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Buffalo is known for three things: snow, sports teams that are 0-for-eternity championship-wise, and chicken wings. Could Buffalo pizza make it four? The Wall Street Journal recently published a front-page article on the spreading popularity of cup-and-char pepperoni, a sign that another one of Buffalo’s culinary specialties has started to get the attention it deserves.…

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It’s almost like the restaurant at 3720 Lake Shore Road is trying not to get your hopes up, starting with the name. Generations ago, when Bethlehem Steel was cranking just up the street, it was Armondo’s. Steelworkers roomed upstairs. Later Champagne Theatre would put on Neil Simon comedies there. But that couldn’t last forever. It would become J.L. Crithens, then the C…

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Call me shallow, but I travel to eat. Taking a car or plane to eyeball majestic vistas, historic buildings and art museums is nice, but my favorite vehicle for broadening my horizons is a table. So when given the chance to try an ancient and vibrant cuisine, no passport required, I jumped. Despite our area’s sizeable Yemeni population, there haven’t been many succ…

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Eating companions can make a huge difference in the quality of your meal, especially friends who can help you pick fantastic dishes out of the stack of possibilities. At Gin Gin Restaurant, one of the area's oldest traditional Chinese restaurants, going in blind is particularly frustrating. Gin Gin Ren, the proprietress, has 352 listed dishes on her regular menu, includ…

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Oatka Creek provided the water power that built LeRoy, as the businesses whose gears it drove prospered along its banks. It also provided the building materials for One Main Street. The masons who laid its fortress-like walls built them of Marcellus shale, some slabs dark as blackboards, hauled out of the creek bed while James Monroe was in the White House. Step down…

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If Betty’s is not the heart of the Allentown community, it at least qualifies as a vital organ. Born in 2004, if Betty’s was a kid, it would be studying for a learner’s permit. Its community center feel, reinforced by poetry readings and walls lined with local artists, has always explicitly included vegetarians. Before vegan entrees were a staple in Buffalo restauran…

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From its first announcement, Waves promised to offer a kind of dining new to the Buffalo restaurant scene. In the former Papaya spot on Chippewa Street, it would combine the offerings of a pan-Asian place, classic Vietnamese, Thai and sushi, with the lure of all-you-can-eat restaurant, while still offering standard by-the-dish ordering. Since the current all-you-can-eat…

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The Buffalo-style chicken wing has conquered the world, having been served on all seven continents, even Antarctica. In its birthplace, many diners expect restaurants to offer their take on the classic, just as dinner at an Amalfi Coast trattoria should include a pitcher of the local rustic red wine. Wings are a piquantly sauced canary in the coal mine, because a kitche…

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The first time I ate dinner at Coco, Maura Crawford’s ode to French standards like coq au vin, steak frites, and buckets of mussels with more fries and aioli, it was 2013. Seven plates, I decreed, griping about dim lighting and languid service that might have suited namesake Coco Chanel, but didn’t leave me time for dessert. Two days after the review was published th…

Food and Drink

Since the day it opened in 2011, the multi-ethnic food court on Grant Street called West Side Bazaar has given me heartburn. Not from indigestion, but the fear of making poor decisions about what to eat. It offers more than 100 dishes that channel a dozen cuisines from around the world. So the chance of picking a dud – then watching an eye-popping dish carried by your t…

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Nearing zero degrees, the snow squeaked under our feet as we trudged to the restaurant’s door, only to find it closed. Despite our reservation, we hadn’t gotten a call, and I felt disgruntlement start to rise. On a night the wind made my face hurt, I wasn’t rolling the dice on a restaurant newcomer on my list. I thought about Shango Bistro, which I have experienced b…

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When the lights went out in the North Star Tavern in 2013, people wondered if another family would step up to bring it back to life. The building, built in 1831, is older than the Town of Elma, whose people it has fed and watered for generations. According to the historical marker on the property, it was built next to an Indian trail that eventually became Seneca Street…

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As the hour mark approached without food arriving, guests engaged in cheerful conversation around the empty table. The beeps of a battery-hungry smoke alarm punctuated our vigil, drilling my ears like sonic Chinese water torture. I had gotten a tip from a Pakistani grocer that Appletree Halal, a block south of Martin Luther King Jr. Park, drew Pakistani families seeking…

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Before Buffalo acquired its current lineup of Mexican restaurants, I drove for hours searching for flavors I missed. In Medina, Mariachi de Oro restaurant and the seasonal taco trailer at the Monte Alban grocery store made an hour’s drive seem reasonable. I followed clues scoured from anonymous Internet strangers to Albion (disappointing) and Geneseo, where I found enco…

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Some restaurants talk up a specialite de la maison, a signature dish. Schnitzel & Co. is the only one in town with a signature pretzel. Not just meaning highly-touted, or most-ordered, but actually part of its sign, its loops an edible copy of the cursive letter “z” in the restaurant’s logo. The pretzel’s housemade pedigree makes it noticeably tastier than most of t…