We completely understand the no car struggle. We've been through freshman year.

Decisions to take a taxi or walk to State Street can get old. Having some wheels on campus makes your eating adventures that much more accessible and that much more exciting. And now that Union College has Zipcar, you don't have to limit yourself to whatever is in walking distance. 


1. Iron Roost ($$)

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So, you wake up on Sunday morning and you’re craving waffles. Skip that dining hall brunch and head over to Iron Roost in Ballston Spa. Oh baby, is this the place to come for sweet, savory, and really, all waffle creations.

You’re gluten free? And vegan? Don’t worry, Iron Roost caters to all dietary restrictions. It’s the perfect place to satisfy your morning hanger.  And yes I mean hanger. 

2. Oliver's Cafe ($)

Oliver’s is a cure-all. Their breakfast portions are massive and honestly pretty creative for a restaurant its size. My favorite is the taco breakfast skillet (as seen above): a large skillet filled with scrambled eggs, taco meat, veggies, cheese and all those excessive Mexican fix-ins.

Honestly, I’ve never finished my whole plate but it’s something I aspire to do. They also have creative dishes like cornbread and banana bread french toast.

#SpoonTip: They do not take cards so bring yo cash.

3. West End Bagels ($)

In a bagel mood? You can never go wrong with the classics like poppy, sesame, or everything but some of West End Bagels menu options offer inventive flavors worthy of a Zipcar destination this term.

From french toast to chocolate chip to blueberry, and yes, the one and only rainbow bagel, this bagel shop is truly like no other. Looking to put your rainbow bagel making skills to the test? Give this colorful recipe a try. 

4. Manhattan Bagels ($)

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While West End Bagels may have the rainbow bagel, Manhattan Bagels likes to keep things classic. Expect bagels piled high, great breakfast sandwiches and an extensive cream cheese selection.  

Lunch & Dinner

5. Burger 21 ($$)

There are many local, fast-casual dinner places options, it can be tough to pick one. But once you try Burger 21, you will understand why it is the best one in the area.

They have insane burgers like the Tex-Mex Haystack (lettuce, tomato, applewood-smoked bacon, Gouda cheese, guacamole, onion strings, chipotle-jalapeño sauce, toasted brioche bun). Burger 21 uses all kinds of meats like chicken, turkey, tuna and even salmon for their burgers. Yes, I love the burgers, but my favorite thing is the cheese and ale fries. Gooey cheese sauce sprinkled with bacon and scallions and their thin cut fries perfectly.

Don't believe me? check out this here photo. And get ready for a tough decision because they have over 20 dipping sauces. We’re talking curry ketchup to classic honey mustard. This is a burger joint you’re going to want to take the trip to.  

6. Max London's ($$)

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When you think about an Italian restaurant, you think pastas, pizzas, cheeses, and maybe some fish or chicken dishes if you’re lucky. Max London’s has all of the above and more.

They absolutely kill the pizza game with individual pies from classics to creative options as well including margherita, pepperoni, Greek chicken and lobster. You’ll be sure to polish off every last slice. Also, they have a dope brunch.

7. 15 Church Restaurant ($$$)

This meal was one of the best meals I’ve had in all my life. That’s saying something because I eat a lot. But 15 Church is no cheap meal, I suggest going for a big birthday celebration or even graduation. Unless you’ve been saving, then I’m all for the splurge.

Expect tuna crudo served on a himalayan ice block or octopus and seared pork belly (sounds weird, but it’s not). They also have amazing sides like roasted mushrooms and mini sweet potato casserole, Thanksgiving style.

And save room for dessert because they have zeppoles. Zeppoles are an Italian dessert similar to mini donuts. Church 15's are unique because you get your own personal salted caramel and vanilla custard squirt bottles. Yup, you heard that right.

8. Chianti II ($$$)

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Chianti II is another meal worth a splurge, especially if you love Italian food. When I went I enjoyed a rabbit pasta. I know some people are scared of eating rabbit, but honestly it’s great. They also gave me a free dish when I went. To this day I am not sure why, but that made Chianti II good in my book. 

9. Hattie's ($$)

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There’s nothing better than a little southern hospitality. Hattie’s, established in 1938, is definitely a cute, cozy, must-try restaurant located in Saratoga Springs. They’ve got all your southern favorites from fried chicken to jambalaya and gumbo, there isn’t one classic Southern dish left off their menu. 

10. Druthers ($$)

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I have two words for you spoonies: mac and cheese. There is nothing in this world that I love more than some good ole’ fashion cheesy goodness and Druthers is absolutely my favorite place to find it. With locations in both Saratoga Springs and Albany, Druthers should definitely be a part of your next Zipcar adventure. 

11. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que ($$)

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Oh Dino Bar-B-Que, how I love you so. Good bar-b-que is hard to come by in an area like Schenectady, NY. Luckily, we have Dino Bar-B-Que in Troy. This place is like an institution, originated in Syracuse, they now have nine locations. One is even in NYC.

I suggest getting the pulled pork poutine fries. Poutine is an incredible Canadian dish that you should get familiar with if you're not already. Also, try the Wango Tango wings. Not entirely sure how to explain the flavor but it’s sweet and spicy at the same time. Next time you need to celebrate, go to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. 

12. Ala Shanghai ($$)

This place is the Chinese food you never knew you were missing. Fun fact about me, my favorite food is steamed buns and I love dim sum. I was lucky enough to hear about this from my friend who’s father is a professor (shout out to Professor Mueller).

Ala Shanghai is known for their soup dumplings. The drive to Latham is worth it because you’ll enjoy some of the best Chinese food in the area. And don’t be taken back by the outside of the restaurant, they just redid the inside so this hole-in-the-wall joint is  a whole new experience to eat at now.  

13. Bellini's ($$)

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Just when you thought one was all you needed, Bellini’s has two locations both around 20 minutes from campus. So whatever direction your Zipcar takes you, you can’t go wrong.

This Italian food destination is definitely a satisfying place, with big portions and carbs galore (aka the best part of Italian food). You’re missing out if you don’t stop by.  

14. New World Bistro ($$)

This place takes Friday Ozone lunches to the next level. With most of their ingredients locally sourced, organic and sustainable, New World Bistro truly knows where it’s at. They take advantage of all the best veggies, fish, and meat in the area and combine them to create super yummy dishes.     

15. Tanpopo Ramen and Sake Café ($$)

Ramen is all the rage right now. Last year, we had a Ramen Party and it was literally the best ever. So, if you’re looking to try out this trendy new dish, Tanpopo Ramen and Sake Café is the place to do it. Located in Albany, a Zipcar is all you need to give the flavors of ramen a try. Their variety is endless, so you’ll be sure to come back for more. 

16. Innovo Kitchen - $$

Innovo Kitchen opened last year and it is probably the trendiest place in the area. They have steamed buns, burrata, upscale hot dogs and even crispy confit chicken wings, yup. You should definitely take your parents here when they come to visit.

Innovo also has an insane brunch with a bloody mary bar (for your parents). I enjoyed pastrami eggs benedict and OMG was that good.  

17. Sake Café ($$)

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Looking for an alternative sushi bar? This is definitely your place. With countless sushi and sake options, the Sake Café in Albany offers all of your Japanese favorites. And just when you thought this place couldn’t get any better, it’s reasonably priced. So, hop in your Zipcar. 

18. Saigon Spring ($$)

Saigon Spring is the Vietnamese food hub that you have no idea you're missing out on. Many people don’t actually know what Vietnamese cuisine is like, but once you try pho, you’re hooked. This cuisine also has many other dishes worth the try. If you’re a summer roll, pho-lover like me you’re going to need to check out this place.  

19. Slidin' Dirty ($$)

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Okay let’s be real, there are tons of benefits to ordering the sliders at Slidin’ Dirty. They obviously are the perfect size. They’re extremely flavorful and best of all you don’t feel bad when you wanna order the award winning mac and cheese along with ‘em.  


20. Ayelada ($)

I know many of you know and love Ayelada. For those of you who can never get there, now you can with Zipcar. Lucky you. Their flavors change weekly, but their extensive froyo topping bar remains the same: excellent.

They also love Union students. Show off that lovely fresh-faced freshman year picture on your ID and get $1 off. It makes a difference, I swear.  

21. Bumpy's Polar Freeze

cream, ice, chocolate, sprinkles, goody, candy, sweet, waffle, wafer
Rachel Linder

Looking to feel like you’re ten years old again? Do yourself a favor and head on over to Bumpy’s Polar Freeze. Not only do they have a million flavors of your favorite frozen treat, but you can also hop in one of their water bumper cars and take it for a spin. Now tell me, what more could a college student want?  

Next time you and your squad are trying to decide where to go or what to do, nothing beats taste-testing some of our fave Capital Region destinations for any (or every) meal.