Best Takeout Places Under $15: CapNY Food

Our focus on the best takeout places under $15 is centered on pandemic survival. With more than 110,000 restaurants in the U.S. closed permanently, (more than 40 of which right here in CapNY), how is it that the ones who have remained open have managed to do so?

One of the largest factors was takeout.

Takeout Orders Save the Day

It’s not an exaggeration to say that every restaurant in CapNY (let alone the country) has been pummeled by COVID. Owners and managers who’ve spent their lives building careers in an industry that, albeit somewhat tumultuous, was considered to be a pillar of Western culture. Restaurants are, in many ways, the center of culture in any society. And until an unforeseeable global pandemic gripped the world, no one in this industry would’ve considered their establishments to be expendable.

The March 20th, 2020 executive order that closed most businesses allowed restaurants to continue doing takeout and delivery. That stipulation has allowed many restaurants to keep their heads just above water. 

Food

“The to-go orders are great, they really help. The problem is people don’t think of us first when they think of takeout,” says Susie Carrk, owner of McAddy’s, The Local 217, and Susie’s Pub. Her statement echoes what I’ve heard from almost every owner and General Manager of local restaurants.

It’s no surprise that most of us think of pizza and Chinese food when we think of take out – but just as we’ve had to shift our perspective when it comes to birthdays and weddings, I invite you to shift your perspective on dining. And just maybe, in doing so, you’ll preserve the restaurant where you hope to spend your next special occasion.   

Looking for a jumping-off point? Look no further! These are ten of best takeout places in CapNY, every one of them with options under $15!

Sunhee’s Farm and Kitchen, Troy

Sunhee's Farm and Kitchen

Dine In? Yes ☐ No ☒

This cozy, authentic Korean spot in Downtown Troy is a family affair. Owner Jinah Kim enlisted her father and mother as farmer and chef, respectively, when she opened her restaurant in 2016. Many of their ingredients come from her parents’ 42-acre farm in Cambridge, and the recipes are mostly derived right from her mother’s home cooking. Sunhee’s is not currently offering dine-in service, but employee Bethany tells me that takeout has been booming, and sure enough, there was a line out the door pretty much the entire time I was there!

Drawing

Kimchi Fried Rice  $12

House kimchi, rice, scallions, smoked bacon, sesame seeds and sunny-side egg

Soft Tofu Stew  $13

Extra soft tofu, garlic, green squash, onion, scallion, and choice of kimchi or seafood; served with egg

Burdock Root  $5

Burdock root sliced and deep marinated in a sweet, soy based sauce, topped with sesame seeds

Mermaid Café, Catskill

Mermaid Café

Dine In? Yes ☐ No ☒

Owner Michelle Williams opened Mermaid Café in December 2019, about three months before the pandemic hit. She says her community has been so supportive of her eclectic café, and it’s easy to see why! From tacos to tater tots, to ramen and more, her menu is bound to please picky eaters of all ages, as well as more adventurous types. She seldom uses plastic in her restaurant. And, Michelle sources most of her beverages from local producers, including Westkill Brewery and Subversive Brewery, right in Catskill. For the first few months of the pandemic she was operating a soup kitchen out of the restaurant in the mornings, before the café opened up. 

Ramen

Ramen  $10.75

Choose your Broth: Organic Kinderhook Farm Pork Bone Broth or Vegan Miso Seaweed Broth. Choose your Noodle: GF Rice Noodle or Homemade Toasted Rye Ramen. Comes with Pickled Daikon, Corn, Greens, Scallions, Soft Boiled Tamari Marinated Egg, Pork Belly, Lotus, Korean Chili Oil, Nori

Tachos (loaded tater tots)  $13.25

Comes With Choice of Protein, Cheese, Salsa, Sour Cream, Chipotle Crema, Heavy Metal Sauce (Ginger, Garlic and Cilantro), Corn, Scallions, Queso Fresco, and Pickled Jalapeños

The Local 217, Albany

The Local 217

Dine In? Yes ☒ No ☐

3 of our best takeout places under $15 are owned by Susie Carrk. Carrk has enjoyed twenty-something years as a successful entrepreneur in the restaurant industry. She is the owner of three Capital Region staples; Susie’s Pub and The Local 217 in Albany, and McAddy’s in Troy. All three businesses have remained open, but Carrk says that it’s difficult to predict volume, therefore making it more difficult to know how many staff to keep on, or how much produce to buy. While the summer months were overwhelmed with patrons, the winter months have seen far less traffic as people become nervous to dine indoors. “We clean everything constantly, we have dividers between seats at the bar, and we’ve spaced everything out. We’re literally doing everything possible to keep everyone safe.”

While the PPP loans have provided much necessary relief, Susie says that she has a ton of loyal regulars whose support is what she is most grateful for. Almost everything at The Local 217 is made from scratch, from the soups to the marinara sauce – but the wings are what The Local 217 is most famous for. “There’s not really a spice that’s not in there,” Susie says of her homemade rub. 

Food

House Wings  $13

Secret house seasoning made from scratch – wings are grilled over an open flame, then baked, and then deep fried

Mozzarella Sticks  $11

Giant mozzarella sticks served with homemade marinara or melba

Eggplant Parmesan Sandwich  $14

Fried eggplant, homemade marinara, mozzarella cheese on rustic bread

Wunderbar Bistro, Hudson

Wunderbar Bistro

Dine In? Yes ☐ No ☒

Owner Lyle Lentz has made his restaurant what he calls “restriction resistant,” transforming Wunderbar Bistro into a takeout champion. With Chef Phil Schools, Lyle changed the menu, employees were cut from 42 to 12, and a takeout counter was installed in place of the front door. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Wunderbar Bistro has been takeout only. And, they’re not just surviving, they’re thriving. 

“Mother’s Day was the busiest day ever,” says Lyle. “It was the hardest day of my whole career.” Their kitchen has had to adapt to a much higher volume. Now, instead of having a limit to the number of heads in the restaurant, each order represents one table – and they’ve had more orders than they ever could’ve had tables at one time. “The demographic has changed with people moving from the city, and none of our old tricks work anymore, they don’t translate to takeout,” says Lyle, speaking about all of the things he had to consider in making Wunderbar Bistro a takeout machine. I ask him if he will attempt to continue his takeout model when restrictions let up – “yes, but the transition back to normal dining is going to be way harder than the transition to takeout.”

Eggrolls

Southwest Chicken Eggrolls  $9

Chicken, black beans, sweet corn & peppers, chipotle ranch

Avocado Bacon Burger  $14

Avocado, goat cheese, bacon, tomato, pickle, lettuce

Parmesan Truffle Fries  $9

Hand-cut fries, truffle oil drizzle, parmesan cheese

Pierogi Shoppe, Saratoga Springs

Pierogi Shoppe

Dine In? Yes ☐ No ☒

Ever heard of a ghost kitchen? Well now you have! Owners Mike and Shelley Spain of Seneca have officially launched the Pierogi Shoppe, a new concept that is, for now, operating out of the Seneca kitchen. These aren’t your grandma’s pierogis –  incorporating ingredients like chicken, bacon, braised short ribs and artichoke, this menu is certainly one of the most creative to ever come out of Saratoga. The Spain’s hope to have a brick-and-mortar space for their new business before the end of the winter. 

Spinach Artichoke  $10

Garlic spinach, artichoke hearts, cream cheese, breadcrumbs

Short & Sweet  $11

Mashed sweet potato, bacon, braised short ribs, chipotle sour cream, fried onions

More Perreca’s, Schenectady

More Perreca's

Dine In? Yes ☐ No ☒

The famous Schenectady bakery, Perreca’s, is attached to the aptly named Italian restaurant, More Perreca’s. Owned and operated by the third generation of the family, Maria and Tony Perreca-Papa are the grandchildren of the immigrants who established the business 108 years ago. The original oven is still used to bake bread, and has not stopped burning since it was installed in 1913. We had the pleasure of trying the Eggs in Purgatory, a recipe that came off the boat with their grandmother Carmella. It’s one of their most popular dishes of all time. Do. Not. Miss. 

Eggs in Purgatory  $12

Three poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce served with toasted Perreca’s bread

Pappardelle alla Pomodoro  $16

Plum tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, shaved Locatelli pecorino romano

Malcolm’s, Schenectady

Dine In? Yes ☒ No ☐

Nate Germain quickly realized that he had to adapt when their dine-in volume plummeted after the summer. However, the upscale, farm-to-table Malcolm’s menu didn’t exactly translate to takeout. “Over the summer, we were crazy busy, we were seating in the whole driveway, doing up to 85 heads,” says Nate. “No one wants to sit inside, even with all of the precautions we’ve taken – we’ve even gotten air purifiers. On New Years, we actually did way more takeout than we did in-person dining.” 

Nate decided to put forth a new, Japanese-inspired takeout concept, and promoted his sous chef Josh Hoffman to become head chef of Back Door at Malcolm’s. Patrons drive to the back of the restaurant and are literally given their takeout orders out of the back door of the kitchen. “We’re in talks to purchase the Bier Abbey building [two doors down from Malcolm’s] so that when COVID ends, we can move the Back Door menu and concept over there – we’ll also incorporate a speakeasy style bar over there.” 

Though not under $15, these were close!

Tuna: Seared in brown butter, soy, and citrus sauce, crispy shallots – $17

Smoked Pomodoro Pasta: smoked Glenville Farm tomatoes, garlic, parmesan – $16

Highland Hollow Beef Burger: Double cheddar cheeseburger, potato bun, pickled red onions, house sauce, fries – $17

Sticky Toffee Pudding: brown sugar date cake with vanilla ice cream – $10

The Daisy, Troy

The Daisy

Dine In? Yes ☐ No ☒

Joe and Kelly Proctor already had menu items that translated rather well to a takeout concept at The Daisy. Offering a smattering of inventive tacos, Joe tells me that the takeout has been going well and that the transition was rather seamless. They also transformed Cascade, (their other, older restaurant), into another franchise of The Daisy. And, they’ve added to-go pitchers of margaritas and other cocktails! 

Taco

Pork Banh Mi  $11

Hoisin, cucumber, pickled carrot, cilantro, sambal mayo

Fried Chicken  $9

Aji verde, cotija, pickled onions, cilantro

Farmstead Flatbread, Queensbury

Farmstead Flatbread

Dine In? Yes ☒ No ☐

Northern-most of our best takeout places under $15 is Farmstead Flatbread. Owned by the Sutton family who have a long history in the Glens Falls area – they bought their farm in 1976. Flash forward to today, the second generation of the family has reinvented themselves. After 40 years as a farmstore and marketplace, they transformed into new brewery/pizza concept, Farmstead Flatbread. They’ve held onto their traditional values of good, local food and even today the majority of their ingredients come from local farms, breweries, distilleries and suppliers. 

Flatbread

Fireside  $14.75

Organic house made tomato sauce, mozzarella and fresh herbs

The Cow Pasture  $16.25

Housemade meatballs, sauce, ricotta, mozzarella & basil

Roux, Slingerlands

Roux

Dine In? ☒ No ☐ Yes

Owner Angie Carkner feels lucky to have been slammed with takeout orders since the pandemic began. While normally the restaurant can seat around 86 indoors, they have had to adjust their kitchen to take on a much higher volume than that, especially on burger night! Each Tuesday and Saturday, “The Burger” at Roux, normally $16 is only $10. Made with two brisket patties, onion, pickle, lettuce, cheese, and ‘fancy sauce’ (the ingredients of which cannot be shared), this burger is truly one of the best in the Capital Region! Roux truly deserves to be among our best takeout places under $15.

The Burger $10 (Tuesdays and Saturdays)

Written by: Cabrina McGinn

Born and raised in Delmar, Cabrina McGinn has spent much of her life in restaurants, having bartended in Albany, Binghamton, and, New York, NY. Upon moving back to the Capital Region three years ago, she realized that a lot of the bars and restaurants in Upstate New York were quite up to par with some of those in the city; problem was, between Albany, Schenectady, Troy, and Saratoga, you kind of have to ‘be in the know’ to know what’s going on in each town on any given night. Thus, her blog On The Rocks or Straight Upstate was born! Cabrina lives in Saratoga Springs, and while the sun is up she is the Marketing Coordinator for medical device company, Hometa.

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