Saratoga Springs has long been known by race fans and vacationers as the “Summer Place to Be”. This phrase was originally coined by the Queen of Saratoga, Marylou Whitney, as the “August Place to Be” when the racing meet only ran for 24 days. It has since been used by both the City and Saratoga Race Course. This summer, we at Thorobros will highlight the events both on track and off-track that we deem are the “places to be” that week.
This week we map out for you a full weekend of gastronomical fun for your time in Saratoga.
Issue: Need recommendations for food/drink while in Saratoga.
Solution: Follow Thorosbros’ Gastronomical Map.
Here we will walk you through a full weekend of eating and drinking, with recommendations on the best and most fun places to eat and drink.
During the summer many weekends start on Thursday night, following a late evening drive/flight to Upstate New York. Most peope are tires, want a quick, filling meal so they can go to bed with a full tank ready to seize the weekend. Our choice for laying down the base for the weekend is El Mexicano on South Broadway. A very traditional Mexican restaurant with all the usual suspects, enchiladas suiza, mole poblano, tacos, burritos, chimichangas, fajita, tamales etc. But the hidden gem on the menu is the Tampiquena Naca - grilled flank steak, an enchilada suiza, an enchilada mole poblano, pepers and mushrooms in a cream sauce and guacamole. Its a feast fit for a handicapping king. The tequila selection is extensive and the Margaritas are great. Fill up the tank to get the weekend started.
Friday morning is a great day for an early trip to the track. Get there early, watch workouts and grab some of NYRA’s breakfast buffet hosted by the Big A – Anthony Stabile. This is always a good primer for a weekend at the track and great reminder of all the hard work that goes into training racehorses.
Fridays are often a delayed track appearance for many, with the crowd growing as the day progresses. A solid option for this day is hero from Roma’s Deli on Washington Street. Although its on the West side of Saratoga opposite the track, it is worth the extra drive/walk. A very traditional Italian deli, they have homemade mozzarella and imported prosciutto and mortadella. Get the Italian mix – but upgrade to homemade fresh mozz.
Friday Night after making an appearance at the track is the best time to throw down a “fancy” dinner. The hardest table to get in town, a favorite of many of racings Celebrities including Maggie Wolfendale and Jonathon Kinchen, is Solevo. And we believe it lives up to the hype. We’ve never had a bad bite there. The eggplant chips are a must try appetizer, all things red sauce are great and if veal is a special, hammer it like a Mott/Bailey connection in 1996. Also leave room for the homemade desserts made by Mama Solevo. If you can’t get a table at Solevo, many other great restaurants are available, including Big A’s favorite, Nove in Wilton – another great Italian spot, and Max London’s on Broadway .
Although we ATTEMPT to act like adults and go home on Fridays to handicap Saturday, for those itching for a few post-dinner cocktails we recommend Sperry’s. The outdoor patio is top notch and you are bound to strike up a racing conversation with many of racings best and brightest as regulars.
Saturday Morning brings new life and being a marathon full day at the track you need a solid, hearty and caffeinated breakfast. For this, head over to Walt Cafe. The Crager family opened up this joint cafe and brewery (Whitman Brewing – see more on this later) in 2019 and have opened up a big lead on the field for local coffee and beer. The coffee is great – try the nitro cold brew. The food is also excellent, with classic breakfast sandwiches and homemade pop-tarts (a/k/a Walt Tarts). Its a one stop shop for your morning needs, as you can also pick up a DRF and Saratoga Special in house.
For lunch on Saturday, you’ll be at the track and need something to pump you up for the late pick 5. But you might not want anything too heavy that you need a nap. The perfect solution is a lobster roll from Eddie F’s – a local New England style seafood shack that has a permeant location on Clinton Street. Eddie F’s is located next to the Hattie’s location at the track. Other options are the world renowned Hattie’s Chicken sandwich and the sneaky Thorobros favorite – Manhattan Clam Chowder.
After you crush the track, and likely a few (read: many) Coors Lights, you want some pub/bar food to soak it all up, recharge the batteries and get after a night on the Town. The best spot for this is Whitman Brewing – right where you were this morning for breakfast at 20 Lake Ave – in the old Saratogian Building. Their pub/bar/foodie inspired menu has exactly what you NEED after a day at the track. Best known for their beers and Detroit style pizza (think Grandma’s pie, mixed with the height of a Sicilian slice and the crust of a pan pizza), the kitchen their also whips out great burgers, wings and tasty cold noodles. The beer is the real star though, and a great improvement on Coors Lights for your maturing palette. They have everything from sours, to IPAs, to pale ales and a light beer (Dick Murphy Lite – what a great name). Grab a table inside or on the patio, order up a bunch of stuff family style, load on some more beers and you are ready for a night on the Town.
Saratoga is known for its nightlife, and there are plenty of clubs and bars that cater to the music/dancing scene. Our favorite is Dangos, as they usually have the best bands and have the largest dance floor. But if you are looking for a good drink, abnd especially a martini head to the hole-in-the-wall 9 Maple. A martini-bar if there ever was one, they are known for their espresso martinis which have been known as the first step in many an epic journey of a night on Caroline Street.
No night out is complete without late night food. The GOAT of drunk food in Saratoga (and worldwide in our eyes) is the Doughboy/Oboy from Esperanto. Think hot pocket but in pizza dough and WAYYYY better. Get a few as once you eat one, you’ll want five.
After a long night out, you’ll like be slow moving Sunday morning and wake up with an urge to refill your tank. If so, head to Phila Street and Sweet Mimis for the most impressive brunch. The cinnamon bun french toast is incredible, as are all other options on the menu. This will help you nurse the hangover before you head to the track for a few more or hit the road out of town.