Lunch Break (Downtown Albany)

Lunch Break: A Better Bite Deli

A Better Bite Deli & Catering is a lunch spot that often gets overlooked by the weekday Albany crowd, except for those that work in One Commerce Plaza or another nearby building. That’s too bad – the deli has a great variety of lunch items, and although a touch pricey for everyday consumption, it’s a nice standby to have in the lunch rotation.

One of my favorite sandwiches to get at A Better Bite is “The Senator,” which is smoked turkey with roasted red peppers, big slabs of portobello mushroom, and russian dressing on grilled bread.

The Senator grilled sandwich at a Better Bite Deli
The Senator at A Better Bite Deli

I like the hearty portions of this sandwich (and others they offer). It does tend to be a little on the greasy side, making this is yet another sandwich that can get pretty messy when you’re eating. Possibly not the best for a work lunch when you want to stay presentable.

Macaroni Salad at a Better Bite Deli
Macaroni Salad at a Better Bite Deli

Another strong suit at A Better Bite is the side salads that come with most sandwiches. I am highly picky about macaroni salad, as most versions in the area are swamped in mayo or weirdly seasoned with a lot of black pepper or other spices. The macaroni salad here is pretty close to perfection. Big chunks of pasta shells that maintain their firm consistency, mild seasoning, and the added bonus of chunks of hard boiled egg and red pepper.

My lunch companion ordered a simple grilled cheese with tomato and paired it with a side of potato salad.  In general, I love the grilled cheeses at A Better Bite (highly recommend some of the fancier versions, like “The Uptown,” which includes roasted red peppers, grilled artichoke hearts, grilled zucchini, and pesto). This was one was ok, but the cheese was not completely melted all the way through. The rush to get orders out for a heavy lunch crowd most likely contributed.

Grilled Cheese with Tomato at A Better Bite Deli
Grilled Cheese with Tomato at A Better Bite Deli

And lastly, we decided to splurge on a salted caramel brownie that was displayed by the register, because sometimes workdays need dessert. Unfortunately, the brownie was somewhat disappointing.  Although the soft drizzle of caramel on top was a nice touch, the bottom was made of a strange crumbly material, and there was an odd spice flavor that we couldn’t quite pinpoint.

Salted Caramel Brownie at A Better Bite Deli
Salted Caramel Brownie at A Better Bite Deli

All in all, there are some solid lunch options at A Better Bite Deli and Catering in Albany. Yes, the counter service can seem a bit hectic and unfriendly at times, and the prices are no great value to write home about. But the food is usually well portioned, and there are lots of grilled options for when you want something warm (including burgers, chicken sandwiches, and Middle Eastern type options like falafel and shawarma). I recommend you give it a try, at least for the occasional lunch outing away from your normal place.

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