One of the first things we learn as kids is usually the alphabet. It's important, and it ends up being fundamental. Well read carefully, everyone, because the food ABCs of Union are probably just as important if you're planning on spending any amount of time here. There's plenty of great restaurants around, but if you need help narrowing it down, look no further.

A is for...Apertivo

They advertise themselves here as having Italian food with a modern twist, and they definitely follow through. From spaghetti with chicken meatballs in a yellow tomato sauce to pizzas with all sorts of interesting toppings, as well as the classics like margherita, this place is perfect for a group with a mix of adventurous and more reserved eaters.

B is for...Bumpy's Polar Freeze

Liza Wolf

You've got to take full advantage of those miraculous days where it's not negative degrees in upstate New York. And the best way to do that is clearly going to get ice cream. Bumpy's is my go-to whether I want a simple sugar cone with vanilla soft serve or the ultimate Cookie Overload Sundae. 

C is for...Cocobar

A little newer on the block than some of these other spots, but no less delicious. They've got some classics that are sure to hit the spot, like chocolate covered pretzels, rice crispy treats, and nut clusters, plus some of the best hot cocoa I've ever had. To sum it up, it tastes like drinking melted chocolate. Plus, as if all that isn't incentive enough, they've got soft serve ice cream for only 99 cents.

D is for...Denny's

Is this the classiest establishment in Schenectady? No. Is it the most local or original? Also no. But is it open 24 hours and always there if you need or want it? Yes. And for that reason, Denny's made the list. Thank you for being a place I know I can get a milkshake at any hour of the day.

E is for...El Charro

I'm a big fan of Mexican food, but every once in a while I hesitate before going out to eat because like so many college students, money is a thing I don't have enough of. El Charro solves that problem by having $1 tacos every Monday. It's a little bit of a drive from campus, but nothing too crazy, and did I mention $1 tacos? Even if it's not Monday, the food is worth the trip (and pretty reasonably priced for eating out).

F is for...Ferrari's Ristorante

There is a section of their menu called "lotsa pasta." That really says it all about this Italian restaurant. It's a little bit out of the way from where a lot of other popular places are located, but the food more than makes up for the extra time it takes to get there, and as far as bang for your buck, this place can't be beat.

G is for...Gershon's Deli

When I was abroad, the things I missed most can all be located within a Jewish deli, so when I came back, I had a renewed appreciation for Gershon's. Ever since the first time I came here and they served me a sandwich so thick I could barely bite it, it's been one of my favorites. 

H is for...The Happy Cappuccino

If you’re into coffee, Happy Cap is a must. All of their coffee and espresso is fair trade and organic, not to mention a delicious way to get that caffeine fix. Maybe that's not your thing? No problem. They also sell tea, hot chocolate, and even smoothies. Plus, they’ve also got soup, salad, and sandwiches. The best part is that even if you’re vegan or gluten-free, they’ve got you covered with some equally yummy looking options.

I is for...I Love New York Pizza

Good pizza places are a must-find anywhere you go, in my opinion, so here's one of my recommendations around Union College. I Love is well known with the students here (for good reason). I've heard people yell at their friends because they haven't tried the baked ziti pizza from's serious business. 

J is for...Johnny's

Liza Wolf

When my parents come to visit, this is always the place I try to have them take me. A little on the pricier side compared to some other places, but for a treat every once in a while it's totally worth it. Their homemade pasta is amazing and they have Italian nachos, which are basically fried noodles with veggie and sausage toppings smothered in a cream sauce. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. 

K is for...Katz Kafe

This cafe is modest looking, but it's been one of my favorite finds here. It's just a short walk from Union's campus and is pretty much the definition of local. The owner is also the cook and half the people there, whenever I go, are regulars whose order's he has memorized. It's my go-to place whenever I'm craving a breakfast sandwich or a cozy meal. 

L is for...Luca's Grill

Liza Wolf

Almost certain the delivery guy from Luca's knows my roommate and I by now. This is my number one choice for ordering in, solely because I could live off of their spinach, tomato, feta cheese pizza. They also have a variety of quesadillas (if you still want cheese in bread, but in a different form) and sides like potato skins and zucchini (if you want something other than cheese and bread).

M is for...Memphis King

I haven't met anyone that would argue with me if I said that this is the best BBQ in Schenectady. Their ribs and wings are fall-off-the-bone good and their pulled pork sandwiches are equally fantastic. Vegetarian? Fear not! I'm also in love with their mac and cheese. 

N is for...Nico's Pizzeria and Rooftop Tavern

The pizza slices are actually giant here. That's the first thing you need to know. The second thing you need to know is that they have an awesome rooftop tavern that has outdoor seating when it's nice out and hosts events like trivia nights and paint nights. So the next time you decide you've had enough of Upper, Nico's should be at the top of your list to try out.  

O is for...Oliver's Cafe

I didn't find out about Oliver's until fairly recently, when a family friend who's a Union Alum brought me as it was his favorite spot when he was a student. And now I'm just upset I didn't know about it sooner. You can see into the kitchen from anywhere you're sitting, which I always think is fun, and they've always got great specials on top of all the classic diner foods you'd expect to see.

P is for...Peter Pause

On those days when you wake up and need some brunch that isn't from the dining hall, Peter Pause is the ultimate. I get the same thing nearly every time I go and haven't gotten sick of it yet because the food is that good. It's right across the street from campus, so there's absolutely no excuse not to try it. And I can almost guarantee that once you try it, you'll be going back again. 

Q is for...Pho Queen

The perfect place to go for a meal to warm you up. Possibly the best part: they deliver, so you don't even have to leave to enjoy it. There's almost nothing that sounds better in the winter than sitting in comfy clothes (and if you're me, smothered in blankets) and eating some noodle soup. Plus they have bubble tea, which isn't always easy to find, but is delicious and TBH super fun to drink.

R is for...RARE

With a name like Rare Craft Steak House, it's no surprise the steaks and other meats are absolutely on point. Don't be put off if you're not a big meat eater, though, they also have a great build-your-own pizza option, and my best friend's personal favorite, the vodka rigatoni.

S is for...Sweet Frog

Remember when I talked about those beautiful warm days in Schenectady? If you're more into froyo than ice cream, or just want to mix it up, Sweet Frog is definitely the move. Always great flavors and toppings, no matter what flavor profile you're feelin' that day, Sweet Frog's got you covered.

T is for...Tara Kitchen

I'm a huge fan of Italian food, and there's a lot of it around town, but there is a limit to the amount of it that I can consume. Enter Tara Kitchen. It's absolutely one of my favorite places to go around Union, and the only complaint I have is that they don't take reservations, so sometimes it can be hard to get a table if you don't plan ahead. But it's such a homey restaurant, and Moroccan food is something a little more unique to eat, not to mention it all tastes absolutely bomb.

U is for...Union Cafe

Great breakfast food: check. Great Greek food for every other meals: also check. It does require driving to get there, but that just means if you don't have a car, you should make a friend with a car. Then drive here. The owner is usually around and so friendly, as is everyone else on the staff, which only makes me feel better about the amount that I go here to eat. 

V is for...Villa Italia

Villa Italia has a delicious lunch menu of sandwiches and salads, but most importantly, the sweets here are absolutely unreal. The pastries and cookies are my absolute favorite, and the best if you ever need to get anyone a little gift.

W is for...Wolff's Biergarten

Is this a great place to go for beer? I'm told yes, which is what you'd expect from a biergarten. But they also have some really great food. Loaded fries, mac & cheese, and a variety of bratwursts are all I need to be happy. And if you're a soccer fan, they show all the big games on their TVs. It's the perfect place to celebrate a win, or commiserate over a loss.

X is for...Mexican Radio

OK so it doesn't start with an X, but there's an X in the name, which is close enough. I just had to get it in here because even though it's not the only Mexican place on the list, it's absolutely my favorite within walking distance of Union. It's nice for large parties as they've got plenty of room, they have vegan friendly options, and last time I went my table got an order of nachos so large we thought we weren't going to be able to finish them. Yes, please. 

Y is for...Yoshi Sushi

Yoshi Sushi has all the Japanese sushis and soups you would expect, as well as specials every day. It's named for the man who is also the chef and his wife, and who doesn't love a good family business? Plus, if you're in a rush or just want to eat in the comfort of your own home, they offer takeout too.

Z is for...Zen

A place everyone goes for their 21st birthday for the scorpion bowl, but also a place I've taken my family because my sister is obsessed with their pad thai. Get you a restaurant that can do both. 

And there you have it, folks. 26 alphabetical restaurants. Now you know your ABCs, so next time you're trying to figure out where to eat, won't you remember these.