5 Places to Watch Albany Wake Up

Watching a city wake up can tell you a lot about a place.

The movement of delivery people and laborers, breakfast makers and brief-case carriers, stroller pushers, dog walkers, and joggers—it creates a pattern that champion of cities Jane Jacobs called the “ballet of the sidewalk.” The more diverse the dance, the more bustle-y, the more vibrant the city.

Wake up, little Smalbs.

Wake up, little Smalbs.

An outdoor table at a café can be among the best perches to witness a city at this most honest time of day, and there are some great places in Albany to take your time with your morning beverage and get to know our city’s ebb and flow. I suggest ordering your drink in an actual ceramic cup (one that maybe even comes with a matching saucer!). It just enhances the whole experience—gives it solidity, civilizes, gives you time to be a human.

There are a lot of great places in town to get coffee, but here are five that give you a front-row seat to Albany’s morning sidewalk ballet.

The French Press Café & Crêperie, 5 Clinton Square (next to McGeary’s, down by The Palace Theater)
Mon-Fri 7:30am – 4pm
Sat 8am – 2pm
Outdoor capacity: Three 2-top tables and a 4-top

Saati Deli & Catering, 518 Broadway (corner of Pine)
Mon-Fri 7am-3pm
Outdoor capacity: Four 2-top tables

A view from a sip. Tricentennial park, in front of Mugshots.

A view from a sip. Tricentennial Park, in front of Mugshots.

Mugshots Coffee House & Café, 54 James Street (facing Tricentennial Park, across from Kiernan Plaza)
Mon-Fri 7:30am – 3pm
Outdoor capacity: Two 2-top tables…and look for the lovely green bistro tables in little Tricentennial Park, right out front.

The Daily Grind, 204 Lark Street
Mon-Sat 7am – 8pm
Sun 7am – 7pm
Outdoor capacity: Two 2-top tables

Stacks Espresso Bar, 260 Lark Street
Sun-Thurs 7am – 8pm
Fri-Sat 7am – 10pm
Outdoor capacity: Two 2-top tables

(Note: State Street’s vibe would be vastly helped by adding outdoor sipping space to Stagecoach or Starbucks or the other coffee joints, but that hill, that damn hill, just makes it so tough for tables. How happy would I be to see a solution to this. That said, the front window at Stagecoach is a pretty dope view of street goings on all year round.)