It’s Saratoga time, and that means it’s time for my annual guide to where to eat and drink while at the spa. Why am I the one telling you about this, you may ask? Well, I may not be a Saratoga local, but I’ve spent almost every summer of my thirty-whatever years of life in this stunning town and I’m sharing my favorites. This post traditionally comes with Twitter and Facebook commenters who are shocked/bewildered/sad/righteously furious that I left out certain spots, so be sure to read the replies to this piece’s social media posts to learn about even more great places to dine and drink!
Side note: I don’t drink, so I had to turn to my buddy and colleague Dan Tordjman for some bar recommendations. Hope he’s right!
Ready? Let’s hit it!
The racetrack: At least one morning of the meet, try to grab breakfast at the racetrack. You’ll dine as some of the most talented racehorses in the world get their morning exercise, and it’s completely beautiful.
Compton’s: Compton’s is where you go if you’re either ending (or recovering from) a huge night on the town. It has traditional diner food and the very untraditional hours of 4 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Eastern.
The Bread Basket: Looking for the freshest muffins, pastries, and breakfast sandwiches around? Check out the Bread Basket for all your carb-y needs.
Mrs. London’s: This is one of those places that I make a point to bring people on their first trip to Saratoga. The patisserie is home to some of the finest pastries west of Paris, and they also make a really wonderful cup of coffee.
Hattie’s: I know, you don’t think of fried chicken as a staple of upstate New York, but trust me on this: Hattie’s makes some of the best in the nation. This place is a must while you’re in town. Plus, they have a second location at the racetrack, which makes it even easier to try their delicious signature fried chicken.
Shake Shack: OK, so, Shake Shack is totally a chain burger joint, and I own that it’s not exactly exclusive to Saratoga. BUT! This branch is located just outside of the paddock at the track, and it has Spa-centric offerings you can’t get anywhere else. Come for the Shackburger, stay for the Sloppy Track shake.
Sweet Mimi’s Café and Bakery: Sweet Mimi’s is open for both breakfast and lunch, but I put it in the latter category because I’ve been craving their salads for about ten months now. Everything at Sweet Mimi’s is farm-to-table, and it’s all fresh and incredibly delicious. I want to go there right now. Note: they don’t take reservations, but they do give you free coffee while you wait for a table.
The Wishing Well: The Well is a Saratoga staple: go there any night during the racing season, and you’ll dine alongside top owners and Hall of Fame trainers. The food is classic American steakhouse fare, but trust me on this: you want to order the corn. I know it sounds weird, but the Wishing Well has the best, sweetest, freshest corn on the cob you will ever try in your life. Don’t believe me? Ask my friend Alicia on Twitter. She’ll back me up.
Salt and Char: In the mood for really, really good steak? Then make a reservation at Salt and Char. Their menu is traditional steakhouse fare, but everything is grown and/or raised locally, which means it tastes amazing.
Osteria Danny: This place opened a few years ago, and it’s quickly risen to be among the top fine dining destinations for the racing set. Chef Danny Petrosino changes the menu pretty much every day, depending on what’s available from local farms. But you are guaranteed an amazing Italian-influenced meal every time you dine there, so if you win a big bet, make a reservation.
Pennell’s: Continuing on the Italian tradition, Pennell’s is one of those places that has a cult following at the Spa. Serving up staples like eggplant parmigiana and shrimp fra diaviolo along with fresh pasta and seafood, Pennell’s is where you go if you want a delicious take on comfort food.
The Mouzon House: If you want to do what the Spice Girls advised and spice up your life, head to the Monzoun House for some delicious farm-to-table Creole food. There’s literally nothing bad on the menu, but I gravitate to the gumbo or the shrimp and grits.
15 Church: Craving refined dining with a sense of history? Head to 15 Church, which is located in a restored historic building. They serve up delicious food in two separate areas: the more upscale dining room as well as the more casual patio.
Sperry’s: Sperry’s offers classic American dishes in an intimate setting: the food is amazing, and it’s long been a favorite for racing’s biggest names. The best part? Their outdoor area turns into one of Saratoga’s hottest bars at night, so you have one-stop shopping for outstanding dinner and drinks.
Siro’s: Located right next to the racetrack, Siro’s has long been a watering hole for racing fans. They also offer dinner, but be warned: it’s very expensive. Instead, go to the bar after a day a the track for drinks and live music, or head there late-night to sing along with Roger on the piano.
The Parting Glass: If you love horse racing, drinking, and Irish pubs, do I have great news for you: your new favorite spot is the Parting Glass. With a bar, a music venue, and a games room, this place has all the evening entertainment you could hope for in three rooms; plus, the walls are covered in horse racing memorabilia.
Henry Street Taproom: Dan says that this place is his favorite in Saratoga thanks to the incredible beer selection – their beer menu changes weekly – plus they have dollar oyster night on Mondays.
Adelphi Wine and Beer Garden: Want to sip wine with the beautiful people? Head over to the luxurious Adelphi Hotel’s wine and beer garden to enjoy cocktails and sushi as the sun sets.
Druthers Brewing Company: What does Dan like about Druthers? The outdoor space, the great scene, it’s affordable, and they brew their own beer on site. What more could you want?