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Tour de Downtown Albany

July 10, 2019

Sunday is going to be ridiculous, and hopefully you can join me to get in on at least a little of the madness.

If you haven’t picked up on it by now, I move around a bit. Maybe more than your average guy. And I’ve got a little bit of a tradition. Whenever my sister comes to visit, I walk her around the city where I’m living, to give her a sense of the place. It’s not quite a death march, you know, since nobody dies. But it’s a full day of walking and exploring.

In just a couple of days, I’m going on The Profussor’s Last Stand. It’s not quite a Fussy Little Tour as we’ve come to know them over the years. There will be no scoresheet. There is no common thread to the stops beyond their proximity to each other. There will be no declared winner. However, there will be an important point to the outing as a whole. And that’s to demonstrate that Downtown Albany is one place, and not four. Pearl Street, Lark Street, Empire Plaza, and the Warehouse District are parts of the same whole.

How do I know this? Because walking between these parts of the city is no big deal. And I’m going to prove it to everyone who shows up on Sunday, but hoofing it through Uber-ville and stopping at several of my favorite places along the way.

It’s going to start early, and we’re going to run late. So even if you can’t commit to a full day on Sunday, hopefully you can meet up with the gang as we stumble through Albany. Here’s the plan.

Early risers are welcome to meet me at Stacks Espresso on Broadway. Yes, it opens at 7am on Sunday. But that’s insane. I’ll be there at a much more civilized hour of 9am. Come on time, or just wander in. I’ll be the old bald guy in the room. The cortado is my jam, and it will be hard to skip the breakfast sandwich, but I’m sticking to liquids at this stop.

At 10am, it’s off to Cider Belly. They are open on Sunday until noon, but it’s wise not to tempt fate. While they are one of three finalists in the Ultimate Tour de Cider Donuts, in my heart they’ve already won. These are the best cider donuts I’ve ever had, and I need one last taste before moving to Michigan.

By 11am, I expect to be at The City Beer Hall. After a donut, you might be in the mood for something savory, or simply grab a beer. But this is a place that lots of people thought would fail, and it’s been going strong for years and years. The creativity of the menu, in a casual setting, with incredible beer is what keeps this joint hopping. Plus the patio is dynamite.

Pint Sized on Lark Street opens at noon. Nobody will be counting how many beers you drink. And leaving Albany is surprisingly hard, so I’m not going to hold back. Be prepared for the revealing of truths, and whatever else might come from a second beer stop so early in the day. Plus, despite how much August may hate Yelp, I respect what he’s been doing in the Capital Region. So I’m happy to show him some love.

Speaking of love, my friend Corie Y just recently told me about the excellence that are Savoy Taproom’s wings. By 1pm, my hope is to be in this subterranean bar with the best cocktails on Lark Street. Maybe you’re feeling the spring cocktail menu, or maybe you just want to help split an order of wings. Whatever the case, let’s enjoy this gem of an establishment together.

Do you know what I love about as much as food? Pinball! And The Excelsior Pub has four incredible machines. They also have a tap list full of NYS beers, a bar full of NYS spirits, and a menu full of NYS specialties. Garbage plates aren’t really meant for sharing, but pizza rolls? That could work. Just make sure to bring plenty of quarters to see if you can beat the profussor. Our goal is to be there by 2pm. But if we’re running late at this point, you can probably blame Jason.

While I could stay at Excelsior all day, we’ve got things to do, and pizza to eat. Steve N. suggested a trip across the street to Hill Street Cafe. I suppose what we order depends on how many people are tagging along at 3pm. Tavern style pizza is clearly the first choice. That said, the disco fries are spectacular.

I’d love to drop into Loch & Quay for the buffalo chicken potstickers, but they are closed on Sunday.

No matter. We’ll simply take the eighteen minute walk up to The Olde English to enjoy one of the nicest patios in Albany. By 4pm it should be positively lovely. Who could say no to a beverage outside?

One of the things I’ve been dying to eat is chef Ian’s Duck Banh Mi. It’s confit duck leg, duck breast prosciutto, pickled fennel, carrot, onion, radish, ssamjang aioli and fresh cilantro on crusty French bread. Plus Sam’s beers at C.H. Evans have been incredible lately. Hopefully, I can find someone to split a sandwich with me, because by 5pm a whole one is simply out of the question.

Ideally, we would make a pit stop in between Quackenbush Square and the Warehouse District, but ADCo is closed on Sunday as well. So we’re just going to have to push on through and find a way to survive the thirteen minute walk to Lost & Found. According to the schedule, we should get there by 6pm. But I have very little confidence that by the end of this tour we’ll be on schedule. Still, they are open until midnight on Sunday, and I’m sure we’ll be able to grab a bite of Ian’s food before the kitchen closes, regardless of how late we might be running.

In summary, the schedule is as follows:

9a – Stacks Broadway – Sunday hours 7a-7p – COFFEE
10a – Cider Belly – Sunday hours 8a-12p – CIDER DONUTS
11a – The City Beer Hall – Sunday hours 11a-10p – BRUCH
12p – Pint Sized – Sunday hours 12p-9p – BEER
1p – Savoy Taproom – Sunday hours 10a-2a – WINGS
2p – The Excelsior Pub – Sunday hours 12p-12a – PINBALL & PIZZA ROLLS
3p – Hill Street Cafe – Sunday hours 12p-2a – PIZZA & BEER
4p – Olde English – Sunday hours 10a-12a – PATIO & BEER
5p – CH Evans – Sunday hours 12p-8p – DUCK BANH MI & BEER
6p – Lost & Found – Sunday hours – 11a-12a – FOOD, BEER & PATIO

Here’s the map:
Screen Shot 2019-07-10 at 10.17.44 AM

Depending on your point of view, this is either an epic or brutal outing. For me, the jury is still out. But we’re at the point where if I want one last taste of my favorite places, I’m going to have to make a stand. And Sunday is the day.

Hopefully, you’ll join me. Tune in to the FLB Twitter feed to keep track of where we are over the course of the day. As much as possible we’ll try to stick to the schedule. But as Mike Tyson is credited with saying, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” And with ten stops scheduled on this tour, I think we might be feeling the pain at around stop number five.

Still, the show will go on.

So feel free to try and conquer the entire tour, or plan to join for just a part of it. Either way, I’d love to see you there. And more importantly, I could really use your help in splitting some of the foods on deck.

Should you come, there’s no need to bring a pen. However, it would be helpful to bring cash in small denominations to help split some of the food bills. And if you plan to join us at Excelsior, make sure to bring a pocket full of quarters as well.

Hope to see you there. I’m going to miss the hell out of you all and this place when I move to Ann Arbor. Who would have ever imagined. But before I head out, I’m glad to have one last stand in Albany.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. July 10, 2019 11:24 am

    I might come to say goodbye. I am taking the 10:15 train to NYC to help my daughter move.

  2. rrosenheck permalink
    July 10, 2019 11:47 am

    Will they to meet up with de tour briefly. Maybe city beer hall… — rr

  3. July 10, 2019 7:05 pm

    Thanks for including Hill Street on the crawl!

    I’m still debating when I’ll join, but it will definitely be no later than Savoy. I want to try those wings.

    I’m hoping I can hang tough until the bitter the end. I’d love to split a Pig Mac with someone at Lost & Found. I’ve not had the sandwich yet, and I’m a sucker for elevated Big Mac clones.

    By the way, I just checked the menu at Lost & Found to make sure the Pig Mac is still on the menu (it is), and I think I might be in love. Here are some other goodies on there that sound awesome:

    Octopus Corn Dog with honey mustard and lime
    Fried Smelts with lemon and anchovy mayo
    Pickled Beets
    Smoked Porchetta
    Chopped Cheese Sandwich

    Here’s hoping we have a big enough group that we can sample some of these.

    • July 10, 2019 7:07 pm

      I heard a rumor that the kitchen at Lost & Found may close in the early afternoon (3p) on Sundays. So don’t get your hopes up… yet.

      • July 10, 2019 8:39 pm

        I was going to call to confirm, but I checked the website. According to the website the kitchen does close at 3 on Sundays. And they do a brunch menu on Sundays, not the regular menu.

        Oh well, c’est la vie.

  4. Eric Scheirer Stott permalink
    July 10, 2019 10:13 pm

    I am wondering just where to attempt to park that will be equidistant between the beginning & the end

    • July 11, 2019 12:23 am

      I promote walking and not driving. In fact, I’m taking the bus into the city to get the whole thing started. But I’d probably park in the lot by the Albany Pump Station. Either that, or there may be street parking on Broadway just north of there?

      Someone else said there’s some major kind of bike thing coming through Albany on Sunday too. So be advised that parking may be even more challenging. The trick will be to wear comfortable shoes.

    • albanylandlord permalink
      July 11, 2019 1:08 am

      If you drive into the city how are you going to get home? I don’t think I’ll be able to walk – never mind drive home.

  5. albanylandlord permalink
    July 11, 2019 1:18 am

    OMG, this is epicly awesome. Wow. The only potential problem isn’t too much walking – it’s not enough walking! That is a lot of eating and drinking and maybe we need to walk more to work off the alcohol and food.

    I’m so in. I want to do everything, though I’m not sure if I can survive drinking all day. I certainly can’t miss CBH, and I’ve never done Stacks or Cider Belly, so maybe everything…

  6. Roger K permalink
    July 11, 2019 12:20 pm

    For those who won’t be walking the entire route with Daniel, here’s some heads up parking info:

    Traffic advisory: N Pearl Street road work this weekend

    Saturday, July 13, 2019 and Sunday, July 14, 2019 from 6:00 AM until 8:00 PM both days, the City’s contractor will be milling & paving N Pearl Street between State Street and Clinton Avenue. The existing pavement will be removed during this operation and the base course of asphalt will be installed in this same area. Milling on Saturday and paving on Sunday. Parking will be prohibited on both sides of N. Pearl Street between State Street and Clinton Avenue on both Saturday July 13, 2019 and Sunday July 14, 2019 from 5:00 AM until 8:00 PM each day. In addition, the following side streets will have parking restrictions in place on both sides of each roadway both east and west of N. Pearl St.: State Street, Maiden Lane, Pine Street, Columbia Street, Sheridan Avenue, Orange Street and Clinton Avenue. Sidewalk work has been completed and will be open to pedestrian traffic unless the contractor is working on the roadway directly in that area. This is a narrow section of road with multiple destinations. All businesses are open per their usual schedules during construction. Travel delays are anticipated and should be expected during the milling and paving work. Traffic will be controlled by flag-persons and will either be maintained in shifted lanes or detoured onto adjacent roadways. CDTA will be re-routing their buses from N. Pearl Street during these two days. CDTA buses will use Broadway, patrons should use the bus stops on Broadway during the construction.

  7. July 11, 2019 10:21 pm

    Softball tournament this weekend. No idea what Sunday’s schedule will be. I’ll try to pop in for at least some of it towards the end.

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