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An Insider’s Guide to Troy Restaurants

November 28, 2018

Best of the Capital Region lists really have a way of getting under my skin. But at the same time, they are oddly compelling.

Part of the issue of looking at the Capital Region as a whole is that the area is made up of distinct cities, each with its own specialties and character. And I think that needs to be respected. Because if you live in Troy, are you really going to drive to Schenectady for the best wings in the Capital Region when The Ruck is a stone’s throw away? Of course not.

The other part is in focusing on the notion of what’s best. Because a place may have the highest quality food, and the most creative chef, but it may be loud, hard to get a table, and cost more money than you would want to pay for the experience.

Just a couple weeks ago, I started on a project with Yelp. Maybe you remember when I kicked it off. My plan was to ask the local members of the Yelp Elite Squad to name their single favorite place in Troy, and what it was that made it so special.

Well, the list is finally complete. And I thought you might find it interesting.

The full list can be found here. It’s sorted in alphabetical order. Why? I figured it was probably better than the almost random order in which I added them to the Yelp Collection. But if you prefer to view them in that way, that’s fine too.

You’ll see the usual suspects. It’s no surprise that DeFazio’s, Illium, Peck’s Arcade, The Ruck, and The Shop made the cut.

But what is really illuminating are the reasons Yelp Elites gave for some of the other businesses they named as their favorite place to grab a bite in Troy. Like Alexis Diner, for example. It’s a good place to start, since it’s right at the very beginning. As far as I can tell, it’s not remarkable in any way. It’s a diner. It’s comfortable, not too expensive, and consistently good. So as a result, Juliet V finds herself there all the time.

Sometimes it’s the familiarity that only comes from repeat visits that makes a place a favorite.

I was surprised to see Bootleggers make the list. To be fair, I’ve never been. Mostly because all I’ve heard is that this bar is a wart on the otherwise beautiful face of the improving Troy restaurant and nightlife scene. However, Cornelia T calls out one item from the menu as being particularly noteworthy. And it’s one that will draw scorn from buffalo wing fanatics: breaded wings.

However, I’m not from Buffalo. And I really enjoy breaded wings. While I don’t particularly enjoy going to Hooters, I’ll go just for their breaded wings. Learning that there is an independent local place to get my fill when the desire strikes is game changing.

It was not all that surprising to see Plum Blossom appear on the list. Not everyone shares my prejudice for regional Chinese cooking. But sometimes it can be illuminating to learn about what makes a place great to the people who love it, like Sarah M.

In this case, the pu pu platter was a clear standout. I’m not entirely sure what that is, but I can tell you this. If I ever find myself at Plum Blossom, I’ll be ordering it. For sure.

Are there some truly great places that were left off this list? You bet. But the collection is called “Best Restaurants in Troy”. It’s not “Every Best Restaurant in Troy”. And as it stands, the list is still 38 places deep.

Currently, the collection has 80 followers. With a great response rate from members of the Yelp Elite Squad, and a high number of followers, you can bet we’ll be doing this again with other cities around the Capital Region.

If you want your voice thrown into the mix, I’d love to get you on the local Yelp Elite Squad. It’s fun, and it’s not that hard, but it can take some time. Plus, there are some rules in place. Ultimately, it’s not my call about who makes the Elite Squad and who doesn’t. That’s above my pay grade.

But I invite you to check out the full list here. And if you could do me a big favor, please click the red “Follow Collection” button at the top of the list. That will do two things:

One, it will let me know that you found something of interest or of value in the list.

Two, it will help you find the collection again the next time you return to Yelp. For example, should you forget the super secret pro-tip that Nicola P shared about the Ruck, or what time you have to be there to get it, the answer will only be a click away.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. November 28, 2018 11:37 am

    No Plumb? Dude. As a Troy resident I have a very hard time taking a list that includes Bootlegger’s but not Plumb seriously.

    • November 28, 2018 12:41 pm

      I feel you. That fact was not lost on me either. All lists have their strengths and their weaknesses, and in asking everybody to only submit their single most favorite spot to get food in Troy, there were bound to be excellent places that might be in everyone’s top five, but might not break through.

      And this is also why I called on people who might be dissatisfied with this list to make a run at the Yelp Elite Squad themselves.

      Let’s play a quick game and pretend you were able to contribute to this list. Tell me, what is it about Plumb that makes it your most favorite place to eat in Troy?

      • Steph permalink
        November 28, 2018 1:26 pm

        Their fried chicken sandwich alone qualifies them. Hands down better than any I’ve had elsewhere – maybe the best sandwich in Troy. (Not that that’s the only thing – they tend to have a good and interesting cocktail menu, for example, and the rest of their food selections are nothing to sneeze at – but the chicken sando is for sure what stands out.)

        Were the people making submissions to the list able to see what else was being nominated? I wonder how much visibility there was to blind spots like this.

      • November 29, 2018 2:13 am

        Ooh. Would you believe the chicken sandwich at Plumb wasn’t on my radar at all. This feels like the first I’m hearing about it. But now I’ve got to put it on my personal “to eat” list.

        Great question too. The vast majority of the submissions were all made at the same time. Which meant nobody knew what anyone else was submitting. There are pros and cons to any method for gathering this kind of information.

        Sure, it has holes. There are places I love that aren’t on the list. But I think it paints a very interesting picture of people’s favorites, in the ever evolving culinary landscape that is Troy, NY.

    • Corey permalink
      November 28, 2018 2:28 pm

      Wasn’t plumb closed years ago for Frozen cats in their freezers?

      • November 29, 2018 1:29 am

        No. Plumb Oyster Bar has only been open for about 2 years. It didn’t exist “years ago.”

  2. Nathan permalink
    November 28, 2018 1:56 pm

    Yeah, Bootleggers, the #1 place to get seriously assaulted by a bro patron and then have the owners hide evidence from the police to prevent justice.

  3. November 28, 2018 3:10 pm

    Interesting picks, although a number of these selection don’t immediately say “restaurant” to me. And, several of these “Troy” restaurants are not actually in Troy. Plum Blossom, for example, is in Brunswick. Likewise Duncan’s Dairy Barn. Alexis Diner, for another, is in North Greenbush. It doesn’t matter that their mailing addresses perhaps are Troy, they are outside the city. Maybe you should have called this a “Troy area” list.

  4. Timothy Snyder permalink
    November 28, 2018 6:16 pm

    Famous Lunch?

  5. -R. permalink
    November 29, 2018 1:00 pm

    To preface – I eat lunch in Troy nearly five days a week, and there are several entries on ‘the list’ that I personally take umbrage with. First, there are no excellent Chinese restaurants in Troy; they all waver in their quality – sometimes good, sometimes inedible. The Plum Blossom is aesthetically pleasant to eat at, but the food is the epitome of mediocre Americanized Chinese cuisine. I would also personally rank Testo’s well over Verdile’s in terms of a classic red sauce joint. And, as much as some people enjoy Brown’s brewed offerings (a mystery to me), their food has never been particularly good in the numerous times I’ve eaten there (coerced by being in a group setting).

    And, as far as being a Yelp Elite member (and I understand your commitments to the company) – this is a conferred status based on your volume of contributions to the Yelp site, and depends on how many pretty food pictures you take and how verbosely you spew forth upon them. Quantity does not necessarily mean quality. It is indeed all purely subjective. From one ‘best-of’ list hater to another, I’m not quite sure what the goal of this exercise was.

  6. B. Maggi permalink
    December 4, 2018 11:07 am

    As someone who loves Plum Blossom (and is married to Sarah M. who nominated it), let me just warn you that the Pu Pu Platter, is a collection of deep fried Chinese things (wings, egg rolls, wonton, crab ragoon, etc.) all on a plate. Sort of like the “Fisherman’s Platter” or the “Choose 3 Appetizers” basket. It probably isn’t real Chinese, and I think its roots go back to Hawaii. But, I introduced it to Sarah and I love it for what it is. Healthy… no. A family tradition going back to when I was a kid… Yes!

    And while some may object that Plum Blossom isn’t “Authentic” Chinese food, a LOT of people in America long for non-authentic, American/Chinese style food. And I find Plum Blossom does it extremely well.

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