UPDATE: Unfortunately Woody’s has closed since this article came out.
When I found out Woody’s Beach Club had made the top 10 list for WGRZ’s Favorite Restaurants or WNY, I was shocked just like many of the viewers. I had actually never heard of the restaurant before watching Chef Krista Van Wagner talk about their fresh queso fresco and guacamole and dining out on the beach. But after learning it was owned and operated by the Curtain Family (Dug’s Dive, The Steer, Lake Effect Diner), I’m even more surprised that it took me this long to hear about the restaurant. They just opened in 2011 and just started up for the summer a few weeks ago so Alli and I decided to head down on a lazy evening last week.
Located on Woodlawn Beach (not in the club house), it takes some effort to stumble across Woody’s. Once you’ve walked half way down the long beach path, you’ll start to hear the crowd and reggae music (when we visited there was a lot of Bob Marley on the playlist) and smell a camp fire going. When you get to the bar/restaurant you won’t feel like you’re in Buffalo anymore, honestly this place is something you’d find somewhere on the coast of Florida/Mexico.
The entire restaurant is outdoors, you can either sit at the bar (yes they have booze) or grab yourself one of their few picnic tables scattered on the beach. They have a full liquor bar and serve margaritas but I decided to order myself a Tecate (they have several bottles of Mexican beers). Since there’s no menu posted online (until now!), Alli and I weren’t sure what to order and had to decide on the spot. Their tacos are in the $8-9 range and each order actually comes with 3 tacos and will be enough food for one. Since this was our first visit, Alli and I decided to try a couple tacos and an order of Camerones Diablo (grilled shrimp $8, pictured in gallery). The shrimp were just OK. They had some dry seasoning rubbed on the exterior that gave a weird texture. Sadly, they didn’t have a strong flavor and virtually no spiciness. I wouldn’t order them again.
The tacos are all served with diced onion, cilantro and lime on a grilled and crispy flour tortilla. We ordered their Taco el Pastor ($7.50, pictured above-top) and Taco el Pescado ($9, pictured above-bottom), and both orders came out very quickly. The Taco el Pastor has marinated pork butt, pineapple and queso fresco (along with the other fixings) and was hands down the best thing we ate that evening, the combination of flavorful pork with creamy fresh cheese and a spicy sauce was fantastic. The pork was a little stringy but that’s the only complaint I have for the dish, besides wishing there were 6 tacos for the order. The Taco el Pescado has grilled Mahi Mahi with a mango salsa. The fish seemed very fresh and would probably be enjoyable for people who are healthy eaters. That said, in my opinion, the flavor of the dish was on the bland side. The sweet salsa added some flavor but it wasn’t enough. Originally I wanted to order their Tacos Camerones de Seviche (shrimp cooked in lime juice) but they had run out that day.
The location itself is well worth a trip into the Southtowns. I couldn’t believe that we were actually hanging out on Lake Erie and sitting on the beach eating tacos and having a beer while watching the sunset. The restaurant and bar are open from 11am to 11pm every day (weather permitting). They have a large fire pit closer to the water where you can sit in one of their many wooden chairs and enjoy the views. I definitely plan on going back and showing more people this cool hidden spot. They also have hot dogs and hamburgers for the less adventurous eaters. And regardless of how the food is, it’s really a great place to grab and drink and hang out. It’s still under the radar enough that you can dine and not worry about crowds. We visited on a Wednesday afternoon and had no problem walking right up to the bar and placing our order, however I could see this place getting packed on the weekends when word starts to spread.