Cheap Eats / Iconic Buffalo
Meatball sandwich and bottomless minestrone soup from Chef's
Photos by kc kratt
291 Seneca St., Buffalo
856-9187 or Ilovechefs.com
Be honest: Have you ever ordered anything but “spag parm” at Chef’s? The iconic Buffalo red sauce Italian joint offers a full menu of the kind of old-school stuff grandma simmered on the stove all Sunday, but most Buffalonians know it for the garbage-lid-sized spaghetti baked with an inch of parmesan on top that can probably feed a family of four. To slim down your bill (and your waistline), try an extra-small spaghetti parm for $10.25. Elsewhere on the menu, the red sauce empire also offers a number of specialties that often get overlooked. On the lighter side, try bottomless minestrone soup and a chef’s salad at lunchtime for $10.95 for a local alternative to the Olive Garden classic. If they still have it when you arrive, go for the lasagna. At $10, this brick of comfort food will put Mom’s to shame. If you take home leftovers, get extra sauce for warming it up. Non-pasta fans: You can still get the Chef’s experience. The meatball sandwich with sauce ($8.60) is a meat-lovers paradise, and yes, you can parm it for $10.75. Chef’s is the place to see and be seen plowing through a plate of parm, but don’t overlook the rest of the menu. Much like Buffalo itself, the unexplored corners hold the gems.
Meatball sandwich: $8.60
Bottomless minestrone soup and a chef's salad: $10.95
Duff’s Famous Wings
3090 Orchard Park Dr., Buffalo (and other locations)
674-7212 or duffswings.com
Let’s face it: Buffalo’s most famous food is not cheap. Unless you find a happy hour or wing special, you can pay up to a dollar apiece for the privilege of chowing down on these saucy little numbers. While Duff’s Famous Wings arguably takes top billing, its regular menu prices also weigh in a bit high. To get the most bang for your buck, grab a few friends and get a combo. A cool $28.99 nets a small pitcher of pop, twenty wings, and large fries. Make that a small pitcher of beer for $30.99, a large pop for $31.99, or a large beer for $34.99. Premium beers and sauces cost extra. At Duff’s, a large order of fries comes in a basket that will easily serve three to four, and a serving of carbs not only cools off Duff’s notoriously spicy wings, but may make those wings go further too. Each of Duff’s five independently owned locations offers similar specials, with slightly different pricing.
Combo: $28.99 (for a group)
(The prices reflect this location; other locations can vary $1 or so in either direction.)
62 Allen St., Buffalo
883-1880 or cafe59.com
Let me put it this way: the day before my husband and I moved away, we bellied up to the bar at Cafe 59 for a chicken finger sub. Ask any Buffalonian, and they will have an opinion on where to get a sub roll slathered with blue cheese, and filled with lettuce, tomato, and saucy fingers. Cafe 59’s has long been an insider secret—until now. At $9.95, the sandwich is reasonable enough for a solo weekday lunch, and there is usually a seat at the sunny bar inside. Not a fan of chicken finger subs? Just about the entire sandwich menu is the same price. The cafe especially shines for vegetarian diners. Try the eggplant and artichoke, grilled portobello mushroom, hummus and zucchini, or the apple and brie for classy, filling, meat-free options. The hearty black bean burger or falafel burger are also solid choices. Because it still lies a bit off the beaten path for downtown office workers, Cafe 59 makes a great weekday lunch stop.
Chicken finger sub: $9.95