From Lebanese restaurant to restaurant, Cohoes restaurant is worth it


In 2018, I wrote, “We saw lofts pop up in downtown Cohoes, noted business and pedestrian-friendly street maps, and imagined it wouldn’t be long before a spark of magic of rebirth does not pass from Troy. Is it finally Cohoes time to shine?

Since then my once infrequent trips to Cohoes have become more frequent. I told you about the white tile and plumbing pipe decor at Caskade Kitchen & Bar, revamped last year as the second location of its taco-and-margarita sibling Troy, The Daisy. I’ve talked about the flame-seared bacon in a bourbon Bloody Mary at Donnie Magoos burger-steakhouse, and I’ve introduced many to the Filipino turo turo buffet at D&L Catering. Even to the food misadventures and open mics packed at Cafe Monocle in its light-lit nook.

Unlike Troy’s rapid demo-and-reno, Cohoes’ revival has been a slow burn as young business owners hand-shifted thrift stores and tax offices and luxury lofts filled the loft. industrial Harmony Mills – the largest cotton mill complex in the world when it opened in 1872. Growth has hit side streets, where historic brick buildings still surprise, and iconic restaurants like Smith’s of Cohoes, open since 1937, and Joe’s Tavern, open since 1935, held firm. Now, in a sign of renewal, there is a wave of new arrivals. Head to Cohoes to see the falls that powered Spindle City’s textile industry, and stroll through the thriving cafes and bakeries of and around Remsen Street.

Lebanese from Teta Marie, 93 Ontario Street. This welcoming Lebanese restaurant opened its doors last September with a full range of traditional dishes, from beef kefta and shawarma to chicken shish tawook seasoned with cinnamon and tomato paste. There’s crispy kibbeh and beautifully pinched meat and spinach hand pies, and owners Brenda and Joseph Hage make pizzas topped with za’atar, awaki cheese, and meat seasoned with cinnamon and molasses. Joseph moved here from Lebanon; his wife, Brenda, a Cohoes native, not only learned Arabic, but also learned the family recipes from her mother, Marie Abbas, the inspiration behind the restaurant’s name. There’s room to dine indoors, and on sunny days they add sidewalk tables.

What to get: The mixed grill is an extraordinary affair. For $20 you get a sample of grilled meats and bowls of fluffy garlicky toum, smoked eggplant babaganoush topped with olive oil and sumac, lemon hummus and a fluffy pita bread steaming hot from the brick oven. More than enough to share.

The Tiny Diney, 300 Ontario Street This little restaurant has been around for 100 years and Robilee McIntyre, co-owner of Troy bar Footsy Magoo’s and owner of an art studio, has relaunched the restaurant with a partner for its next chapter. Tables are encrusted with vintage advertisements, shiny banquettes along the windows accommodate a carefully spaced few, and candy-colored stools line the counter. Not your place if you’re in a rush or need to order off the menu. You will wait for a table and the service, which is accompanied by a smiling look but without guaranteed speed; the activity behind the meager counter provides some in-house entertainment, though, with sizzling short orders on display and plates occasionally crashing onto the floor.

The simple menu of eggs, Diney sausages and to-go sandwiches for breakfast offers a few modern specialties like puffed eggs and candied bacon. Anything with eggs and cheese can be yours; add sausage and onions to your cheese omelet, but don’t look for tomatoes or anything green. A curbside pick-up service is available and there are plans for a roller-skate carhop service so customers can picnic from their vehicles. The Tiny Diney is an original gem. Arrive early, be patient or send it off.

What to get: If you are looking for a full cooked breakfast, the trucker special has everything you need. An Irish Blonde Brit is a breakfast oddity with bangers and mash, a stellar onion sauce, peas and sausages with taut skins that snap.

Cafe con Mel, 133 Remsen St. At the place where Melanie Diaz and Gio Lontoc offered their Filipino turo-turo buffet as D&L Hospitality Management, you’ll find a daytime cafe with Diaz and two partners making coffee and waffles. With catering events on hold, Diaz approached the city for help in becoming a community cafe with local makers selling their wares inside. The result is bright and airy, with rope and wood swings as window seats and an inviting yellow sofa that pops against a faux grass wall.

Diaz, who is Puerto Rican, always plays with global flavors like Korean cream cheese rolls and guava pastelitos. The cafe offers bagels from Golden Krust in Latham – the bakery opened in Cohoes in 1931, moving after a fire in 2006 – as well as fresh bottled juices from True Juice in Schenectady.

What to get: The purple Filipino ube mochi waffles are as moist and sweet as they are beautiful to look at. But here’s an important scoop: While D&L waits for big events to resume and finalizes its new dining space, you can order the area’s only Filipino food at Cafe con Mel with 48 hours notice. And you should. Who doesn’t need bachoy, pinakbet and braised pork shanks in brown sugar and soy called patatin, with a coconut cassava cake at the end?

Bye-i Brewing Craft Beer and Taproom, 122 Remsen Street. The trendy and open tasting room opened on Remsen last July with the stainless steel mash vats on display, the draft taps protruding from a wood clad bar wall and armchairs clustered in the large display cases . They look like a lobby – appropriate, since the floor plans of the new upstairs apartments are displayed on the glass.

Brewers Bob Newberry and George Powley have partnered with local restaurants (Anthony’s Italian, Cafe Monocle and D&L Catering) since their pandemic opening, offering a range of food options for those sipping beer flights and pints in seats well spaced or lacquered wooden bar. We were lucky enough to grab some crispy birria empanadas from Troy-based Lidia’s Empanadas when we stopped.

What to get: Order a flight and choose from unique flavors like Habanero Pale Ale, 1 in a Melon Wheat Beer, Taylor Tot Chocolate Coffee Stout, BoozeBerry Blonde Ale or — my personal favorite — DIPA’s Not Your Breakfast Juice. They also offer seltzer water infusions with fruit syrups and sweet dew sangria on tap. The menus offered vary according to the day and time.

Susie Davidson Powell is a British freelance food writer from upstate New York. Follow her on Twitter, @SusieDP


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