Capital Region

Down by the water: Eat, drink, relax on lake or river

Get your therapy close to home
Outdoor dining and drinks at Water's Edge Lighthouse Restaurant in Glenville.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Outdoor dining and drinks at Water's Edge Lighthouse Restaurant in Glenville.

Categories: Food, Life & Arts

Yes, the ocean is only four hours away. But this summer, why not get your water therapy close to home, on a lake or a river?

Mohawk River

The Water’s Edge Lighthouse Restaurant
2 Freeman’s Bridge Road, Glenville
370-5300, thewatersedgelighthouse.com, Facebook


Less than two miles from downtown Schenectady, Water’s Edge is a popular urban oasis overlooking the Mohawk River. For the past 12 years, until Rivers Casino came to town, it was the area’s only place for waterfront fine-dining. 

From its spacious, two-level patio, diners can watch boats of all sizes travel the Mohawk. There’s also a courtesy dock for boaters who want to stop for dinner or cocktails.

“People absolutely love our patio. Our patio won a national contest when we opened it. We have a tiki bar right on the water, we have a 9/11 memorial,” says Pat Popolizio, who co-owns the restaurant with his wife Karen.

The entire indoor restaurant menu is available outdoors and the tiki bar has its own menu of selected items.

Duke’s Chophouse
Rivers Casino & Resort, Schenectady
579-8850, riverscasinoandresort.com, Facebook

Schenectady’s three-month-old Rivers Casino & Resort is making its waterfront dining debut this spring.

Duke’s Chophouse, a high-end steak restaurant, is already serving dinner al fresco on a patio that’s only a few feet from the Mohawk River, and a summer menu will be rolling out soon. Right now, there are 24 seats where you can watch the sunset and more tables will be added as the summer heats up. On chilly nights, overhead heat lamps will warm up customers.

“Rivers Casino & Resort’s position on the Mohawk River makes for an unmatched outdoor dining experience, and with the arrival of warm weather, we know our guests will enjoy Duke’s Chophouse in an entirely new way. We’re looking forward to announcing new outdoor programming, promotions and summer menu items in the coming days,” says General Manager Mary Cheeks.

On Thursday, (June 1) the casino will open another waterfront patio area, with live music, parties and drink specials. On June 2, Druthers Brewing will launch ‘Friday Night Flights,” which will runs on Fridays through Aug. 18.

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River’s Edge in Amsterdam.

River’s Edge
Riverlink Park, Amsterdam
320-4868, Facebook

What could be more relaxing than dining in a park along the water?

Now in its third season, River’s Edge, a waterfront restaurant on the north side of the mighty Mohawk, is open in Riverlink Park.

“It’s so quiet and peaceful, you really don’t know you’re in Amsterdam, New York,” says Dan Nelli, the 36-year-old Amsterdam native who owns the family-friendly restaurant.

The restaurant has 120 seats on the deck, a 500-gallon koi fish pond and a courtesy dock for boaters.

Music lovers stop in after the free concerts in Riverlink Park.

“You are about 50 feet from the band shell,” Nelli says.

Parking is available at the RiverFront Center. Or park on the south side of the river and  take a stroll on the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook Pedestrian Bridge.

Also on the south side, at River Kayak Rentals, you can sign up for a guided 45-minute kayak tour.

Great Sacandaga Lake

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Sport Island Pub in Northville.

Sport Island Pub & Restaurant
108 Riverside Boulevard, Northville
863-2003, sportislandpub.com, Facebook

The Great Sacandaga is the southern Adirondack’s water sports playground with its powerboats, jet skis and sailboats.

Sport Island, at the northern end, is one of three lakeside restaurants run by the Lanzi family. 

At the back of the restaurant, a big wooden deck with 25 umbrella-topped tables offers a stunning panorama of the lake and mountains.

“It’s a beautiful view. You get the lake breezes. It’s kind of an overlooked region of the Adirondacks,” says Anthony Lanzi, one of five brothers who co-own the restaurants.

On Sunday afternoons, there’s live music on the deck, usually a duo or a guitarist. There’s a big beach right in front of the deck and courtesy docks for boaters.

“Kids can play on the beach until the dinner arrives,” says Lanzi.

Saratoga Lake

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Lake Local in Saratoga Springs.

Lake Local
550 Union Ave., Saratoga Springs
886-1373, lakelocalsaratoga.com, Facebook

Coming up on its third summer season, Lake Local is the fun-in-the-sun spot on the northern end of Saratoga Lake.

You are welcome to arrive by water, by kayak, canoe or boat. If you drive or walk, you’ll find this popular outdoor restaurant and bar on the eastern tip of Union Avenue, just before the 9P bridge.

“People come for the view and atmosphere. It’s mostly outdoor seating,” says John Vallo, one of the managers. There are also Adirondack chairs on the lawn, where servers will bring you a drink.

A satellite of The Local Pub and Teahouse in the city’s Beekman Street Arts District, Lake Local’s menu is similar but with more seafood. A food truck also operates on the grounds from Thursday to Sunday.

Next door, at the 550 Board Shop, you can rent a SUP or kayak.

Hudson River

The Rusty Anchor
1 Selkie Drive, Watervliet
273-2920, therustyanchorbar.com, Facebook

At the Rusty Anchor, you’re not just near the water, you’re on the water.

This warm-weather restaurant sits atop a 200-foot-long barge and to come aboard, diners walk a gangway.

Across the river, there’s a view of the Troy skyline.

“At night, it’s really nice. They light up the bridges,” says owner Kevin Shufelt.

There are 36 tables with umbrellas, a main outdoor bar and a tiki bar with a big blue swordfish mounted on the wall.

Rusty Anchor has a nautical theme and the menu has a seafood focus.

Live music and game nights of trivia and Family Feud are part of the fun on this party barge.

There’s dock space for boaters, too.

The Rusty Anchor is just past Hudson Shores Park, near the 23rd Street exit of the 787.

Up River Cafe
29 Main St., Lake Luzerne
696-3667, Facebook

The Hudson River runs wild in Lake Luzerne. This is where tourists and locals come to tube and raft the waves. Hadley Mountain, a popular hiking destination is nearby, too.

At Up River Café, you can see the rushing water and hear its sound as you dine at one of 15 tables on the back porch of a charming Adirondack cottage. There are 10 more tables inside.

“It’s soothing, relaxing. You’re looking out over the river. The woods are all around you,” says Andy Van Bourgondien, the chef who owns the restaurant with his artist wife, Betsy Brandt.


The former site of Papa’s Ice Cream Parlor, Up River specializes in desserts, such as cheesecake and crème brulee, created by Van Bourgondien, who was trained as a pastry chef and worked at Erlowest and Sagamore.

Outdoors, in front of the café, visitors love to pose with a six-foot-tall statue of Elsie the cow, one of the original Borden mascots.

At Easter time, she wore a bonnet. This month, she’s wearing a spring dress.

“She’s all over the world with her picture,” says Van Bourgondien.

On the water

And here are a few more places:
Dinosaur BBQ, Troy;  Espressohuis, Schuylerville; Riverfront Bar and Grill, Albany; Lanzi’s on the Lake, Mayfield; I Go Inn, Northville; Lakeside Tavern and Marina, Gloversville; Jumpin’ Jacks, Scotia; Harvest & Hearth, Saratoga Springs; Dock Brown’s Restaurant, Saratoga Springs; Villago, Ballston Lake; Tinney’s Tavern, Middle Grove; Mariaville Lakeside Country Store, Mariaville.

The village of Lake George and Cooperstown, on Glimmerglass Lake, are also known for their waterside restaurants.

Did we forget your favorite place? Send us an email at [email protected].

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