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From Tim Russert to Hogtied: Buffalo restaurants get creative with menu names

It's said you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, or in this case a sandwich by its name, but let's be honest, sometimes it's more fun that way.

The number of times I've looked at a menu, not picked something by my turn to order, panicked and ended up choosing something with a fun name is too many to count. But I've learned that more often than not, a fun name equals a tasty menu item and is more memorable than its generic variation.

Local restaurants have stepped up their game and created entire menus with fun, quirky, out-of-the-box names that make the eating experience all that more enjoyable. Here are some examples.

Frank Gourmet Hot Dogs

707 Kenmore Ave.

Frank's dogs are so good, they don't need fun names to convince me to eat them, but it certainly makes me more excited to try something new.

Monikers including the Violet Beauregarde (blueberry barbecue sauce, cheddar cheese and crunchy onions; $5.89), Impractical Joker (lettuce, special sauce, cheddar cheese, pickle spear, sesame seeds; $5.89) and, my favorite, Hogtied (a bacon-wrapped dog with barbecue sauce, cheddar cheese and crunchy onions; $6.29) show the menu's range of creative freedom.

Frank hot dogs Kenmore restaurant

At Frank Gourmet Hot Dogs, the Violet Beauregarde is topped with blueberry barbecue sauce, cheddar cheese and onion crunch. (Sharon Cantillon/News file photo)

Most recently, Frank's Junkyard Hog sandwich (smoked pork loin ham with Swiss cheese, lettuce, mayo, Weber's mustard and house-made chips) and house-made black bean veggie burger, dubbed the Joker, have been the latest specials to earn themselves a spot on the shop's quirky menu.

Read a review of Frank Gourmet.


Undergrounds Coffee House and Roastery

580 South Park Ave.

Undergrounds Coffee draws inspiration from its location in an old funeral home to create a memorable menu inspired by local celebrities and legends of the coffee realm.

Sandwiches like the Ralph Wilson (egg and cheese on a bagel; $5), Teddy Roosevelt (pulled chicken with house-made spicy honey coleslaw, house-made Frank’s hot sauce, goat cheese and honey Teddy Grahams on a panini; $11) and Tim Russert, available only on Saturday and Sunday (bacon and egg on a grilled cinnamon roll topped with housemade icing, maple syrup and cinnamon powder; $7) show the shop's dedication to Buffalo by way of historical nerdom.

Under each item, a one-sentence explanation of the figure's historical importance explains the name for those unfamiliar with the individual.

Read a review of Undergrounds Coffee House.


At BreadHive, all of the food items are named for female musicians including the Aaliyah, made with scrambled egg, house-made sausage, cheddar cheese and maple butter. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

BreadHive Bakery & Cafe

402 Connecticut St.

BreadHive names all of its food after famous and inspirational female musicians. You'll notice nods to stars like Fiona Apple with the Fiona (brie, apple, fig, fontinella and fig jam; $9), Mariah Carey with the Mariah (Freebird chicken salad – grapes, onion, celery, walnut, dill – with greens, apple and mayo; $10) and Whitney Houston with the Whitney (Boar's Head roast beef, slaw, cheddar, greens and whole grain mustard; $9).

My favorite, the Bjork ($9), named after the popular Icelandic singer-songwriter, beautifully mixes tempeh bacon with tomato, whipped avocado, brined kimchi, sprouts, greens and spicy mayo for a modern, vegan-friendly, spicy take on the BLT.

[Read more: Worker bees create buzz at BreadHive | Another look at their sandwiches]


Squeeze Juicery

770 Elmwood Ave. and 5419 Main St., Williamsville

If there was an award for most creative area menu, Squeeze Juicery would be a formidable contender. Each juice, bowl, salad and smoothie is named after a famous song (from rock to pop and reggae) and each wrap is named after a famous rap tune.

Beverage items like Beets Don't Kale My Vibe (beet, kale, carrots, green pepper, celery, parsley and lemon; $8), Green Eyed Lady (spinach, kale, pineapple, banana, flax seed, hemp seed and maca; $7.35), Here Comes the Sun (orange and pineapple; $8) and Rock the Cashew (cashews, dates, honey, cinnamon and vanilla; $9) are a few of the musical homages. With more than 75 items on its online menu, fans of every genre will enjoy Squeeze's creative juices.

Read a review of Squeeze Juicery.


Enjoy a seat on the patio at Grindhaus, where the menu is filled with items named with pop-culture references. (Robert Kirkham/News file photo)

Grindhaus Cafe

160 Allen St.

As if Allentown already wasn't spunky enough, Grindhaus and its all-vegetarian menu of coffees, sandwiches and salads adds an additional spin to the cafe experience.

Primarily named after pop-culture references, items like the Lorax (a whole avocado, romaine lettuce, tomato, house-made spicy vegan sriracha on artisanal bread; $8), My Big Phat Greek Salad (chopped romaine, diced tomatoes, cucumbers scallions, pepperoncini, kalamata olives, feta cheese or tofu topped with a house-made balsamic; $7) and Creature From the Beige Legume (faux tuna salad wrap with chickpeas, carrots, parsley, sweet relish, romaine lettuce, tomatoes and house-made vegan mayo; $8) show the cafe's fun side and exquisite ability to play on words.

Not every Grindhaus menu item has a unique name, but those that do stand out and make the dishes hard to forget.

[Related: From 2016 - Grindhaus Cafe is a meat-free haven]

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