Downtown Buffalo used to be something of a weekday lunch desert. A decade ago, there was a smattering of diners and pizza joints, the Main Place Mall cafeteria, a few options on the Chip Strip and that was about it.
Now, Ellicott Street alone features Tappo Italian, Deep South Taco and Big Ditch Brewing Company, and that’s just one block. As of August last year, Jaz & Jack's has added Southern-style comfort food to the mix.
The Buehl Block restaurant is owned by Jazmine “Jaz” and Jonathan “Jack” Accardo and features hot breakfast and lunches, sandwiches, wraps and salads, and a selection of desserts.
The cheerful, airy space features a spacious ordering counter and pops of color welcoming diners into a sit-down dining room, perfect for the lunch crowd. Its bare brick walls, chalkboard menu and funky accents feel young and urban, in keeping with the vibe new Buffalo restaurants have worked to cultivate. So how’s the food?
On the afternoon we visited, piled-high plates flew out of a rocking kitchen to a full dining room. The line of hot trays tempted us with Jaz’s family recipe meatloaf ($8), creamy mac and cheese ($3) and golden, fluffy buttermilk biscuits piled high by the door. Our server recommended chicken and waffle ($7) as one of the most popular items, and we had to try a side of homemade potato salad with a blackberry chicken sandwich ($9).
House-fried chicken also appears with a choice of side and cornbread for $10, as well as atop those biscuits ($7). While we waited, an order of barbecue pulled pork over mac n’ cheese ($7) went by, drizzled with barbecue sauce and giving us serious food FOMO.
That fried chicken arrived crispy and tender inside, piping hot with a peppery bite. The waffle came perfectly golden, with syrup on the side for DIY drizzling. The portions were adequate without becoming overwhelming, and the waffle-to-chicken ratio left no bite unbalanced.
All sandwiches come with a choice of side, and all of those are homemade except french fries. The skin-on potato salad arrives studded with crispy diced veggies, lightly dressed and tangy.
On the day we visited, options included a barbecue pork or chicken panini ($9) with cheddar, spring mix and slaw; a barbecue pork or chicken sandwich ($7), blackberry chicken ($9), chicken salad with grapes ($7) and grilled chicken ($7).
The shrimp po’ boy is the most expensive menu item at $12. Burgers in cheeseburger, bacon and Rodeo style – which includes onion rings and barbecue sauce – also looked fresh and hearty.
Our grilled chicken was as well prepared as its fried counterpart, the blackberry jam offering a sweet balance to creamy provolone cheese. Spring mix lent a peppery kick, and the lightly toasted bun held up well against the sauce.
On the breakfast end, Jaz & Jack's offers one of the most customizable breakfast sammies around, for $6 with a small coffee. Breads include muffin, biscuit, bagel or sourdough bread. Top that with ham, bacon, sausage or grilled chicken. Two eggs, cheddar, Swiss, American, pepperjack or provolone round out the options. The Jazzed breakfast sammie ($7) comes with onion rings and bacon, for a little extra zing.
A new Sunday brunch recently started with some favorites from the lunch end, like that chicken and waffle and Cajun shrimp and grits with a bacon gravy ($12). Personal ham and spinach pie ($9) or garden pie ($9) both nod to Jaz’s baking background. We’ll be back for the creme brûlée french toast with berries ($8) and some of those fresh breakfast pastries, for sure.
Jaz & Jack's serves breakfast all day and lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays. The restaurant is closed on Saturdays. Most of the menu weighs in under $10, and a coffee bar with flavored syrups and soft drinks round out the meal.
For busy days, Jaz & Jack's also participates in Skip the Dishes online ordering and delivery. Catering is also available. Try Jaz & Jack's for a Southern-style lunch break, and whatever you do, don’t skip dessert.
36 Broadway St. (768-3902)
Hours: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Gluten-free options: Yes
Vegetarian options: Yes