10 Best Lunch Hot Spots in Buffalo, New York
By Amber Nolan
Buffalo has an interesting mix of restaurants that cater to the lunch crowd, and each year the "foodie" scene continues to evolve. No matter the type of dining experience you are looking for, you'll find it it Buffalo. From hidden gems like Shango Bistro and Wine Bar, which serves up New Orleans-style cuisine to well-known establishments like Anchor Bar, the creator of the Buffalo wings, you'll have no shortage of options. Cuisine types vary from traditional Western New York favorites, pub grub, Italian, Greek, Indian, Thai, Japanese, Southern, and many more.
Typical diner-style restaurants like Vizzi's and The Towne Restaurant offer mouthwatering burgers and weekend comfort food, while Fat Bob's Smokehouse serves up barbecue ribs, pulled pork and other tender meats smoked on the grill.
Those looking for an upscale lunch atmosphere can check out Seabar, a revolutionary new sushi restaurant that also offers a twist on local staples and international dishes. During the summer months, the Filling Station "fills" with patrons in Larkin Square, an innovative new public space that continues to draw residents and travelers downtown.
No matter what your craving for lunch, you'll find it in Buffalo. Our editors have narrowed down some of their favorite lunch spots and present our top choices.
Fat Bob's Smokehouse
With blues and reggae music flowing and a classic down-home decor, this is one of Buffalo's best barbeque haunts. Located in the trendy Allentown district, Fat Bob's atmosphere is friendly and the food terrific since nearly everything is made from scratch. The sides are scrumptious and include favorites like sausage gravy, mashed potatoes, and cornbread. Main dishes include mainly styles of barbecue and southern cuisine, including St. Louis pork ribs, spice-rubbed catfish, and Texas-style brisket all smoked to perfection. Sandwiches include fried cornmeal catfish, pulled pork, the Memphis burger (topped with bacon and pulled pork), and the "Sloppy Bob, a combination of chicken, pork, and brisket. (716-887-2971)
The Filling Station
This Buffalo newcomer in the dazzling Larkin Square is now open for lunch and serves up classic American favorites like sandwiches, burgers, and salads. Try the chicken sandwich with avocado and citrus chutney or the shrimp tacos with cabbage coleslaw. The Filling Station was named as such because the space used to be a gas station in the 1930s, and is part of the ongoing renovations and rebirth of Larkin Square. This innovative site was the former Larkin Soap Company warehouse buildings, and has been transformed into a public space for events. The Filling Station offers outdoor seating that is ideal for people watching. (716 362 2665)
This simple Greek restaurant has served the Buffalo area for the past 30 years. Menu items include classic spanakopita (spinach pie), saganaki (cheese with pitas), and beef and lamb souvlaki (skewers). At lunchtime, they serve items like spinach pita melt, a Greek Burger, open gyro, and specialty salads. You'll also find an assortment of American-style sandwiches like turkey melts, clubs, and tuna. During dinner, the menu expands to include pork chops, shrimp scampi, haddock, and moussaka (eggplant and ground beef with bechamel sauce). The Towne also offers banquet service, catering, and take out. The atmosphere is that of a casual diner setting. (716-884-5128, 716-884-3382)
Pass through the Gothic gates in front of this Allentown favorite and grab a seat inside, or at the outdoor courtyard. The atmosphere inside is that of a rustic hunter's lodge with antique ceilings from the 1800s. The menu consists of traditional pub fare: fries, chile, French onion soup, BLT's, a huge selection of burgers and classic salad options. Gabriel's often ranks on the city' top five for their Buffalo wings, which come traditional, Cajun, barbecue, or suicidal - all crisped to perfection. Their barbecue spare ribs are equally impressive and the portion sizes are extremely generous. This is a popular nightlife location as well. ((716) 886-0602)
Curly's Grill and Banquet Center
Although Curly's been in the same family since the 1930s, it recently began to offer the city classic Caribbean cuisine. The décor is traditional pub, but there's also a Jamaican room where diners can enjoy the beauty of the Caribbean. Curly's menu is diverse and includes peanut crusted chicken with banana curry sauce, fish fillet with white wine cream sauce, and a range of pastas and desserts and their Jamaican jerk chicken is gluten-free! Curly's is primarily known as a dinner destination and banquet hall, however they are open for lunch during the week for those looking for a quality meal. (716-824-9716)
This local gem serves up sandwiches, salads, beef on weck (that's piled high) and some of Buffalo's best burgers with a massive portion of thick french fries, pasta, red potato salad. The monster burger is legendary,a flavorful patty topped with mayo, tomatoes and lettuce. The ambiance is "corner diner-meets locals bar," and prices are extremely reasonable for the quantity of food ($6.95 for a massive burger). Everything is homemade in house, which can be attributed to quality of the food, and they staff is friendly and accommodating. Weekends can be busy, but it is a great choice for a low-key lunch. ((716) 871-1965)
This is the original home of Buffalo wings, which were first concocted in 1964 by the bar's original proprietor as a snack for late night patrons. Still available, the wings are smothered with spicy Buffalo sauce and served with celery and bleu cheese dressing. The Anchor Bar is still a local favorite, and the menu features Italian-American entrees and classics like chicken cacciatore, lasagna and stuffed hot peppers. On weekends traveling jazz bands entertain diners. During lunch, you'll also find classics like beef on weck, grilled bologna steak with onions, a Buffalo bison burger, and an Icelandic haddock fish fry (for just $9). (716-886-8920)
This Elmwood Village dining room wins raves from connoisseurs of Indian food. Irresistible masala, a delightful variety of authentic breads, tandoori meats, seafood and vegetarian dishes are skillfully prepared and infused with the flavors of South Asia. If the menu's wide selection is too daunting, don't worry: the restaurant offers a splendid lunch buffet and is the more preferred option for many diners. For starters, try the garlic naan flat bread or the Alu Mater Samosa (homemade pastries stuffed with potatoes and peas). Other menu selections include lamb curry, and chicken Malai served in coconut sauce with authentic basmati rice as the side. (716-886-4000)
With a creative menu designed by acclaimed chef, Mike Andrzejewski (the genius behind Mike A's at the Hotel Lafayette), it is no surprise that Seabar continues to delight its visitors. In fact, Anthony Bourdain, the star of No Reservations, frequents the restaurant when in town. The main draw here is freshly-prepared sushi - but it doesn't stop there. Also gracing the menu are appetizers like pork enchiladas, seafood tacos, meatballs, and "Bourdain's Last Meal," a sampling of marrow, pork belly, and foie gras torchon. A sleek, upscale ambiance with affordable prices makes this ideal for a business lunch or just a casual meal with friends. (716.332.292)
Shango Bistro and Wine Bar
For a little taste of New Orleans in Buffalo, Shango Bistro and Wine bar offers flavorful Cajun dishes and an excellent selection of wines (170 bottles) and beers. For lunch, try an oyster, steak, or blackened catfish po' boy or opt for the creole Bouillabaisse. Sunday brunch includes award-winning gumbo, New Orleans barbecue shrimp, and stuffed French toast with bananas and caramel rum sauce - washed down with a flavor-infused bellini. With dark wood-paneled booths and tables, a chic bar area, and outdoor patio, Shango's is ideal for a more upscale lunch experience. Live jazz music drives the New Orleans theme home. ((716) 837-2326)
About Amber Nolan
Originally from upstate New York, this restless traveler has a knack for befriending interesting characters. You can usually find her just about anywhere that has a hammock. Amber's favorite places are Iceland for its remoteness; Panama for its parties; and Peru for its history. Her work can be found on MSNBC.com, Frommers, and Sherman’s Travel, where she served as the Cruise Editor and Senior Producer. She is currently working on a comic novel about her shoestring travels as she hitchhikes on airplanes across the country in an effort to visit all 50 states. See Jethiking.com.
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