The white-meat wunderkinds at Chicken Joe’s Albany quell poultry cravings with a menu of meaty subs, wraps, and salads that pair with eight satisfying sides. Mounded to the bun-rafters with bacon, cheddar, onion rings, and barbecue sauce, the heisman burger fills beef-shaped voids in stomachs and transforms anyone who eats it into smaller, metallic versions of themselves. Snack scholars can pursue degrees in deliciousness with the JR wrap’s chicken cutlet, bacon, and mayo, or inch closer to graduation with the senior sub’s chicken nuggets, honey mustard, and hot sauce. Like an opera soprano on Thanksgiving, the USA special sings with notes of grilled turkey, which is chaperoned on its mealtime rendezvous by bacon and provolone; the tuna salad loads forks with brain-boosting minerals. Dining duos bulk up their meals with a tasty twosome of sides that include mac ‘n’ cheese bites, corn fritters, or onion rings.
Since opening in May, Crestwood Catering & Deli has been packing custom and specialty deli sandwiches with fresh fixings, cheeses, and meats. Custom Woodys sandwiches headline the extensive menu, starting with a foundation of a roll, wrap, or white, whole-wheat, rye, or pumpernickel bread. The Tribute BLT ($7.75) deviates from its traditional fillings, adding an avocado and a fried egg to its culinary trio and doing for the sandwich world what the addition of Simon and Garfunkel did for Hanson. Sub captains update a lunchbox classic by searing thick bologna before painting it with roasted peppers and speckling it with provolone cheese (a $6.99 value); with tomato, cucumber, and dill havarti, the egg-salad-and-smoked-salmon sandwich (an $8.99 value) spawns currents of sophisticated flavor. Fountain-style Pepsi products round out the meal with carbonated pizzazz (a $1 value each).
At The Chocolate Gecko, award-winning chocolatiers swirl together fresh fruit, spicy cayenne pepper, and a splash of rich liqueurs to form decadent treats comprising all-natural ingredients. The shop’s multi-tiered shelves sprout batches of chocolate-dipped fruit and classic sweets, such as peanut-butter cups, turtles, and rich, butter toffee komodo crunches. Molded truffles burst with creamy liqueur-infused fillings and take on a variety of shapes, including Aztec pyramids, tiny Buddhas, and the heads of former Supreme Court justices.
The Chocolate Gecko’s sweet-tooth-appeasing staff shares its confectionary wisdom during one-hour chocolate-making classes, which have covered such sweet-concocting skills as tempering basics, concocting both molded and hand-rolled truffles, and reverse engineering the Cadbury Bunny. The Chocolate Gecko encourages guests to bring along alcoholic or nonalcoholic beverages to complement the velvety morsels of each class.
Simplicity. That's the most important ingredient in all food according to Honest Weight Food Co-op. So to understand what makes their products stand out, it's better to look at what's not on the nutrition label. No artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives. No antibiotics, hormones, or other non-food ingredients. The team at Honest Weight Food Co-op works with local farmers and producers to make sure their standards are met in every product.
That's been Honest Weight Food Co-op's modus operandi since its founding in 1976, and the efforts of the members-owned organization have proved successful. The co-op has expanded into bigger and bigger spaces over the years, until they finally arrived at their current Watervliet Avenue location in 2013. The building brims with fresh meats and fish, in-season produce, natural groceries, and household items such as light bulbs and laundry soap (which also come from eco-friendly, responsible suppliers, naturally).
In addition to storing vast amounts of grocery items and prepared meals, this expansive space also makes it possible to host events ranging from juicing classes to reiki sessions. Honest Weight's outreach programs send educators to local schools to teach about healthy living, and the co-op partners with WAMC public radio to host Food For Thought evenings of food, film, and discussion, at least when attendees are done chewing.
At Pizzalo, patrons pick up pizza, subs, and calzones for Italian-inspired dining. Wings dressed in barbecue sauce or glazed with honey-mustard ($6.99 for 12) compete with fried, breaded ravioli ($4.99) to perform an opening act for taste buds. Classic pizza toppings scatter over eight-cut and ten-cut pies ($11.99+), and the specialty Mexican pie ($14.99+) jazzes things up with salsa, ground beef, and olives. The culinary engineers adorn the Meat Works pie ($17.99+) with pepperoni, sausage, and meatballs to catch the eyes of carnivores who only see in the ultraviolet and protein spectrums. Pizzalo also designs non-circular edibles in the form of cold and hot subs ($4.99) and entrees such as baked ziti ($7.99).
Lee and Barrye Cohen have been roasting and brewing fresh beans into caffeinated elixirs since 1976, when they first began expanding horizons with then-unheard-of espresso and cappuccinos. Using the same trusty vintage coffee roaster they used back then, they continue to roast aromatic gourmet beans. They brighten mornings and afternoon slumps with traditional coffee or energize lattes, mochas, and chai with rich espresso. Chefs cook up a menu of updated classics daily with local farm-fresh eggs and housemade sauces, stacking egg sandwiches with andouille sausage and deli sandwiches with pit-baked ham.
On select evenings, melodies and spoken words can be heard emanating from the Troy location, which hosts an open-mic night where local artists play music or slam poetry books onto the floor as guests sip cocktails and wine. The Cohens are proud of their local roots, and give back the loyalty they've received by frequently donating to local charitable causes. Daily Grind also has an online store, which outfits kitchens with loose-leaf teas, cappuccino machines, and gelato machines from brands such as Baratza, Gaggia, and Nemox.