The Wayside Family Restaurant might have the friendliest waitstaff in town.
While being called "sweetheart" usually makes me prickle, it felt homey coming from our waitress. Courteous service goes a long way in making a dining experience worthwhile, and our waitress treated us like we were her own kids, sitting down for a bite in her kitchen. If that’s what earns Wayside its family designation, we're all in.
So how’s the food? Let’s put it this way: If South Buffalo is your neighborhood and you’re looking for comfort food nearby, the Wayside will hit the spot.
It feels like a step back in time, when fair trade applied to baseball cards more than coffee. When your beer choices include Genny, Bud or Blue and wine meant white or red. Wayside is a comfortable return to that era and in many ways, the food tastes like coming home.
The menu is broad and features many homemade items, with an equally wide variance in price. For breakfast, most omelettes, pancake and waffle plates and classic combos run $8 and under, but you’ll shell out a bit more for steak and eggs ($10.99) or the popular souvlaki breakfast ($10.59). For the lunch crowd, a grilled or crispy chicken or steak wrap with a side of crinkle fries is $7.29. However, cold sandwiches are mostly under $5, with a salad or cup of soup for $1.29 extra. A wide array of subs are all under $8.29 for a whole. Half-pound burgers with a side of fries are $8.29, available upgraded to Greek, Western, mushroom and Swiss, or bacon varieties for $1.99.
Dinner at the Wayside is a bit pricier but features all the diner hits, with platters like roast turkey ($10.99), liver and onions ($9.99), and an entire page of specials, including lasagna rolls ($11.99), pot roast ($9.99) and chicken Parmesan ($11.99). Portions are large though, so don't expect to go home hungry, regardless of the price point.
We tried the spinach artichoke dip ($6.99), which was the perfect size for two of us. The pita points could have used a minute longer in the toaster, but the dip was hot and creamy, chock full of spinach and chewy artichoke leaves.
Our motherly waitress convinced us to upgrade to the half-pound burger, which we ordered Greek style ($9.88 with the upcharge). It arrived cooked to order, hand-formed on a toasty sesame bun. The juicy beef was seasoned well, and the salty, melty feta complemented it perfectly.
Den’s Homemade Meatloaf Sandwich ($6.99) featured a thick slab of meatloaf between two pieces of store-bought white, with a side of mashed potatoes and plenty of rich gravy. This substantial knife-and-fork sammie tasted just like grandma used to make. The potatoes tasted homemade too, with just enough starch to hold their own under all that gravy. We took half home for lunch the next day, and it reheated beautifully.
Homemade soups at Wayside are the perfect warmer, available in cup ($2.39), bowl ($2.89) and crock ($3.69) portions. While chicken pot pie, noodle and oriental beef were available on the day we visited, we went with the most unusual option. Oriental Beef featured plenty of shredded beef, peppers, onions and meaty broth with just enough spice to wake up our taste buds after a long day.
The Wayside Family Restaurant’s broad menu has a little something for everyone, so if your brood has trouble deciding on a cuisine, this is your built-in compromise. Come for the comfort food and stay for the service that makes you feel at home.
Wayside Family Restaurant
2001 South Park Ave. (826-2279)
Open: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
Vegetarian options: Yes; salads and non-meat dishes available.
Gluten-free options: No accommodations, but naturally gluten-free dishes available.
Don’t miss: Homemade soup, juicy burgers.