In a year that was split between Pittsburgh and Buffalo, The Best of 2014 is kind of like a best of the rust belt. One thing is for sure, though: these two places have a whole lot of delicious food to offer. Rules for entry are reverting back to 2012, meaning if you want the best I have eaten outside of the two places I called my home this year, you’ll have to do so in the Travel section. There’s a lot there to enjoy. Once again, without further ado, here is The Best of 2014:
From the people that brought you Bar Bill in East Aurora, comes 189 Public House literally right next door (with the address of 189 Main Street). This Southern-influenced jazzy gastropub is a far cry from its neighbor, which might be ill-advised considering the perpetually long lines for tables at Bar Bill. On the other hand, it’s perfectly positioned to pick off those who don’t want to wait so long and want something a little bit different.
Curly’s in Lackawanna is a restaurant and a banquet center. It’s also American and Caribbean. Oh, and they have grill food. It’s kind of confusing, but somehow it works. The tables have fancy tablecloths and likely because of this we got some delicious bread to start off our meal. I flipped through the pages from the grill food to the fancier banquet food and because of some things I heard, decided to go with the grill.
Throughout my time in Western New York, I saw a great many signs for “Chicken BBQ.” They would often appear on weekends as fundraisers for churches and the like. Eventually I learned they were using Chiavetta’s Marinade and while the chicken itself was ordinary, I found the existence and cultural phenomenon of Chiavetta’s strange enough to turn Chiavetta’s Chicken into a strange meat.
EDIT: This Bill Gray’s is closed, but others live on to serve you garbage.
While I was lucky enough to get out to Rochester to get a Garbage Plate from the source, my roommate was not so lucky. To make up for it, we went on a quest for a plate in Buffalo. This first took us to University Hots, which a friend of mine lauded but appeared to have relocated or changed names or something confusing like that. So, since this was late-afternoon and we weren’t in the typical drunken state of mind it takes to eat a Garbage Plate, we drove over to Bill Gray’s.
Chicken Wings (or Buffalo Wings to everyone else) can be found pretty much anywhere in Buffalo. And while pizza places around the country have tried to introduce wings as a side to pizza over the last few years, this is nothing new to La Nova Pizza. With a location in the city and another in Williamsville, we made our way to Williamsville to get all of their goods.
As a fan of Mexican food, I often find myself fighting against Mexican food pretenders. Yet, when a restaurant embraces its non-authenticity I am all for it as long as it’s good. Cantina Loco in Allentown is one of those places that isn’t feigning authenticity, but it has apparently been crazy popular since opening back in 2011 and I hoped that would mean good things for the food.
After the disappointment of Theodore’s Red Hots, I thought I would see if Ted’s Hot Dogs, the one that started up in 1927, was any better. After all, they had plenty of time to perfect the recipe. This time, though, I went with a meal deal because I had a coupon and because two chili cheese dogs in one night obviously isn’t enough for me. So, along with the chili cheese dog I ordered fries and a drink.
In the land of Buffalo, there was a great schism. It happened a few years ago when Ted’s Hot Dogs, the local hot dog goliath, decided it didn’t want the original Ted’s grandson involved anymore and did away with him. Out of spite, he opened Theodore’s Red Hots and I decided I needed a bit of a taste test. I started out at Theodore’s, ordering their chili cheese dog.
There’s are few things more American than good BBQ, and when I came back from a night in Canada to figuratively kiss the ground of the land of the free, the first thing I did was head to Smoke on the Water in Tonawanda. Situated on Ellicott Creek by the Erie Canal, the place looks more like a bar than BBQ, but the menu tells a different story. Filled with things you would expect from a BBQ joint, plus some things you wouldn’t.