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Nick's Place is a comfortable neighborhood diner

Nick’s Place on Amherst Street has been a Black Rock institution since 1994, surviving through neighborhood changes and several disasters of its own.

Even after a fire ravaged the kitchen in 2009, the neighborhood banded together to get the business back on its feet. Earlier this year, a car ran through the front window, but Nick’s didn’t let that stop it. Plywood covered the facade for about six months, a determined “we are open” sign on the front.

Not much can keep Nick’s Place down, or customers out. The food is predictably delicious diner fare with large portions served with care, a cozy corner favorite for local residents.

Homemade bread is a must after sniffing the round, cheerful loaves cooling fragrantly near the front door. An open kitchen greets visitors before they reach a small, humble dining room in the back. The decor is simple but with plates like these, it’s not the point.

[Photos: Sharon Cantillon's gallery from Nick's Place]

Open beef souvlaki from Nick's Place. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Dishes like souvlaki breakfast ($9) with Gyro, chicken or beef and Mama’s Omelette ($8) with Gyro, feta, tomato and spinach are fairly standard Greek diner fare.

But Nick’s does offer a few surprises. Nick’s Omelette ($8) has sliced hot dogs, peppers and onions, cheddar cheese and the same spicy, gooey sauce that adorns Texas hots. Cousin Marco’s Omelette ($8) features savory slices of Italian sausage, pepperoni, stringy mozzarella cheese, peppers and onions. All omelettes come with home fries and choice of toast.

Clay Benson, left, of Philadelphia and Kathy Spillman, of Buffalo, enjoy breakfast at Nick's Place. Spillman likes to bring out-of-town visitors to Nick's for breakfast. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Among Nick’s specialties are the Skillet Breakfast ($6 for half, $8 whole), a sizzling skillet piled high with two scrambled eggs mixed with home fries, peppers and onions and choice of meat and cheese. At Nick’s, portions are hearty enough that a half will do most appetites just fine. We recommend feta and Gyro for the authentic Greek diner experience, but with ham, bacon, Italian and Polish sausage, chicken and bacon all options, it’s hard to go wrong with the skillet.

Big eaters will enjoy the Country Breakfast ($8) with two pancakes or two French toast slices, two pieces of ham or three pieces of bacon or sausage, home fries and toast. Lighter fare includes a breakfast wrap with scrambled eggs, cheese and meat ($5 or $6 with home fries) or a breakfast sandwich ($5, $7 with home fries) with a choice of meat, egg and cheese. Pancakes with a few fixins, corned beef hash and eggs ($7) and a range of eggs with various sides round out the morning menu.

Nick's Place is at 504 Amherst St. has been open for 21 years and 16 years at the present location. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Coffee and tea are $2 at Nick’s, with the unlimited free refills that have kept diners’ hands shaking for generations. These are not the thimble-sized mugs many other establishments offer. Nick’s mugs are large enough to stave off too many refills, although the only limit is your own caffeine tolerance.

While Nick’s really shines as a breakfast and weekend brunch outpost, lunch is just as sizable. Soups and salads start us off followed by three panels of sandwiches, wraps, burgers and subs. Open Souvlaki with chicken, beef or Gyro are $9, while sandwiches range from $2 for a Texas Hot, hamburger or cheeseburger to $8 for a turkey and bacon club.

For a few bucks more, gyro, souvlaki, chicken fingers, steak and other wraps can add a side of fries. A selection of burgers with Greek, bacon and supreme options run $6 to $8.

Nick’s is all about comfort food served well. The food might not win any awards and no one’s Instagramming their plates here. The only food “styling” the chefs do is piling it on the platter but that’s more than enough. Nick’s knows that not every meal needs to be photo-ready. What it does offer is a solid standby with the kind of tasty predictability that keeps customers coming back.

Nick’s Place

504 Amherst St. (871-1772)

Open: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

Wheelchair-accessible: One step up

Don’t Miss: Homemade toast, skillet breakfast

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