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Cheap Eats / Breakfast

Joan & Sue’s Western omelette

Photos by kc kratt


Joan & Sue’s

5407 South Abbott Rd., Orchard Park



Eggs, bacon, home fries: $5.75


Joan & Sue’s feels like a relic from a simpler time. The menu lives on a chalkboard on the wall, the mugs of coffee come mismatched and bottomless, and there’s always a mature gentleman with a newspaper at the counter. For regulars, meals come with a side of gentle banter, and everyone who steps through the door feels like family. Eggs any style, bacon, and homefries will run you $5.75, as will omelets with bacon or sausage and cheese. The home fries here are crispy potato cubes, the kind you can buy in the freezer section, and everything’s cooked to order. There’s French toast, but no waffles, no pancakes, no specials, no frills. For $6.25, Joan & Sue’s offers its skillet-baked Western omelet. This unique breakfast favorite comes out golden brown and souffle-like in texture. Be warned—because of its preparation, the Western omelet rewards patient diners. While Joan & Sue’s also offers lunch, breakfast here is a great way to start the day. Bring the paper, drink too much diner coffee, and repeat until everyone knows your name. —Lizz Schumer



Family Tree Restaurant

4346 Bailey Ave., Amherst,

838-2233 or thefamilytreerestaurant.com


This bright, casual eatery is way bigger than it looks from the outside. Perfect for a large family or gaggle of friends, Family Tree has tons of tables and several separate dining/conference rooms for meetings or parties. As many fantastic breakfast places do, this restaurant serves Greek and American fare, largely made with local produce when available. The fill ’er up basic, two eggs, home fries, toast and jelly, is less than $5. Three-egg omelets are a good, filling bet, served with home fries and toast or pita bread, including, naturally, Greek, with imported Greek cheese; Western, with ham, onions, and peppers; and your basic any-type cheese. For early risers with a sweet tooth, French toast or pancakes are discounted before 11 a.m. Monday through Saturday (and cost only slightly more after). But, sleep in all you want. The best part? Breakfast is served all day. –Wendy Guild Swearingen


Three-egg omelet: $6.79



Nick’s Place

504 Amherst St., Buffalo



Country breakfast (two pancakes or pieces of french toast, home fried potatoes, choice of meat, two eggs, and toast): $8


The danger at Nick's is going into a trance of indecision while perusing the well-worn but comprehensive menu. Sticking to the breakfast choices (Nick's also serves up an excellent lunch) makes it easier. While many regulars swear by the country breakfast, there's also a great omelet package that includes four fillings, home fries, and toast, also only $8. Lovers of Greek diner classics can get their fix via chicken souvlaki, beef souvlaki, or gyro breakfasts (all include two eggs, toast, and home fries).


The atmosphere is basic hole-in-the-wall, but somehow homey and charming at the same time. It must be the quick, friendly service. Special bonus: the toast is homemade. Get a side order if it is not included with your meal. –Elizabeth Licata



Phil ’n’ Cindy’s Lunch

1391 E. 2nd St., Jamestown


Monday through Friday, 5:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., cash only.


French toast: $3.25

Pancakes: $3.45

Corned beef hash and cheese omelet: $7


Don’t let its location in a strip mall fool you. This place is all about legit homemade breakfast eats. If you’re a fan of French toast, you’ve found your egg-battered mecca. Plus, $2 ham, sausage, or big slabs of bacon. Come early to avoid a line, and bring cash; this diner does not accept credit cards. The good news is you won’t need much—the prices are very reasonable, with many breakfast specials under $5. Phil and Cindy should market whatever magic dust they sprinkle in their enormous pancakes, because people rave about them. It doesn’t hurt that they’re served with about a pint of whipped butter, and it must be said you can add chocolate chips or blueberries for just twenty-five cents. Customers can sit at the counter and watch it all go down at the outward facing grill, from crisp home fries ($1.95 for any size [what does that even mean??]) to a corned beef hash and cheese omelet. Combined with really friendly and expert service, this place feels like a family. –Wendy Guild Swearingen



Marketside Restaurant


712 E. Market St., Niagara Falls

7 a.m.–12 noon daily (open until 12:30 on Sundays and 5–7 p.m. on Fridays for fish fries).


Upon entering, you might think you’ve been here before, because all customers are greeted as warmly as regulars. This cozy, modest diner features both table and counter seating, a simple menu of breakfast and lunch classics daily, and fish fries on Friday evenings. We like that all drinks are the same price; it’s very democratic. Most food items are under $3, like two eggs with choice of toast, a single (enormous) pancake, or slice of French toast. With every single side order from home fries to ham to bagels costing less than $2, you can definitely feed two people for less than $10. The most expensive thing on the breakfast menu is the Sal Maglie with everything (eggs, potatoes, onions, bacon, cheese, ham, peppers, etc.), named for the New York baseball great who has a grave at St. Joseph’s Cemetery and an eponymous baseball stadium in nearby Hyde Park. –Wendy Guild Swearingen


Sal Maglie: $6.94


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