Bellini’s 445 Delaware Avenue Buffalo, New York 14202 (716) 842-1210

food – 28 décor – 27 service – 27 cost - $ 27

This Urban-Sleek Restaurant is reminiscent of a hip, retro San Francisco eatery. Candles galore, seductive “clandestine” music, and a happening bar make it very cutting edge. “I was very impressed…Easily top five…Trying to think (unsuccessfully) why it isn’t in my top three.” “Best calamari in the city.” “An ‘elite meet to eat’ place.” “Every aspect is very strong.” “Next time, you have to try either the duck, the lamb or veal ragu, or the penne risotto.”

Chris’ NY Sandwich Co. 395 Delaware Avenue (between Tupper & Edward) Buffalo, New York 14202

food – 25 décor – 19 service – 26 cost - $ 7.00

“A generous sandwich made with the freshest bread and finest ingredients” is the motto of this wonderful downtown lunchtime-only eatery. Their second expansion has almost doubled the seating capacity, which should help move more throngs of hungry patrons. The mostly black and white motif has a special dineresque quality that’s as clean and crisp as the white shirts of the staff. “Fabulous.” “Superior quality and quantity.” ”Wonderful presentation.” “I can get in and out quickly.” “It’s crazy between noon and two.”

Coles’ Restaurant 1104 Elmwood Avenue Buffalo, New York (716) 886-1449

food – 22 décor – 23 service – 26 cost - $15

Established in 1934, Coles’ is a casual classic on Buffalo’s Elmwood Strip. As city traditions go, I typically find myself in the cozy, clandestine original section with dark wood, white linen, and the bar. For the review, however, we ate in the relatively newer, bigger, and bolder annex. Its multitude of front windows, plants, and cathedral ceiling was very nice and seemed perfect for a great lunch or Sunday Brunch. The area around the fireplace was more conducive for a fine winter’s evening meal.

Crabby Joe’s Bar and Seafood Restaurant 166 Franklin Street (Corner of West Mohawk) Buffalo, New York 856-4851

Food – 24 décor – 23 service – 24 cost - $21. Nestled within the heart of downtown Buffalo on Franklin and Mohawk, most people know Crabby Joe’s as a sophisticated after work hangout for business professionals and attorneys. More seasoned epicurean types also know what a great place it is for fresh pasta and seafood. Dominating Cinzano artwork hangs in the back dining room with crisp linen everywhere. “Best appetizers I’ve ever had.” “Great presentation… the fin-shaped plates seemed especially appropriate.” “We had an excellent serving of stuffed banana peppers.” “More specials than you could count… I would have loved them all.”

Eddie’s Orchard Park Brewery & Grill 4244 North Buffalo Road

Orchard Park, New York 14127 www.eddiesgrill.com

food – 19 décor – 19 service – 26 cost - $ 14.

If variety is the spice of life, Eddie’s is the spice warehouse. With so many personalities, one has to be right for you. In addition to being a surprisingly nice ten-table restaurant, it has a very descent micropub brewery/bar, and a convenient bowling alley attached. Its food is also diverse, with German, Italian, American, Cajun, and Mexican, and a few more hiding in the wings. As one would expect, the patrons of this eclectic establishment hit every demographic group. From old guys drinking beers to young sheilas partying hard, expect to see everything at Eddie’s. “Beery-beery good.” They have everything under the sun.” “We come for the Eddie’s Belly Buster… It’s Beautiful.” “ Jim and Lou do an outstanding job.”

Fredi the Restaurant 6010 Goodrich Road Clarence Center, New York 14032 (716) 741-4012

Food – 26 décor – 25 service – 24 cost - $ 25.00

Are you ready? Let’s do the Fredi! It’s definitely worth the drive to the hinterlands of Clarence Center (at least the directions are easy: out on Main Street, turn left on Goodrich). In addition to outstanding “French Country” fare, you’ll meet one of the most gracious and gregarious hosts in Western New York. The restaurant is tastefully sensual. With the glow of defused lighting, rocket red walls, original paintings, and the Danish blonde bar and wood floors, one could easily mistake it for a Manhattan bistro. With an excellent wine list and the host’s knowledge and propensity to pick winners for every course, I suggest ordering a wide array of wines by the glass. Look for Blues piano on Sunday evenings, cooking classes on Tuesdays and check for special events and theme parties. Fredi also operates My Personal Chef, a venue providing busy people with convenient delivered gourmet meals. “Awesome wine list.” “Magic Mushrooms and Lobster Ravioli were tremendous.” “Fredi is cool.” “We’ve been here several times. It’s always good.”

Gramma Mora’s 1465 Hertel Avenue Buffalo, New York 14216 (716) 837-6703

food – 22 décor – 21 service – 26 cost - $12

Originating on Niagara Street in 1980, Gramma Mora’s Restaurant has been serving authentic Mexican (Chihuahua) cuisine from family recipes handed down through generations for more than a century. After a devastating fire, the family has re-established itself on Hertel Avenue for the last three plus years with tremendous results. Hanging piñatas, cactus plants, decorative “chili” lights and a large mural highlight a festive décor. “Best Green Sauce in the City… it’s nose running hot, hot, hot.” The Sopa is to die for… you can’t get it anywhere else.” The flan is flantastic.”

Jimmy Mac’s Sunday Brunch 555 Elmwood Avenue Buffalo, New York 14222 (716) 886-9112

food – 21 décor – 20 service – N/A cost - $ 13

Jimmy Mac’s, with its dark wood paneling, long bar, enclosed patio, good food, and back poolroom, has been a favorite of Buffalo’s elite for more than twenty-two years. Its recent change from a la carte to buffet brunch has been a great hit. “Selection and price are outstanding.” “We come in for the atmosphere. It’s always a great time with friends.” “The variety is very good. We look forward to the different specials every week.” “I felt quite decadent … in a good way.”

La Marina Market and Grille 1503 Hertel Avenue Buffalo, New York 14216 (716) 834-9681 www.lamarinaonline.com

food – 26 décor – 19 service – 26 cost - $ 18.

This casual restaurant/fish market is “neighborhood” in the best sense of the word. The sumptuous display of fabulous desserts as you first walk in is a telltale of the great things to come. “I loved the bisque, it rocks lobster.” “Two Yums Up.” “My favorite is the Rainbow Trout.” “Their creamy smooth crab cakes are the best in Buffalo.” “Wonderful presentation.” “I always save room for desserts.”

O 3047 Sheridan Drive Amherst, New York 14226 (716) 332-4656 www.letter15.com

food – 26 décor – 27 service – 26 cost - $ 30. Metropolitan, futuristic, minimalist, and abstract could all be terms used to describe this higher-end Asian restaurant and jazz lounge. But the best term would simply be “O-utstanding.” David and Bryan bring a culinary background to the table that is difficult to duplicate. “Its gari, gari good.” “West coast quality.” “Presentation was terrific.” “Really cool atmosphere.” “Most exciting salad (Grilled) I’ve ever had.” “Miso soup was great.” “Stupendous.”

Off the Wall 534 Elmwood Avenue Buffalo, New York 14222 (716) 884-9580 fax (716) 884-9986 www.offthewallonline.com

food – 25 décor – 26 service – 27 cost - $22

Opened for slightly more than a month at this writing, Off the Wall is exactly what’s advertised, off the wall. Patrons of this trendy, unusually unorthodox place can purchase almost everything that they see. There is much to see, and it changes frequently. From estate sale sofas and savvy salads to Luckasa artwork and early morning espresso, everything in this constantly evolving environment can and does go. Bands appear Thursdays, and a D.J. entertains Fridays and Saturdays. “It was fabulous.” “Quirky.” “Each appetizer was great in its own way.” “An unique, organic, orgasmic experience.” “An artists’ play room.”

99 Fastfood Restaurant Review 3396 Bailey Avenue 93 Niagara Street (716) 836-6058 (716) 852-0462 www.99fastfood.com

food – 23 décor – 19 service – 26 cost - $ 7.

Authentic Vietnamese cuisine, in addition to being quick and cheap, was outstanding. Ho Nguyen and the boys really do it up right. If you ask the natives (of which there are plenty), they’ll tell you that the soup is the thing; however, everything is great. Unlike Chinese food, each dish has its own distinct flavor. “Fresh” is the most abundant word on every patron’s lips. Its newest location, on Bailey Avenue, was just as good as the more traveled location on Niagara (across from City Hall).

Pizza Plant (Walker Center)Pizza Plant (Transit) 5110 Main Street 8020 Transit Road 626-5566 Fax 626-0076 632-0800 Fax 632-4531 pizzaplant.com

food – 20 décor – 21 service – 26 cost - $ 12.00

At Pizza Plant, the Pod is the thing. There are eighteen on the menu or you can create your own. In fact, many are named after their customer creators. The most popular are the Amy Pod, the Cajun Pod, and the Sicilian Steak Pod. One gets a clean, safe “sub-urban” feel when sitting in the family-friendly booths that dominate the seating. Expect to see many divorced dads with their young ones playing at the table with actual pizza dough. Overall, it’s a very creative place with high-quality ingredients and a nice staff. The half-pound Black Angus is new to the menu and is quite tasty. Pizza, beer, and wheat-free pasta are featured every Wednesday. There are an extensive number of vegetarian dishes on a very customer-driven menu. Other menu favorites include Southwest Nachos, Pasta Louisiana, Chicken Sausage Bomboro, and Chicken Burrito.

Saigon Café 1098 Elmwood Avenue Buffalo, New York 14222 (716) 883-1252 www.thesaigoncafe.com

food – 27 décor – 25 service – 26 cost - $ 15

Serving Vietnamese and Thai cuisine, the Saigon Café is certainly a highlight of the Elmwood and Forest avenues restaurant scene. Having only 12 tables, the restaurant is intimate and elegant, with a subdued décor of light-colored woods, subtle bamboo wallpaper, indirect lighting, and hauntingly melodic Asian music in the background. In addition to the wonderful food and competent staff, the Saigon Cafe should be extremely proud of its delightful tabletop presentation. All in all, it easily adds up to “Metro Chic.” It seems to be a popular place with the locals, even on a late Tuesday evening. Extensive vegetarian selections are available. Other popular favorites include the Vietnamese Pancake, the Pad Thai Noodles, the Yum Nua Salad, the Thai Duck, and the Tofu vegetarian dishes.

“Viet-Wow.” “A slice of Bangkok in Buffalo.” “Each item was better than the next.” “We love the vegetarian Spicy Rainbow…But they’ll do (substitute) everything vegetarian.” “We come here often… the Dancing Seafood is excellent.”

Ulrich’s Tavern 674 Ellicott Street Buffalo, New York 14203 (716) 855-8409 www.ulrichstavern.com

food – 23 décor – 23 service – 26 cost - $ 16.00

Gemutlichkeit! For more than 130 years (eight years before Custer’s infamous ride), Ulrich’s Tavern has provided a public house where one can enjoy good food, drink, and camaraderie. Since 1954, the Daley Family has held the torch and has added both a German and Irish touch. Over the years, it’s become famous for its lunches, history dinners, St. Patty’s Day festivities, and Christmas in July. “The German cuisine and portion size make it tough to be a ‘clean platter.’” “What German food should be.” “European Comfort Food.” “Some of the best potato pancakes I’ve ever had.” Barrel House 85 West Chippewa Street Buffalo, New York (716) 856-4645

food – 19 décor – 17 service – 26 cost - $ 8.

The Barrel House is Buffalo’s quintessential shot and a beer guy’s bar. This “dark woody” place, surrounded by a century of memorabilia and the latest beer displays, is a favorite of executive and laborer alike. Don’t look for tea and crumpets or a salad, but their soups and chili are some of the best in the city and it gets to you fast. “You’ll never go wrong with the specials.” “Cajun wings are outstanding.” “They have the best soups; my favorite is the red pepper and sausage.”