Alli’s Favorite Meals of 2012

Pork Belly Bun from Ippudo
Pork Belly Bun from Ippudo

Buffalo Eats has been around for about 4 years now, but I feel like we’ve been doing this forever. While I am still not the most adventurous eater and still have many classic favorites that I fall back on (spaghetti with red sauce, wings, Kraft mac ‘n cheese-but only with the spiral noodles, obviously), my food experiences have grown exponentially since I graduated college. Donnie and I get asked all the time what our favorite restaurant is or what the best thing we ever ate was. We eat so much and so well that it’s hard to narrow it down just one or two places or meals that we can call our ‘favorite.’ I will admit that when we travel outside of Buffalo (NYC, Toronto, etc), I realize there is a lot that we still don’t have (like a great dim sum restaurant for example). But in the four years since we started this blog, we have seen the food scene in Buffalo grow to the point where we can now get Ethiopian at multiple restaurants around the city. And the chefs we have in this area are pretty amazing and are really starting to expand their reach with new restaurants and cuisines. Based on the bits and pieces of rumors we’ve heard, I only see great things in the future of Buffalo’s dining scene. So, below are a few of my favorites from 2012….

Everything from our last NYC trip – Donnie and I hung out for in NYC for 4 days in April and literally spent 90% of the time eating. I had the best ramen of my life at Ippudo, an amazing steak dinner at Peter Luger’s, and almost died of joy in Georgetown Cupcakes. On our first night we made sure to get a few (or more) orders of soup dumplings at Grand Sichuan International (you can get them at multiple places around the city). If you’ve never had soup dumplings, you truly have not lived. They are one of my favorite food items, period. And you cannot find them, other than maybe on a specials menu, in Buffalo. And then there was Pomme Frites. Glorious, glorious Pomme Frites. Simply stated, the best french fries you will ever eat. If there is nothing else that you try on a trip to NYC, try Pomme Frites, you’re welcome.

Penne and Peas from Marco's
Penne and Peas from Marco’s

Marco’s Italian Restaurant: Penne and Peas – I don’t care, I love red sauce Italian-American food. Give me a bowl of spaghetti parm and a big ‘ole meatball and I’m good to go. While my favorite red sauce restaurant will always be Tina’s in Hamburg, Marco’s has slowly crept up as a very close second. The Penne and Peas entrée that Donnie and I fought over shared back in August is something I could eat once (or twice) a week. Creamy sweet tomato sauce with generous chunks of sausage mixed throughout, it was perfectly delicious.

Joe’s Deli: Short Rib BBQ Beef Tacos with House Made Kim Chi Joe’s Deli is a favorite of many Buffalo foodies. You can’t go wrong with any sandwich that they offer, but their specials menu is where it’s at. Over the summer, one of those specials was a Short Rib BBQ Beef Taco and holy shit was it amazing. Just writing about it makes me want to go there right now.

Pork Belly Tacos from Brick-N-Motor
Pork Belly Tacos from Brick-N-Motor

Brick-N-Motor Food Truck: Korean Pork Belly Tacos – If you have not yet read our post about the Brick-N-Motor food truck in Rochester, you should right now. While we have our share of awesome food trucks here in Buffalo, what the guys from Brick-N-Motor are doing is nothing short of fantastic. Their ever-changing menu is quite impressive and when Donnie and I took an hour drive out to Rochester a few weeks ago to try them out, we were not disappointed. Specifically, the Korean pork-belly tacos that they had that day blew me away. I had to stop myself from getting seconds (we had to save room for other trucks) and we made a point of going back up to the truck after we ate to tell the guys how amazing the food was. Next time you are around the Rochester area, do yourself a favor and track them down.

Bistro Europa: Tomato Soup and Grilled CheeseBistro Europa is one of my favorites but we sadly don’t get to eat there as often as we’d like. The last few times we’ve been there, it has been for lunch. And it was on one of those visits a few months ago when I first ordered their grilled cheese. But this isn’t just a standard wonderbread with cheddar grilled cheese, no no, this baby has gruyere and double-gloucester cheese on huge thick slices of fresh house-made bread. If you’ve never had Ellen Gedra’s bread (or desserts for that matter), I really feel sorry for you. That bread is magical and, when dipped into the creamy tomato soup on a cold Buffalo day, it’s heaven. From the first time I tried it, I was in love. Best lunch of 2012, hands down.

Seabar: Every meal I’ve had there this year – Is that a cop-out? Whatever. Literally every time I eat at Seabar, I am reminded why it one of my favorite restaurants in Buffalo. Everything is delicious and I always have a hard time deciding what to order. You can’t go wrong with any of the sushi options (especially the spicy tuna or miso caramel crab roll), the seafood tacos, Bourdain’s Last Meal, or any of the specials (last week we had the Jonah crab and mushroom bisque and it was stupid good). It was voted the best restaurant in Buffalo, and with good reason.

Meatballs from Carmelo's Restaurant
Meatballs from Carmelo’s Restaurant

Carmelo’s Restaurant: Celebration Dinner – We went to Carmelo’s this fall for a celebration dinner with my parents. Not only is the actual restaurant gorgeous and the chef and his sous chef are two of the best in Western New York, but the meal we had that night is something I still dream about. Between the charcuterie board, spicy pork meatballs, potato gnocchi entrée and the chocolate peanut butter semifreddo dessert, I was so thrilled with the meal and happy my parents could experience it with me. And there’s of course the added bonus that many of the food items at Carmelo’s are locally sourced, including from our favorite local farm, T-Meadow.

Lake Effect Diner: Eggs Benedict and House-made Sausage – I love eggs. Especially when they are in benedict-form. I’ve had eggs benedict all over the city…Shango, Acropolis, Bertha’s…they all have their own great versions. I used to frequent Lake Effect Diner back in my Canisius College days, when it was open 24 hours and we would go at random times of the night. Somehow, I never tried much of their breakfast options, until this year. A few weeks ago I tried their eggs benedict for the first time and destroyed the whole thing in minutes. And their house-made sausage (using local meat) has the most amazing sweet/spicy flavor that I only wish I could recreate in my own kitchen. Highly recommended.

Check back tomorrow for when we’ll have Buffalo Eats founder Don Burtless’ top 5 meals…

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