Table of Contents
- Buffalo Food Guide
- The Best Buffalo Wings in Buffalo
- Beef on Weck – Iconic Buffalo Sandwich
- Modern Buffalo Restaurants
- Casual Buffalo Restaurants & Cafes
- Buffalo Cheap Eats
- Buffalo Desserts
- Buffalo Drinks
- Things To Do in Buffalo
- Buffalo Eats Video
- Book Your Buffalo Hotel
- Hungry for More American Food?
- Pin It for Later
- About the Authors
Some businesses may revise their hours and menus due to COVID-19. Others may close, either temporarily or permanently, without notice. Be sure to check websites for updated information and make advance reservations where possible.
We’re bullish on Buffalo. In fact, we consider it to be one of the best food cities in America.
Buffalo is a city with a unique food culture that permeates at all price points. As food travelers, we immediately felt at home with the city, its food and its people. With just a week, we had great success in our quest to find the best places to eat in Buffalo.
We were wary to visit Buffalo during the winter because of the city’s legendary weather. But, as we found, winter is the best time to hunker down in Buffalo and eat comfort food at the best restaurants in Buffalo NY – starting with the city’s spicy, buttery wings to juicy beef on weck sandwiches.
Beyond that, and like many cities throughout the U.S. and the world, Buffalo has seen a return to craft.
This return extends to a growing restaurant, coffee, beer and cocktail scene that will make you forget this town’s (deserved) reputation for great bar food. And the best part is that you can enjoy the city into the wee hours of the night since many buffalo bars don’t close until 4 am.
In many ways, we found the city to be a rabbit hole. The more we explored and talked to people about the best places to eat in Buffalo, the more worthy spots we discovered. By the time the week was over, we had eaten a lot of great food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Buffalo owes much of its fortune and growth to its place at the mouth of the once glorious Erie canal. Traces of that gilded time remain in the architecture, well-designed streets and parks that run through the city’s neighborhoods and along a lakefront that comes alive in summer.
Buffalonians are some of the friendliest people we have met during our travels and they’re leading a renaissance that makes Buffalo a great destination to explore as well as an ideal place to stay on a trip to the Niagara area.
Yes, the once-great, hardscrabble city has seen recent hard times. Today, though, the only thing bitter about Buffalo is the winter cold.
Buffalo’s History in a Nutshell
A former boomtown, Buffalo’s history dates back to the 18th century when it was a business hub for the region and nation. The city’s status exploded after the Erie Canal was constructed, resulting in notable events like the 1901 Pan-American Exposition and Theodore Roosevelt’s presidential inauguration.
For many years, the city thrived as a center for industries involving steel, transportation, agriculture and, automobiles. However, the city lost much of its luster and population as the USA transitioned away from an industrial society to focus more on service and technology.
Buffalo became the butt of jokes. As recently as ten years ago, travelers only thought to visit Buffalo en route to or from Niagara Falls solely to sample buffalo wings at the source. The city’s reputation was that bad.
What a difference a decade makes.
Today, Buffalo is a city on the rise. Young people are moving in, accessing cheap real estate that would be unattainable in expensive towns like NYC, Boston and even Philadelphia.
Hipsters have arrived in the Queen City and their ambition is pushing Buffalo forward in many ways. Luckily for us, food is at the front of the exciting wave.
Buffalo Food Guide
Buffalo has a lot to offer food travelers at every level. We attacked the Buffalo food scene with a vengeance and discovered a vibrant culinary community and no lack of opinionated diners. Buffalonians take pride in their food and take offense at anything that’s less than authentic.
Sure, the city has enough wing establishments to fuel a dedicated trail, but buffalo wings are just part of the Buffalo food story.
This is a city filled with beloved multi-generation eateries as well as exciting new restaurants opened by more recent Buffalo transplants. Intrepid diners will even find a variety of global cuisine in Buffalo.
Historically, Buffalo has a large number of residents with ties to Italy, Greece and Poland. In recent years, the city has welcomed an influx of immigrants from the likes of Myanmar, Somalia and Puerto Rico. These diverse cultures impact the city in many ways, with food being at the top of the list.
Since man cannot live on bread alone, the Nickel City has plenty of watering holes with drinks ranging from specialty coffee to crafted cocktails. A bonus of visiting Buffalo in the winter is the chance to try a Tom & Jerry, the local favorite reminiscent of eggnog.
All visitors want to eat buffalo wings in Buffalo – us included. However, if all you eat is wings on a Buffalo visit, you’re only seeing a small portion of a growing food scene. But that being said, we’ll start this food guide with…
The Best Buffalo Wings in Buffalo
The city’s most iconic food is available at the best places to eat in Buffalo NY from taverns to pizza shops. You can even find variations on submarine sandwiches, atop pizzas and inside tacos if you look hard enough.
The flavor-forward bar food has become a local favorite and source of civic pride since it was invented in Buffalo in 1964. You could almost say that Buffalonians have Frank’s hot sauce running through their veins after eating so many wings over the decades.
Who Makes the Best Wings in Buffalo?
During our visit, we asked a lot of locals to tell us their favorite spot to eat buffalo wings. Duff’s won our non-scientific study but we also got plenty of votes for spots like Elmo’s, Gabriel’s Gate and Bar-Bill.
True wing lovers can follow the city’s official Buffalo Wing Trail to find their own personal favorites. This trail includes a dozen pubs that take wings to a higher level, each adding a unique twist to the original formula.
During our visit, we consumed enough wings, hot sauce and blue cheese dressing to make the following recommendations:
Duff’s Famous Wings
Anchor Bar (see below) may have originated the buffalo wing but Duff’s refined it to a level of excellence. Tasting the buttery, capsaicin soaked wings is like tasting the buffalo wing rosetta stone. These addictively hot wings will make you want to surrender while, somehow, leave you wanting more.
Eating wings at Duff’s is mostly about the wings themselves – plump drums and paddles smothered in a buttery, peppery sauce.
Not afraid to ramp up the heat level, Duff’s hot wings are “very very hot.” It’s not just us saying so – the menu has heat warnings for three of its ten sauces. There’s no warning for the ‘death sauce’ since the sauce’s name is warning enough.
Be wary of the hot sauce if your taste buds aren’t accustomed to hot peppers. This sauce is the hottest we experienced in Buffalo. In our eyes, that’s a good thing.
Duff’s Famous Wings has multiple locations in Buffalo. The original location is at 3651 Sheridan Drive, Amherst, NY 14226, USA.
Ask any Buffalonian for a wing recommendation and you won’t hear Anchor Bar. In fact, just the mention of the wing pioneer will bring vehement opinions from locals who feel that the historic bar’s days have passed it by.
However, we disagree with that assessment. Anchor’s buffalo style wings, while not exceedingly spicy, have excellent flavor and their award-winning, untraditional habanero ranch wings, are succulent, crispy and explodingly juicy.
Tourists come in droves to ‘sit at the bar’ to experience the spot where the Bellissimo family invented buffalo wings. It’s fun to let your imagination wander as you sit at the very seat where the first wings were served. Though spacious dining rooms were added later, those rooms are fun too with walls covered with 350+ license plates plus bikes, trophies and other memorabilia.
The expansive menu features more than just wings. Anchor also serves spicy ‘buffalo wing style meets diner cream of chicken soup’ that pairs nicely with a pint of local beer.
Need gifts from Buffalo? You can buy bottles of hot sauce, t-shirts and other branded items at Anchor Bar’s on-site gift shop.
Anchor Bar is located at 1047 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14209, USA.
Elmo’s Bar and Restaurant
Famous for its ‘double-dip’ wings, Elmo’s stands out among a sea of buffalo wing stands for its creative way of making flavors pop. Though this shop has been slinging wings since 1985, the double-dipping didn’t become a thing until several years later.
The wings at Elmo’s are good without the double-dip, but why stop there. If one sauce is good, it only makes sense that two sauces are even better.
Order Cajun double-dipped wings for maximum flavor.
Elmo’s Bar and Restaurant is located at 2349 Millersport Highway, Getzville, NY 14068, USA.
Like most visitors to Buffalo, eating wings was at the top of our food agenda. Though we were tired from our drive, we got takeaway hot wings from Gabriel’s Gate within hours after our arrival and scarfed them down at our Airbnb apartment.
Though wings are always better hot off the fryer, these wings had a wow factor based on crispiness and sauciness. Since we quickly devoured the precious cargo, we need to schedule a follow-up visit to photograph the kitsch-filled restaurant and its wings.
If you’re reaching maximum wings capacity, mix up your order with some sides. French onion soup is a solid choice if you like cheese. And who doesn’t like cheese?
Gabriel’s Gate is located at 145 Allen Street, Buffalo, NY 14201, USA.
Some food travelers will be satisfied to try one or two wing spots, but we get that others will want to try more. Based on our on-the-ground research, we recommend the following additional spots:
- Bar-Bill Tavern – Though not technically in Buffalo, Bar-Bill has achieved fame by ‘painting’ sauce on its carefully plated wings. While Bar-Bill’s beef on weck (see below) is another local favorite, we preferred the beef on weck at Schwabl’s.
- Doc Sullivan’s – Our guide at the Martin House (see below) raved about the crispy wings at this off-the-beaten-path spot.
- Gene McCarthy’s Old First Ward Brewing Company – Best known for its Friday fish fry sandwiches, Gene McCarthy is a popular spot on Buffalo’s wing trail.
- Kelly’s Korner – The bartender at Toutant (see below) recommended the peppery wings at Kelly’s Korner. Not surprisingly, this local favorite features a full bar.
- Mammoser’s Tavern – Buffalo insider Brian Hayden has assured us that the wings at this Hamburg tavern are well worth a thirty-minute drive from downtown Buffalo.
Beef on Weck – Iconic Buffalo Sandwich
Rivaling the Philadelphia cheesesteak and New Orleans po boy in local popularity if not international fame, Buffalo’s beef on weck is the city’s most iconic sandwich dating back more than a century. Why it’s not more well known outside of Western New York is a mystery to many including us.
Buffalonians adore this deceptively simple sandwich of roast beef piled within inside a kummelweck roll. For the uninitiated, kummelweck bread is notable for its caraway seeds and kosher salt. Locals tend to order beef on weck with medium-rare meat and typically apply a healthy amount of horseradish.
We suggest you start your beef on weck exploration at the following spots:
Upon entering the over century-old Schwabl’s, your eyes will be immediately drawn to the beef slicing station. It’s there that veteran meat carvers like Gene Staychock surgically carve meat for each sandwich to order. The surprisingly genial Staychock has been surgically slicing these rounds of beef for over 40 years.
The meat is then served on classic kummelweck from D&L Bakery. The meat juices drench the bread, forming a wet, succulent sandwich whose sum is greater than its parts. The restaurant goes through four to nine rounds every day, seasoning each with just salt and pepper, proving that simple is always better.
Adding horseradish is part of the experience. The pungent, nasal tickling condiment provides a taste tingling counterbalance to the meat, though the bread with glistening salt crystals and a healthy amount of caraway seeds may actually be the star of the show.
There was a time in our country’s history when tavern sliced roast beef, like the kind served at Schwabl’s, was commonplace. Now, this suburban Buffalo bar is a rare treasure and one of the truly cool places to eat in Buffalo.
In our opinion, forget about wings. Schwabl’s is the best Buffalo restaurant to visit if you’re only passing through the Queen City for a few hours and can only make one stop.
Don’t miss Schwabl’s Tom & Jerry cocktails during the winter months. The decadent eggnog on steroids includes both rum and brandy and is topped with nutmeg. Trying one is a must, though you may want a second during your meal.
Substitute french fries with Schwabl’s homemade German potato salad. Choosing between coleslaw or pickled beets is up to you.
Schwabl’s is located at 789 Center Road, Buffalo, NY 14224, USA.
Go to Bar-Bill Tavern. This is the mantra we heard from many Buffalonians who consider this East Aurora bar to be the ultimate destination for both buffalo wings and beef on weck.
Not wanting to miss out on the fan favorite, we hightailed it to the Bar-Bill where we found a bustling crowd of locals enjoying plates of bar food and beer during a Sabres hockey game. We shared a regular beef on weck with slow roasted and carved beef and added lots of horseradish for extra flavor.
Bar-Bill offers three beef or weck sizes (small, regular and mini) as well as optional BBQ sauce and roll varieties. However, since beef on weck isn’t really a beef on weck if it’s on a plain or onion roll, you’ll probably want to keep your order simple.
Go with a friend so that you can try both a beef on weck sandwich AND wings. If you’re really hungry, you can add a pizza log to your order.
Bar-Bill Tavern is located at 185 Main Street, East Aurora, NY 14052, USA.
More Beef on Weck
- Anderson’s – This custard chain is a popular spot for its slow roasted beef on weck sandwiches as well as for its frozen treats.
- Charlie the Butcher – After three generations, this local favorite knows how to make a mean beef on weck at its multiple Buffalo locations.
Modern Buffalo Restaurants
Eating iconic food in Buffalo is a must – we get that. However, we found the real excitement at newer restaurants pushing Buffalo’s culinary envelope on a daily basis.
Often helmed by talented transplants, modern Buffalo restaurants offer fine dining options suited for small plates at the bar or a special occasion dinner. Attracted by lower costs and a booming food culture, the new breed of Buffalo chefs are making waves with inventive food creations.
During your visit, don’t miss these top Buffalo restaurants:
The Dapper Goose
Great food scenes are built around people. At Dapper Goose, those people are mixologist Keith Ramondi and Chef Jesse Ross.
Notable for its creative cocktail menu, The Dapper Goose has a long bar where patrons can linger over creative drinks like the Broken Garden Tool pictured below. However, it’s the food that impresses us most.
The Dapper Goose provides one of the most cosmopolitan dining experiences in Buffalo with modern Italian classics like squash ravioli with brown butter, sage, parmesan and remarkably meaty almond pesto. The food rivals meals we’ve eaten in bigger cities like New York and Chicago.
Small plates include proteins like shrimp and chicken liver mousse, but don’t forget about vegetable options like beetroot tartine and blackened green beans. Prepared with sweet potato hummus, cranberry, pepitas and red onion, the brussel sprouts may be the most unique starter, but they’re all worth a try.
Main dishes run the gamut from trout to burgers. Along with the aforementioned ravioli, we recommend ordering crispy, spicy Korean Fried chicken served over a moist bed of kimchi fried rice. Both dishes were so addictively good that we weren’t able to leave any room for dessert.
Be sure to make an advance reservation since this popular spot fills up most nights of the week.
The Dapper Goose is located at 491 Amherst Street, Buffalo, NY 14207, USA.
After growing up in Acapulco and training in Montreal, James Beard Nominated Chef Victor Parra Gonzalez brings his unique take on cuisine to Buffalo’s Five Points neighborhood at homey yet sophisticated Las Puertas.
Las Puertas serves a modern Mexican menu with a dozen or so dishes offered each night as well as a relatively reasonable tasting menu option. We shared five dishes among three people and were satisfied, though we could have probably found room for another dish or two.
The star of our meal was beet ceviche made with sea bass, the fresh fish of the day. Other highlights included blue corn tuille with assorted salsas and bone marrow with chicharron and pickled pumpkin. Then again, the steak selection and chicken in mole negro were also excellent.
Not sure what to drink? As part of his hands-on service, Gonzalez can provide a recommendation for the perfect cocktail or wine to pair with your food.
Take a peak in Las Puertas’ tiny kitchen. You’ll be amazed at the dishes created in one of the smallest Buffalo New York restaurants.
Las Puertas is located at 385 Rhode Island Street, Buffalo, NY 14213, USA.
Locals and tourists flock to Seabar in downtown Buffalo to sample Chef Mike Andrzejewski’s sushi take on beef on weck, an ingenious roll filled with sirloin, wrapped with steak carpaccio and topped with salt crystals and caraway seeds. Andrzejewski’s signature dish is a winner, but it’s just the tip of a fun menu filled with an array of worthy dishes.
After cooking for over 40 years, including 11 at Seabar’s current location, Andrzejewski is in a position to cook what he likes. As a result, Seabar’s menu has eclectic choices that transcend a typical sushi bar. His favorites include pork enchiladas, loco moco, Cuban sandwiches and hamburgers.
Burgers on a sushi menu? Our initial thought was that this menu item was designed for sushi haters. After one bite of the well-executed burger smothered with Velveeta and served with crunchy fries, we turned from skeptics to believers.
Come for the sushi. Stay for the burger.
Seabar Sushi is located at 475 Ellicott Street, Buffalo, NY 14203, USA.
The Black Sheep
The Black Sheep is another James Beard nominated establishment responsible for raising Buffalo’s modern dining scene bar. Helmed by Chefs Steve and Ellen Gedra, this West Side restaurant embraces the farm-to-table concept by sourcing local products whenever possible.
The devil’s in the detail and none are forgotten at The Black Sheep. A prime example is replacing butter with whipped lard, an addictive concoction that spreads like a dream.
Small plates run the gamut from vegetarian options like roasted beets and brussel sprouts ceasar to more meaty delights like the ‘porkalicious’ BBQ pork nuggets. Large plates include accessible choices like double cheeseburgers and fried chicken.
Save room for dessert. Chef Ellen Gedra’s sticky toffee pudding is a Buffalo classic.
The Black Sheep is located at 367 Connecticut Street, Buffalo, NY 14213, USA.
What happens when a Louisiana chef settles in Buffalo? In a nutshell, the answer is Toutant.
Chef James Roberts slings southern comfort food in an upscale restaurant located on the same block as Seabar (see above). His dishes celebrate the flavors of the south while honoring the downtown Buffalo crowd.
Toutant’s customers travel south without boarding a plane when they order dishes like Creole jambalaya and Nashville hot chicken. However, other dishes like the baloney sandwich and vegetable specials should not be ignored.
Add a Sazerac or other New Orleans cocktail and you’ll feel like you’re drinking in New Orleans. Just remember your coat when you leave since winters are a tad bit colder in Buffalo than in Louisiana.
Not in the mood for a sit-down meal? Sit at the bar and enjoy Toutant’s full menu without formality.
Toutant is located at 437 Ellicott Street, Buffalo, NY 14203, USA.
Casual Buffalo Restaurants & Cafes
Let’s face it. There are only so many wings and roast beef sandwiches that most people can eat. Plus, fine dining isn’t appropriate for every day of the week. Sure, locals can shop at Wegman’s and cook at home, but that can get tiring too.
Buffalo has a slew of casual eateries ideal for these times. These are our favorites:
Swan Street Diner
Swan Street Diner feels like it’s been operating since the 1930s. It has – just not in Buffalo.
Relocated from Newark, New York to its current Larkinville location, this classic eatery serves comfort food breakfast and lunch food to Buffalo’s hungry masses. Chef Amanda Amico proudly serves diner classics like french toast and corn beef hash on vintage diner china.
Crowds arrive early on weekends to avoid the inevitable crush of locals hungry for hearty dishes served for reasonable prices. Who can blame the crowds when you consider the sourcing of local favorites like bread from Mazurek’s bakery (a winner in Swann Street’s French toast) and coffee from Undergrounds (see below).
Not your typical happy hour, Swan Street Diner’s afternoon special includes discounted donuts, coffees and milkshakes.
Swan Street Diner is located at 700 Swan Street, Buffalo, NY 14210, USA.
The Grange Community Kitchen
Though not technically in Buffalo, The Grange Community Kitchen is a local favorite due to its airy atmosphere and excellent food. Plus, once you’re in the car, Hamburg is just a hop, skip and jump away from downtown Buffalo.
Unlike many Buffalo restaurants, the Grange offers distinct menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Whether you go for a breakfast sandwich, Neapolitan pizza cooked in a wood fire oven or braised beef short rib, you’re in for a culinary treat.
Don’t skip the pastry counter. Our glazed palmier was swoon-worthy.
The Grange Community Kitchen is located at 22 Main Street, Hamburg, NY 14075, USA.
Open since 1923 and owned by Lou Billittier since the 1950s, Chef’s is a Buffalo staple for Italian-American classics like spaghetti, ravioli and veal cacciatora. However, crowds flock on a daily basis to stuff their faces with the restaurant’s signature Spaghetti Parmesan.
In this dish, Chef’s doesn’t scrimp on the mozzarella cheese that tops sauced spaghetti noodles. Eating it brought back memories of eating iconic Cincinnati chili in the Ohio city located 400+ miles from Buffalo.
Leave your inhibitions behind and wear a bib when you dine at Chef’s. Not only is the bib part of the restaurant’s charm, but it will also protect your shirt from potential sauce stains.
Chef’s is located at 291 Seneca Street, Buffalo, NY 14204, USA.
Five Points Bakery and Toast Cafe
Locals have been enjoying breakfast and lunch at Five Points Bakery and Toast Cafe since 2009 when Buffalo food pioneers Kevin and Melissa Gardner set up shop in the now gentrified West Side neighborhood. Fast forward to the present and their children are now involved in the business as well.
Taking bread to the next level, the Gardners offer a diverse selection of sandwiches on various types of toast. Guests can pick from over a dozen toasts including both sweet and savory options.
We recommend both the Marble Rye Toast pictured above as well as the cafe’s signature extra sharp cheddar toast. Served with sides of Saint Agur blue cheese, garlic pickles, sour cream and Frank’s hot sauce, the cheesy sandwich is alive with flavor.
Warning – Once you smell the delightful aromas emanating from the kitchen, you’ll be tempted to buy a boule or cowboy cookie to eat later. Considering that the bakery locally sources the best available seasonal ingredients, it would almost be wrong not to succumb.
Check out the spacious upstairs dining room filled with mismatched chairs and plenty of natural sunlight.
Five Points Bakery and Toast Cafe is located at 44 Brayton Street, Buffalo, NY 14213, USA.
Forget the textbook definition of Ballyhoo when you’re in Buffalo. In the Nickel City, Ballyhoo is a classic craft bar that specializes in links and drinks. However, don’t be fooled by this seemingly simple definition.
Ballyhoo’s house-made links come in a half dozen varieties, each topped with a melange of creative ingredients. The Buffalo tavern even has a vegetarian option, the Reggie Veggie, for customers who don’t eat meat.
Drink options are more extensive starting with local craft beers and a full menu of classic cocktails. Don’t stop there though – Ballyhoo adds a fun twist to drinking with its Jam Session cocktails.
Adventurous drinkers can choose one of ten Wilkin and Sons jams from Triptree, England as well as the spirit of their choice. The bartender crafted ours with morello cherry jam and Kentucky bourbon, The resulting drink was indeed jamming.
Try to save room for dessert. You won’t want to miss Ballyhoo’s jumbo ice cream sandwiches with freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and vanilla Lake Effect Artisan Ice Cream.
Ballyhoo is located at 211 South Park Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14204, USA.
Breadhive Bakery & Cafe
We rarely say no to a bagel with lox, and our breakfast at Breadhive Bakery & Cafe was no exception to this rule.
Literally owned by its employees, Breadhive is a cooperative endeavor that serves breakfast and lunch sandwiches to a loyal customer base. Diners can choose to eat their sandwiches on the bakery’s bread, bagels or pretzels.
We chose to eat a Britney sandwich with lox, red onion, cucumber, scallion and dill cream cheese on an everything bagel. However, we went the pretzel route when ordering an Aaliyah sandwich with scrambled eggs, house breakfast sausage, cheddar, butter and maple syrup.
As much as we love bagels and lox, the Aaliyah was our favorite sandwich of the meal. The blend of sweet and savory ingredients served atop a pretzel resulted in a unique sandwich that quickly disappeared from our plate.
Don’t hesitate to order coffee with your breakfast sandwich. Breadhive serves a signature blend of locally roasted coffee from Public Espresso (see below).
Breadhive Bakery & Cafe is located at 402 Connecticut Street, Buffalo, NY 14201, USA.
Buffalo Cheap Eats
Cheap eats in Buffalo don’t stop at chicken wings and roast beef sandwiches. The city offers junk food fans a range of options plus globally-inspired cost-effective choices.
In other words, much of the best food in Buffalo NY won’t break the bank.
Bocce Club Pizza
Pizza is pizza. Right? Wrong!
Opened by Dino Pacciotti in 1946, Bocce Club Pizza is a Buffalo classic, serving the city’s unique pizza style to a loyal customer base. With a dough that’s thinner than Chicago’s deep dish and thicker than NYC’s slices, Buffalo pizza is its own thing with quality ingredients that fit the city’s moody winter weather like a snug fur coat.
We’ve eaten some of the best pizza in the world from classic Margherita in Naples and beyond to cracker-thin pies in New York. With this in mind, we approached Buffalo-style pizza with a healthy mix of excitement and skepticism.
Bocce Club adds sweet tomato sauce and loads of 100% whole milk mozzarella cheese to each specially prepared pizza. Ingredients like dome-shaped pepperoni slices, cooked until their edges are crispy, ensure full flavor in every bite.
So what did we think?
After one bite into the doughy, cheesy pie, we were fans. By the time we finished our half pie, we wondered why we had never eaten Buffalo style pizza before. An hour later, we were craving more.
Ted’s Hot Dogs
Similar to pizza, Buffalo has its own style of hot dog that differs from hot dogs eaten in Chicago and New York. A regional institution, Ted’s Hot Dogs is a great spot to sample this Buffalo specialty.
Greek immigrant Theodore Spiro Liaros opened the original Ted’s stand in 1927 under Buffalo’s Peace Bridge to Canada. Over the years, Liaros expanded the business and fine-tuned his style of charbroiling hot dogs and started serving them with pickles.
Liaros’ granddaughter Thecly Liaros Ortolani is both the current president and a true hot dog lover. She proudly continues the tradition of charbroiling locally sourcing blended beef and pork dogs from Sahlen’s, a Buffalo butcher that dates back to 1869.
After Ortolani recommended that we add Ted’s Hot Sauce, a sweet yet spicy condiment, we happily obliged. She didn’t have to suggest adding a pickle or onion rings. We already knew to order those.
Order a Loganberry drink with your charbroiled hot dog. Love it or hate it, this sugary sweet, non-carbonated beverage is a local favorite.
Ted’s Hot Dogs has multiple locations in the Buffalo area including the centrally located downtown location at 124 W Chippewa Street, Buffalo, NY 14202, USA.
Lloyd Taco Factory
Although Buffalo is over 2,000 miles from Mexico, New York’s second most populous city has lots of great options for Mexican food. Options include high-end cuisine at Las Puertas (see above), but cheap eats fans can find plenty of more cost-effective Mexican food options in Buffalo.
Lloyd Taco Factory serves both old and new school Mexican street food at reasonable prices. Diners can pick proteins like slow roasted pork, braised beef, grilled chicken and stewed black beans for traditional dishes like tacos, nachos, burritos and rice bowls. However, much of the fun lies in Lloyd’s more creative dishes.
Adventurous eaters will want to try the Big Willie Style taco, a creative take on buffalo wings with buttermilk fried chicken, Frank’s hot sauce and blue cheese dressing. Another intriguing option is the Big Lloyd taco with ground beef, special sauce, lettuce, pickle, onions and sesame seeds, a familiar combination for Big Mac fans.
Vegetarians won’t feel left out at Lloyd Taco Factory, nor will drinkers. The casual restaurant includes a full bar with tempting beer and cocktail options.
Lloyd Taco Factory has a truck and restaurants. We ate at the restaurant located at 1503 Hertel Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14216, USA.
** Important Update – This restaurant has closed. However, you can purchase Ru’s pierogis at shops in Buffalo. **
Buffalo’s melting pot includes a lot of Polish people, many in the area for multiple generations. Accordingly, it’s not a challenge to find Polish food at dedicated shops and restaurants around the city.
Serving Polish pierogies with modern twists, Ru’s Pierogi has a menu filled with fun options including cheddar potato, chicken wing and Asian pork dumplings. Though we loved the idea of chicken wing pierogies, we preferred Ru’s more traditional potato ricotta pierogies with caramelized onions, sour cream and chives.
More than just pierogis, Ru’s also serves salads, sandwiches and craft beer. But, let’s face it pierogies are the thing to order here. We ate ours at the bar with glasses of Ommegang Rare Vos, a surprisingly satisfying combination.
On the go? You can buy pierogis by the pound to eat at home later.
Ru’s Pierogi was located at 295 Niagara Street, Buffalo, NY 14201, USA. The restaurant is now permanently closed.
West Side Bazaar
With New York’s most culturally diverse community outside of Queens, Buffalo has new residents from countries as varied as Somalia and Myanmar. For refugees and other freshly arrived immigrants who want to enter the local workforce via the kitchen, The West Side Bazaar provides an easy transition.
The West Side Bazaar is a social endeavor and small business incubator that helps settle refugees into the Buffalo community. In addition to stalls selling colorful clothing and jewelry, the Bazaar has an onsite kitchen shared by culinary entrepreneurs from countries as varied as Malaysia, Ethiopia and Mexico.
With a long waiting list, the Bazaar is looking to move to a bigger location in its formerly Sicilian-dominated West Side neighborhood. When it moves, look out for a larger assortment of diverse food that won’t cost an arm and a leg.
Order small plates from a few different stalls so that you can eat around the world without taking a plane ride.
West Side Bazaar is located at 25 Grant Street, Buffalo, NY 14213, USA.
Considering Buffalo’s fame for savory dishes like buffalo wings and beef on weck, you might think that Buffalonians don’t eat sweets. You’d be wrong.
The people of Buffalo are big dessert eaters, with local establishments serving large quantities of sponge candy, ice cream and donuts. Just like Buffalo restaurants, many of these establishments go back generations and have loyal fans regardless of the weather or season.
For the uninitiated, sponge candy is chunky honeycomb toffee coated in chocolate. Crunchy but not hard, the texture quickly melts in your mouth with an explosion of honeycomb and chocolate.
Parkside Candy has a sweet spot (pun intended) in our hearts since this the place where we tasted sponge candy for the first time. This happened when Moriah Trietely let us sample pieces while we were perusing the shop’s impressive confectionery selection.
More than just a candy shop, Parkside is an old fashioned ice cream parlor that serves scoops and sundaes in a classic Adamesque revival space that dates back to the 1920s. The building has been gloriously renovated to its former glory, making a stop a must both for the sweets and the architecture.
Buy a box of sponge candy as a gift or edible Buffalo souvenir.
Parkside Candy is located at 3208 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14214, USA.
More Sponge Candy Shops
Though sponge candy is difficult to find outside the Buffalo area, it’s quite easy to find in Buffalo. Like many locals, you’ll likely choose the closest candy shop.
You can take your sponge candy love to the next level by eating it in ice cream or beer. Yes, it’s possible to find sponge candy ice cream and sponge candy stout in Buffalo.
A relative youngster by Buffalo standards, Paula’s Donuts has been making Buffalo sweeter since 1996. The shop serves dozens of donut flavors ranging from the simple to the sublime.
Famous for their peanut sticks, bakers at Paula’s create donuts from scratch every day before filling and frosting them depending on the flavor. Popular flavors include red velvet and angel cream. As for us, we couldn’t resist trying the headline donut with chocolate icing and a dollop of angel cream on top.
Open from 5 am until evening, it’s always a good time to eat a fresh donut at Paula’s. Add a cup of coffee for the ultimate Buffalo donut experience.
Order a Texas donut to share with a half dozen of your closest friends. If you can’t pick one flavor, then order a half dozen donuts instead.
Paula’s Donuts has three locations in Tonawanda, Clarence and West Seneca.
Antoinette’s Sweets sells some of the best sponge candy in Buffalo. However, the real reason to visit this Depew sweet shop is to try homemade ice cream with a variety of homemade toppings.
Ice cream flavors run the gamut from vanilla and chocolate to a spicy cinnamon that reminded us of Big Red chewing gum. However, it’s toppings like hot fudge, hot caramel and whipped cream plus malt powder, nuts and jimmies that make a visit to Antoinette’s a must.
Guests can create their own sundaes or order from 20 suggested house creations. Ordering the sundae at the bar will transport you back to the 1950s when Antoinette’s moved to its current location.
Don’t skip whipped cream made with one ingredient – heavy cream. Antoinette’s serves the heavenly concoction straight from a pastry bag.
Antoinette’s Sweets is located at 5981 Transit Road, Depew, NY 14043, USA.
More Ice Cream
Buffalo may be more famous for its snow and ice than for its ice cream, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t enjoy the frozen treat during your visit. In addition to sharing sundaes at Antoinette’s Sweets, you can enjoy ice cream at the following shops:
From coffee to cocktails, drinking in Buffalo in a popular thing to do.
Perhaps this popularity is due to the city’s weather that skews cold in the winter and warm in summer. Or perhaps it’s related to the fact that bars are open until 4 am. Yes, you can practically drink until dawn in Buffalo.
We drank a lot over seven days in Buffalo. These were our favorite spots to whet our whistle:
Buffalo Coffee Shops
Like most American cities, specialty coffee is hot in Buffalo. As faithful fans of third wave coffee, we drank a lot of coffee in Buffalo. These are our favorite Buffalo coffee shops:
Located in the historic yet trendy Hotel Lafayette in downtown Buffalo, Public Espresso has a cool vibe and even cooler coffee. Baristas craft drinks to order with globally sourced coffee roasted in house.
Coffee drinks range from typical cappuccinos to more exotic options like the Bali espresso tonic that we couldn’t resist trying. Tall and cold, this unique drink inspired by Bali cafes gave us the caffeine jolt we needed while tickling our taste buds.
There’s no debate that Public Espresso is Buffalo’s original third wave coffee shop. Whether it’s the best in the city is up to personal opinion and taste.
Was it our favorite? Let’s just say that we bought a bag of Public Espresso beans on our way out of town.
Bring quarters so you can feed the meters and avoid parking tickets while you chill at Public Espresso.
Public Espresso is located at 391 Washington Street, Buffalo, NY 14203, USA.
Airy and welcoming, Remedy House would be the coffee shop we’d frequent if we lived in Buffalo. Not only does the shop have a great vibe for hanging out and working, but its coffee is also top notch.
Expect sun to stream through the cafe’s large windows regardless of the temperature when you visit this Five Points cafe. Also expect to drink coffee made with Propeller Coffee beans roasted in nearby Toronto.
Located in a modern space surrounded by stately houses in Buffalo’s lower west side, Tipico Coffee is a great spot to linger over crafted coffee drinks. The cafe gets loads of natural sunlight through its large windows, plus it has a Kachelofen masonry stove that provides additional warmth during the winter months.
Popular food items include avocado toast and grilled cheese sandwiches. Beyond the cafe, Tipico has a wholesale roasting operation that roasts beans for the cafe and other customers.
Switch it up and try a cold brew with coconut milk.
Tipico Coffee is located at 128 Fargo Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14201, USA.
Undergrounds Coffee House and Roastery
The layout at Underground Coffee House and Roastery is a bit unique. The quirky layout makes sense once you realize that the building was a funeral home in its previous life.
Today, the First Ward coffee shop is a prime spot for locals to relax over coffee and food. The atmosphere adds a unique twist, but the coffee speaks for itself.
You’ll get a free mug if you join the cafe’s roastery clubs. Not just any mug – each one is created by a local artist and features the picture of a famous dead person.
Undergrounds Coffee House and Roastery is located at 580 South Park Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14210, USA.
Buffalo Bars and Breweries
After drinking copious amounts of coffee during the day in Buffalo, we switched things up at night when we transitioned to beer, wine and cocktails. We’d like to say we drank everywhere, but that would be impossible in a week because Buffalo has an embarrassment of wealth when it comes to places to drink.
In addition to drinking fine drinks at restaurants like The Dapper Goose and The Black Sheep, we drank well at the following Buffalo bars:
The Little Club
Buffalo isn’t known for being a wine city, but, thanks to the recent opening of The Little Club, this reputation is about to change.
The Little Club is a game-changer of a bar with its commitment to bringing exciting, obscure wines to the public. Beyond its eclectic wine selection, the bar has a happening vibe that made us happy from the moment we situated ourselves on bar stools.
The menu separates wine by type, though there’s no need to worry too much about the menu since the staff is available to provide suggestions and tastes. We were tempted to order a glass of wine from Nathan K, one of our new favorite Finger Lakes wineries, but instead drank small pours of wine suggested by the bartender.
Beyond wine, the experienced team serves cured meat, cheese boards and tinned delicacies. With big brother Ristorante Lombardo right across the street, The Little Club is well-positioned for a long run.
Drink out of your comfort zone like we did. We might not have ordered the bar’s spectacular orange wine on a cold winter’s night had the bartender not recommended it first.
The Little Club is located at 1197 Hertel Ave, Buffalo, NY 14216, USA.
Marble + Rye
Located around the corner from Seabar and Toutant (see both above), Marble & Rye is an upscale restaurant with an impressive bar and cocktail program. As expected by its name, the cocktail program focuses around rye whiskey. Wouldn’t it be funny if it focused on rum instead?
We ordered off the extensive cocktail menu because that’s what you do in a place like Marble + Rye. Our favorite drink was the well-crafted Fantastic Man with Old Forester Bourbon, Averna, Coffee-Infused Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, Aperol and Orange Marmalade.
Don’t feel obligated to order a cocktail. Marble + Rye has a full drink menu with craft beer and wine as well as rotating punches.
Marble & Rye is located at 112 Genesee Street, Buffalo, NY 14203, USA.
Community Beer Works
Located in a West Side building that formerly housed the old Schaefer Malt House, Community Beer Works is a leader in Buffalo’s booming craft beer scene. This is another Buffalo establishment that lives up to its name, as the friendly atmosphere indeed feels like a community.
We liked Community’s beers a lot. Our favorite was The Whale, an award-winning 5.9% ABV brown ale with hints of both chocolate and coffee. In other words, this beer included three of our favorite things in one glass.
Wondering what to drink in nearby Niagara Falls? Community Beer Works is opening a new location at the popular tourist destination soon.
Community Beer Works is located at 520 7th Street, Buffalo, NY 14201, USA.
Big Ditch Brewing Company
Named after the nearby Erie Canal as an homage to the men who built it, Big Ditch is a microbrewery located in the heart of Buffalo. The downtown brewery is spacious, with plenty of room for drinkers and diners alike.
The Big Ditch team brews its beers onsite and serves them both at the bar and in the expansive dining room. Signature beers include Hayburner IPA, Low Bridge Golden Ale and Excavator Rye Brown Ale; however, the brewery always has additional options on tap.
Pop upstairs for a quick game of shuffleboard or darts between beers.
Big Ditch Brewing Company is located at 55 E Huron Street, Buffalo, NY 14203, USA.
Thin Man Brewery
Open since 2016, Thin Man Brewery is a newer kid on the block when it comes to Buffalo breweries. But don’t let this status dissuade you from checking out the beer when you’re thirsty in Elmwood Village.
Thin Man has an extensive draft selection with no less than 20 beers on tap during our visit. We tried a few 5-ounce tasters, with the Black Francis American Porter being our favorite.
Check out the happy hour menu with bar food like beer cheese pretzel bites and falafel salad.
Thin Man Brewery is located at 492 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14222, USA.
Things To Do in Buffalo
For many travelers, the city’s proximity to Niagara Falls is the primary reason to visit Buffalo. However, we’d argue that the main reason to visit Niagara Falls is its proximity to Buffalo.
These are the Buffalo attractions that you should not miss during your food trip:
Architecture fans will hit the jackpot in Buffalo as they traverse the city designed by Frederick Law Olmstead and check out its many interesting houses and buildings.
The city’s most notable building, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House is a fascinating Buffalo attraction that’s a must for all travelers who appreciate architecture and history.
Timeless Martin house may have been built over a century ago but the home breathes life around every corner.
From comfortable yet open, fireplace-adorned living spaces to Wright’s neoclassicist walkway to a replica of the Winged Victory of Samothrace in the conservatory, this house has livable yet jaw-dropping architecture that can’t be expressed in mere photos.
The story of the Martin House and its owners is part of Buffalo’s fabric. Not only is the restored house an architectural treasure, but its history is a nail biter.
Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Culture vultures won’t be disappointed when they visit Buffalo. The Albright-Knox Art Gallery features a world-class modern art collection with works by Picasso, Pollack and Matisse.
This museum is conveniently located and offers ample parking. Regardless of the weather, plan to spend some time here feeding your soul between meals.
Antique car buffs can step back in time with a visit to the Pierce-Arrow Museum. This unique museum packs a prodigious amount of memorabilia from the western New York auto manufacturer as well as antique cars, bikes, motorcycles and even golf carts.
Highlights are the Pierce-Arrow cars and the one-of-a-kind Frank Lloyd Wright filling station located inside the museum. In many ways, this museum provides a history lesson about Buffalo through its eclectic automotive collection.
Beyond visiting the Pierce-Arrow Museum, families can venture to Canalside on the Erie Canal’s harbor to enjoy activities including boating in the summer and ice skating in the winter. They can also hang out at Larkinville and enjoy activities like outdoor concerts and Food Truck Tuesdays.
We enjoyed exploring diverse Buffalo neighborhoods, especially Allentown and Elmwood Village. Coincidence or not, these neighborhoods host many of the city’s new restaurants and bars.
At the end of the day, Buffalo is a city of neighborhoods. And food. In other words, it’s our kind of city.
Buffalo Eats Video
Watch our YouTube video to see us eat some at some of the best food in Buffalo, New York. We eat iconic Buffalo food including wings, pizza, donuts, hot dogs and even sushi.
Book Your Buffalo Hotel
Consider staying at Hotel Henry, a former mental asylum with 88 stylish rooms. Not only will you sleep in elegant comfort, but you’ll also stay in an epic national historic landmark with a story to tell.
Beyond its history, Hotel Henry offers the modern amenities we covet like flat screen tv’s, free parking and free wireless high-speed internet access. We aren’t exaggerating when we say that this hotel’s internet is the fastest we’ve ever experienced in a hotel.
The hotel also has bars, restaurants and a cafe for those days when you don’t want to leave the hotel, possibly because you want to take advantage of the fast internet.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
We thank Visit Buffalo Niagara for sponsoring our trip to Buffalo to facilitate this article.
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.