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A look back at the year in Cheap Eats

Cheap Eats has spent another year seeking out tasty, yet inexpensive food from across Erie and Niagara counties. This year, we’ve gone to such diverse locales Donut Kraze and the long-standing (50 years) Holiday Showcase. We had burritos on a budget at Spicey Pickle in Lewiston and healthy fare at Newbury Cafe. Here’s 10 favorite Cheap Eats from 2014. For full reviews, visit www.buffalo.com.

Balkan Dining, 687 Kenmore Ave. (834-0462, www.balkandining.com)

“Take a moment and think back to the last time you tried an entirely new cuisine from a region you knew little about. West Africa. Burma. Vietnam. What a revelation. Now home cooking from the Balkan Peninsula has reached Lake Erie’s shores, and we’ve struck Cheap Eats gold with Balkan Dining’s fresh take on a diverse and delicious region.” – Lauren Newkirk Maynard

Kalypso, 12 E. Winspear Ave. (834-3663, www.kalypsobuffalo.com)

“Kalypso is a tiny joint tucked along East Winspear Avenue just off Main Street. It’s run by Jamaican native Kai-Ann Johnson with help from her mom, Lorett Spencer. Johnson offers a small but flavorful menu of Caribbean classics at rock-bottom prices. This is filling food, simmered on the stove for hours until the meat slides off the bones and the joints turn to jelly.” – Lauren Newkirk Maynard

Mimi’s Central Perk Café, 24 Central Ave., Lancaster (683-0104)

“The main reason for choosing Mimi’s was the coffee ($1.25 regular, $1.40 large with free refills). If you’re putting ‘Perk’ in your restaurant name, the coffee better be great – and it was. ... Mimi’s Central Perk Café is a great addition to Central Avenue, whether you are looking for a quick bite on the way to work, lunch with friends on the weekend or a snack while shopping in the village.” – Lisa Johnson McPartland

Orazio’s Crepes and Gelato, Walden Galleria food court, Cheektowaga (685-2000, www.oraziositaliancrepesandgelato.com)

“Shopping can be forbidding, but the food court doesn’t have to be. An offshoot of its Clarence restaurant, Orazio’s serves a nifty little menu for shoppers who don’t have time for a sit-down meal, yet cringe at the thought of usual food court fare. Crepes – sweet and savory – highlight a menu that also includes soups, salads and pasta bowls. Our visit was made even better by a super friendly staff.” – Emeri Krawczyk

Potts Deli and Grille, 41 S. Rossler Ave., Cheektowaga (826-6575)

“We liked Potts Deli and Grille a lot the last time we were there, years ago, and now that it’s moved into a larger, brighter space, we like it even more. The surroundings have changed, but the family continues to make, cook and serve its traditional Polish cuisine, from the well-known golomki and pierogi to the lesser-known zrazy and czarnina. If you prefer non-Polish food, there is plenty to choose from here.” – Anne Neville

Riverside Cafe, 800 Tonawanda St. (876-0305)

“When you walk into the Riverside Cafe, you swear you’ve walked into what could become your favorite corner bar, yet there’s no alcohol. Instead, this is a place where regulars gather to enjoy bottomless cups of coffee and food that’s made to order. The small diner’s menu is surprisingly large, with breakfast taking up several pages. Understandable, considering breakfast runs until 2 p.m.” – Lisa Johnson McPartland

Sullivan’s Hot Dogs, 501 Cayuga Drive, Niagara Falls (236-4119)

“The best part of eating at Sullivan’s is that it encompasses all of what’s great about summer – charcoal-grilled Sahlen’s dogs, tasty burgers and hand-cut fries eaten open-air, either at the picnic tables out front, or the covered tables on that beautiful patio/deck overlooking the water. Oh, did I forget the ice cream? In classic Perry’s flavors and all-new creations of every ilk.” – Mike Kurilovitch

Tom’s Restaurant, 3221 Sheridan Drive, Amherst (837-7310)

“Tom’s has been a favorite of Northtown residents and University at Buffalo students for three decades. The classic Greek menu includes all of the homeland favorites you would expect to find – souvlaki, gyros, moussaka – plus an assortment of traditional diner food.” – Bruce Andriatch

Tony’s Bayview Drive-In, 3804 Lake Shore Road, Blasdell (824-5002)

“In its 31st year, this iconic Route 5 hot dog joint sits next to a go-kart track. There’s indoor and outdoor seating. The menu is basic and hits the high points of summer dining. Hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches, subs, tacos, sides and ice cream. The operation is smoothly run, with employees working hard in the heat. Nearby kids played on a swing set, and we watched go-karters zipping around the track. It would make a great ‘kid party’ location.” – Emeri Krawczyk

Vasilis Express, 1066 Elmwood Ave. (886-4976)

“Are you looking for lunch, dinner or that after-pub-crawl snack? Vasilis Express in the heart of the Elmwood Village has many options to satisfy any comfort food craving. The restaurant offers a menu of Greek and American favorites, including salads, falafel, tacos, hoagies and burgers. Whether you are seeking a full meal or a late-night snack, Vasilis Express offers quick service without skimping on the quantity or quality.” – Lisa Johnson

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