Buffalo, New York is quickly becoming a culinary destination.
On a recent September evening in New York City’s West Village, Buffalo chef Adam Goetz prepared a meal for a packed James Beard House. Each dish, composed of ingredients strictly grown and raised in Western New York, celebrated the culinary diversity that Buffalo is not yet known for—but should be. As a guest chef for their ongoing dining series, he wanted to make a concentrated effort to avoid all references to Buffalo chicken wings and beef on weck sandwiches, to highlight the farm-to-table movement that is taking hold in his city.
Goetz, who previously worked as Chef Saucier as the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan, was quick to point out that Buffalo is set for a comeback. The city experienced a steady exodus over the past half-century resulting in a stall in cultural growth. But now, younger generations are moving back as the city’s art, culture and food scenes heat up.
“Twenty years ago, I had to leave Buffalo because there weren’t enough restaurants for me to be able to learn my craft,” Goetz said while sipping on a glass of Pinot Noir. “Now, my god, there’s amazing restaurants and a lot of them are native Western New Yorkers who left and have come back.”
Goetz and his wife Jennifer, opened Craving restaurant in North Buffalo nearly three years ago with one goal, to serve up only the dishes that people “crave.” With a rotating menu of items including roasted bone marrow with focaccia, stuffed dates with homemade chorizo and wrapped in bacon, and lobster poutine, Goetz is delivering the mouthwatering dishes you’d have a difficult time finding anywhere else.
When Goetz has some time off he makes an effort to check out the varied culinary hot-spots around the city. Here’s where he says are his go-to culinary destinations in the Queen City.
“There’s a huge contingent of Greek diners in Buffalo and I love it. I love everything about it. A spinach and feta omelette to me is the best thing in the world. I’d say Mythos and Kostas. I think feta is feta, spinach is spinach, and an omelette’s an omelette, but crunchy hash browns aren’t something that you can get everywhere and these places you can. They’re the best.”
“Most of the new restaurants in Buffalo with chefs that are cooking things from scratch that are doing things the right way are opening for brunch. In my restaurant, were making our own brioche for our French toast. Another restaurant, Toutant, is making enormous cinnamon biscuits from scratch. The Black Sheep corns their own beef and make hash. It’s not just something that’s an afterthought anymore, it’s something that people are really concentrating on. If it’s a restaurant that people are talking about for dinner, it’s also a restaurant that people should be taking a look at the menu for brunch.”
“Lunch for me is tough since I’m always working and we’re always picking at stuff. But I can tell you that Marco’s on Hertel Avenue has great sandwiches, you can’t beat them. I like to order the Forget About It, but I love calling to order the Jimmy Whispers because I try and give them my best Joe Pesci impression. I don’t know if they appreciate it or not, but I do. And Joe’s Deli on Hertel and Colvin has sandwiches that are made with care; always great and delicious.”
“I’ll tell ya, I love going to The Black Sheep for dinner because they always throw me something unexpected; very nose-to-tail, very farm-to-table. The other one would be Toutant; I love their friend chicken. I love the jambalaya. I love the idea of someone opening up a restaurant that is southern fare, but not that he’s making up. It’s his heritage, it’s where he’s from.”
“You can get a great cocktail at Buffalo Proper. When I go there I always know that I’m going to get a good drink. Vera Pizzeria, I know that I’m always going to get a great drink there. And Lombardo’s is a great old Italian place on Hertel Avenue. The gentleman who works the bar there—he’s been there for years—told me a couple of weeks ago that people are ordering the cocktails he started out making. Manhattan’s, Tom Collins, etc. This guy is going to make you a better drink than any young guy with a beard, in a vest.”