21. Shango
best restaurants
A little bit of NOLA in WNY

Even at the worst of the construction on Main near UB, braving unpaved sidewalks was worth it if your final destination was Jim Guarino’s stellar Creole-themed bistro and wine bar, where you were (and still are) rewarded with a relaxed vibe, yummy gumbo, and beautifully plated main courses.

Recommended:
The po-boys are fancier than the ones you’ll find in most corner groceries in New Orleans. You can’t go wrong with most of the seafood dishes, and be sure to save room for a dessert of bananas Foster.

The scene:
Ah, the garage door: this ingenious architectural element turns the main dining area into an open-air patio in good weather, although even on a miserable day the ambience is soothing and inviting.

Hot tip:
Shango’s Sunday brunch is widely regarded as one of the best in town.

Entrée price range: $$
3260 Main St., 837-2326
—R.E.



22. Sinatra’s
best restaurants
Neopolitan cuisine par excellence

For a long time, Sinatra’s was a great place for classic Italian food, but a few years ago it moved up a notch, thanks to the innovations of chef Michael Sinatra.

Recommended:
Of special interest are their beans and greens soup, braciole, and seafood Sinatra.

The scene:
The mellow tones of Frank croon in the background as you relax in this cozy, understated dining room. The bartenders are among the best in town, the wine list is superb, and—surprise—it’s modestly marked-up. Look for local chefs and restaurateurs having dinner here on their night off.

The service:
Your every wish will be attended to in a refreshingly unobtrusive manner.

Entrée price range: $$$
938 Kenmore Avenue, 877-9419.
—E.L.



23. Suzy Q’s
best restaurants
Barbecue heaven

This little shack isn’t such a best-kept secret anymore, as more and more Western New Yorkers are discovering the down-home goodness within.

Recommended:
You probably won’t be able to finish it but you must try the Piggy Pie. Or at least the Lil Oinker. Can’t face either? Then stick with the pulled pork. It’s among the best anywhere.

The scene:
It’s not fancy, but it’s spotless, and your meal is accompanied by the sounds of classic blues.

What makes this a Buffalo classic:
It’s usually filled with building inspectors, firemen, police, and workers from the Chevy plant nearby.

Entrée price range: $
2829 Niagara Street, Tonawanda, 873-5981.
—E.L.



24. Ted's
best restaurants
Photo by Jared Mobarak.
The quintessential dog

Let’s summarize why Ted’s is a quintessential part of WNY cuisine, and let’s do it SAT analogy style:
Mel Gibson is to bigotry as Ted’s Hot Dogs is to:
a) Photosynthesis
b) Stalinist critique in The Master and Margarita
c) Summertime bliss
d) Strom Thurmond
If you chose c, you’re aware of the Ted’s phenomenon.


Recommended:
On top of the obvious—the superb, charcoal-grilled Sahlen’s hot dogs—Ted’s may have the best onion rings in the known universe.

The scene:
Show up in cut-off jeans and a ratty Jesus Jones t-shirt, take in the heavenly grill smells, slide into a booth, and feel glad to be alive.

What makes it a Buffalo classic:
It proves there’s an art to cooking a dog.

Entrée price range: $
Many locations.
—J.S.



25. Tempo
best restaurants
Setting the pace in Allentown

This location has long been a beloved dining destination—from Yianni’s to Biac’s to the current restaurant, Western New Yorkers have beaten a path to the portals of this gracious Victorian on Delaware.

Recommended:
The cuts of meat and their preparation rival any steakhouse in Western New York or anywhere else.

The scene:
The interior décor is as beautiful as the outside of the classic Italianate building; try for the side table near the stained glass windows.

What makes this a Buffalo classic:
The combo of old and new is Buffalo at its best—preservation and reuse of a beautiful structure plus forward-thinking cuisine.

Entrée price range: $$$
581 Delaware Avenue, 885-1594.
—E.L.



26. Trattoria Aroma
best restaurants
That’s Italian!

When I think of the robust, imported ingredients that comprise absolutely every dish at Trattoria Aroma, it reminds me of ex-NWA member MC Ren and his 1996 solo release Da Villain In Black, which features the track “Keep It Real.” Like the raw, unadulterated beats of Ren and his legendary group, this restaurant simply won’t stand for anything fake, from its wine list right down to the olive oil—the latter is imported from Sicily, and Trattoria is the only restaurant in the country that carries it. As a result, Italian food in WNY doesn’t get more authentic—or satisfying—than at either Trattoria location.

Recommended:
Appetizer: Piatto Freddo (an array of cheeses, parma prosciutto, sopressata, assortment of olives and grilled roman artichokes)
Entrée: Vitello Con Funghi E Tartufi (veal scaloppini, wild mushrooms, white truffle cream)

The scene:
The servers tend to be incredibly knowledgeable. If you need to know what area of Sicily the olive oil’s imported from, just ask.

What makes it a Buffalo classic:
The realness.

Entrée price range: $$
5229 Main St., Williamsville, 631-2687.
—J.S.



27. Ulrich’s
best restaurants
Old World fare in an historic setting

If you only know Ulrich’s as the oldest bar in Buffalo, you’re only getting half the story. The back room features hardy German lunches and dinners guaranteed to warm your innards on a cold night.

Recommended:
Can’t decide between schnitzel, bratwurst, or potato pancakes? Try a combo plate—unless it’s Friday, in which case opt for the German fish fry. Beer lovers, check the ever-changing drafts.

The scene:
Wood floor, tin ceiling, long tables, yellowing pictures of JFK on the wall. Keep an eye out for the many special events featuring Celtic bands and/or lectures on local history.

What makes this a Buffalo classic:
How about the fact that it first opened in 1868, survived Prohibition, and served as a home away from home for generations of Trico workers?

If only …
… the hours were more predictable. (Many’s the time I’ve brought out-of-towners here, only to find the place dark. Other nights, the kitchen is open well after you’d expect it to be closed.)

Entrée price range: $$
674 Ellicott St., 855-8409, www.ulrichstavern.net.
—R.E.



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