How to pick just 5 off the beaten path spots in Glens Falls? There are so many places you might not stumble across so easily.
Here’s my insider’s guide, written not just for the pass-through tourist, but the wandering foodie who appreciates the hidden gems Glens Falls has to offer.
Vibrant, Sustainable, Growing
The city of Glens Falls has restaurants, social bars and coffee shops for just about any occasion. The downtown hub hosts over twenty places within a walking block, where you can order out, dine in or simply enjoy the small city feel.
Small businesses like these support the community of Glens Falls, and bring us together like a pot luck family gathering. Each creates wonderfully delicious foods, enriching the tastes and culture that keep Glens Falls vibrant, sustainable and growing. Bon appetite!
A Little Background on Glens Falls
Glens Falls is officially all of 3.4 square miles. At its center is Finch & Pruyn, one of the oldest running paper mills in the country. This mill made Glens Falls a town where generations of blue collar union workers could be employed straight out of high school. Where locals could raise their families on comfortable, middle class incomes. The burst of the tech bubble in the 1990s hit hard, leaving Glens Falls’s future as bleak as an overcast day.
When I moved to Glens Falls in 2001, I saw the beginning of the revitalization process that’s made the city what it is today. Beginning with the reconstruction of the tech-forward Crandall Library, the downtown rapidly revitalized itself. Shops and restaurants returned. They brought new flavors that filled the city with a fabulous variety of tastes and art not seen before. So here are my 5 off the beaten path spots not to miss in Glens Falls.
Handcrafted Juice and Good Vibes To Start The Day
Off of Glen Street — the main section of US Route 9 that runs through the heart of town — there’s a little alleyway you could blink and miss, called Exchange Street. Just around that corner you will find the Juicin’ Jar. Owned by Cristina Hanchett and managed with her sister Nicole Laubenheimer, the business opened in 2015, when they were in their in their early 20s. Since then, they’ve expanded their offerings to include a full menu of freshly prepared foods and sandwiches. Everything complements both their rejuvenating beverages and their warm welcoming energy that feels like morning sunshine. Cristina said they always envisioned a place where they could replenish the community with good food and a positive spirit.
Cristina recommends trying The Juice Monkey – a wholesome blend of banana, milk, Nutella & peanut butter, and any of their freshly pressed juices. Team it with The South of the Border Wrap, a roll up of romaine, hummus, black bean, corn, tomato, onion, jalapeño, sharp cheddar, avocado, hot sauce and creamy avocado dressing. I recommend one of the warm rice bowls like the Sweet Potato Bowl, a combo of brown rice, sweet potato, apples, walnuts, onion, cranberries, creamy avocado dressing and feta cheese. All items are made fresh and ordered a la carte. You simply won’t find a healthier better way to energize your day in town.
Nationally Acclaimed Breads And a Community Hero
Among the 5 off the beaten path spots this one is just outside the downtown area. The Shirt Factory is home to over 100 creative tenants, including artists, studios, galleries and makers. It’s here you’ll also find the amazing Rock Hill Bakehouse and Café, creators of handmade breads made from wholesome organic ingredients, most of which are sourced locally. Owned by Matt Funiciello since 1991, they’ve racked up outstanding reviews. The New York Times said, “Rock Hill makes the best Jewish Rye east of the Mississippi.” New York Magazine said, “No other sourdough in the city has the same rich layering of flavors under a crackly crust.” And even Vogue weighed in, “(Rock Hill Bakehouse) is the paragon of purism”.
The café offers an extensive vegan-friendly menu, and many items can be veganized to order. Try the Healthy AF – roasted red peppers, tomatoes, olives, onions, and pesto with balsamic on wholesome Farm bread — or the vegan Bison Buffalo chicken pizza. Finish them off with freshly made chocolate chip cookies. Moreover, the business has been helping the community during the pandemic, with a “no questions asked Community Bread Rack.” “Since we have been relatively unscathed, we really wanted to help our neighbors who have lost their jobs, their homes and often their ability to put food on their tables.” The café continues to provide curbside delivery and the bread rack stands at the doorway open to all. Donations are accepted at the entrance.
Real Deal, Homemade Mexican Food
Continuing down to Warren Street, you will find a little Mexican shop, Tacos El Sombrero. Mrs. Anel Colio started this restaurant with handmade tortillas created the way her family made them in Mexico, with a bit of a southern California style twist. All of the food is prepared from scratch, with fresh ingredients she sources from the area. The tamales make every bite make you feel like you found something special. She recommends the fried plantains and the crème filled churros — I can’t argue with that!
Anel came to America with her familia when she was eight years old. She got married, had four boys and decided to start a business as a second income to support her family. Since her opening in 2017, Anel has reclaimed Taco Tuesdays with $1 deals that make an affordably delicious way of life. Her menu also includes enchiladas, burritos and other traditional specials that make all your Mexican tastes feel like they’ve found a new standard for Hispanic food.
Wood-Fired Pizza and Community Pride
Behind the shops on Glen Street, you’ll find the Downtown City Tavern. Owned by Craig Merrill and managed by Journey Kerchner-Pirrone, DT City Tavern has firmly established a hometown “Cheers”- like setting. The wood fired oven creates a cozy tone, and turns out amazing pizzas. Local craft beers on tap that are switched out regularly with care. When I pushed him for a favorite, Craig recommended the alcohol infused milkshakes, as a house specialty dessert.
The pandemic has brought welcome adjustments to the DT City Tavern, including efficient online ordering. They also have outdoor seating for when the weather is favorable. Craig’s mission for the Tavern — and its sister location, the Downtown Social — is to provide excellent dining and service, while keeping his staff fully employed. You’ll feel Glens Falls pride in both locations, and will leave quite satisfied in both appetite and hospitality.
A Trip to Thailand, No Airplane Needed
Up a few blocks on Ridge Street from the circle, sits a can’t miss Thai and sushi restaurant. Being a foodie myself, I like my experiences to be authentic and exotic. At Aroy Dee, you get a full serving of both. Owner Nhong Rujirat Currie first came to America on a visit in 2008. Shortly afterwards she met her husband and over the next few years she worked three jobs. Finally, in 2012, she’d saved enough to bring her family over from Thailand, to start her restaurant.
The food is everything you would expect if you were 12,000 miles away, in Thailand, with service just like you were family. The traditional Pad Thai rice noodle dish is a starter staple. Nhong said the most popular items have become their special house recipe Crab Rangoon, a crispy fried wonton stuffed with cream cheese, crab and onion served with sweet and sour sauce. My favorite is Drunken Noodle – a choice of meat stir fried with flat noodles, bell peppers, onion, tomato, egg and basil leaves in a brown Thai sauce. There’s even a new creation they call Sushi Pizza.
The Heart of Community
Nhong really appreciates the welcome reception the community has given her and her family business. In return she has given back with gratitude, providing free gift cards to the local schools and families to benefit during the ongoing pandemic. She opens her kitchen to internships from the area to continue sharing the traditions and methods of her culture with others that want to learn.
Small businesses like these support the community of Glens Falls bringing it together like a pot luck family gathering. Each of these 5 off the beaten path spots in Glens Falls brings their own wonderfully delicious foods, enriching the tastes and culture to the table while equally supporting those that keep Glens Falls vibrantly sustainably growing. Bon appetite!
Written by: Nate Hallmark