Here we go. Again.
Last year, thanks in a large part to your help, a lot of the more egregious reader picks from the Times Union’s annual Best of the Capital Region poll were eliminated. Hooray! No longer was Subway our best sandwich. Pizza Hut didn’t crack the top three for Best Pizza. And All Good Bakers even took the top spot for Best New Restaurant.
Part of me wanted to go out on that high note and forget all about this year’s survey entirely. But the blog has grown in readership, and there is still work to be done. The fact is that Mrs. London’s did not crack the top three for Best Bakery, Caffe Vero doesn’t rate for Best Coffee and Ala Shanghai is absent from the Best Chinese.
It’s a crime that these truly best-of-class places are entirely off the region’s collective radar.
For the past three years I’ve assembled a slate of picks for establishments that rise up and represent the best their respective categories have to offer. I should note that even from the start these were never my own personal favorites. Rather, I cross referenced multiple sources and applied the filter of my own judgment.
Last year for the FUSSYlittleBALLOT 3.0 I decided to be much more inclusive. Readers of the FLB extensively discussed picks in each of the categories over the course of months. I’m pleased to say that most of these have held up to the test of time, and most of them have returned.
Let’s look at this year’s slate, and then I’ll ask you for two big favors.
Dining (20 Selections)
1. * Best Restaurant to Open in the Past Year – Charles F. Lucas Confectionery & Wine Bar
2. Best Family Restaurant – Jumpin’ Jacks (no longer a write-in)
3. Best Fish Fry – Off Shore Pier (no longer a write-in)
4. Best Hamburger – Max London’s (no longer a write-in)
5. Best Pizza – Defazio’s
6. Best Sandwich Shop – Andy & Son’s
7. Best Chinese/Japanese/Korean – Ala Shanghai
8. Best Indonesian/Thai/Vietnamese – Kinnaree
9. Best Indian/Pakistani – Aashiana (no longer a write-in)
10. Best Mexican/Central/South American – Mr. Pio Pio
11. Best Italian – Cafe Capriccio
12. * Best Ice Cream – The Ice Cream Man
13. Best Hot Dog – Famous Lunch
14. * Best Sports Bar – Graney’s
15. Best Coffee Joint – Caffe Vero
16. * Best Diner – Bob’s Diner
* new 17. Best Barbecue – Capital Q
* new 18. Best Restaurant for Outdoor Dining – Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
* new 19. Best Restaurant for a Romantic Dinner – Lark Street Wine Bar
* new 20. Best Restaurant in the Capital Region – New World Bistro Bar
Foodstuffs (9 Selections)
1. * Best Local Grocery Store – Niskayuna Co-op
2. Best Wine Store – All Star Wine & Spirits
3. Best Beer Store – Hoosick Street Beverage (no longer a write in)
4. Best Bakery – Mrs. London’s
5. Best Italian Market – Cardona’s
6. Best Ethnic Market (not Italian) – Asian Supermarket
7. Best Farmers Market – Troy Waterfront Farmers Market
8. * Best Health Food Store – Healthy Living Market & Cafe
9. Best Standalone Butcher – Roma, Latham
One small change I made this year in order to make voting easier for everyone is to limit the slate to those businesses that made the Times Union’s drop down menu, thus eliminating the need for write-ins. The good news is that most places that were write-in picks last year have now finally made the ballot. Those of you who participated last year made that happen. You rock!
There were a few new categories added this year too. Pretty much anywhere you see an asterisk represents a change from last year.
Now here’s what I would like you to do.
Please, please, please click on this link and vote for the full slate. This is open to citizens of the world, not just Albany. Remember, this only works when we all stick together and put aside our personal preferences in order to collectively support some of the truly great places in the region. Yes, you can vote for places you’ve never directly experienced. And yes, you can do it with a clean conscience because it’s for the greater good.
Here is an example. Even if you may think that Crisan or Placid Baker or All Good Bakers are better than Mrs. London, I would hope we could all agree that Mrs. London is clearly among the best. But if we split the vote, the best bakery will go to Bella Napoli. Again. While their donuts are amazing, our best bakery they are not.
Now for bonus points, if you wanted to see something really amazing you could check out page 4 of the survey that covers local media. Down at question 6 you can vote for All Over Albany in the best website category. And there’s the FLB and my name under question 7 for best local blog. That’s crazy that this little independent food blog would be listed there among the big guys. But I’d love to have your vote. Maybe this year I can even crack the top three. Dare to dream.
Please share this effort with your friends. It really only takes a couple thousand people to affect the results, and that’s totally doable. There are even easy buttons down at the bottom of this post that should let you share away on Facebook, Twitter, email and the like. Ask your friends around the world for their support too. Because what’s at stake here is more than just a badge for a restaurant window. This is an opportunity to expand the horizons of Capital Region residents. It’s a chance to show the community that change is in the air. And I know that in my heart of hearts if we can improve dining in the Capital Region, we are on the way to elevating the region in other ways too.
Yes, I know it sounds crazy. But I thank you for your consideration.
If you have any questions or concerns, please ask. I’d rather have the chance to win you over, than to have you just shake your head and leave. And over the next few days and weeks, I’ll explain how we got to some of these decisions. However, they are mostly consistent with the comments left over the past few years.
Online voting is open until noon on April 25. I hope you’ll vote for the above slate here and use the nifty little buttons underneath this post to spread the word.
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Here’s the full text link to the poll for those who like to cut and paste: