21 of the Best Restaurants in Buffalo, NY – Reviewed by a Local
Of all of the places in the world, I was lucky enough to be born and raised in Buffalo, New York.
Buffalo is such a special place – it has a great community feel, the people are kind, it’s full of local eateries and family businesses… I could go on and on!
(And to clear up any confusion – it’s nothing like New York City. We are located on the opposite side of the state and are considered “Western New York!”)
Buffalo is always there to welcome you home.
When COVID-19 hit back in March 2020, I was up visiting my family in Buffalo after living in Orlando for the past 7 years. That was the first time I got to show my boyfriend, Steven, around as well!
We were only supposed to only stay for one week, which quickly turned into a few months, which transitioned into us moving back up to Buffalo for a little over a year. What a turn of events.
Eating, enjoying, and supporting local Buffalo restaurants was a huge light in an otherwise dark time, so this post is a compilation of all of our tried and true favorites. (no affiliate links, just straight recommendations!)
This list is for anyone coming to Buffalo looking to get a good quality dining experience, and wants trusted reviews by a native Buffalonian. The restaurants are listed in alphabetical order for your convenience.
I hope it provides value and excitement to your time in this neighborly city!
As many people know, Anchor Bar is the original home of the “chicken wing.” (that’s right – they’re not called “Buffalo wings” in our city since it’s the place of origin!) So Anchor Bar is, in fact, quite famous! However, among Buffalo natives, it doesn’t always get the best reviews regarding the actual quality of the chicken wing itself.
I’ve had mixed experiences here over time, however the two most recent times I went, the wings were, in fact, very delicious!
We also realized that if you ever want to buy a foam chicken wing hat, this is the only place to do it! The perfect accessory for sports games or food festivals around here! (Buffalo fans are crazy, if you weren’t previously aware) A chicken wing hat ended up being Steven’s Christmas present in 2020 and he is truly obsessed.
We created a “chicken wing” crawl for ourselves, where we selected multiple wing restaurants to try in one day. And Anchor Bar was definitely on that list! It’s a classic.
(Thank you, Steven, for modeling the chicken wing hat for all of our curious readers!)
Anderson’s Frozen Custard
Oh, how can I put into words how much I love Anderson’s? Not only is it completely filled with childhood nostalgia, but the quality of their food and ice cream absolutely holds up to this day. They have some of the best beef on weck sandwiches around, especially for being such a casual dining location.
For those of you who don’t know – Beef on Weck sandwiches are fresh Roast Beef sandwiches on kimmelweck rolls – and kimmelweck rolls have salt and caraway seeds on top. Truly SO good.
Additionally, Anderson’s has so many ice cream flavors. My personal favorite has always been the Coffee Toffee crunch frozen yogurt. Recently though, I noticed that they have plant-based options as well which is great! Anderson’s is definitely one of my favorites. It is one of Steven’s favorites. So all of that to say… Anderson’s is an absolute WINNER!
Bagel Jay’s has my favorite bagels in all of Western New York. They’re thick and fluffy and I have driven 45 minutes to go get them on many occasions. A sesame bagel with cream cheese is my order and for being a pretty basic order, it’s an absolute party for the taste buds. Also, the blueberry bagel with strawberry cream cheese was a childhood favorite. I love their Pastry Hearts, those are top-tier goodness… I am put into an absolute state of bliss when I eat them. Everything is so good!
I have to say if I was to pick between Bagel Jay’s and Tim Horton’s… I would absolutely pick Bagel Jay’s because, for a bagel drive-thru, their food is divine. (except when it comes to coffee… Tim Horton’s 100% wins in the coffee category!)
Bar Bill Tavern
Bar Bill is absolutely, 100% in our top tier of best chicken wings in Buffalo. Subsequentially, it has become one of our most visited and all-time favorite restaurants. Bar Bill hand paints sauce on their chicken wings, and you can tell when you’re eating them that they are prepared in a different way than most other restaurants. Also, may I suggest sticking to Medium? Because the hot sauce is exceptionally hot. (unless you’re into burning your eyebrows off! Then by all means!)
Our typical order from Bar Bill is what we have personally titled to be our “Buffalo Smorgasbord” – Chicken Wings (with extra blue cheese for dipping!), Beef on Weck and Pizza Logs. Bonus if you order an Ellicottville Blueberry Beer (with extra blueberries) and a Hayburner.
I’m not kidding when I say – if you go here, order exactly this. You will not be disappointed!
Bar Bill Tavern is located in East Aurora, which is a really wonderful town, so there are a lot of surrounding shops and restaurants in the area. (though you probably won’t have much room to eat another whole meal!) The inside of the tavern is very small, so truthfully take-out could be the way to go. They have perfected their take-out system during the pandemic and it is always so efficient whenever we go!
Although the Tavern is my preferred, there is also an additional location in Clarence called Bar Bill North, if you are out in that area!
All this to say, Bar Bill truly has all of the Buffalo classics. I cannot recommend Bar Bill enough!
Big Ditch Brewing Company
We absolutely adore Big Ditch! The inside has a fantastic atmosphere, tons of windows, and light flooding into the restaurant. The chicken wings were fantastic, honestly some of my favorites. The meat was plump and the sauce they used was delicious. (we got medium) Don’t forget to pair it with blue cheese dressing – chicken wings and blue cheese are a Buffalo staple!
The highlight of Big Ditch is the Hayburner Beer. Guys, this stuff is good. Steven developed an addiction (because we were able to buy a 6-pack at our local market) It’s an IPA and has great flavor. Steven is an avid beer drinker and his favorite has always been Cigar City Jai Alai… but Hayburner may have tied (or taken!) that first place favorite spot.
One more plus about Big Ditch – they have really cute merchandise! Everything is so well designed and the clothing is really great quality!
Chef’s is adored by many and claimed to be “Buffalo’s favorite Italian Restaurant.” Consuming their food is truly a delightful (and indulgent!) experience. Chef’s is really well known for their sauce, which is even sold in jars at our local grocery stores! They are also known for their spaghetti parm, aka spaghetti and tons of melted cheese on top. (like I said, hefty but delicious meals!)
Eating at Chef’s is always an event for us – we’ve celebrated graduations here, ordered it for anniversaries – the works! Chef’s is a very quintessential Buffalo restaurant, and if you are a big Italian food fan, this is definitely the one you have to try!
Chiavetta’s chicken is such a Buffalo staple. They have a catering service that is famous around here – you’ll see Chiavettas pop-ups in grocery store parking lots or fundraisers or fairs. You truly can’t get anything like Chiavetta’s sauce anywhere else! During the pandemic, we discovered that they have take-out which was such a game-changer on nights we didn’t feel like cooking.
Menu highlights we’ve found during the (many) times of ordering Chiavetta’s are the chicken, (obviously) mac and cheese, scalloped potatoes, baked beans, cornbread, and the little rolls that come with your meal. Absolutely unique to the area, absolutely delicious, and absolutely one of our favorite meals in all of Buffalo.
Connor’s Hot Dogs
Okay, you’re a true Buffalo local if you know Connor’s Hot Dogs. This local business is right near Angola on the lake and it is the perfect pairing to any beach day. It is only open seasonally – all summer long, plus a bit of the spring and fall. I always have so much trouble deciding whether to get a hot dog, hamburger, or a grilled cheese because everything is SO GOOD. You have to get the little pickles shreds on the side. And the French fries are always a huge portion but they’re absolutely fried to golden perfection and taste so good paired with vinegar. Connor’s is a family favorite and always, always will be.
Duff’s Famous Wings
Another intregal location on our self-made chicken wing crawl was Duff’s Famous Wings! A classic, a classic. Besides Anchor Bar, I would say Duff’s is the most famous wing place in Buffalo. We love it so much that Steven and I bought matching Duff’s sweatshirts!
The sauce on their wings is very spicy. Medium is considered hot there… so be warned! My typical order is Mild Medium (for safety) but Steven and my Dad love that medium sauce. Paired with their homemade blue cheese… you truly can’t go wrong at Duff’s.
I also love Pizza Logs from Duff’s, which is another classic Buffalo food. If you could envision a pizza spring roll or something similar to mozzarella stick with pizza fillings, that’s what a pizza log is! (and I have NO idea why they are not a nationwide appetizer, they’re so delicious)
Ellicottville Brewing Company
If you haven’t figured out that we like Breweries by now… then just keep reading and it will become exceptionally clear. Ellicottville Brewing Company is a frequent visit for us as well. It is located out in Ellicottville, New York which is a bit of a hike from the city. However, it is a sweet town filled with tons of shops and restaurants, and in the winter there is a Ski Resort called Holiday Valley where you are able to go skiing, tubing etc.
As far as this Brewery, Ellicottville Brewing Company is widely popular for it’s Blueberry Beer. That’s how I first found out about it and that’s why I keep going back! That is the best Blueberry Beer I’ve been able to find anywhere, but it’s not the only flavor they have! Their menu is always changing seasonally so you should be able to find something for everyone!
As far as food… depending on what I’ve ordered, I’ve experienced both hit and miss. However, I can confidently say that their soft pretzels from the appetizer menu are out of this world. Also, the evident winner on the food menu is the Chicken Caprese Sandwich on naan bread with a side of tomato soup!
They also have great merchandise, tons of beer you can purchase, as well as a fun community atmosphere. If their outdoor area is open in the back, it’s spacious and beautiful and a wonderful place to eat on a nice day.
If you are unable to make it out to the actual brewery, their Blueberry Beer is sold pretty much everywhere. (Wegman’s included!) Do yourself a favor and try this beer sometime while you’re in Buffalo! And if you want to get really fancy, I recommend putting some actual frozen blueberries in your glass to enhance the experience!
Gabriel’s Gate was another stop on our self-created chicken wing crawl. The interior of Gabriel’s Gate is as charming as could be, and they are a hidden gem for having some pretty spectacular wings. The restaurant has such an old house feel – with beautiful wood and brickwork. We sat right by a cozy fireplace as we indulged in our beer and wings. My favorite part about this restaurant was definitely the aesthetics. The food was yummy, the wings were great, and it’s located right downtown!
Hamburg Brewing Company
Hamburg Brewing Company is a hidden gem and a brewery I particularly love – especially for the ambiance! The inside feels like the cozy living room of a lodge with a stone fireplace. When you go out back, there are small fire pits along a pond, picnic tables, gorgeous greenery, and twinkle lights. If you’re visiting Buffalo during the fall season, I highly recommend going to Hamburg Brewing Company on an autumn afternoon to admire the colorful leaves! I love coming here to just get a beer and a pretzel and have a chat with whoever I’m with. This is the place I would recommend if you’re in the market for a good vibe and a relaxing outing.
INIZIO is a true hidden gem and frankly it doesn’t get talked about as much as it should. They prepare pasta from scratch in this elegant Italian restaurant right in the middle of Elmwood Village. The pasta dishes here are on another level. They use fresh and unique ingredients to come up with dishes you would have only dreamed of. Each dish is truly a culinary masterpiece, full of flavor and sprinkled with thin ribbons of parmesan cheese on top. Their menu is truly quality over quantity, and changes seasonally, but that just makes me want to try the entire menu all the more! INIZIO is the type of restaurant you would want to go to for a date night, anniversary, or birthday celebration. It feels intimate and personal and like a special occasion the minute you step inside. Highly recommend!
This was my favorite pizza place as a child and probably still is to date. La Nova’s sauce, crust, and cheese combo paired with blue cheese is like an explosion for my taste buds every time. The first bite is a serotonin hit like none other. To me, eating this pizza feels like coming home. Their wings are also a perfect complement – and for a “pizza place” (vs. a “wing place”) their quality measures up pretty darn well. We always order a pepperoni pizza and medium wings and it’s literal perfection in pizza boxes. A meal from La Nova is a true indulgence for the body and the soul. It’s a fantastic complement for a Buffalo Bills or Buffalo Sabres game, or even just a Friday night pizza night. This is the pizza I typically recommend people to try if they’re coming to Buffalo for a quick visit. I just love it so much!
As a Buffalo local, to me, Mighty Taco has always been superior to Taco Bell. It’s pretty much the same concept – fast food and drive-thru tacos, but there’s just something about Mighty Taco that hits different. Plus, it’s more local so I automatically feel drawn to support it more! Their burritos are really good, they have a good selection of items on the menu (even though I have literally been getting the same thing since the 5th grade), and they also have these fruit empanadas for dessert that are such a sweet and cinnamon sugary treat. I’m not much of a fast-food gal nowadays, but Mighty Taco is one place that is my exception. I always have been, and always will be, a big Mighty fan.
You can’t beat ice cream on a hot summer’s day… and Nick Charlap’s is the place to go to satisfy that sweet tooth! It’s your classic ice cream joint – perfect for after soccer games, after a day at the beach, or for a family night out! They have a huge variety of flavors, which is why I like it so much. Plus, their cherry dip is always delicious! They typically have a special flavored soft-serve of the week, which adds a fun surprise element. So whether you want regular scooped ice cream, soft-serve, a milk-shake, a sundae, a blizzard, or anything with a cherry on top… they’ve got you!
Pasquale’s Italian Restaurant
I always crave Pasquale’s when I am in Florida. They have some of the best Italian comfort food I have come across in my many years of eating. Pasquale’s is our family go-to for take-out dinner, but they also have dine-in. Pasquale’s more than likely has any classic Italian-American style dish you can think of. I always get their classic spaghetti and meatballs, chicken parm, or pizza! Anything you choose to eat from Pasquale’s will fill you up to the brim with complete contentment. Pair it with a glass of red wine and it is truly one of life’s greatest delicacies.
Resurgence Brewing Company
Buffalo has some pretty fantastic Breweries but Resurgence Brewing Company is absolutely near the top of our list. The Chicago Street location is the one we go to the most!
First off, the vibe of the restaurant. It’s spacious and trendy and it provides an atmosphere that you would want to spend a lot of time in – whether you sit inside or outside. Second off, there’s always something fun going on. Whether it’s green beer & live Irish music on Saint Patricks Day or outdoor food trucks in the summer… heck, even a normal day at Resurgence feels like an occassion! Then third, of course, is the beer! They have so many different flavors that are specific to Resurgence. The Loganberry Wit and Resurgence IPA’s are our go to’s!
Lastly, their branding is on point. I want to buy everything from their merch shop. Whether it be shirts or hats… or especially the beer cans! They always have such clever and current artwork – during the pandemic they had a whole quarantine collection that just hit so close to home, you couldn’t help but laugh.
Everything about this places cohesive, aesthetic, and just plain enjoyable. Resurgence is definitely a well-rounded dining and drinking experience, and one that we are happy to repeat time and time again! Highly, highly recommend!
Another Italian favorite right in the city of Buffalo! Tappo provides a quality experience combining food, drinks, and atmosphere.
There is, of course, the main dining room with a wall lined with wine bottles. Then, off to the side, they created additional “greenhouse” outdoor seating. These were added during the pandemic and they are fantastic because you have your own little secluded table. But the best part is that Tappo actually has a rooftop! In the summer, they have jazz nights with live music. In the winter, they have “igloos” you can rent out to dine in, so you’re in your own personal bubble! Those are best for big groups, around 8 people or so!
Tappo offers such a wide array of experiences, depending on when you decide to go. This is one restaurant that I’ve visited time and time again over the years because the quality just withstands! It truly is one of the best places to get a good meal in the downtown Buffalo area.
Ted’s Hot Dogs
Ted’s Hot Dogs is very well-known in the Buffalo Community as far as hot dog places go because there are locations all over the place. Ted’s is FANTASTIC, my friends. They have quite a few options on their menu but, in my opinion, you have to go with the classic hot dog and fries.
When you make your way through the line, you actually see see the hot dogs get charcoal broiled right in front of you. I got an all-beef hot dog most recently and I loved it, so that’s about to be my new go-to. The fries are on the softer and plainer side but still a great accompaniment. And then the MILKSHAKES… oh, the milkshakes. Give me a Ted’s vanilla or strawberry milkshake any day of the week. It just absolutely hits the spot. Going to Ted’s is truly a delicious treat.
Tim Horton’s originated in Canada but is an intregal part of the Buffalo culture and experience. It is a fast food restaurant similar to a Dunkin’ Donuts in style. They have coffee, bagels, muffins, iced cappuccinos, Timbits (donut holes), donuts, breakfast sandwiches, soups, sandwiches… the list goes on!
It’s delicious, it’s quick, and it’s a classic. I grew up going here before or after school and getting “a cinnamon raisin bagel toasted with cream cheese.” Or if you’re in the mood for a donut, I highly recommend the honey crullers!
Tim Horton’s is always associated with feelings of happiness and comfort for me. It’s a must do if you’re in the area, especially if you haven’t tried it before! Plus, their coffee is much more affordable compared to Starbucks!
That about wraps it up! I truly believe the best thing to do in all of Buffalo is to eat – so I hope this list guides you to some of your new favorite places during your time here.
Until next time… 🙂