We’ve been writing about food for a long time now and the number one question we always get asked is some variation of, “Where should I go out to eat tonight?” or “What’s the best restaurant in Buffalo right now?” Earlier this year we created the Buffalo Eats Approved list to help answer that question but found that it still might be overwhelming.
That’s why we are creating The Ten.
This list is not set in stone and will continue to evolve as restaurants open, close and improve. There are no cuisine or price point requirements, however new restaurants will have to wait 30 days before they are eligible to be added to the list. We will update the list every month so it is current and includes any new restaurants (and there are a lot coming) that we feel need to be included as well as already-established restaurants that deserve a spot.
The following list is in alphabetical order:
The Black Sheep. When Bistro Europa closed in March 2014, the foodie community of Western New York held their breath while they waited for The Gedra’s to get back in the kitchen. Everyone knows that Steve and Ellen Gedra are some of the most talented chefs in Buffalo. They almost exclusively use quality, local ingredients and their dishes truly reflect their creative imaginations. Their desserts and bread baskets are also top notch as Ellen is one of the best Pastry Chefs in Western New York. Additions of a craft cocktail program, a carefully curated beer list and a deeper wine menu have made this West Side restaurant a true culinary destination. (blacksheepbuffalo.com, 716-884-1100)
Buffalo Proper. When we wrote our review, we had a very big disclaimer that should be stated here too. Yes, we are good friends with the folks at Buffalo Proper. However, we still feel very confident in saying that it is already one of the very best restaurants in Western New York. The bar is without question the hottest in the city right now (not to mention one of the best looking) and the food is excellent to say the least. The thoughtful and creative menu includes high quality dishes using the best local and seasonal ingredients in WNY. The pairing of Bar Manager Jon Karel and Chef Edward Forster has truly lived up to the hype. Right now, it’s our favorite place to eat and drink in the entire city. (buffaloproper.com, 716-783-8699)
Carmelo’s Restaurant. Located in the beautiful village of Lewiston, Carmelo’s is attracting customers from all over Western New York with their from-scratch rustic Italian menu and romantic dining room. Chef/Owner Carmelo Raimondi utilizes seasonal and local ingredients to offer a dinner menu that changes on a weekly basis based on what’s in season and available at the market. They offer a small but carefully selected wine and beer list and their desserts are some of the best in the area. (carmelos-restaurant.com, 716-754-2311)
Elm Street Bakery. For years, Elm Street Bakery was famous for their delicious wood-fired pizza, freshly made bread, and baked goods from the talented Chef Luci Levere. Recently, it has become a true destination restaurant with the addition of Chef Brad Rowell as the head of their newly offered dinner service. The entire menu is prepared in their wood fire oven and the dishes are offered as small plates that are meant for sharing. They always have a couple great local beers on tap and their new dessert menu by Chef Luci is just ridiculous. It doesn’t hurt that their location is gorgeous; their large wood fire oven is the center of the show and is surrounded by a long wooden bar that provides a great view of the chefs at work. (elmstreetbakery.com, 716-652-4720)
Lloyd Taco Truck. Buffalo’s food truck scene wouldn’t be what it is now without Pete Cimino and Chef Chris Dorsaneo from Lloyd Taco Truck. It’s not just that they were the first food truck to hit the streets of Buffalo, but they also set the tone for how good food can be coming from a tiny restaurant on wheels. They also single-handedly changed how Western New York thinks about tacos. Recently, they completely overhauled their food sourcing to only meat that doesn’t contain antibiotics or hormones and they work with local farms as often as possible. They’ve been open for over four years, their lines are still the longest in Western New York and they’ve expanded to three trucks, so yeah… they are doing something right. (whereslloyd.com, 716-863-9781)
Marble + Rye. Christian Willmott and Mike Dimmer, owners of The Black Market Food Truck, opened their first brick-n-mortar restaurant in July 2015. The kitchen takes full advantage of their wood fire oven and Mexican style plancha. Their dinner menu is small but features a rotating selection of seasonal produce, freshly made pasta and some of the best burgers you’ll find in town. After one month in business they already have stand out dishes like their pickled onion rings, Macaron ice cream sandwiches (using Butter Block maracons) and wood fire grilled octopus. The bar program features a carefully selected craft beer menu and a growing list of whiskey. You can even become a VIP and store a bottle of whiskey under lock and key in their lockers on site. (http://marbleandrye.net, 716-853-1390)
Ristorante Lombardo. North Buffalo is known for their large concentration of Italian restaurants, but Ristorante Lombardo easily stands out from the rest of the pack. In our opinion, it is one of best restaurants in Western New York because it offers a complete dining package. Their service is excellent and they’ve updated the dining room to have a more contemporary design. Tommy Lombardo’s wine selection is impressive (especially by the glass) and his cocktail’s are well rounded and made with fresh ingredients. Most importantly, Chef Michael Obarka’s food is wonderful. His rustic Italian menu offers dishes that aren’t readily available in the area and his dedication to using quality ingredients and making almost everything in-house is evident. (ristorantelombardo.com, 716-873-4291)
SeaBar. When SeaBar expanded from a small sushi counter to a full kitchen with a dining room, it quickly became one of the best restaurants Downtown. Their sushi bar offers some of the best traditional and non-traditional sushi in the area. Their signature Beef on Weck roll was even showcased at the Super Bowl. Chef/Owner Mike Andrzejewski has created a menu that isn’t always necessarily focused on a specific cuisine but incorporates interesting dishes that are always well-executed. Have a craving for Chicken and Waffles? Foie Gras? Seafood Tacos? Lobster Ramen? They’ve got you covered. (seabarsushi.com, 716-204-5283)
Toutant. When Chef James Roberts left the country club world to open his own place, the restaurant industry collectively lost their sh*t and for good reason. He’s one of the most talented Chef’s in Western New York and the food at Toutant definitely showcases his skills. Don’t get confused, this isn’t a Cajun restaurant, it’s a Southern restaurant. Comfort foods like biscuits, fried chicken, hush puppies, cornbread and jambalaya are executed perfectly in house with top quality ingredients. Combine great food with an excellent whiskey selection, great cocktails and late night bar eats (past midnight) and you’ve got a winning combination (toutantbuffalo.com, 716-342-2901).
Changes to The Ten:
- 9/8/15: Added Marble + Rye, Removed The Black Market Food Truck
- 6/12/15: Added Toutant, Removed Bar Bill Tavern
- 4/2/15: Added Jaguar at the Bistro, Removed Shango
- 9/29/14: Added The Black Sheep, Removed Sun Restaurant
- 9/18/14: Added Buffalo Proper, Removed Tabree