Oh, lovely Schenectady (ske-nek-ta-dee, you're welcome). Honestly, one of the most underrated food cities of our time.

If you're a Union College student, a parent visiting said student, a tourist, or maybe your car was lucky enough to break down in this city, you my friend are in for one tasty adventure. Schenectady is home to some of the best restaurants—in my humble opinion—and some of the greatest little grab-and-go eateries for all your hungry desires.

So, where the heck do you start? For all you newbie foodies to the Schenectady area, have no fear. Here's the ultimate guide to eating and drinking in our beloved city to satisfy any food craving or situation you might find yourself frazzled in. Prepare to salivate.

1. When you're craving a slice: I Love New York Pizza

Pizza is a universally loved food that brings everyone together. Has pizza ever been used as a tool for solving our country's big issues? If not, we should give it a try.

I Love New York Pizza is a little slice (or 12) of heaven wrapped in a hot, greasy cardboard box. The gooey cheese is always melted to utter perfection, and you just cannot beat their pepperoni. I’m also a strong believer that I Love NY Pizza, along with all other pizzas, taste 10x better when eaten after midnight or during finals. #LifeTips

What to order: ZITI PIZZA. The ziti pizza from I Love New York Pizza could quite possibly be the greasiest, cheesiest, most insanely delicious pizza I have ever consumed. If you've ever questioned putting carbs on top of more carbs, you have not experienced heaven yet.

Location: 1705 Union St, Schenectady, NY 12308

2. When you're "doing it for the Insta": Perecca's

bread, toast, meat
Julia Portnoff

There's no doubt that Perecca's will satisfy your Insta cravings on a whole new level. Located on Jay street, Perreca’s is known for their insanely delicious breakfasts and their incredible Italian food. They make their own homemade bread (oh yeah, did I forget to mention there’s a bakery right next door?). You are SURE to get hella likes on your Insta seconds after you click submit. We’re talkin' a prime like-to-time ratio. No matter what you get, it’s served beautifully and tastes even better. Go make a reservation quick because this place fills up.

What to order: A definite favorite from Perecca's across the board would have to be Eggs In Purgatory. They're sunny side up, baked in a spicy tomato sauce served with toasted and buttered homemade bread. I recommend getting it with their house-made sausage mixed in.

Location: 31 N Jay St, Schenectady, NY 12308

3. When you've had a rough week: Peter Pause

Oh Peter Pause, how you hold a special place in my dear old heart. Nothing quite hits the spot on a Saturday or Sunday morning like a hella good breakfast. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever gone to bed on a weekend night without making definite plans for the ~undoubtedly~ best meal of the day. I’ll take 24 eggs over easy with a side of an entire pigs-worth of sausage and bacon and a pile of home fries with a whole loaf of toast on the side, please.

The love Union students have for Peter Pause is one for the movies. Not only is this little place right on Nott Street (you can literally see Richmond from the window), but they also serve breakfast all f'in day. I repeat. Eggs. All. Day. Oh, did I mention fresh Italian bread, too? Uh-huh honey.

What to order: Chocolate chip pancakes (that bring new meaning to the term fluffy) or The Dutchman Breakfast Special (three eggs, bacon, ham, corned beef hash or sausage with home fries and toast) all just for $6.50. I know, chills.

Location: 535 Nott Street, Schenectady, NY 12308

5. When your parents are visiting and footing the bill: Aperitivo

bread, toast
Madison Shapiro

Hi Mom and Dad. Welcome to Union. Missed you so much. Now buy me real people food.

When your beloved parents make the journey to see their precious little bundle of joy, the first thing they’ll probably want to do is take you out for dinner. And for heaven's sake, do not let them off easy with this one. Aperitivo is located on State street and it's a prime place to go if your parents are treating. They are known for their contemporary small plate meals, but they also serve delicious Italian pizzas and pastas. 10/10. Bon appetit frandz.

Need more ideas? Here are some other places you should make them take you. Dear parents, we really look forward to these meals incase you couldn't tell.

What to order: My personal favorites would have to be the Hot and Cold Caprese, or literally any of the flatbreads. My tip would be to get a few of everything and go splitsies with the fam or your friends.

Location: 426 State St, Schenectady, NY 12308

6. When you need late night munchies: Rathskeller

tea, coffee, beer, pizza
Photo courtesy of union.edu

We’ve all been there and there’s no denying it. We’re college kids and what is more stereotypically "college-kid" than needing that disgustingly greasy meal at midnight. In Schenectady, not much is open super late (aka when we’re all thriving and starving, sos). Have no fear, Union dining is on our side with this one.

Find the small staircase underneath Old Chapel and check out Rathskeller, home of the most delicious mac and cheese, mozzarella sticks, chicken tenders, loaded fries...You name it, they have it. 

#SpoonTip: You can use meal swipes and save declining.

What to get: Mac and cheese for sure. Dunk the mac in barbecue sauce or ketchup for an extra hit of deliciousness.

Location: Underneath Old Chapel on our very own Union campus, talk about convenient

7. When you're trying to be fancy: Marotta's

sauce, cheese, pasta, meat
Sophie Rosen

Yep, it’s true. Sometimes in college you just wanna break out of your hoodie and massive sweatpants and look like a normal human being. Maybe even, dare I say, put…on…makeup…*shiver* Well, when that day comes that you need to convert out of your homeless style into a bomb ass cute version of yourself, you need to go somewhere worth the effort. And that, ladies and gents, is where Marotta's comes in.

Marotta’s is literally down the street from Webster dorm, so again, #NoCarNoProb. When I say it's delicious and worth every single dollar past your price range, I mean it. It's definitely more upscale than other restaurants in Schenectady. Everything served at Marotta’s is insaaaaane, and looks pretty too.

What to order: Their vodka rigatoni with chicken is truly unworldly. 

Location: 611 Union St, Schenectady, NY 12308

8. When you’re cramming for exams and Schaffer is full: Ambition

egg, sausage, bacon, cheese, cheddar, fried egg, sandwich, scrambled
Sophie Rosen

The super cute thing about Schenectady is that there are truly charming coffee shops. We all know how crazy the library gets during finals week, and since Union students are oh so fortunate to get to go through finals not twice, but three times (I’m lookin' at you trimesters, sass intended). Sometimes we just need an escape from the dark depths of the Schaffer library basement. Down on Jay street, Ambition is a small restaurant with awesome breakfast. The best part? It's cheap. Get a bacon egg and cheese, a coffee, and get crack-a-lackin’ on those books. Go down early to snatch a table and stay there all day. 

What to order: Sausage egg and cheese if you're feeling breakfast, or the turkey avocado if you're in the mood for a sandwich.

Location: 154 Jay Street, Schenectady, NY 12308

9. When you're sick of Reamer Coffee: Happy Cappuccino

We’re college kids. Coffee is an essential, and when it’s a daily need, and not just a want, sometimes we need a bit of a switch up. Totally understandable. We love you Reamer, but hear us out on this one.

When you’re feeling a need to get your cup-o-joe somewhere new, go down to Happy Cappuccino on Jay Street (right across from Ambition). Happy Cap is a little coffee shop serving only the best to satisfy all your caffeine filled needs. Plus the logo sort of looks like a smiling cup of coffee (kinda? yeah? maybe?). What could brighten your day more?

What to order: Happy Cappy Mocha is basically everything your coffee-craving sweet tooth could desire in one fun cup. White mocha with caramel, mm mm good.

Location: 185 Jay St, Schenectady, NY 12308 or 1 Crossgates Mall Rd, Albany, NY for the mall location

10. When you're craving something sweet: Puzzles

chocolate, bread, cookie, wheat, pastry, sweet, cake
Madison Shapiro

Basically, come to Puzzles, support and amazing cause, and eat insane chocolate chip cookies all at the same time. What more could ya need?

Cookies the size of your face and muffins and cupcakes that taste even better than they look? Uh, yes please. Puzzles bakery is super close to the Union campus, aka no car no problem. Now you can totally justify getting that baked good after you walked there and back. What’s even better about Puzzles (besides their goodies) is that they are determined to improve the lives of those affected by autism spectrum disorders. Puzzles provides adults with disabilities the opportunity to work in an environment alongside people without disabilities, offering them the same wages and allowing them to grow as people and increase their social skills.

What to order: The chocolate chip cookies are as big as your head, chewy and melty to utter perfection. Need I say more?

Location: 515 State Street, Schenectady, NY 12308

11. When you're craving Italian: Johnny's

pasta, sauce, chicken
Madison Shapiro

Let’s be honest, when don’t we crave Italian food? If you’re anything like me (and most Americans) you hold a special spot in your heart for good Italian. If you’re craving homemade noodz, bomb bread, and just a delicious experience, Johnny’s is right on State Street and has your name on it. Truly don’t think I’ve ever left Johnny’s unsatisfied. One time I even went three nights in a row. I know, maybe a little excessive, but if you’ve been there you know that this is totally justifiable. You won’t be sorry going to Johnny's on any given night. 

What to order: The Pink Sauce Alla Olivia (I like to add broccoli for extra umph) never disappoints and could make anyone drool.

Location: 433 State Street, Schenectady, NY 12308

12. When you're craving Asian: Zen

It's super unlikely that you never take a trip down for dinner at Zen if you're in the Schenectady area. Probably one of the many go-to places for a munch. Zen takes good asian food to a whole new level my friends. Not only is the decor inside aesthetically pleasing, but their sushi is amazing and the pad thai is to die for. Here’s a little helpful tip, go on your birthday and get a free flaming (yes, on fire) fried ice cream. Mhm. You read that right. Praise jesus hallelujah. 

What to order: Chicken pad Thai for sure. It's served in massive portions, and it tastes just as good for leftovers. Plus, extra points for the pretty presentation.

Location: 469 State Street, Schenectady, NY 12308

13. When you're craving Froyo: Ayelada

strawberry, sweet, berry
Sophie Rosen

Meet my new best friend, Ayelada. Ayelada is a bit of a drive away from the Union campus  (about 15 minutes) but when I say it’s worth it, oh honey, you have no idea. Everyone needs froyo in their life and if you say otherwise you’re just either lying or so wrong. Ayelada is the best froyo because: a) it’s freshly crafted froyo b) they only use local ingredients and c) a cup can be as little as 25 calories. They only serve four flavors at a time (don’t worry, they always have original and you can check the flavors online before you go) which makes it easy for those of you that are indecisive. The toppings are also endless. Worth the trek if you ask me. Bring me back a small original with mochi and strawberries please? I’ll venmo. 

What to order: Original is always a go-to for so many, but try some of the fruity flavors like triple berry or raspberry. If you're more into chocolate or coffee, they're coffee flavor comes straight from Happy Cappuccino's coffee and their chocolate hazelnut is perfection. Go crazy with those toppings. #SpoonTip: Union students get a discount, and ask for a stamp card to earn your way to a free small.

Location: 1210 Troy Schenectady Road, Latham, NY 12110

14. When you're craving Mexican: Mexican Radio

Mexican food is delicious, there is just no denying it. What couldn’t be good with cheese, sour cream, and guac heaped over it or wrapped up in a tortilla? Nothing. So, next time you’re in the wonderful Schenectady and craving all that Mexican goodness, head over to Mexican Radio for a rad time. They even have vegan and gluten free options if you’re into that sorta thing. 

What to order: The Baja fish tacos are incredible. Three soft corn tortillas stuffed with tilapia, shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, guacamole, Baja crema and spicy arbol salsa. Um, yes please.

Location: 325 State St, Schenectady, NY 12308

15. When you're craving greasy food: Nico's

We all have this craving. There is no denying it whatsoever. And don’t even get me started with Nico’s. To put it quite simply, my friends and I ordered a boatload of food from here for the Superbowl and it did not disappoint. I’m talking food on food on food (on grease on grease on grease). Mozzarella sticks, chicken wings, popcorn chicken, alfredo spaghetti, and a ton of pizza makes for some very happy college kids. And the best part? It’s cheap. I know, makes my wallet feel all happy and tingly. Nico’s is super close to campus, also on state street, no shocker there and oh so worth the calories. 

What to order: Mozzarella sticks, hands down. Gooey and fried perfection ideal for any greasy craving you might be battling.

Location: 441 State Street, Schenectady, NY 12308

16. When you're craving fresh produce and baked goods: Schenectady Greenmarket

cake, pastry, sweet, chocolate, cookie, muffin, blueberry, blueberry muffin, goody
Sophie Rosen

You might be pushing mama’s broccoli and fruit salad aside now, but just wait until you come to school and crave nothing more than some green in your diet. Easily one of the best parts of Schenectady in the fall, besides for the stunning New England campus students are so lucky to admire everyday, is the farmer’s market right by City Hall. The outdoor Schenectady Greenmarket is open Sundays, May through October, from 10 am to 2 pm and it is home to some of the freshest, most delicious food around. They even open in Proctors during the winter. I’m talkin’ fruits and veggies galore, and don’t even get me started on the homemade muffins, cookies, and baguettes. Go hit it up this fall. It’s about a 10 minute walk, and in the beautiful weather, what better way to spend a Sunday?

What to get: A favorite amongst Union students is the homemade, fresh pesto stand. And obviously what's better to dunk into pesto than a fresh baguette?

Location: 105 Jay St, Schenectady, NY 12308

17. When you're craving Mediterranean: Union Cafe 

rice, chicken, salad
Madison Shapiro

Oh, Union Cafe how I love you so. There’s just something about a Greek diner, ja feel me? Not only does Union Cafe have amazing breakfast, but the Greek salad is to die for. It is super scrumptious, but there are also Union hockey jerseys hanging up on the walls. How spirited are they? So order up some gyro and admire the Union-ness of it all. If you need a buddy I am more than willing to accompany you for a slice of this place.

What to order: The Greek gyro plate comes with enough food to fill anyone's belly and will leave you scheduling your next trip back.

Location: 1725 Union Street, Schenectady, NY 12308     

18. When you're craving something new: Tara's Kitchen

If you’re one that loves to go adventurous when it comes to trying new places, look no further than the oh so exotic Tara’s Kitchen. Tara’s is a Moroccan restaurant located in downtown Schenectady. If you’re skeptical and asking yourself what the heck Moroccan food is, take the risk. They’re specialty are tagines. Now, to answer your second question, a tagine is basically a special kind of fancy bowl filled with spiced meats and vegetables. Super fun place to go when you want something a little different, and the pita and hummus make the experience 10x better.

What to order: The spinach, potato, and poached egg tagine. The lamb meatballs are also mouthwatering.

Location: 431 Liberty Street, Schenectady, NY 12308

19. When you want to watch the game: Luca's

pizza, chicken, bacon, cheese, mozzarella, jalapeno
Photo courtesy of Lucas on Facebook

Spotted: right across the street from Richmond and AD, a small neon PIZZA sign looms in the distance. Well, enter this small restaurant oh so close to campus and be overwhelmed with deliciousness. Luca’s is an insanely good, small, Italian restaurant (with more options than just Italian) that is right next to Peter Pause aka you can literally see Richmond from the window. With big TV's all over the place, and an extensive menu, it’s the perfect spot to cheer and scream for whatever team you fondle over #sportz. 

What to order: High key recommend the Greek salad, and the margarita pizza is hella delish. They put seasoning on their crusts, so if you weren't a crust person before, you are now. They also have fried mac and cheese bites and other fried apps if you're feeling oh so unhealthy.

Location: 547 Nott Street, Schenectady, NY 12308

20. When you want live music: Centre Streete

What could be more fun than a bangin’ live music jam sesh to go along with some delicious food? Honestly, nothing. Playing Spotify in the background of your dorm with your delivery pizza doesn’t quite deliver the same effect.

Centre Street Pub is an awesome time not only because of the delicious food, but also because of the fun, hyped atmosphere that you can only get with a live band right there. Head over here on Union Street for a rockin’ time.

What to order: Pizza, burgers, and buffalo chicken sliders are a go-to. 

Location: 308 Union Street, Schenectady, NY 12308

If you didn't believe Schenectady was a food city before, I hope I convinced you otherwise. Home to some of the best food I've ever experienced, a trip to Schenectady or down to State Street is totally worth it.