The Queen City may be known to outsiders for its snow and football team, but to natives, it’s the site of culinary excellence.
“Experience the basic, delightful duality of the Buffalo experience — cold and harsh outside, warm and hospitable inside,” the late Anthony Bourdain said in 2009.
Buffalo is famous for its wings, but it’s so much more than that: it’s also beef on weck, Buffalo-style pizza, spaghetti parm and so much more. The staff of The Spectrum compiled a list of their favorite joints in the 716:
Located in the heart of Elmwood Village, Big Mood is an all-vegan restaurant with plant-based twists on many comfort dishes. The menu caters to all sorts of tastes, from chicken sandwiches made from seitan to milkshakes made from oat milk to a twist on buffalo wings made from jackfruit. All ingredients are made in-house daily. This place will be sure to please vegans and non-vegans alike.
- Jason Monterrosa
Lake Effect Ice Cream
With two locations, one on Hertel Avenue and the other in Lockport, Lake Effect made its name as one of the tastiest ice cream shops in Western New York. The joint is renowned for its extensive and inventive menu. Here, patrons can enjoy ice cream flavors ranging from the standard, vanilla, to the less familiar, black sesame. However, no matter what visitors get, they can be sure it’s going to be delicious. Even as the weather gets cold, students will find it difficult to resist Lake Effect’s frosty treats.
- Kara Anderson
Kumo Japanese Cuisine
Students craving Japanese fare should visit a hidden gem in Kumo Japanese Cuisine. Nestled in a strip mall on Transit Road, Kumo is a 24-minute drive from North Campus. While the trek is long, students will be glad they came — the assortment of sushi rolls, soup, noodle dishes, salads and even a lunchtime bento box are sure to delight. There are a few vegetarian rolls as well — the vegetable tempura is a personal favorite.
- Jack Porcari
Craft Coffee House
Located in Lockport, Craft Coffee House offers an array of housemade beverages, including lattes, pour-overs, teas, smoothies, beer, wine and cocktails. The veteran-owned shop also offers homemade baked goods and has a menu filled with vegan-friendly items. Craft is only 15 minutes from North Campus, making it an accessible and welcoming place for students to get some studying done away from the library while enjoying delicious coffee and food.
- Kayla Sterner
Poutine and Cream
Students craving Canadian cuisine should visit Poutine and Cream, a popular spot on Hertel Avenue featuring poutine, cheese curds and french fries drenched in gravy. Authentic Canadian poutine may be out of reach on this side of the border, but this joint is a student’s dream. Combining poutine with extravagant milkshakes — with vegan options for both — the unlikely duo is a hit. The veggie poutine and vanilla shake is a solid go-to option. There are also burgers on the menu for the picky-eater, and for those 21+, boozy shakes are also on the menu. Poutine and Cream is the best way to end an especially stressful week.
- Julie Frey
Betty’s is the restaurant Instagram-worthy brunches are made for. But students fearing the oversaturated brunch rush shouldn’t despair; this joint also features regular breakfast and lunch on weekdays. Located in Allentown, just off Elmwood Avenue, the yellow walls with red trim give off an eclectic and homey feel that will have students sitting in the dining room sipping coffees and mimosas for hours. It’s the perfect place for any diet; all the menus have a “Have it Either Way” section that will satisfy the vegans and gluten-free people among us. It’s also perfect for furry friends — Betty’s also has a “For Fido” menu made with special seasonings just for dogs. The classic eggs benedict, featuring the most delicious hollandaise sauce, is a personal favorite, but the weekly specials are a hit as well.
- Natalie Doller
Sato Ramen is the ideal place to eat and catch up with friends. An intimate scene with a buzz of low-fi music, an open kitchen and friendly hosts, Sato cultivates a homey vibe for students to enjoy a meal and a ton of laughs with friends or a partner. The food itself is varied, well-seasoned and leaves students wanting more — the smell is second-to-none. Situated on Main Street, this joint will leave students with a full stomach and a smile.
- Sophie McNally
Kostas Family Restaurant
Since its founding in 1977, Kostas has become a staple of the North Buffalo restaurant scene. Its all-day breakfast and plentiful American fare are sure to delight any hungry college student, but it’s the authentic, fresh Greek cuisine that makes the restaurant stand out. And for what it is, the menu is reasonably priced. Most dishes go for well under $15. Takeout is an option, but students should consider dining in. The restaurant is recently renovated, features outdoor and indoor seating, sports a bar for of-age students and is only a five-minute drive from South Campus.
- Grant Ashley
With two locations — one on Walden Avenue in Depew and another on Main Street in Clarence — the Campfire Grill is a roughly 10-minute drive from South Campus. As the name suggests, the restaurant has an entertaining and mouthwatering menu. With breakfast options ranging from the lumberjack to the trailblazer to the fisherman’s favorite, this joint serves up a truly memorable experience. The Campfire Grill offers a variety of pancake flavors including cinnamon roll, Oreo and s’mores. The restaurant also offers a lunch menu featuring burgers, salads and flatbreads.
- Courtney Jackson
Original Pancake House
There’s no better place to grab breakfast as a college student than at the Original Pancake House. The food is high in quality, the portion sizes are large and the fare is cheap, making it the perfect place for a 20-something to frequent. Located only four miles away from North Campus, this restaurant boasts the Dutch Baby, a thin pancake filled with butter, powdered sugar and fresh strawberries. Not craving a sweet breakfast? Try one of their omelettes, from original cheddar to seafood; it’s sure to leave students craving more.
Pro Tip: The Original Pancake House does not accept reservations, so prepare to wait 30-45 minutes on weekends.
- Dan Eastman
Located on Kenmore Avenue by South Campus, JJ’s is a small breakfast spot run by an eldery Indian couple. The homey restaurant boasts everything from Garbage Plates to Tandoori Chicken sandwiches. Every customer is made to feel like a regular, and owner/chef Jagat has an endless supply of dad jokes that will brighten students’ day.
- Moaz Elazzazi
Roma Thai & Burmese Cuisine
This intimate Thai and Burmese joint is the perfect place to spice up students’ palettes. Tucked away in the Boardwalk Boutiques strip mall on Maple Road, Roma is just a five-minute drive off North Campus. Founded by a two-man team of former Burmese refugees, this establishment prides itself on its personalized services, community bonding and culinary repertoire spanning Pad Thai, sushi rolls and Burmese home-cooked staples. The man up front, San Li, will sometimes even treat guests to a special off-menu haul of Lahpet Thoke, a traditional Burmese tea leaf salad plate. The semester is long, and it just might be the spin on caffeinated food students never knew they needed.
- Kyle Nguyen
Located in the Commons, this is the place to enjoy Asian cuisine. Located next door to Subway and CVS, Young Chow serves a variety of sushi, bento boxes, bubble tea, noodles and rice that will leave visitors craving more. Looking for a quick order to-go for lunch or dinner? This is the place to visit. Who knows? Maybe it’ll become a weekly stop.
- Christopher Ng
Taisho Bistro Japanese Restaurant
A 10-minute drive from North Campus, in the Sheridan Center, Taisho Bistro is the ultimate low-key sushi spot. Students can get their fill of fish from a wide assortment of cooked, raw and specialty sushi rolls. Looking for land over sea? Taisho Bistro also offers classic Japanese dishes like fried rice and udon, as well as meals with a unique modern spin, like the “Taisho Dumpling,” a deep-fried spicy tuna in a wonton, served with guacamole, spicy mayo and eel sauce. The service and food are consistently great, making Taisho Bistro a must-have for students craving Japanese food.
- Brenden Wold