Thanks to its diverse population, Buffalo offers many inexpensive ethnic restaurants. A good guide to these spots is The Cheap Gourmets’ Dining Guide to the Niagara Frontier, by Doug and Polly Smith, available in area bookstores.
The city is also the birthplace of two oddball food specialties. One is Buffalo chicken wings—spicy wings served mild, moderate, or hot, with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing—invented at the Anchor Bar. However, many claim Nine-Eleven Tavern (11 Bloomfield Ave.,716/825-9939) is now a tough wing rival to the Anchor Bar. This laid-back neighborhood tavern with sports memorabilia–covered walls, filled with hockey fan locals is also known for their corned beef sandwiches.
The other Buffalo-unique nosh is beef-on-’weck sandwiches—thinly sliced roast beef piled high on fresh kimmelweck rolls sprinkled with pretzel salt and caraway seeds. A ‘beef on-weck’ pizza variation even caught the notice of Food Network’s ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives’ on a visit to Pizza Junction (1265 Erie Ave., N. Tonawanda 716/692-6366, http://thepizzajunction.com).
Shango Bistro and Wine Bar (3260 Main St., 716/837-2326) serves New Orleans entrées and po-boys in a cozy atmosphere, with a 170-bottle strong wine list and craft ale menu.
Left Bank (511 Rhode Island St., 716/882-3509, $16) is a bustling, boisterous place on the mellowest of nights, partly due to the acoustics of the heavy bricked walls that are covered with art, partly due to the loyal crowd. Definitely call for reservations at this eclectic mix of euro-asian fusion.
Favorite restaurants in the Theatre District include the Bijou Grille (643 Main St., 716/847-1512, $14), a California-style bistro, and Hemingway’s (492 Pearl St., 716/852-1937, $9), a good place for a sandwich or burger. For fine French fare, try Rue Franklin (341 Franklin St., 716/852-4416, $22), Buffalo’s oldest—and some say best—French restaurant, housed in an elegant brick townhouse.
A famed Buffalo institution, the Anchor Bar (1047 Main St., 716/886-8920, $12) is the friendly Italian restaurant where Buffalo chicken wings were invented in 1964 by Teressa Bellissimo, mother of the late owner Dominic Bellissimo. Live jazz is often featured on weekends.
Though not as well known, another Allentown institution is the Greek-American Towne Restaurant (186 Allen St., 716/884-5128). The eatery has been open 23 hours a day (closed 6–7 a.m. for cleaning) for the past 30-plus years; it’s famed locally for its chicken souvlaki.
North of Downtown
Dozens of trendy eateries operate along Elmwood Avenue north of downtown. Among them is Toro (492 Elmwood Ave., 716/886-9452, average tapa $7), the place to go for tasty tapas. Ambrosia’s Greek (467 Elmwood Ave., 716/881-2196, $15) serves savory Greek fare in a casual setting.
Frequent winner of the local People’s Choice award is Hutch’s (1375 Delaware Ave., near Gates Circle, 716/885-0074, $15), a casual, bustling southwestern/Cajun bistro serving everything from rib-eye steak rubbed with garlic to grilled tuna. Not far away is The Hourglass (981 Kenmore Ave., 716/877-8788, $22), another Buffalo institution, this one offering continental cuisine, homemade desserts, and an extensive wine list.
Heading toward the airport, you’ll pass extravagant Salvatore’s Italian Gardens (6461 Transit Rd., Cheektowaga, 716/683-7990, $19), a sprawling, over-the-top Italian eatery painted in vibrant pastels.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition