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CHEAP EATS

Bill Gray's

8214 Main St., Williamsville

630-0123

4 pennies (out of four)

"High-quality chow"

It can be definitively said that Bill Gray's serves up the best fast-food cheeseburger in Western New York.

Bill Gray's, a Rochester-based burger chain that has opened a location on Main Street in Williamsville, claims it has the "World's Greatest Cheeseburger." As impossible as that claim is to verify, it was still plenty of fun to try.

After an intensive, 23-year study of the area's various burger joints (purely for journalistic purposes, of course), it can be definitively said that Bill Gray's serves up the best fast-food cheeseburger ($3.25) in Western New York. And that ought to be good enough.

In its sparkling location in a plaza just east of Transit Road, Bill Gray's is overdecorated with duplicated memorabilia from the haunts and hollows of Western and Central New York. But what's hanging on the walls is merely peripheral to the restaurant's expansive array of food, most of which is at least as tasty as it is unhealthy. That is to say, very.

But if your waistline doesn't concern you, Bill Gray's has some of the best values and highest-quality chow our homogenous fast-food landscape has ever seen. Take, for instance, the award-winning (in Rochester, anyway) fish fry for $8.65. That price might seem a little steep for a chain joint, but the taste makes it worth plenty more.

Buffalo's many stalwart bleu cheese fanatics will be happy to taste the exquisite Bacon Bleu Cheeseburger ($4.25), which is a step up from the original burger that made Bill Gray's famous. Copious amounts of bleu cheese drip slowly from a perfectly melted slice of white American cheese onto a flame-broiled beef patty to create one of the most satisfying tastes man has yet known. Combine that with fat, crispy ketchup-drenched fries and a Mountain Dew and you're looking at about $8 for well over 1,200 calories. That right there is a good deal.

If you're in a big rush and need your fries, burger and some macaroni salad in one place, Bill Gray's can do that, too, for a cool $6.50. It's not quite as good as a Nick Tahoe's Garbage Plate, but it does provide all the basic fast-food groups (fat, salt, meat, fat) in an easy-to-handle package.

And to top it all off, tasty Abbott's custard is available in a variety of sundaes or by itself.

It's hard to single out the best thing about Bill Gray's -- the cheeseburgers, the fish fries, the free paper hats that say "Eat at Bill's." Whatever it is, there's no doubt that it is a welcome addition to Buffalo's fast food offerings.

Open Sun thrus 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Wheelchair-accessible.