By Chris Hooker

Chances are when you think of the cuisine in the region of Buffalo, two words pop into your mind: chicken wings. With blue cheese and celery on the side, the dish is indisputably the city’s signature meal since being invented at the legendary Anchor Bar, but perfected and honed at restaurants like Duff’s and The Bar-Bill Tavern. However, if one were to ask a local with an appetite about their favorite food and drink options in the region, don’t be surprised if wings aren’t at the top of the list. To outsiders, Buffalo may be wings, wings, wings, but to regulars, that doesn’t even scratch the surface.

(716) Food & Sport

The headlining restaurant in the heart of Canalside, (716) Food & Sport is the fan’s dream spot. Featuring an overwhelming 38 foot television — listed as one of the biggest indoor TVs in North America — as well as a personal screen at every booth, there is no better place to watch a game, grab a bite and have a few beers than at (716). The menu features all your typical bar fare but one thing you won’t find in many places outside of WNY is the beef on weck: a roast beef sandwich with au jus and horseradish on a salty kummelweck bun. This is a mainstay in the city that goes great with fries, chips, or, of course, wings. Good luck finding a table during March Madness.

Allen Street Poutine Company

Given their proximity, it’s no surprise that specialty recipes from Canada travel across the border to make landfall in Buffalo. Poutine, a popular dish from Quebec that consists of French fries topped with gravy and cheese curds, has recently exploded in the Niagara region thanks in part to Allen Street Poutine Company. Allen Street Poutine has the look and feel of a classic burger joint — even the menu shares some similarities with signature burgers and extravagant “Freak Shakes.” But the real winner on the menu is the titular item that can be served traditionally, or topped with meats like pulled pork and chicken quesadilla.

Ellicottville Brewing Company

The brewery may be located about an hour south of Buffalo in beautiful Holiday Valley (also home to the 290-acre ski mountain), but EBC’s beer services every bar in the Niagara region and beyond. The area is home to a variety of breweries, but EBC is in a class of their own. EBC Blueberry, made all year round, is bursting with flavor and is one of their best sellers. The seasonal batches are well worth a round or two — try the Ski Bum for a hoppy winter ale, Black Daze for a dark New England IPA, or the Hot Chocolate Stout which contains hints of ghost pepper for something unique.

Big Ditch Brewing Company

Located in downtown Buffalo, Big Ditch is so much more than just a standard brew pub. Yes, they along with Ellicottville feature some of the best craft beer in the city (try the Hayburner, which has cemented its status as one of the top IPAs in WNY). The two-level restaurant, complete with private event spaces like the Beer Hall and Brewer’s Lounge, also serves some of the best pierogi in the region. Buffalo’s Polish roots ensure entrees from Eastern Europe are aplenty, and you can’t go wrong with Big Ditch’s offerings.

Chef’s

Having been in business since 1923, Chef’s is one of Buffalo’s oldest Italian restaurants — and there’s a reason it’s still around after all these years. Stare at the walls lined with photos of famous faces — primarily current and former NFL players — as you enjoy their most recognizable dish: the spaghetti parm. The huge plate of pasta, baked with melted cheese on top and doused in their signature sauce, has become their best-known entree. Chef’s also serves all your traditional Italian food with a delicious rotation of daily specials. Please don’t forget to save room for the cannolis — a desert worthy of its “chef’s choice” distinction. This is the Italian place to visit when venturing into the city.

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