Where to Eat This Weekend: Allentown

There are a lot of places to eat in WNY and sometimes deciding where to head for a meal is overwhelming. Where to Eat This Weekend is a weekly feature that I (Alli) have been thinking about for a while. I’m incredibly indecisive and while having 100′s of detailed reviews of restaurants to pick from is wonderful, sometimes having someone narrow down your choices makes your life a bit easier. A new Where to Eat This Weekend will be posted every Friday with the sole purpose of helping you decide where to eat and hopefully introduce you to a few new places that are worth checking out. The posts will have a new ‘theme’ each week. I will pick a town (i.e. East Aurora, Orchard Park), cuisine (Thai, Mexican) or street (Hertel, Kenmore Ave) and give you a list of all of the notable places to eat/drink within that theme along with links to websites and our reviews as well as a few quick descriptions (price, type of food, etc).

Past posts focused on East Aurora Vietnamese cuisine , “unique” Chicken Wings, Kenmore Ave and Seasonal Hot Dog Stands. This week I decided to focus on Allentown. I live in Allentown, so maybe I’m biased, but it’s such a cool little neighborhood of Buffalo. Home to Kleinhans, the Allentown Art Festival, the Infringement Festival and some of the best nightlife in the city, Allentown is known for having a mix of all kinds of people; artists, hipsters, hippies, and a growing group of working professionals who are buying up the gorgeous historical houses that line many of the streets. While there is no shortage of bars (Nietzsche’s, Frizzy’s, The Pink), there are also plenty of really great restaurants that are worth the trip from the ‘burbs. So when you are looking for a place to eat this weekend, don’t let the city scare you away and head down to Allentown and take in the sites and sounds while enjoying a delicious meal.

So..where should you eat this weekend?  Allentown!

Notable Restaurants

*These are not all of the restaurants in Allentown, just my favorites.

I personally am not the biggest fan of burgers, but I will go out of my way to order the Blackened Blue Burger (pictured above) from Founding Fathers. Donnie calls it one of the top 3 burgers in WNY, it’s really that good. The menu at Founding Fathers may be small, and they don’t have a fryer, but their collection of burgers, sandwiches and daily specials is good enough to satisfy anyone during lunch, dinner or late night. With hundreds of historical artifacts lining the walls and Mike Driscoll behind the bar stumping even the biggest history buff with trivia questions, it’s no secret that Founding Father is our favorite bar/restaurant in Buffalo and we are 100% positive you will love it too.

Without a doubt, Cantina Loco is the hottest restaurant in Allentown right now. Almost every night it is packed with people, and for a while they were even turning diners away because the wait was too long. A combination of tasty and very affordable Mexican cuisine with a very hip bar and creative drink menu has made Cantina Loco a go to spot. We recommend anything from their drink menu (especially their Mezcal Mule) as well as their Koreatown Taco and Tijuana Tubesteak (pictured below). Don’t believe us? Check out what Toronto food writer Ivy Knight has to say.

When people talk about the best places for Chicken Wings in Buffalo, Gabriel’s Gate is almost always on the list. With a large Buffalo head over the bar, the dining room has the look of a hunting lodge, with large booth seating and decor that showcase the history of the building that the restaurant is housed in. The menu is very large, with a wide selection of sandwiches and burgers named after local landmarks.

One of the biggest hidden treasures of Buffalo, you could easily drive by La Tee Da and not notice it. However, I suggest making a visit to this Allentown restaurant as soon as possible to enjoy their back patio, which might be one of the best in the city. The restaurant offers a semi fine dining atmosphere with live music on Wednesdays and a menu filled with Italian inspired entrees.

Sometimes it’s a hard sell to serve small portions (think tapas) and satisfy diners, but it’s easy to see the value when it’s served in the hip/modern setting of Sample and with the creativity of Chef Adam Goetz. Definitely a great place to get a drink on the weekend when you want to avoid the rowdy Allentown crowds, the restaurant also is a wonderful place to have a small bite to eat. If you really want to have a true Sample experience, check out their Chef’s Tasting Menu for only $36/person where you’ll enjoy a 6 course flight of their menu.

If you’re thinking about going to Betty’s for brunch this weekend, plan on arriving an hour before you’d like to eat. This place has been known for their brunch for years and the wait on Sunday can get into “Cheesecake Factory” times, but at least with Betty’s it’s for a good reason. Since we wrote our post they have expanded the restaurant and added a bar (which will help kill your wait time).

When I think of Hardware, I normally think of their live music/DJ’s on the weekends and their great beer selection. But they also have a large menu of sandwiches, burgers and very affordable entrees. We haven’t visited the restaurant in a couple years (which is sad since we live so close), but every time we walk by there is always a good crowd. Head there early for a quiet and very affordable dinner in a hip setting, stay a little bit longer for a cool late night crowd.

While their unpredictable hours and lack of a liquor license can be frustrating, the Cajun/Creole menu at French Quarter Cafe (which used to be called Lagniappes/Lucky Dogs) is some of the best food in Allentown. We love their Gumbo, Andouille PoBoy and Fried Okra for dinner or as a late night snack. Thursday through Saturday, the restaurant offers their old Lucky Dog menu (in addition to some of the regular menu) and you can find a large variety of loaded hot dogs that any post-drinking eater would love.

  • MothersBE Post (warning, very old and not our best work)

If you are looking for for a “fancier” option for dinner in Allentown, Mothers should be at the top of your list. Known for their complete lack of web presence and their long list of daily specials, the food at Mothers has never been disappointing. They serve well into the night and morning (kitchen is open until 3am), the bar is wonderful and I always seem to run into someone I know there. Their patio is great and the historical buildings and houses surrounding are hard to not admire.

Honorable Mentions: Merge (for your Vegetarian/Vegan fix), Towne (for breakfast or 2am drunk eats), Cafe 59 (for quick but freshly made lunch and coffee)

Opening Soon: Madonna’s (the old Atmosphere @62 location), Melting Point (the old Lucky Dogs location)

5 thoughts on “Where to Eat This Weekend: Allentown

    • September 21, 2012 at 12:00 pm

      French Quarter Cafe is the new name for Lagniappes….They moved down the street and changed their name about a year ago….

        • September 24, 2012 at 11:10 am

          hahh its ok, its hard to keep up with all of the restaurants around here sometimes.

  • September 21, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    I’d also recommend Gatur’s, a relatively new Ethiopian restaurant on Allen. Absolutely delicious!


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