Section: SPORTS,  Page: CC8

Date: Wednesday, April 4, 2001

West of Washington Park on Madison Avenue, the makeup of neighborhoods can change block by block, or even house by house. Close in, the ``student ghetto'' of the University at Albany downtown campus accounts for Quail Street's abundance of pizza joints and well-used bars; heading west, the campus of the College of Saint Rose serves as the border between students and the more residential neighborhoods of Albany's first suburbs, the Pine Hills. Where Western and Madison come together, there's a small commercial island including several restaurants and the Norma Jean Madison movie theater. The following listings are keyed to the above map. All places are a few minutes' drive from the Pepsi Arena: Restaurants (marked with a square) Alibi's, 1100 Madison Ave. 489-0606 or 489-5972. Cuisine: American, with Asian influences; sushi available. Ambience: Young, hip. Entrees $15 and above. Hours: 5 p.m.-2 a.m. weeknights, until 4 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays (kitchen closes at 1 a.m.). No. 4 on map Conway's, 492 Yates St. 489-9999. Highly recommended. Cuisine: Perfect, simple French. Ambience: Legislative crowd, mixed with special-night-outers, in classy, former speakeasy setting. Entrees about $20. Hours: 5-10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, until 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; closed Sundays. No. 10 Curry House, 1112 Madison Ave. 438-2265. Recommended. Cuisine: Indian. Style: Informal, friendly neighborhood spot, eat-in or to-go. Entrees $5-$10. Call for hours. No. 1 The Ginger Man, 234 Western Ave. 427-5963. Highly recommended. Cuisine: Light plates. Style: Wine bar with impressive by-the-glass and whole-bottle selections. Ambience: Comfortable but tight seating. Entrees about $10. Hours (note, hours are for the kitchen, bar closes later): 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays; 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. Fridays; 4:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Saturdays; closed Sundays. No. 15 Madison's End Cafe, 1108 Madison Ave. 489-8859. Recommended. Cuisine: Terrific breakfast and lunch place. Style: Casual quasi-rustic decor. Most food less than $8. Hours: 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. weekends. No. 3 Peking, 1100 Madison Ave. 489-0606. Recommended. Cuisine: Good, sit-down Chinese. Style: Friendly, casual. Entrees $7-11. Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m Mondays through Thursdays, until 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and noon to 10 p.m. Sundays. No. 5 Pizza Corner, corner of Ontario Street and Madison Avenue. At this intersection, there are five pizza parlors: Paisan's and Trio's, side-by-side on Ontario Street, and Pizza Hut, Madison's and Sal's on Madison Avenue. And they're all open late. No. 9 Bars and clubs (marked with a triangle) Albany Hibernian Hall, 375 Ontario St. 438-8230. Recommended. Scene: Banquet house and restaurant that also hosts concerts. No shows this week. No. 11 Irish American Center, 375 Ontario St. 438-8230. Recommended. Scene: Cultural center that sponsors events and concerts. Bingo every Friday night at 8. Call for hours. No. 12 Lamp Post/Oasis, 214 Western Ave. 436-7740. Recommended. Scene: A haven for underagers, with a dark and dingy upstairs bar, fully equipped with picnic-style wooden tables. The downstairs Oasis reeks of poor decor, with glowing carpets and blacklights aplenty. Call for hours. No. 17 Long Branch Tavern, 53 N. Lake Ave. 436-9958. Recommended. Scene: A narrow alleyway of a bar, best known among the college crowd for its Friday Happy Hour. It's also one of the smaller bars that students frequent. Get there early enough and you might even get a booth to beat the rugged overcrowdedness. Call for hours. No. 19 Mahar's, 1110 Madison Ave. 459-7868. Highly recommended. Scene: Traditional British pub -- you even turn on the above-table light to signal you're ready to order -- with a staggering beer selection and good food. Call for hours. No. 2 Mother Earth's Cafe, Quail Street at Western Avenue. 434-0944. Recommended. Scene: Popular vegetarian eatery that is also a great place for live folk music, poetry readings and talks about current events and issues. Rock and folk music nightly. Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. No. 16 Partridge Pub, 869 Madison Ave. 482-9701. Recommended. Scene: Not quite as busy as the Washington Tavern, but it's a hoppin' joint nonetheless for students and underagers. Call for hours. No. 7 Pauly's Hotel, Central Avenue at Quail Street. 426-0828. Recommended. Scene: Albany's oldest barroom. Opens at 10 a.m. and closes 18 hours later. No. 18 Sadie's, 849 Madison Ave. 459-8099. Recommended. Scene: A large central bar takes up a majority of the space; the restaurant room flanking the bar to the left. Sadie's draws both the college crowd and many locals. Great draft beer and food specials keep everyone coming back. Call for hours. No. 8 Smitty's Blue Moon, 184 Ontario St. 427-2461. Recommended. Scene: Neighborhood bar that also hosts live music including, on Saturday night, Coda Blues. Call for hours. No. 13 Washington Tavern, 250 Western Ave. 427-0091. Recommended. Scene: The green-and-gold color scheme runs rampant through this constantly bustling bar. The draft beer selection beats out any local college bar, and plentiful seats make it a place to kick back rather than get kicked. A large food menu also adds to the appeal, and the kitchen puts out great grub. Call for hours. No. 14 Attractions/other (marked with a star) Washington Park, bounded by State Street and Madison Avenue, and South Lake Avenue and Willett Street. You wouldn't know it from looking at it, but downtown Albany's Victorian green oasis of monuments and flowerbeds was once a graveyard. The State Street Burial Grounds were relocated in the 1860s to make way for the 84-acre park, which was surveyed and planned by Frederick Law Olmsted and finished by his proteges. The Lakehouse, tennis courts, playgrounds, picnic areas and jogging trails bring plenty of people into the park. No. 20 Movie theater (marked with a circle) Norma Jean Madison, 1032 Madison Ave. 489-5431. A good neighborhood movie house with six screens. Call for features and show times. No. 6