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Mar 26, 2008 10:29 AM

Buffalo, Rochester + eats in or around sports arenas?

I am planning a summer trip to upstate NY.
Wondering if anyone can tell me about great/interesting restaurants/food stands near the Buffalo Bisons, Rochester Red Wings and Syracuse Sky Chiefs? I'm curious about other sports venues too, but this trip will be pretty well focused on triple-A ball.
How about inside the ballparks? Anything noteworthy?
Or along the Drive from one city to the next?

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  1. Near the Red Wing stadium you can find Nick Tahou's. It is a fairly seedy place that is a Rochester tradition. The specialty is the Garbage Plate. Seriously. Try it, but bring along your best cardiac surgeon friend.

    As far as in the stadium, I'd recommend Red Osier.

    7 Replies
    1. re: CindyK

      ha. thanks. those both look great.
      someone mentioned Ted's to me - any opinions out there?

      1. re: sarapeater

        Ted's has great hot dogs, but they aren't located anywhere that I would call "near" the Bisons' Ballpark. How far are you willing to travel (from the arena) and what kind of food are you looking for?

        1. re: sarapeater

          You did not mention, Are you looking for establishments within walking distance of the ballpark? If so, I would recommend Pearl Street Grill, a brewpub with a good selection of beer brewed on-site. Food is typical pub fare and is decent.
          Pettibones restaurant is in the ballpark, and is supposed to be adequate.
          Yes, Ted's is a Buffalo institution and local favorite. Their hotdogs are charcoal grilled, not boiled.

          1. re: jerryc123

            We have a car and are willing to drive almost anywhere for something great. But we'd also love to hear about places close to the ballparks (and in the parks).
            I guess I'm asking two questions - best stuff near the ballpark AND best/most interesting local food/restaurants, preferably things we cannot find anywhere else
            "Buffalo institution and local favorite" is exactly what I'm talking about.

            1. re: sarapeater

              If not being really close to a ballpark is OK then for sure check out Dinosaur BBQ in either Rochester or Syracuse. Bring your Harley.


              1. re: CindyK

                thanks. Dinosaur is on our list - we have a branch in NYC that we really like, so we can't wait to try the real thing. Rochester is the original, right?

                1. re: sarapeater

                  Actually Syracuse is the original.

      2. In Buffalo you might try City Grill, which is on 268 Main, just a few blocks from the stadium. A bit more upscale but not stuffy, very decent food and drinks. Pearl St. Brewpub is nearby but the beer and food is not very impressive, IMHO.

        7 Replies
        1. re: jmoryl

          thanks. how's Mother's in Buffalo
          and what's the dif btwn Ted's and Louie's Red Hots?

          1. re: sarapeater

            Ted's grills over charcoal, Louie's uses gas grills. Louie's is more known for Texas hots, which are topped with a Greek meat sauce, mustard and onions.

            For a daytime game, I'd recommend driving by Chef's, a famous pasta house about three blocks from the stadium, and go to DiTondo's, on the next block. Check out the spaghetti covered with a quilt of bubbly mozzarella:


            A couple blocks down Michigan is one of the city's oldest establishments, the Swannie House, which has a first-class Friday fish fry:


            1. re: sarapeater

              Mother's is a good restaurant, and serves late, but it's miles and miles from the ballpark.

              Rapoport's is a good Buffalo guide written by diners:


              1. re: sarapeater

                Mother's is maybe two miles from the park (Allentown Area). I used to like it better: food is solid (not great) but the atmosphere, service and noise level has been unpleasant in recent visits. But if you want a nice meal after midnight it is probably the place to go. Otherwise there are a dozen other places I would select first.

                Not up on the hotdog culture, so won't comment on Ted's vs. Louie's.

                1. re: jmoryl

                  thanks for the mother's review. that does not sound appealing.
                  I'd love to hear about places you'd rather go, jmoryl and others, that really feel/taste/represent Buffalo

                  someone said we should try Gabriel's Gate for chicken wings if we feel the urge to have the Buffalo classic (we've been to the Anchor Bar so are ready for 'good' over 'historic'). thoughts?

                  1. re: sarapeater

                    Buffalo Local Favorites:
                    Hutches, on Delaware Ave, old-time favorite of local foodies, never a bad meal, comfort dishes, attentive service. $$-$$$
                    Left Bank, on Rhode Island, small but loud, upscale brownstone-type bistro with great dishes, thoughtfully prepared. $$
                    Friar's Table, on Kensington Ave, retro style steakhouse, still authentically rat-pack era. Reasonably priced - consistently excellent steaks, and like stepping back in time. Hey Daddy-O, get a Gin Martini & Surf and Turf. $$
                    Roycroft Inn, on Grove Street, East Aurora, Very nice menu in a authentically restored 1900 Arts-&-Crafts (mission-style) building. Excellent Sunday Brunch. $$
                    Gabriel’s Gate on Allen St, an old restaurant/tavern, and the only restaurant that still has a real woodburning fireplace. Good sandwiches for lunch. $-$$
                    Cole's, on Elmwood Ave, tavern and restaurant, very large selection of craft beers at the old wood bar. Pub food. $-$$

                    Really Old Favorite:
                    Ulrich’s Tavern, on Ellicott St, oldest continually-run tavern in the city, German-Irish in flavor, it serves lunch weekdays, and dinner Thur-Sat (get the potato pancakes and German sausages.) $

                    Newer Places:
                    Laughlin’s, on Franklin St, gorgeously appointed, casual gastro-pub, good beer selection, good food, very comfortable. $-$$
                    Fiamma Steak, 1735 Hertel, newer steak house, cult following, $$$-$$$$
                    Shango, 3620 Main, Cajun-Creole, with excellent craft beer (Chimay on tap) and wine list. $-$$

                    Buffalo Food: Buffalo is known for these culinary treasures (try them when you are in town): Buffalo Style Chicken Wings, Beef On Weck, Sponge Candy, Loganberry Drink, Ted's Hot Dogs, Flying Bison brewery.

                    Buffalo Style Chicken Wings:
                    Anchor Bar, 1047 Main St, inventor of the buffalo-style wing, most popular with tourists, and therefore open for lunch and dinner all the time. Decent wings, though locals have other favorites for any number of personal reasons. $-$$
                    Duff’s, on Sheridan Drive near UB, Amherst, local favorite, they advertise their hot as very hot, very hot as suicidal, you get the idea. $
                    Elmo’s Sports Tavern, on Millersport near UB, Amherst, my personal favorite for wings. Other styles like Cajun, bar-b-que, and honey mustard, too. $
                    Bar Bill, 185 Main St, East Aurora, teenie-tiny tavern with local favorite wings. $

                    Beef On Weck (Carved roast beef on salty kimmelweck-seed roll)
                    Eckl's, 4936 Ellicott Rd, Orchard Park
                    Schwabl's, 789 Center Rd. West Seneca, German. in a venerable 1940's institution. Expect to dine in comfy close-quarters. $-$$

                    Food districts:
                    The Elmwood Village, was once a college bar strip, but now has plenty of upscale restaurants.
                    Delaware Avenue, was once millionaires row, and has mostly upscale restaurants, though spread out far between. Plan your trip and get reservations.
                    Hertel Avenue, on the northern side of town, is quickly becoming “restaurant row” with almost a new restaurant opening daily. Heavy percentage of Italian-American and ethnic restaurants. Just drive down the street and check out each menu in the window.
                    The ‘burb’s. Buffalo is a large city with a small population and small-town feel. The highway system was designed to handle twice as much traffic than we have, so Buffalo is literally a “twenty-minutes-to-anywhere” town. Don’t be afraid to try destination restaurant in a suburban area.

                    Two good sources for Buffalo restaurant reviews:
                    Started by a UB professor who was continually asked where to eat...
                    City based website with no news of the suburbs...

                    More on "best" Buffalo Wings

                    1. re: jerryc123

                      this is fantastic. thanks. I never heard of sponge candy. can't wait to try it.

            2. Sounds like a great trip to the minor league parks across Upstate, which is beautiful in the summer. I'm sure you realize that Cooperstown is only about an hour southeast of Syracuse.

              The beauty of those 3 cities you are mentioning is that everything is only 20 minutes away, because the infrastructure was built for a much larget population. I'm much more familiar with Syracuse and Buffalo so here are my recommendations

              Syracuse - You have Dinosaur BBQ on your list, and this is the original and a MUST. It's not far away from the Armory Square area, home to neat pubs and restaurants that actually bring some business into otherwise dead downtown Syracuse. This is only 10-15 minutes from Sky Chiefs stadium.You could also try Tully's, which specializes in chicken tenders. Finally, if you are staying around the Carrier Circle area you should go to Joey's, a Syracuse institiution with a great bar and very good Italian food.

              In Buffalo, you mentioned Gabriels Gate, which serves very good wings but they are the dry style. For the saucy style you can't beat Duff's, which is out in Amherst on Sheridan Ave about 20 minutes from Dunn Tire Park. Right next to HSBC Arena, a short walk from the ballpark, is WJ Morrisey Irish Pub, with good food. I also second the aforementioned Chef's and Pearl Street (which can be very loud).

              One more thing - if you have time, Niagara Falls in only 20 minutes north of Buffalo and is very much worth the trip.

              Sorry I couldn't help with Rochester.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Vint1955

                don't apologize - this is great. we are looking forward to the trip (as you can guess given I'm planning it 2 months in advance) and do plan to hit major spots like niagara falls - I have not been there in more than 10 years. the trip will be more or less documented on, by the way.

                thanks for pointing out the wet/dry wings thing. I had no idea there were different styles upstate.

                and somehow I have not yet asked about local beer/wines...favorites?

                1. re: sarapeater

                  No offense to Vint1955, but IMO Tully's not a destination type of place- good, but sort of chain-y. I'd recommend Empire Grill or Clarks for micro brews and great food, though Clark's only has 1 menu item (an incredilbly great roast beef sandwich), they are both downtown, open late and not too far from the stadium. You may also want to check out Freedom of Espresso for great coffee (a must have for the road trip!)

              2. Having moved to Buffalo from the NYC area, I can tell you that ppl give you funny looks if you try to ask for a knish :P I just read that in Dunn Tire Park they are offering all you can eat certain nights. I assume that means within reason, but it is also worth looking into if you plan on trying lots of food there. I agree with Pearl Street as the closest thing to a sports bar in the area. Ted's is definitely unique to the area, as is Mighty Taco (think Taco Bell). Grover's is a drive from the park, but it is known for their mega bugers (it's in East Amherst on Transit Rd). Wings are a matter of choice. Duff's is the unofficial King but everyone seems to have their own fave. Beef on weck is another "personal taste" thing in the area. If you are here on a Friday, there are fish fries year round on Fridays. Also look to bring some sponge candy home. Not sure how easy it will be to find when the weather is warmer, but I would think some candy shops would still have it.

                3 Replies
                1. re: L_W

                  what is it that makes the Friday Fish Fry such a big thing in Buffalo? Christian population?

                  1. re: sarapeater

                    I am gonna guess "yes"

                    I have noticed a large Polish and Irish population on the whole. They have something here called Dyngus day (day after easter) which is Polish holiday and I never heard of it when living on Long Island.

                    A lot of times during Lent they will do fish frys as fundraisers where you just drive up and pick up fish to go. In the same vein, there are also have chiavettas ( bbq chicken at many places as fundraisers over the summer. You can search their site to see if there is one while you are here (probably there will be 10!). I actually really like the chicken and have bought the sauce to make at home.

                    1. re: L_W

                      I grew up with fish on Fridays so that was an easy conclusion for me to draw. thanks for the chiavettas link. that's cool

                2. Buffalo is a very Catholic city so the fish fry did originate for meatless Fridays.

                  You asked about local beers/wines. Pearl Street Brewery, near Dunn Tire Park, brews and serves its' own beer. So does the Buffalo Brew Pub, corner Main/Transit out in Williamsville, about 20 minute drive. This is the "granddaddy" of local brew pubs, has good food and a great local following. I would make the drive to the Brew Pub.
                  Regarding local wines, the best wines in the area actually come from the Niagara Peninsula over in Canada. The ice wines from this area are excellent but on the expenisve side. There is a Niagara wine trail that you can follow but beware, if you go to Canada you need your passport; also, don't cross at Peace Bridge (main crossing) but go up to Lewiston Bridge, which is past Niagara Falls but less crowded. You can also cross at Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls and follow the wine trail signs. If you want to visit a liquor store with a good selection of these wines visit one of the 3 Premier stores in the area.
                  Finally, you need to try a beef on wick, as others have mentioned. Best in town (arguably) is Schwabels, which is off Union Ave out in the suburbs (but I can't remember which one, maybe Cheektowaga, you can always Google the name). Great roast beef on a kummelwick roll, fresh horseradish, warm German potato salad, can't be beat for lunch.

                  Wherever you go you'll have a great time!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Vint1955

                    thanks. great one:
                    789 Center Rd.(Union Rd.)
                    (West Seneca)
                    Buffalo, NY 14224

                    what about: Charlie the Butcher's Kitchen?