In Albany on Lark Street you will find the oddest combination of high and low: homeless people picking through the trash for cans betwixt and between state workers talking on their cell phones. Yet, there are not enough people to make this juxtaposition fade into the background, as there are in New York City, where high, low, middle, high-middle, bottom-low, upper-upper East Side, etc. all jostle each other as they march purposefully down the avenues, making for more gradations—more grey to help us swallow the black-and-white harshness of life. Lark Street always has this harsh, ghost street feeling about it, perhaps because of a lack of foot traffic. (Come to think of it, most of the Capital District feels this way to me).
One place where the high and low comfortably fuse is at Bomber's Burrito Bar, at 258 Lark Street. Today I had a soft taco with their amazing, spectacular sweet potato fries, and the whole thing was a little more than $5. I was more than well nourished-- the soft taco was practically exploding with beans and rice, not to mention the fixin's, and I challenge ANYONE to find sweet potato fries any better within a 100 mile radius of Albany. Maybe I'll give you a quarter to feed the parking meter in Albany if you win. I like to cover my fries with extra salt and ketchup, but these fries are NOT too greasy and not too crunchy. They are fresh fresh fresh!
One of the coolest things about Bomber's is that the people who work there are young kids who are hip yet not old enough to have become utterly embittered. They still have hope. You can see it in their quirky, fun decor-- a flat of wheatgrass propping up an Incredible Hulk action figure by their cash register would make even Gov. Pataki smile, that is if he ever left his Manse. A mirror by the tables sports all manner of band stickers people have pasted up there over the years, teenager's bedroom style. There are no napkins, but paper towels (practical!) hanging on a roll by the register. Service is strictly cafeteria style, and it's fast. A sign admonishes customers not to watch the young chefs flipping burritos, as it creeps them out (good point!), so maybe read Metroland while you're waiting for your stuff.
Now that Shades of Green is gone from Lark Street (where are you, Shades of Green?!?!) Bomber's is the best casual option for vegetarians. I thought about going to Taste of Greece (193 Lark) which is excellent, but the last time I was there service was slow. I'm glad I chose Bomber's. I felt right at home.