Seamus Gallivan is an incredibly busy dude. When he’s not freelancing for the Buffalo News, he’s a concert promoter for venues like Larkin Square, Pearl Street, Nietzches or Sportsmen Tavern and running his fantastic blog The Good Neighborhood. Since returning to Buffalo almost 3 years ago, Seamus has made it his mission to bring more people back into the city to support local music while also supporting various good causes. Reading his articles on the Good Nieghborhood will put a kick in your step and really can get you excited for the direction this city is going.
We sent Seamus our standard Buffalo Foodie questions about his favorite places to eat, drink and hang out in Buffalo. We couldn’t have asked a better guy, he absolutely loves this town and would make for an excellent tour guide (just check out his epic responses below).
Want to read other articles about Seamus? Check out Get To Know A Buffalonian with Artvoice and his post with Chris Smith about the Top 5 Good News Stories of 2011.
Right now, where are some of your favorite places to eat in Buffalo?
Seamus: I’m far from the most refined diner; I still don’t know what foie gras is, but I’m down to find out. Although I’m a big believer that “variety is the very spice of life,” most days I’m a creature of connections, and I get emotionally attached to the success of those about whom I care, which works best when it’s mutual…with that in mind –
Breakfast – Sweetness 7 on Grant-Lafayette, served all day. Prish Moran’s main ingredients there are love and community. Plus, they do Mexican breakfasts darn good, which I miss from my time in Texas – got so accustomed to ‘em that I’ll order Sweetness’ Spanish Scramble or Huevos Rancheros almost any day over their Irish Peasant. Perhaps I am a wee bit refined…
And this is what makes Prish the best, at least to me – back in March, while driving back to Buffalo from Texas and approaching Memphis at breakfast-time, I hit up Yelp for a real-deal local spot and wound up at an amazing out-of-the-way joint named Brother Juniper’s, where I had perhaps the greatest omelet of my life, called “The Fireman”…now, I just went to their website to share the exact ingredients and it’s not on the menu, so I might then think it was but a dream…but I emailed Prish right after I devoured the thing to share the makings and request that Sweetness offer it, and I found that email – open-faced, chorizo, a bed of avocado spread, sauteed tomatoes and green onions, chipotle sauce, cheddar and mozzarella – and darn tootin’ when I got home, Prish and cook Phil Durgan made it for me, with their own spin…y’know, with Buffalove.
Lunch – Larkin Square, three options.
First – The Filling Station, great soups and specials and a simple daily menu; their pulled pork sandwich is my favorite, can hang with the best of ‘em. I get it with melted cheddar or another kind of cheese if recommended. Comes with coleslaw and they do that right – mixed with vinegar, not mayo. So does the veggie burrito, which has a lotta flavor, and goat cheese. I love cheese – it’s my favorite vegetable.
Second – The Filling Station spinoff The Grill, in the center of the square. They keep it simple there with only a few options but change them weekly; I’m pining for the return of thin-sliced roasted lamb on olive bread…
Third – Square 1 Sandwiches in a converted ’64 Airstream trailer. Simple approach, solid results. Brazilian and ginger beef are my favorite meat options; Greek artichoke and soy portabella my go-to veggie picks, even in the presence of the mighty avocado.
Bonus – Every weekday, there’s a food truck on the other side of the Larkin at Exchange Building. Lloyd’s gordo burrito makes my belly so happy. Roaming Buffalo’s dizzle burger is fo rizzle.
I’m thankful that there’s so much variety in the place where I’m spending so much of my time these days; Larkinville is some slice o’ paradise. Perhaps we could move Bistro Europa there…
Dinner – Santasiero’s meatballs. Cole’s burgers. Sea Bar is the bomb. I should go to Encore more. Merge is holistic comfort food. Wasabi’s Christmas roll is joy to my world. Pano’s blackened chicken Caesar salad will surprise you. Liberty Hound’s sea bass with zucchini flowers from heaven. Fish fry – Dash’s Market year-round or your standard pop-up Lenten Friday is as good as the “Best Of” in most cities I’ve seen.
Still, most days, I’m content with pizza and wings. Just Pizza was my tops, but they came off as Just Jerks in the food truck fiasco…my favorite pizza joint that most Buffalonians don’t know about is Carbone’s on South Park. The Buffalo chicken pizza at Joe’s on Amherst St satisfies my soul.
Most overlooked wings – Sportsmens Tavern. Try the Myron-style, a signature dry-rub then grilled, or the BBQ grilled. They hand-bread their chicken fingers, too, the only place where I order chicken fingers alone. “Smitty” wings from Charlie O’Briens or Doc Sullivan’s – the latter lays ‘em out during Bills games as part of a big spread.
Where do you like to grab a drink on the weekend and hang out with friends?
Seamus: Wegman’s or Village Beer Merchant and a porch?
Down time is relative for those in the business of providing a fun down-time scene for the masses. I spend much of my free time on the scene supporting those who support me, so I often wind up at the same music venues at which I work, such as the Sportsmens Tavern and Nietzsche’s. Pearl Street Brewery is so reliable and safe for big groups and big games – so much to offer in food, drink, and comfort, and they understand customer service.
Some recent highlight hangs with food include – Fat Bob’s (serious sides), Blue Monk (great veggie burger with artichoke as the lead ingredient, took their advice to get it with bacon -?!- and it worked), and Gene McCarthy’s (housemade meatloaf sandwich and first-rate parmesan red pepper soup).
If you had a friend visiting from out of town, where would you take them for a good “Buffalo” time?
Seamus: I love playing tour guide anywhere I know my way around!
First, we make plans for a ride on the Edward M. Cotter, the oldest working fireboat in the world – it reveals through a unique vehicle the old relics of the grain elevators, the glorious smells of General Mills, new landmarks in Buffalo River Fest Park and its spreading sister spots, the splendor of Lake Erie and the sights on the way to it – Canalside, ships along the Naval Park, lighthouse, Erie Basin Marina. The waterfront is what made us; any tour of visitors should start there.
Gotta hit up the Olmsted Parks and some architecture, too – my favorites are City Hall and Frank Lloyd Wright’s offerings.
As for food and drinking, one of our greatest virtues is our variety of these options – it helps prove that we are indeed a big city. As such, tour guides can cater their adventures to the interests of their guests. It’s fun to work in something old (Sterling Place, Swannie House, Ulrich’s has to re-open), something new (Blue Monk, Larkin Square), something funky (Merge, Essex St Pub, Nietzsche’s), something blue (waterfront – Liberty Hound, Dug’s Dive).
What are some food memories you have from your childhood?
Seamus: Raspberries from our backyard in Kenmore. North Tonawanda City Market – my sister and I fed and pet the rabbits and at least once convinced Moms Gallivan to get us one; whatever Moms was otherwise occupied with must’ve become that vegetable pie. Zucchini, squash, and onions sautéed with garlic, cheese, and Bisquick. Mom’s mean stromboli. Pops Gallivan’s burgers can still hang with the best – they’re basically meatloaf, ground beef with an egg, Italian bread crumbs, and spices. The time I literally made Pops let the lobster loose, putting the li’l guy on the kitchen floor to hang out with me for a while until Pops asked if I was satisfied and put him back in the pot. Grandma Gallivan’s pasta salad with the tiniest shrimp in the world; on a related note, her government cheese.
Sis and I heading straight for the cheeses at Premiere to smell the limburger; free sample slices at Federal Meats.
Anything at the ballpark – everything tastes better at a ballpark, that’s how they’re able to serve so many hot dogs. Mike’s Subs>Hoagie Brothers>Mike’s. Condrell’s sundaes. Ted’s dogs and onion rings. Louie’s sweet potato fries. Anderson’s roast beef and ice cream. 10-cent wing night at Dee’s on Kenmore Ave, and our favorite wings, from M&E Lounge at Military & Hinman – both places no longer open. Salvatore’s, once a year. I recall Palladino’s and Picasso’s Pizza in the deeper ‘burbs being better than places like Franco’s and Pepe’s in Kenmore, which might ignite a fight…
Oranges and grapefruit from Grandma’s backyard in Vero Beach, Florida, and her Southern cookin’ – fried chicken, milky-thick mashed potatoes that Moms mastered, Vidalia onion soufflé, and a lotta bacon grease. And finally from Florida – goobers, glorious goobers, aka boiled peanuts. Alright, I’m back now, holy nostalgia…that was fun, thanks, though I probably lost what few readers had made it this far…
What would you like to see more of in Buffalo’s restaurant scene?
Seamus: Boiled peanuts? Onion soufflé? Fried Chicken? Breakfast tacos? Breakfast tacos!
I’m a quarter-rebel and have spent a quarter of my life in the South, so I often crave authentic Southern comfort food…spinning back local, I’d like more emphasis on where ingredients come from. I’m not an all-out locavore – probably never will be, my favorite fruit is grapefruit and vegetable is asparagus, so let’s please keep the trade routes open…
Beyond that point, which is becoming more important as we learn about Monsanto corn and more sketchy sources, we got it pretty good with the Buffalo dining scene. There are many places I’ve not yet been, and many I’d like to enjoy more often.
In short and closing, what I’d like to see more of on the scene – chump chains closing down and local spots and sources expanding.
We’d like to thank Seamus for finding the time to give us these incredibly awesome answers, we hope you enjoyed reading them as much as we did. If you’d like to keep up to date of what is going on in Buffalo, check out his blog The Good Neighborhood or follow them on twitter or facebook.