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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Joe’s Grill (Albany, NY)

Joe's Grill, 1044 Central Ave, Albany,NY
Photo by Pete Dzintars (

The saying goes, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” And while this may not always hold true for eating establishments, it does apply to Joe’s.

I’ve always wondered about this place. The picture makes it look a lot better, but to me it has always looked shady. It may be because it is located on a stretch of Central Avenue that I wouldn’t be walking on by myself at night. And for a place that has been around for decades, I have never heard any local people talk about it, like  some other places on the avenue.

It was one of those rare occasions when M had a day off during the week and we found ourselves on that side of the river doing some errands. Wolf Road places were out of the question; Ralph’s was packed as usual; and Grandma’s was most likely out of their macaroni & cheese.

“Well, there is Joe’s,” I mentioned to M.

“But isn’t that a bar? Do they have food? Let’s go.”


We walked in to a bar full of friendly regulars who were very enthusiastic about helping us find our way around. Just like Ralph’s, the layout is somewhat similar – as you walk in, the bar area is on your right, the dining room to your left. The bar has a couple of two tops, but the space is tight and the bar takes up the majority of the room.

The dining room was completely empty, save for the constant flow of bar traffic to the restrooms. Although we felt sort of bad for making the bartender walk all the way over into the other room to wait on us, we likely weren’t in the same state of mind as most of the other patrons at that time. We were looking for a cheesy-food-fix, stat. What we found at Joes was glorious.


Garlic bread with cheese and tomatoes. Cheese crispies! I’m not sure what bread they use -- whether it’s homemade or not -- but after adding garlic, cheese, and tomatoes (as well as a little salt and pepper), the thought quickly left my mind. The outside was crispy, the inside was warm and soft, and the cheese was gooey. Paired with a basic marinara it was a great way to start dinner.


Large cheese pizza. After consuming all that garlic bread, I know… a bit of a redundancy. But M defended our selections, mentioning that at other places you get breadsticks with your pizza. And the garlic bread is in the same vein, albeit a whole lot better. Whatevs, can’t go wrong with bread, cheese, and tomatoes.

The pizza was another cheesy marvel. It’s a thin, hand-tossed crust, with sauce and a very generous amount of cheese. I would wager the cheese to crust ratio is somewhere in the ballpark of 3:2. And again, it definitely hit the spot, even though we ended up taking most of the pizza home with us.


Beer were on tap and your usual domestic. For three bucks, you really can’t complain. Food total was just over twenty-five dollars, which was reasonable. Pretty sure we’ll be going back there for more of that garlic bread.


Jon in Albany said...

I've always wondered about that place too. This is the first time I've ever heard anything about it. Sounds like it is worth a stop by.

Anonymous said...

food is excellent- fresh ingredients, very reasonably priced. Highly recommned

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