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With Mexican flavor, Papi Grande’s works hard for a Buffalo identity of its own

Oh, The U, where have ye gone? For years, it was a staple for University at Buffalo graduate students who needed a drink after classes. When news broke that The U would shut its doors, UB students were heartbroken. But maybe it was too early to mourn a place which never seemed to garner as much business as it should have. The successor at this location, however, Papi Grande’s, is doing the best it can to make an identity of its own.

Papi Grandes is a Mexican bar/restaurant where you can stop in for a drink or a meal. The cantina area has 16 beers on tap, which change seasonally, including Corona, Sam Adam Cold Snap, Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter and Ellicottville Brewing Co. Blueberry (generally about $5).

The full bar features no shortage of rums, tequilas and whiskeys – more than enough to satisfy your cocktail needs (most cost around $4).

The real deal at Papi Grande’s is the margarita. Made with homemade ingredients and a plethora of flavor choices (mango, pineapple, strawberry, just to name a few), the bartenders at Papi Grande’s have make each one as consistent as the previous one. A normal margarita runs $4, while a flavored one is $6.50 and is either served with salt or sugar around the rim.

Papi Grande’s offers a happy hour for those just getting off work in dire need of a margarita or another drink. Happy hour is from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and offers $3.99 margaritas, $1 off select beers, and $5 off red or white sangrias.

The food menu consists of the typical burrito and quesadilla choices. Ordering an entrée allows for a generous, stuffed portion, which is also served with rice and refried beans on the side. The Papi’s Nachos are packed high with all the essentials: beef or chicken, sour cream, jalapenos, lettuce, the works ($11.50).

Papi Grandes seems to have adapted to some Buffalo traditions and customs. For instance, Friday’s are reserved for Papi Grande’s original spin on the fish fry, which features a Dos Equis beer battered fish, cilantro cole slaw, and queso mac and cheese. You can get two for $24.99.

Papi Grande’s has no shortage of deals on food for every day of the week: $5 Mexican pizza Mondays; $2 Taco Tuesdays (if you sit at the bar); two-or-$5 mini-chimichanga Wednesdays; $5 breakfast burrito Thursdays; and $5 chicken egg roll Fridays. Being located next to a movie theater has its perks because if you are inclined to have a quick bite after a film, your ticket stub allows for $5 off any dinner for two.

Having a Mexican restaurant may not be new to Buffalo, but for the past few months, Papi Grandes has sought to establish itself apart from others with the same goal. The décor isn’t overly exhausting in Mexican heritage, the music is usually classic rock, and the televisions almost always play American sports. But Papi Grandes is exerting itself in trying to become a premiere restaurant in the Buffalo area.

Papi Grande’s

Where: 4276 Maple Road, Amherst

When: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Décor notes: Fair share of Mexican folk decorations. The bar, in particular, features a neat changing light on its underside, making for possibly a trippy experience.

Happy Hour: 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Bring the family: Kids eat free.

Drunk munchies: Free chips and salsa.