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Breakfast Paradise Eight reasons why it's the best meal of the day

Everybody knows about our spicy chicken wings and beef on weck, but what about breakfast? We've all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But for many people - like myself - it's also their favorite meal of the day. From sweet dishes like waffles, french toast and pancakes to spicy foods like breakfast burritos or juevos rancheros, there's so much to choose from.

Another great thing about breakfast is it's completely acceptable to eat for other meals. Anybody ever hear of brunch? And for dinner, omlettes, scrambled eggs, hash browns and sometimes even french toast are not uncommon.

In true Western New York culinary character, there's a rich variety of breakfast selections around here.

Whether it's a quick meal on the way to the office or a leisurely Sunday brunch with family or friends, there's something for everyone. Some are open 24 hours a day, some only on weekends. Some are in classy settings. Others make you feel like you're sitting in Grandma's kitchen.

In the spirit of good eating, here are some of the best places around for breakfast. Bon appetite!

Restaurant: Betty's - 370 Virginia St.; 362-0633

Specialty/Crowd Favorite: Any of the special quiches or breakfast burritos.

Atmosphere/Ambience: Fun. A popular spot, it's usually crowded - but not overbearing - especially for Sunday brunch. Both the food and the mood are enjoyable, and it's a great place to catch up with friends or family over a delicious meal.

When to go: Breakfast is 8 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 to 11:30 a.m. Saturdays. Brunch only 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays.

Price: Meals from $6 to $12.


Restaurant: The Center Cafe - Lobby of One HSBC Center; 841-1782

Specialty/Crowd Favorite: On the go? Grab a quick bagel and cream cheese or single-serving box of cereal. Got a minute? Try a hot cereal like oatmeal and grits with raisins and brown sugar topping or the fresh fruit bar. Want something heartier? Try made-to-order grill items such as eggs, breakfast sandwiches, pancakes and omelettes. The breakfast buffet is good, too.

Atmosphere/Ambience: High, voluminous ceilings with floor-to ceiling picture windows that provide nice views of the Skyway, The Buffalo News and HSBC Arena on one side, and Dunn Tire Park on another.

When to go: Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays.

Price: Coffee and a bagel with cream cheese is $1.40. Made-to-order omelettes, pancakes, breakfast sandwiches and breakfast burritos range from $2 to $2.50. Serve-yourself breakfast bar and fruit bar are priced by the pound.


Restaurant: Empire Grill - 1435 Hertel Ave.; 446-0700

Specialty/Crowd Favorite: The Belgian waffles. You can even get them with two scoops of vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce, or vanilla ice cream and war berry sauce. The stuffed french toast is good, too, and some are a little unusual. They come stuffed with unusual choices like peanut butter and banana, or common favorites banana and chocolate chip or ham and cheddar cheese.

Atmosphere/Ambience: Trendy with high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows that accentuate the dining experience. Also, passers-by can peek on the kitchen staff through the picture window facing Hertel.

When to go: Brunch is served from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays

Price: Meals range from $5.50 to $13.


Restaurant: GiGi's

Specialty/Crowd Favorite: Southern-style breakfast with grits, homemade biscuits, corned beef hash. Also, more traditional breakfast items are available.

Atmosphere/Ambience: Casual, with diner seating and table seating in back. Old-timers shoot the breeze with construction workers. Office workers duck in for a quick bite. There's also a juke box that plays soul and blues favorites

When to go: Breakfast is served daily from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Price: Nothing is more than $9, and that's for a T-bone steak breakfast.


Restaurant: Muse - Inside the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, 1285 Elmwood Ave.; 270-8223

Specialty/Crowd Favorite: Crab and asparagus eggs benedict is a truly delightful dish served with fresh hollandaise sauce. The menu changes about every three months in keeping with the seasons. For example, this summer the menu will lighten up a bit and feature local produce, according to the chef, who redesigns the menu.

Atmosphere/Ambience: Classy and simple, with artwork from permanent collections featured. Floor-to-ceiling windows face the courtyard outside, and cafe seating is available outside in warm months.

When to go: Brunch is served Sundays only from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Price: $16 for a continental buffet and one entree.


Restaurant: Olympic Restaurant - 1601 Military Road, Kenmore; 874-0771

Specialty/Crowd Favorite: The big draw here is that breakfast is served 24 hours a day. The other good news is there's another location in Cheektowaga, across from the airport. And if you can't make it to either of those, try the Towne Restaurant in Allentown. They're all family-owned, and breakfast is available anytime.

Atmosphere/Ambience: Large, casual diner. Inviting to truckers as well as families celebrating birthday dinners.

When to go: The Kenmore restaurant is open 24 hours a day. The Olympic in Cheektowaga is open 7 a.m. to midnight.

Price: Breakfast meals range from $3.49 to $12.99.


Restaurant: Sharon's Apple Dumpling Diner - 2466 Elmwood Ave., Kenmore - 873-3052

Specialty/Crowd Favorite: Homemade apple dumplings served warm with caramel sauce and topped with whipped cream. Also delicious are the Berry Berry pancakes (blue berries and raspberries) with fresh mango sauce. The eggs benedict with made-to-order hollandaise sauce and real Canadian bacon. The owner drives to Canada regularly to get it because it tastes better.

Atmosphere/Ambience: Casual and cozy with window seating and counter seating. You feel like you're sitting around Grandma's kitchen.

When to go: 7 a.m. to noon Thursday through Sunday.

Price: Nothing on the breakfast menu is more than $8, and that's for omelettes


Restaurant: Thunder Falls Buffet - Seneca Niagara Casino, Niagara Falls; 299-1100

Specialty/Crowd Favorite: A veritable feast among feasts, practically any breakfast item your stomach desires is available and lots of it! Especially tasty is the omelet bar - where your omelet is made to order. The waffle bar is tasty, too, with fresh fruit for topping.

Atmosphere/Ambience: Comfortable and casual, the large dining room is decorated in soft, natural colors. From solo diners to large parties, everyone feels comfortable.

When to go: 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday and Sundays, so there's plenty of time to pace yourself.

Price: $13.99 for all you can eat.

Deidre Williams is a News staff writer.

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