Food Porn: Shango

Family, friends and even strangers often ask Alli and myself, “What’s your favorite restaurant?”.  We’ve eaten at hundreds of restaurants but to be honest, neither of us have ever had a good answer.  We crave different things all the time so our favorite restaurants are constantly changing. So we always struggle with that question, however after two recent fantastic meals at Shango (not including our Restaurant Week meal) we finally might have an answer.

In the last month we’ve visited twice, once as a celebratory dinner after receiving some good news about my next career move and the other to finally try their much hyped brunch.  We aren’t the only people who’ve love Shango, in our Buffalo Foodie features it’s been named as a favorite by 7 of our Foodies.

Quick Info:

  • Restaurant Type: Casual Fine Dining
  • Cuisine: Cajun, Brunch
  • Prices: Salads $7-10, Po Boys $12-14, Brunch $10-13
  • Location: North Buffalo

For our celebratory dinner Alli was really excited to try their gumbo once again.  She ordered a bowl at our previous visit and had been thinking about it ever since and actually also ended up ordering it again for brunch (more about that later).  For dinner we decided to order some small plates to try different offerings while keeping our bill reasonably cheap.

As an appetizer I ordered one of their “salads”; a Fried Green Tomato topped with House Smoked Bacon, Pickled Watermelon and some greens ($9, pictured below).  The green tomato had a tarty bite but had been fried in a way that the outer crust had a wonderful crunch while the inside still tasted like biting into a fresh and ripe tomato.  The pickled watermelon added even more tart while the bacon provided some salty, rich flavor. It’s not necessarily a large salad and it definitely isn’t going to fill you up on its own, however it was quite delicious and all of the flavors complimented each other wonderfully.  It’s something that I will definitely order again on my next dinner visit.

For my main meal I ordered their Fried Oyster Po Boy ($13, pictured top) and loved it.  The Oysters were still soft,  juicy and full of flavor while having a nice crunchy crust.  Aside from my experiences at Lagniappes (now French Quarter Cafe), my experiences with this New Orleans style sandwich have been pretty limited.  But Shango’s version was, in my option, fantastic and their roll held up better then Lagniappes-theirs can get messy and soggy real quick.  There wasn’t much else on Shango’s Po Boy, the Oysters are really the main show (as they should be) .  I wish they had a larger selection of Po Boys (fried shrimp, specifically) because I would love to sit at their bar with a beer and a Po Boy regularly.

When we visited again, a couple weeks later, we decided to try out Shango’s infamous Brunch.  Now Alli and I normally don’t go out of our way for brunch.  Even though we live within walking distance from Betty’s and could easily drive to the growing number of downtown brunch options (Blue Monk, 31 Club, Mytho’s, etc) it’s not something we normally crave.  So we figured, where better to start then Shango, widely considered by many as one of  Buffalo’s best (if not the best) brunch stop.

I ordered the Shrimp and Grits ($13 for an “entree” size, in gallery) because of the suggestion the week prior from Alan Bedenko’s Foodie article and because, well, I’ve never tried grits.  The cheddar and green onion grits were creamy and the large shrimp was plump and delicious.  What I initially thought were streaks of cream cheese in the grits, were actually poached eggs.  When broken open with my fork, the combination of grits and pieces of shrimp were great.  I slowly cut small pieces of the shrimp so that every bite I could have a combination of the flavors, for my first grits experience it was quite tasty.

Alli, who had some serious egg cravings going on, ordered the Blossom Hill Pork Sausage ($12, pictured below) which was topped with two poached eggs all on top of cheddar biscuits.  After breaking open the yolk she created some delicious food porn (below) that resembled our great breakfast at Bertha’s.

The menu for Shango’s Brunch is much larger than we expected and we’d have to go back 10 times before we each tried everything, but based on the quality of everything we’ve tried I can’t imagine anything would be disappointing.  We called the night before and asked if we would need reservations, they suggested that we did because there is a church across the street and there can be waves of customers.  The place was never at full capacity but it was getting quite busy by the time we left (around 12:30pm).

We said it in our first Food Porn, but this stretch of Main Street isn’t known for great restaurants.  Amy’s Place and Lake Effect Diner are both good restaurants, but what Shango is doing is something at a much higher level.  Chef Jim Guarino tries to use as many local ingredients as possible (we actually saw him at the Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market last week) and clearly takes pride in serving high quality Cajun/Creole inspired dishes.  The next time you are thinking about going somewhere for a nice meal or looking for some place different, I highly highly recommend Shango.

Photo Gallery:

Shango on Urbanspoon

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