Cobblestone mixed along the smooth pavement marks Lark Street in Albany. On Saturday afternoon, the street is buzzing with people walking past the lit up facades of bars and restaurants, looking to get a taste of Lark. The cars pass by and as the lights change from green to red, I cross the street for lunch.
I’m not a vegan. In fact, I am not even a vegetarian. But of all the options for dining on Lark Street, it was the vegan delicatessen that called my name. Berben & Wolff’s is a unique option in Albany, offering a full menu of entirely meatless and dairy-free options. The twist? Pulled pork and reuben sandwiches are on the menu.
Using ingredients like seitan and jackfruit, Berben & Wolff’s brings hearty favorites to life without the meat. I sat at the counter by the window, people watching, as I dug into a sunflower veggie burger. On a toasted bun, loaded with caramelized onions and topped with sprouts, I didn’t even miss the meat. Next time I’ll try something a little more adventurous than a veggie burger.
After my lunch I wandered out onto the sidewalk and found myself right in the middle of the Lark Street Santa Speedo Run. An entertaining surprise, I stood in disbelief at the site of the nearly naked mob of people sprinting down the street in 20 degree weather. Cold, just from watching the run, I crossed the street and found warmth at Stacks Espresso Bar.
I’ve always known that Stacks existed on Lark, but found it more convenient to visit the newer location on Broadway. I now know that I’ve been missing out. The flagship Stacks on Lark is cozier, friendlier, and absolutely perfect on a Saturday afternoon. The barista poured my latte as he chatted with the regulars behind me in line, and pleasantly passed along a tray complete with both my coffee and a seltzer water to wash it down. Seated at the window, beside a conveniently placed outlet, I worked on a blog as the sun started to set.
The downside of Lark is and will probably always be the parking situation. I ended up parking on Hamilton, just around the corner from Lark Street. As I walked to my car I decided to visit Cheesecake Machismo. It is one of those places you hear about, but never actually see. I decided to walk in and see what it was all about. I left with 3 slices; green tea chocolate, peanut butter cookie, and hazelnut brownie. Rich and delicious as any good cheesecake is, I remind myself that calories don’t count at Christmastime as I take my first bite.
Lark Street isn’t new to me, but there is something about just taking a stroll down a street you’ve been to before and looking at it with a different perspective. This week I dare you to go somewhere you’ve been before and open a different door, don’t order the usual, and see what else is out there.
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