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Best bang for your buck: Restaurants that offer heaping helpings

Best bang for your buck: Restaurants that offer heaping helpings

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Whenever my buddies and I go out to eat, we have to consider our one friend who towers above the rest of us at 6-foot-6. He scans the menu, finds the biggest-looking entree and asks our server, "Will this dish fill me up?"

Over the years we've learned which restaurants offer the best bang for your buck – I'm talking monster portion sizes for a decent price that guarantees you'll either leave full or even better, with leftovers.

If you're looking for big portions, leftovers for lunch the next day, or something to split between a couple of people, consider these five restaurants for your next meal out.

Mooney's Sports Bar and Grill

10 area locations, all listed on website

If you haven't tried Mooney's famous macaroni and cheese yet, here's your excuse: It's massive and can easily feed three people. Starting at $8.99 for a side and $11.99 for a whole order, I can't think of anywhere else offering so much food at that price. For extra value, try the lobster mac ($10.99 side, $14.99 whole), which features generous chunks of lobster meat.

The bar also serves beautiful half-pound burgers starting at $9.99 and a gigantic fish fry for $12.99, which is very competitive with others across Buffalo. At the end of the day, anything you get from Mooney's will leave you with leftovers for lunch and then some.

[Read more: Mooney's in West Seneca is a sports bar haven]

Frank's Sunny Italy Family Restaurant 

2491 Delaware Ave.

Pasta is almost always guaranteed to fill you up, and at Frank's Sunny Italy, that's an understatement. An order of pasta can easily feed two to three people and dishes featuring a protein or veggies are even more filling. For cost-effectiveness, the classic pasta with tomato sauce ($10; additional $4 for mushroom sauce or meat add-ins) is a no-brainer, but the Frank's Special, featuring pasta in a light white wine and butter sauce with chicken, mushroom, onion and broccoli ($17.95), is my favorite.

If you're OK with spending a few extra bucks, Frank's dinners, which are served with pasta and a salad, are massive – try the veal Francese, featuring two cutlets cooked in a lemon butter sauce ($22).

Allen Burger Venture

175 Allen St.

Allen Burger Venture serves some of the freshest, highest-quality, biggest burgers in Buffalo. I've gone half-a-dozen times or so and have left on each occasion completely stuffed and with leftovers. I'm a huge fan of the "Seven," a fork-and-knife burger smothered with pulled pork, green chiles and Monterey Jack cheese ($16) and the "Ten," featuring caramelized onions, balsamic reduction, applewood smoked bacon, gruyère and arugula ($17).

Its beef alternative burgers are just as big but land on the cheaper side, starting at $13.50. A tip: Stick to the fries as your side, the Tater Tots are good but are a small serving.

[Review: At Allen Burger Venture, exploring pleasures beyond beef]

Saika Sushi 

576 Dick Road, Cheektowaga

Saika Sushi takes the possibility of leaving hungry off the table by operating on an all-you-can-eat platform. At $13.95 for lunch and $19.95 for dinner, patrons can order from myriad sushi rolls, hibachi-style entrees and classic appetizers like gyoza and seaweed salad. There is, however, a surcharge if you don't finish your food, so make sure your eyes don't get bigger than your stomach. With Waves Restaurant (118 W. Chippewa St.) no longer offering its all-you-can-eat special, Saika is the best joint in town for endless sushi.

[Read: A first look at Saika Sushi]

Clay Handi Restaurant

3054 Delaware Ave.

When my order of chicken handi arrived the first time I ate at Clay Handi, the order seemed deceptively small; served in a traditional Pakistani clay pot, I couldn't tell how much food was about to magically appear out of the serving vessel. But as I kept going back for more, it just kept appearing. If you're in the mood for large portions of mouthwatering Pakistani and Indian food, Clay Handi is a no-brainer.

The chicken makhani ($19.99), which is perfect for two, falls apart in your mouth and the sauce absorbs perfectly into freshly steamed Jasmine rice. An order of kulcha ($3.99) as an appetizer yields a personal pizza-size flatbread akin to naan that could fend as a small entree itself. If you're still hungry, jam-packed samosas start at $1.99 and will surely conquer any remaining hunger you might have. I always leave with leftovers from Clay Handi.

[Review: At Clay Handi, Pakistani-Indian Curries to flavors]

The Buffalo News: Food & Drink

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Max Kalnitz is an award-winning multimedia journalist from Buffalo, New York whose work has appeared in Billboard, The Nation and The Buffalo News, among other outlets.

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