East Aurora is jousting for restaurant supremacy in the Southtowns, as an influx of relatively new businesses - Griffon Gastropub, Left Coast Taco and the East Aurora Co-Op, for example - mingles with enduring favorites such as Rick's on Main, The Roycroft Inn and Taste.
At the Taste of East Aurora, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 8, on closed-off Main Street between Olean and Riley streets, food vendors from the Village of East Aurora and its immediate surroundings will offer sample-size portions for purchase, ranging between $1-$5. Scroll to the bottom of the page for a map of the festival.
*Chicken and Waffle on a Stick from Griffon Gastropub
$3, at Booth 1, closest to Riley Street.
Why: With locations in Niagara Falls and Clarence, many Buffalo-area eaters are familiar with the Griffon and its creative takes on burgers, its solid pub menu and Friday-only smorgasbord of fish options.
The Griffon's East Aurora location leads with a chicken-and-waffle item described as follows: Grilled chicken dipped in waffle batter and rolled in seasoned panko and fried until crispy, then served with a maple aioli.
Instead of chicken and waffles as two separate entities, they're merged together in this clever, easy-to-eat (we hope) morsel.
*Grilled shishito peppers from 42 North Brewing
$3, at Booth 21.
Why: Blistered shishito peppers straight from the grill don't need much help from sauces, but the East Aurora brewery's version comes with a garlic aioli for added flavor. Expect a sweet smokiness in flavor - and not too much heat - unless you wind up with the wild-card pepper, which still pales in comparison to a jalapeno's heat.
*Chicken Cordon Bleu pot pie from Mr. Pot Pie
$5, at Booth 22.
Why: Mr. Pot Pie, an extension of McDuffies Bakery that flourishes in Clarence, has mastered the frozen pot-pie game, and Saturday's Chicken Cordon Bleu mini-pie is a special occasion since it's not on the regular menu. Expect a rich, cheesy, flaky and filling serving that ought to live up to the price tag.
[Read more: McDuffies' pot pies are pure comfort]
*French macarons from Blue-Eyed Baker
$2, at Booth 31.
Why: East Aurora native Alexandra Robinson's dessert business - which caters weddings and special events - will have a presence at the Taste, and her Parisian schooling points to legitimate macarons (which, for the final time, are not macaroons). Blue-Eyed Baker will have a few different varieties available, and the intensely sweet, bite-sized dessert is a worthy final choice at the festival.
*Chicken Spiedie from the Roycroft Inn
$4, at Booth 32.
Why: Sure, you can buy Spiedie Sauce - which originated in Endicott, NY, near Binghamton - in local grocery stores, but like Chiavetta's, it's tough to beat the scent of grilled chicken marinated in the tangy sauce. Let your nose get the best of you and wander over to the Roycroft booth; the inn is an East Aurora institution.
- Roasted acorn and butternut squash curry bisque from Rick's on Main, $3.
- Quinoa and power greens from the East Aurora Co-Operative Market, $3.
- Three-bone charcoal barbecue ribs from Tony Rome's, $5.
- Tiramisu from Taste, $3.
- Blood-orange brownie from Prima Oliva, $2.
[Read more: Dining review on Rick's on Main, from 2015]