My dad (a.k.a. Fast Freddie) grew up a few blocks from Lucky’s in Kaisertown. As a kid I remember stopping for Texas hots when visiting my grandparents. So it was hilarious when the Sig Other and I heard, “Hey Kraf-check”(the Polish pronunciation) two seconds after FF walked in the door. A neighborhood friend (and owner of Porky’s Lounge on Clinton Street) recognized him.
That’s Buffalo in a nutshell. Despite the many years, friends from old neighborhoods fall into easy conversation. The guy even asked after all my aunts and uncles.
And that is what makes Lucky’s great. In this day of the homogenized Greek diners, Lucky’s remains a truly old school.
The coffee cups don’t match and maybe the floor needs a sweep, but the service is super friendly and the food is downright tasty.
We’re guessing the menu hasn’t changed much either, starting with the Breakfast Anytime portion with discounts on three items from 7 to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday. The No. 1 (two eggs with toast and home fries or hash browns) is normally $4.25 (discounted $3.29). The No. 2 adds choice of sausage, bacon, ham or gyro $5.75 ($4.69). The No. 3 adds two pancakes or French toast $6.99 ($4.89). You get the idea. The menu goes to a No. 9 gyro or souvlaki for $9.99.
Omelets start at $5.99 for cheese to a meat-lovers version for $8.99. (We liked the $7.69 Polish Western in the old ‘hood.) All come with home fries or hash browns, toast or pita.
Pancakes or French toast run from $3.99 to $5.10, depending on quantity (two or three). Lucky’s Deluxe Breakfasts include two of each: eggs, pancakes, French toast and bacon (or sausage) for $7.99. Breakfast sandwiches are cheap. An egg and cheese is $2.99; $3.99 with sausage (or ham).
The good coffee ($1.85) kept coming, and then so did our delicious breakfasts. Sig O and FF both had two scrambled eggs with home fries, toast and sausage. The eggs were perfectly scrambled and came with two big sausage patties, toast and a mountain of potatoes.
My chicken souvlaki omelet was fantastic. It’s an art to cook three eggs on a grill and Lucky’s has it perfected. The layers of egg wrapped nicely around marinated chicken chunks, peppers, onions and feta. Crumbled feta on top was a nice touch. The pita was grilled perfection. A mountain of the grilled home fries filled the plate. (Half my breakfast came home).
Of course breakfast isn’t all Lucky’s serves. Lucky’s famous hot dogs are $2.19, with feta or American cheese $2.50. Buy five Texas hots, get one free. A hamburger is $2.50, a cheeseburger $2.75 ($4.25 double cheeseburger). A quarter-pound Texas burger (with the Texas hot sauce) and feta is $4.99. A turkey sandwich is $5.99. Combo meals add choice of fries, home fries or soup. A Greekburger combo is $6.50 as is fried bologna with cheese. Club sandwiches with fries are $8.99.
The high ticket items are Greek platters — open steak, chicken or beef souvlaki, gyro at $11.99 (a ham steak is $9.25). They come with salad and a choice of fries or home fries.
It’s a basic menu at Lucky’s with solid choices, good coffee and friendly service. Really the epitome of a great Cheap Eats. And the fact that one can show up decades later and be able catch up with neighborhood friends as if no time has past is a testament that Lucky’s is doing something right.
Lucky’s Texas Red Hots
1903 Clinton St. (826-6873)
Hours: 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 7 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday; 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Scene: Old-school diner opened in 1975. Original on Fillmore Avenue opened in 1966.
Kiddie menu: $4.29-$4.99.
More: Street parking and in lot across the street.
Wheelchair-accessible: Yes, but tight tables.