Five winning food options at the Saratoga Race Course

Shake Shack sloppy track shake

The Sloppy Track shake is reason enough to visit the track.

By Deanna Fox

Some people go to The Track (that would be Saratoga Race Course) for the horses. Some go for the thrill of gambling. Yet others go for the chance to hob-nob with celebrities and big spenders.

Me? I go for the food.

I really do love the sport of horse racing and taking in the crowds who anxiously wait to see if their chosen thoroughbred will prove victorious. But there are few places in the Capital Region where you can get such a wide array of tasty delights all within walking distance from each other.

This year more than ever, those food choices have proven more copius and harder to choose from.

To ensure you don't miss placing that two-dollar trifecta or watching your horse leave the starting gate at the bell, it's good to go in with an eating game plan. Here are five picks for food at the track...

Breakfast

If you like the horses but the crowds and racing aren't so much your thing, try hitting up the track for breakfast. You can opt for the breakfast buffet in the lower porch of the clubhouse, served from 7-9:30 am --$17.95 get you standard breakfast brunch fare (think eggs, French toast, and fruit salad), and kids ages 3-12 can dine for $9.95, plus tax and gratuity. Seating is first come, first serve, and parties of 20 or more should contact the dining facilities at the track.

But I suggest you skip the buffet and bring in your own coffee and nibbles from any one of Saratoga's growing breakfast options, like Park Side Eatery, Mingle on the Avenue (which offers Bake For You baked delights), SPoT Coffee, Uncommon Grounds, Mrs. London's, or Sweet Mimi's.

Take advantage of cooler temperatures, relaxed setting, and the free tour of the track. Get a close-up view of the morning workouts for the horses and skip out on long lines and crowds.

General parking might not be open in the morning, so either park on a side street and walk to the track or spend $10 for trackside parking. Admission into the track is free for breakfast, though you must be out by 10 am (leave by 10 am and get your $10 for parking back). Casual attire accepted.

Shake Shack

Track_food_Shake_Shack_burger.jpg

If you have to wait all year for it locally, it better be good. Thankfully, Shake Shack delivers. Beloved for its take on burgers, Shake Shack will always have a long line but it moves quickly (unless you ask for a lot of special requests). Choose from single cheeseburger ($6.50), double cheeseburger ($9.50), 'shroom burger ($8.50), Shack Stack ($10), hot dogs ($4.75) and fries ($4.75)

The burger is good, but it doesn't trump Five Guys for me. The real draw here, if you ask me, is the Sloppy Track shake. (I can't even write about it without getting a little bit teary-eyed.) The best milkshake I've ever had, hands down. A caramel shake, made with real sugar (no corn syrup here) and growth hormone-free custard, is dusted with cocoa powder. It was likely the best thing I ate last week. I would go to the track solely for this shake.

Located near the clubhouse gate.

El Verano Taqueria

Like Shake Shack, El Verano is another Union Square Hospitality Group/Danny Meyer joint. Tacos run for $6.75, Nachos for $7.25, with a choice of beef barbacoa, chicken pipian, carnitas, and vegetarian. Sides like chips with salsa or guacamole are also available, as are pickled jalapenos. If you're going for something Mexican, I'd say try this first before Moe's, which is also located at the track (sorry Moe's, I still love you).

Located near the clubhouse gate.

Hattie's

Track_food_Hatties_fried_chicken.jpg

It really doesn't get more Saratoga than Hattie's. Limited offerings from the flagship Phila Street eatery include four-piece fried chicken ($12), cucumber salad ($4), watermelon slice ($2), and cranberry coleslaw ($4). I recommend the fried chicken sandwich ($10).

Located in the bottom level of the Carousel.

Saratoga Backyard Craft Beer Garden

Throughout the track, you will find beverage tents and stands, mostly consisting of Coca Cola and Miller-Coors products. Generally, a 16-ounce can of Coors Light, Miller Light, and Yuengling costs $8 / 16-ounce cans of Heineken Light and Blue Moon run for $8.50 / 16-ounce draft pours are $7 and 20 ounce pours are $9.

But you can still find a decent variety of local brews at many of these bars, you just have to look. The Saratoga Backyard Craft Beer Garden offers brews from Brooklyn Brewery, Empire, Keegan Ales, Olde Saratoga, Brown's, Saranac, Adirondack Brewery, and Captain Lawrence, among others.

Located outside the vendor boutique, to the left of the Carousel.
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Saratoga Race Course track from clubhouse

If you're looking to dine in one of the spots like the Turf Terrace, the NYRA Saratoga site has information about reservations, fees, and required attire.

Deanna Fox writes about many things, mostly about food. More can be found on her website, Twitter, or Instagram.

Comments

If you are paying for beer or really any beverage for that matter at the Track, you are doing it wrong. It is a rarity these days but you can bring in whatever you like as long as it is not in a glass container. The possibilites are endless and much cheaper.

I like the food choices and I'm a big fan of the Sloppy Track shake, that is worth paying for!

Not sure how the poutine at Montreal Poutine got overlooked. The only authentic option in the area. (I'm aware they're affiliated with Shirley's Restaurant and the food truck, but if Hattie's gets a shoutout with a location just down the street...)

@Shawn - the prices are... high. But there are some good options if you look. I actually saw a dude walking around with an Abita Purplehaze and nearly tackled him to the ground to ask where at the track he found that. He brought it from home, and made it sound as though it was a mercy kill as some friend left it in his fridge and he thought it was time he drank it, just to get rid of it.

I wish I had friends like that.

@Alex - okay, breathe... MP DIDN'T get overlooked, it just didn't make the top 5 for me. Eating gooey poutine on a hot, sticky day doesn't really appeal to me. Maybe if I was at the track yesterday with all the rain, it would have been the perfect option.

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