Note: The Vegan Dining Guide: Albany Region comes to us from Kristin Lajeunesse, author of Will Travel For Vegan Food. Her details are at the end of the guide.
No matter where I am in the world when I tell people I’m from New York they immediately say something about how it must be a great city to grow up in and/or how much they enjoyed eating here or there in this part of Manhattan or that part of Brooklyn. However, I didn’t grow up in New York City, but rather in upstate New York near the capital region. The capital region of New York state includes the cities of Troy, Albany, Schenectady, and Saratoga Springs, and has some fantastic vegan and vegan-friendly gems scattered throughout.
So, the next time you’re on a road trip that takes you through another part of New York be sure to check out this vegan dining guide to Albany and add the following eateries to your list of potential foodie nom noms!
Berben & Wolff’s Vegan Delicatessen
The capital region’s only 100 percent vegan establishment, Berben & Wolff’s Vegan Delicatessen is a must-visit on your way through the Albany region. Located on Lark Street, which is Albany’s most hip and popular roadway featuring some of the city’s most unique kitschy shops, bars, and other food joints, Berben & Wolff’s picked up where former vegan establishment The Brakes Coffeehouse & Provisions left off.
With decedent comfort foods like their cheesy, melt-in-your mouth breakfast sandwich, homemade seitan chicken burgers, and a‘secret menu’ Big Mac (which is more reminiscent of the traditional version than I care to admit), you’re sure to find something here to love.
Though the menu is small, they do offer plenty of gluten-free options, weekly specials (like Wing Wednesday), and desserts made by a local vegan baker. Enjoy coffee from local roastery Death Wish Coffee and other canned beverages while chowing down your meal in this small, second floor space, surrounded by hip and edgy decor!
227 Lark St., Albany, 12210 | 518.599.5306
Open: Tuesday – Saturday: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Sunday: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
New World Bistro Bar
One of the finer dining options in the capital region, New World Bistro Bar’s warm and inviting decor — accented with exposed brick walls and pillars, dark cherrywood furniture, and perfectly set mood lighting — makes it a great space for a special occasion, dinner date, or done-up bar drinks with friends.
They offer about a half dozen fully-vegan and clearly labeled options throughout their main menu, including their signature blackened spicy stringbeans with Creole remoulade, blue corn crusted seitan cutlets with island yams and greens, and their big plate of brown rice and chimichurri tofu.
300 Delaware Ave., Albany, 12209| 581.694.0520
Open daily: Monday – Thursday: 5 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.; Friday – Saturday: 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.; Sunday: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.; 5 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Little Anthony’s Pizzeria
Vegan owned and operated, this local favorite pizzeria –Little Anthony’s Pizzeria (featuring Imagine Desserts Vegan Bakery) — has a huge vegan menu! Although it’s an omni place they’ve got a separate vegan menu and desserts.
Dine-in, takeout, or get delivery and enjoy traditional, greasy pizza pies (with toppings like vegan meatballs, pepperoni, and sausage), various vegan calzones, nuggets, mozzarella sticks, garlic bread, and bruschetta; as well as baked ziti, parm, meatball, and Philly subs, to name a few.
Have you got a sweet tooth or need a custom vegan cake? Ask about the in-house desserts and catering by partner company, Imagine Desserts. Indulge in their cupcakes (which include flavors like chocolate chips, fudge, thin mint, strawberry, and cookies and cream), cookie cakes, coffee chip and triple berry muffins, biscotti, and scones.
1095 Central Ave., Albany, 12205 | 518.459.5959
Open daily: Sunday – Tuesday: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Wednesday – Thursday: 10 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.; Friday – Saturday: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Healthy on Lark
Walk just a couple blocks from Berben & Wolff’s to Healthy on Lark to enjoy some freshly pressed juices, smoothies, hearty salads, and a wide range of teas as well as housemade chickpea burgers, wraps, and soups.
Healthy on Lark is a vegetarian sit-in (their cozy, garden level eatery with a spiritual/buddha vibe) or take-away restaurant featuring many vegan options!
274 Lark St., Albany, 12201 | 518.650.7755
Open: Monday – Thursday: 7 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Friday: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Saturday: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Honest Weight Food Co-op
I often find myself ravenous for Honest Weight Food Co-Op’s freshly pressed apple, carrot, beet and green juices, and their sauteed tofu, vegan sausage, Daiya cheese breakfast sandwiches. This grocery store has an incredibly full and delicious daily hot bar with a rotating menu where more than half the options are usually vegan. They’ve also got a small make-your-own salad bar, and prepared foods sections with at least a dozen or so vegan options at a given time.
In the same location you’ll find a sweets sections with vegan brownies, cookies, and bagels, as well as a coffee station which provides almond and soy milks for drinks.
After filling up your dine-in plate and grabbing your juice, head to the “10 items or less” line to get your food plate weighed and then sit in the cozy dining area. You can even jump on the open wifi network to share pics of your new favorite secret lunch hot spot!
100 Watervliet Ave., Albany, 12206 | 518.482.2667
Open daily: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Albany Honorable Mentions
The weekly Troy Farmers’ Market is home to the capital region’s only vegan pop up foodie vendor, Vital Eats. Should you find yourself in Troy on a Saturday be sure to swing by the Farmers’ Market to grab a hearty falafel salad or burger and curly fries from Vital Eats.
Also be sure to pick up a few of their signature hot sauces, like Kimchi Sriracha, Zombie Blood Sriracha Verde or Tsunami Umami Savory Ketchup.
You can also find them at the Saratoga Famers’ Market on Sundays. And (!) their sauces are going into mass distribution mode throughout the capital region and soon in the Pacific Northwest!
49 4th St., Troy, 12181
Open: Saturday: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
One of Troy’s newest editions, The Shop is a hip and mood-lit bar open for dinner weekdays and lunch and dinner on weekends. The Shop has become the most vegan-friendly restaurant currently open in Troy, with about a half-dozen vegan options on the menu including a roasted garlic butter bean quinoa salad; a caramelized house seitan dish with fermented chili, scallion, sweet and savory sherry sauce with korean rice cakes; and an olive-oil-cured vegetable sandwich with whole grain mustard and vegan cashew cheese spread on a toasted baguette.
Their cocktails are worth a try, too. I recommend the Moscow Mule!
135 4th St., Troy, 12180 | 518.874.1899
Open: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 5 p.m. – 11 p.m.; Friday: 5 p.m. – 1 a.m.; Saturday: 12 p.m. – 1 a.m.; Sunday: 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Sunhee’s Farm & Kitchen
Another new addition to Troy’s up and coming classy dining out scene is the Korean Sunhee’s Farm and Kitchen. Just seeing the word “vegan” on a menu in Troy is pretty awesome so when the fam found this place we were pretty jazzed.
The Japchae sweet potato noodle starter paired with the veganized version of their Bibimbap rice bowl is worth checking out. Oh and try the sweet sticky rice cake for dessert. Yum!
95-97 Ferry St., Troy, 12180 | 518.272.3413
Open: Monday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Friday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Troy Honorable Mentions
When you think vegan options at Mexican restaurants you may conclude that you could possibly get a decent rice and beans meal. However, if you find yourself in Schenectady or Hudson, New York you can get so much more at Mexican Radio.
With things like vegan chili tortilla chip pie, Baja no fish tacos, deep fried flautas, apple taquitos, and coconut jalapeño margarita it’s easy to find authentic Mexican fare that’s completely veganized. They also promote the fact that they use separate fryers for the veg items, plus co-owner Lori is vegetarian so making sure they’ve always got stellar vegetarian and vegan menu items is her priority.
325 State St., Schenectady, 12305 | 518.621.3700
Open daily: Sunday – Thursday: 11:30 a.m. – 11 p.m.; Friday – Saturday: 11:30 p.m. – midnight
Bomber’s Burrito Bar
If you’d like some tater tots with that, check out the fast causal eatery, Bomber’s Burrito Bar—just a few blocks from Mexican Radio (they’ve also got a location in Albany across the street from Berben & Wolff’s).
Here you’ll find fried vegan chicken nuggets, crispy fries topped with BBQ tofu, a quinoa bowl, and your choice of a burrito or rice bowl filled with beans, vegan chicken strips, and salsa.
447 State St., Schenectady, 12305 | 518.374.3548
Open daily: 11 a.m. – 1 a.m.
Think Chipotle-style (the restaurant) but with pizza instead. Hop in line and ask for toppings as you move down the row of various veggies. They carry Daiya cheese as well! Blaze Pizza is an international chain with dozens of locations throughout the US and Canada. Here you can find this one in Schenectady and one in Albany too.
400 Balltown Rd., Schenectady, 12304 | 518.280.9490
Open daily: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Four Seasons Natural Foods
A Saratoga staple since 1988, Four Seasons Natural Foods started as a combo healthy vegetarian and vegan cafe with an attached grocery store in the same space. Fast forward to today and the cafe stands alone in the same location, with the grocery store having moved to 120 Henry St.
The cafe is a buffet-style eatery boasting healthy lunch and dinner options. The rotating menu often includes mix and match entrees, soups, salads, breads, muffins, pastries, juices, and smoothies — like French onion soup, tempeh salad, cream of potato, nori rolls, black bean pate, millet squash croquettes, seitan stew and so much more!
33 Phila St., Saratoga Springs, 12866 | 518.584.4670
Open daily: 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Saratoga Juice Bar
As the name suggests you’ll be in cold pressed juice heaven at the Saratoga Juice Bar. In addition to dozens of daily selections of freshly made juices and wellness boosting shots you’ll find healthy smoothie drinks, acai and smoothie bowls, and vegetarian and vegan salads and sandwiches. They also offer one-, three-, and five-day juice cleanses.
382 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 12866 | 518.583.1108
Open daily: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Another long standing local favorite, Scallions offers some vegan-ready and can-be-made vegan options, like their avocado breakfast toast, tabouli and falafel salad platter, quinoa salad, and their portobello mushroom vegan panini, and vegan braised lentils.
44 Lake Ave., Saratoga Springs, 12866 | 518.584.0192
Open daily: Sunday – Tuesday: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.; Wednesday – Friday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Saturday: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Specializing in cuisine from more than six different regions in India, Karavalli is a favorite among the vegan community in the capital region. With a clearly labeled vegan section on the menu featuring samosas, manchurian gobi, and dosai starters to eggplant masala, bean curd kadai, aloo gobi, and baingan chettinadu, to name a few, Karavalli has got your hankering for superior Indian cuisine covered.
47 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 12866 | 518.580.1144
Open: Tuesday – Thursday: 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.; Friday: 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.; Sunday: 12 p.m. – 3 p.m., 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
A list of great vegan and vegan-friendly eateries in upstate NY wouldn’t be complete without giving a few shoutouts to some awesome places that are technically outside of the capital region. Here are just a few:
Red Robin Song Guest House (vegan bed & breakfast)
Lugusta’s Luscious (vegan chocolates)
Confectionary! (sister to Lagusta’s)
And of course if you keep going west and north you’ll find even more options in cities like Rochester, Buffalo, Ithaca, and Utica! Check out VeganTravel.com and the HappyCow app for more!
About Kristin Lajeunesse
Kristin Lajeunesse is founder of and writer for the award-winning website Will Travel for Vegan Food. In September 2011, the New York native began traveling throughout the US in an effort to eat at every single all-vegan establishment she can find. Eighteen of those early consecutive travel months were spent living out of a renovated sports van affectionately named Gerty. As of July 2014, Kristin met her goal of visiting and eating in each of the 50 states and in April 2015 became a first-time traditionally published author with her memoir: Will Travel for Vegan Food. In 2016 Kristin was selected as part of a winning team for VeganTravel.com to embark on an around-the-world journey, documenting vegan food and culture throughout Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and Southeast Asia. Since returning to the US Kristin is now focused on creating the first nationally televised vegan travel show. A self-employed restaurant marketing strategist and promotional video maker, Kristin has chosen to maintain a location-independent lifestyle indefinitely. She has a Master of Arts in Integrated Marketing Communication from Emerson College. Follow her travels and business adventures on wtfveganfood.com and kristinlajeunesse.com.
Diana Edelman is the founder of Vegans, Baby. She previously lived and worked in Thailand where she spent years working for an elephant sanctuary and has traveled around the world speaking about the realities of elephant tourism. She is a public speaker who has appeared at SEED Food + Wine, VegFest Puerto Rico, VegFest Toronto and more, a journalist and entrepreneur. Diana is also behind the Vegas Vegan Dinners at James Beard Foundation’s James Beard House.