The biannual Local Restaurant Week begins Oct. 16 and rages for a full week, celebrating Buffalo's freakishly deep roster of quality eateries.
But, to get the creative dining jus flowing, here are 10 quality options from around the area - don't worry, they're not all trendy restaurants in downtown or North Buffalo:
Our choice: Kick off with the house pierogi (filled with farmer's cheese, fried with apples, bacon and chicken demi-glaze and whole grain mustard), jump to a main course of Three Little Pigs (rosemary roasted pork shoulder, pork tenderloin and pulled pork over greens and beans) and finish with an ice cream sandwich (two freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and strawberries.)
Our choice: The choice between appetizer or dessert won't be easy, but let's go this route: The classic Pad Thai (thin rice noodles sauteed with eggs, bean sprouts, scallions served with the house special peanut sauce), pan-seared bananas (served with cinnamon and sugar) and Community Beer Works' Frank (because it's a beer named Frank). Runner-up for beverage is the Thai iced coffee.
Read more: Taste of Siam, Thai without trepidation
Our choice: If you're going to Schwabl's during Local Restaurant Week, chances are it's for the beef on weck (or a hard roll, which is also offered).
With the $50.17 option, dining parties receive a shrimp cocktail to share and a special beef on weck plate, which includes the classic sandwich (with jus, if desired), a choice of housemade German potato salad, french fries or real mashed potatoes with gravy, and a choice between homemade pickled beets and German-style cole slaw. That plate is the featured image atop this story.
Top it off with two potent Tom & Jerry cocktails (rum, brandy, housemade meringue and hot water), the reason Schwabl's is included in this list.
Read more: At Schwabl's, the beef goes on
Our choice: We're most interested in the roasted brussels sprouts carbonara for $20.17, comprising orechiette pasta, pancetta, roasted brussels sprouts, Preischel Farms egg and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
For starters, the $20.17 bruschetta platter (saffron tomato confit, tomato jam, marinated olives, roasted red peppers, grilled baguette, fresh mozzarella, roasted portabella mushrooms, heirloom tomatoes, basil vin, fresh pesto) should spruce up the taste buds.
The Hamburg fine-dining spot has proven that it's more than just a scenic view of the water; Galarneau's review, below, explains.
Our choice: Start with Doc's chorizo corn chowder if it's a cold day (or the spinach-artichoke dip bread bowl if it's not), then try out the new Elmwood restaurant's "award-winning beef-on-weck wings." The backup plan would either be the banh mi or the PB&J burger. Local Restaurant Week is the time to try new things, after all.
Although the craft beer board is not quite as extensive as the building's former inhabitant, it's still more than solid.
Our choice: We're swayed by the appetizer description of "famous greens and beans," and since we're going for classic Italian, the restaurant's lauded chicken piccata (floured chicken breast sauteed in olive oil, butter, white wine, garlic, capers and lemon). The piccata was one of a few dishes enjoyed by The News' Andrew Galarneau during his recent dining review, which you can read below.
• Dick & Jenny's (1270 Baseline Road, Grand Island), dinner only
"Dick's Tasting Sensation Menu" allows the diner to choose three courses; the price (either $20.17, $30.17 or $40.17) is determined by the entree selection - LRW specials here
Our choice: This is our favorite LRW menu, hands down. For the first two courses, we're picking the gumbo, which was just flaunted at the Voodoo Gumbo Fest at the Terrace, then the fried green tomatoes with New Orleans red remoulade (although the duck confit pain perdu is awfully tempting).
For the main course, after much deliberation, we're embracing reduced-price luxury of iron-skillet diver sea scallops and wood-fired shrimp ($40.17), served with a lobster-brie Beggar's Purse, spinach and peas, as well as a lobster white butter sauce (beurre blanc, if you're French, pretentious or both).
Our choice: Asparagus is hot right now, so we're diving deep into that salad, which contains field greens, roasted asparagus, roasted mushrooms, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, sweet lemon vinaigrette.
For the main course, it's time for the split roasted chicken, with rosemary mashed potatoes, asparagus and chicken jus. Little time has passed since Chef Adam Goetz cooked at the prestigious James Beard House, so the quality will be high.
• Allen Burger Venture (175 Allen St.), lunch and dinner
It's simple: one burger and one local draft beer for $20.17
Our choice: ABV's behemoth burgers are good for two meals, so don't be bashful about taking leftovers home. You can find their list of nine burgers here, and we're partial to the Seven, which is smothered in Colorado pork green chili, Monterey Jack cheese, a brioche roll and served with a fork and knife, because it's impossible to devour with just your hands.
But, to get the best Local Restaurant Week value, the Nine might be a smoother move. For the beer, there's no shortage of local breweries represented.
Our choice: Try the guacamole - which contains cricket brittle - beginning the meal with zest and intrigue; then snag the featured tostada (typically seafood, although not necessarily) and an al pastor torta (Mexican-style sandwich with lettuce, tomato and marinated onions). The churros will be tough to share given the pace they'll be eaten.