to NYC; history; lower taxes; $40 massages at CNW School of Massage; naked women; nanotech; night life; protests; Saratoga; SPAC; the Egg; 1st Friday; Troy Night Out; Tulip Fest; locals need to improve their image of the region; a zoo; big-name concerts; bribery; low cost of living; diversity; fix the roads; location; lie; legalize prostitution; Joe Bruno Theme Park; we don’t need any more people.

Best Time to Be Had in the Capital Region for Under $10

Alive at Five; 1st Friday; Troy Night Out; a Sirsy show; an hour at the Albany Art Room; trivia night at Bombers; the Carousel at the state museum; flirting for drinks; Denny’s breakfast; filling out the Metroland “Best of” survey; fishing; the Fuzebox; a picnic in Washington Park; happy hour at Lark Tavern; ice skating at the plaza; local bands; coffee and a movie at the Spectrum; Lark Fest; Laser Tag; lunchtime people watching at the Capitol; Hollywood Drive-In; Muddy Cup open mic; the state museum; Peebles Island; Tuesday-night bowling at the Playdium; Guptills roller skating; your local library; explore downtown Troy; movie and popcorn for two at the Crandell Theatre; Hudson-Mohawk bike trail; rolling down hills; Troy’s little hotdogs; host American Idol auditions; Saratoga in August; Thacher park; Water Works amateur drag night; a baseball game at the Joe; farmers markets; mini golf; test-driving cars you’ll never buy; weekends at the Warehouse; watching the plans land and take off; CRUMBS Night Out at the Linda.

Best Place to See and Be Seen

Alive at Five; First Friday; Angelo’s 677 Prime; Lark Street; Appeltini’s; Bombers; August in Saratoga; Bubba Frank’s hotdog stand; Capitol lunch vendors; Crossgates; Envy Lounge; Troy Night Out and TNO afterparties; Jillian’s; Lark Tavern; Muddy Cup; South Pearl Street; Red Square; a window seat at the Ultraviolet; SPAC; the bus; Times Union Center; Washington Park; Tulip Fest; Altamont Enterprise’s Blotters and Dockets; At the Warehouse; Bayou Café; MySpace; NYS Capitol steps; Revolution Hall; the Lionheart; the supermarket; anywhere around Jerry Jennings; Midtown Tap & Tea Room.

Best Place to See Without Being Seen

Adirondacks; Albany Riverfront; Alive at Five; Palace balcony; Bayou Café; Broadway in Saratoga; Crossgates; DiCarlo’s; Dejavu; the Empire State Plaza Concourse; First Friday; Goodwill; the corner of Muddy Cup; Holiday Lights in the Park; Humpy’s; the Internet; Jillian’s; on a boat on Lake George; Lark Tavern; a movie; Corning Tower Lookout; Planned Parenthood; lawn seats at SPAC; Thacher Park; Vapor; Troy Night Out; Washington Park; Albany City Counsel meeting; Art Night Schenectady; Double M Haunted Hayride; Henry Hudson planetarium; Mary Lou Whitney’s Gala; NYS Museum; Revolution Hall; the Spectrum; New Year’s Eve fireworks; a CDTA bus window seat.

Best Thing That Could Happen to Albany

Jerry Jennings removed; Jerry Jennings stays; a governor that cares; separate uptown and downtown high schools; a high-speed train to NYC; a music festival; more parking; a real sports team; properly fund public schools; round up the drug dealers and make them serve in Iraq; improve public transportation; better snow removal; development of the riverfront; blow it up; bring back the street cars; build the convention center; lower taxes; city-wide clean up; a community center; fix the streets; use Palace parking lot as a Farmer’s Market; rehab the abandoned buildings; IMAX; Joe Bruno’s retirement; fill empty storefronts; boil the egg to feed the homeless; stop the convention center; resident parking passes; a rich philanthropist; spring; the Justice League moves their headquarters here; a big independent music venue; AMD; effective cops; structured after school programs; free Wi-Fi; demolish I-787; unify the local music scene; public art and murals; preserve historic buildings; bring in Trader Joe’s; Scavo gets the boot; strike gold while digging for the convention center; Sheldon Silver and Joe Bruno get caught making out in the Capitol.

Best Thing That Could Happen to Troy

Two-way streets; keep building the art community; burn it down; clean it up; AMD; drastically cut the property taxes; better integration of town and gown; better public transportation; birth control; develop the waterfront; funding to restore residential housing; fix the streets; oust the drug dealers; Joe Bruno resigns; it sinks into the Hudson; a downtown movie theatre; grocery co-op; new city hall; a new mayor; parks and playgrounds; plow the roads; rain of frogs; better parking and bigger bands at Rev Hall; renovate and use Proctor’s on 4th Street; win a murder case; free birth control; nightlife; develop Hoosick Street; improved schools; renovate more than just RPI and River Street; light rail; more big business; preserve historic architecture; Valley Cats start winning; annexed by Massachusetts; keep up the current progress.

Best Thing That Could Happen to Schenectady

Continued downtown development; a new school board; safer streets; tighten code enforcement; cut property taxes; expand the museum; free STD testing; GE comes back to life; GE cleans up their mess and moves; new police department; a new mayor; Stratton continues his great work; quality downtown housing; level it and build Crossgates Mall West; Jesus returns; more pedestrian friendly; introduce it to the new millennium; more restaurants; new jobs; better public transportation; ninjas; lower prices at Proctor’s; a wrecking ball; charter schools; youth centers; light rail; more gentlemen’s clubs; close the sex clubs; reopen the Van Dyck; develop Erie Boulevard waterfront; Proctor’s turns punk.

Best Thing That Could Happen to Saratoga Springs

Better mall; commuter train to Albany; a real casino; Trader Joe’s; perpetual August; downtown parking; affordable property; a reality check; it stays exactly the same; county water plan; legalize table gambling; humility; longer track season; lower the prices on everything; more street performers; less development; plague; SPAC allows coolers again; acknowledge and assist the homeless; NYRA keeps the track; get rid of NYRA; expand the park; a mass evacuation of snobby elitists; teen activities; AMD; no more chain stores downtown; get rid of Bruno; more gay bars; better shows at SPAC; obviously not Vapor; NASCAR; a recession; a second Battle of Saratoga.

Best Thing That Could Happen To the ’Burbs

Bike trails; better public transportation to downtown; affordable housing; urbanization; pizza after 9 PM; summer block parties; Albany convention center; close Wal-Mart; keep cities from intruding; less building and more nature; more sidewalks; end Chemlawn sponsored perfect lawn competitions; light rail; lower gas prices; talk to the neighbors; more upscale shopping plazas; more trees; smaller houses; return to green space after subprime foreclosures; diversity; youth activities; good restaurants; carpools; town centers; outlaw television; fewer SUVs; lower taxes; stop building; nanotechnology—whatever that is.

Best Evidence That the Region is Looking Up

AMD???; $10 martinis; Albany Aqua Duck’s 100,000th passenger; more high-end retailers; blossoming arts scene; better flights out of Albany; Colonie Center; downtown Schenectady; downtown Troy; downtown Cohoes; EMPAC; successful farmer’s markets; nanotech development; new jobs; Pataki is gone; improved test scores at Albany High; rising property values; flourishing independent businesses; more citizen involvement in politics; sunburned chins; the convention center; that the convention center may not happen; roller derby; housing development; the Metroland calendar; Senate about to turn Democrat; Jennings says so.

Best Evidence That the Apocalypse Is Upon Us

Metroland; 2008 elections; Starbucks on every corner; Brian Scavo is an elected official; corruption in government; Hannah Montana; global warming; those fat chicks on roller skates in Albany actually think they’re hot; gas prices; drought; the 6 o’clock news; South Pearl Street; Huckabee; McCain; Hillary; Obama; Bush; Spitzer/Bruno; the subprime market; missing bees; the convention center; Nostradamus and the Mayans (2012); An Inconvenient Truth; the length of this survey; two-story Wal-Mart; a walk down Central Avenue; Jerry Springer; shooting spy satellites out of the sky; senseless violence; deep-fried candy bars; those barefoot shirtless dancing guys at the flurry; small fissures in the Space Time Continuum; total eclipse; Jennings’ tan is fading.

Best Local Celebrity with Whom You’d Like to Have a One-Night Stand

Ashley Pond; Billy Fucillo . . . he’s HUGE; Carmine Spiro; Chip Fasciana; Courtney Haydock; Crista Leigh; Debbie Gabrione; Ed Dague; Figaro from the Velmas; Rachael Ray; Jerry Gretzinger; Jerry Jennings; Joe Bruno; John Gray; Justin Resnick; Kaitlyn Barto; Kelly Lynch; Lydia Kulbida; Matt McFarland; Melanie Krahmer; Mike Keegan; Gavin Richard; Rich Libutti; Ryan West; Sabrina Dhammi; David Soares; Steve Lapointe; the goth chick who works at the comic book store; William Kennedy; your moms; Andrew Cuomo; Ann Hughes; Christy Taylor; Dan Dinicola; DJ Auren; DJ Dread; Jason Keller; Jeff Saperstone; Kevin McKrell; Liz Bishop; Yolanda Vega; Marylou Whitney; Paul Harding; Ray Blesser; Elaine Houston; Bob Kovachick; Sean Cranston; Anthony Gucciardo; Nipper.

Best-Kept Secret in the Capital Region

Cheesecake Machismo; At the Warehouse; A Cone of Our Own Gelateria & Café; Black Cat Ale House; Bob and Ron’s Fish Fry; Cohoes Falls; Crystal Cove; Dead-Lift; Ten Year Vamp; Envy Ink; Thacher Park; the state museum and library; El Mariachi; Famous Lunch; plaza ice skating; new roller coaster at Great Escape; Harmony Marketplace; HVCC men’s basketball; the Linda; Saratoga National Cemetery; the pine bush; Peebles Island; Schenectady Museum & Planetarium; Revolution Hall; Albany community gardens; the Crossing; Lark Street; Wine Bar; Capital District Gay and Lesbian Community Council; Voorheesville; Upstate Artists Guild; $40 massages at CNW massage school; Albany Symphony; Albany Institute of History and Art; Barberville falls; Brown’s Brewery’s petite nachos; the state budget; Capital District Federation of Ideas; dog parks; Good Buy Books; the Schenectady Museum Archives; Prospect Park in Troy; Mamoun’s; the Tang; the Grafton Peace Pagoda; Yaddo; the cheese selection at Honest Weight Co-op; Jericho Drive-In.

Best . . .

Cemetery: Albany Rural; Acoustic Duo: Tequila Mockingbirds; Cheesecake: Cheesecake Machismo; Cross-country Skiing: Thacher Park; Length for a Survey: shorter than this; Local Comedian: Ethan Ullman Sean Cranston; Dog Pool: Moses statue in Washington Park; Sledding: Frear Park; Burrito: Bombers; Comic books: Aquilonia; Band That John Brodeur is Not In: the Blisterz; Ass in a Local Rock Band: Mark Rose from Ten Year Vamp; Best Hair: Stan at the Lark Tavern; Magician: Melvin the Magnificent; Annoying Celebrity: Billy Fucillo; Place to Find a Pet: Mohawk Hudson River Humane Society; Yarn Shop: BeauKnits; New Sports Team: Albany All-Stars Roller Derby; Tea Shop: Good Leaf; Trivia Host: Ryan West; Detector of Corruption: Jose Lopez.



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