by Steve Ambrose
The first installment of the Buffalo Dinner Club “Foodventures” is a journey to find the best sandwiches in Western New York. With all of the possible foods out there to start our series with, why start with something as simple as a sandwich?
That’s just it! It is simple, yet when you check these sandwiches out, you see Buffalo’s culinary genius at work.
These owners and chefs took the simplicity of the sandwich, added their own creative flare, and produced uniquely delicious masterpieces. Ingredient quality is always at the top of the list when it comes to building a perfect sandwich and as soon as you put these bad boys to your lips you know you’re eating the finest!
The following picks are in no particular order because they are all so uniquely perfect that there is no accurate way to rank them. Now sit back, and let’s explore what’s between the buns of the top 5 works of sandwich art!
Café 59 – Chicken finger sub
Sticking with the theme of simplicity, we have a true Buffalo staple in the chicken finger sub from Café 59. This Allen Street restaurant is a hidden gem to most, and one you will definitely want to check out for yourself! Whether you are looking for an upbeat lunch spot or an eclectic dinner, this place is serving up some of Buffalo’s best drinks and eats!
The chicken finger sub is considered by many to be the best in Buffalo, and I agree completely. I am lucky to have friends that work here and had my own special sauce created which makes this sub even more unique and delicious to me! I wish I could tell you the flavor so your taste buds could get in on the juicy action, but it’s a trade secret (Ask for the special Hot BBQ).
Café 59 uses fresh chicken tenders, crumbly blue cheese dressing, and a fresh roll that makes this chicken finger sub shine above the competition. Café 59 is also the perfect spot for vegan diners so all diets and food preferences are catered to here! Did I mention that they have Mario Kart at the bar???
Lait Cru Brasserie – Nic Mac
Forget the Big Mac and get down to Lait Cru Brasserie for the Nic Mac!
This French inspired restaurant focuses on locally sourced ingredients, familiarity, and simplicity. Nestled in the gorgeous Horsefeathers Building on Connecticut Ave on the city’s West Side, Lait Cru is a true hidden gem. This is the site of the old Martin Cooks who relocated and rebranded to Niagara St. as Roost.
Sharing the space of Lait Cru is Nickel City Cheese and Mercantile, a full service, European inspired, neighborhood cheese and specialty food store. Besides the space being beautiful, the food that comes out of Jill Gedra’s kitchen is some of the best looking that I have had the pleasure of seeing and eating. The Gedra family has a well-documented culinary history in Buffalo, her brother Steven and sister-in-law Ellen own The Black Sheep right across the street.
You can just feel how much care and passion is put into their food and the Nic Mac is a perfect example of Lait Cru’s mission statement, simplicity and familiarity with a focus on high quality ingredients. The Nic Mac has House Roast Beef, American Cheese, Special Sauce, Sesame Seeds, Onion, Pickle, on a Toasted Roll. Simple, yet so scrumptious. I get it every time I am there, and let’s just say it’s at least once a week!
Griffon Gastropub – Chicken and Waffle Sandwich
Chicken and waffles is synonymous with soul food and the Chicken and Waffle Sandwich from the Griffon Gastropub comforts my soul like not many other sandwiches can.
The term Gastropub refers to a restaurant that serves both high-end beer and food and Griffon Gastropub fits this definition to a T. With 3 locations, The Griffon Gastropub has the beer selection and food to satisfy every hungry craft beer enthusiast.
From the moment this sandwich is brought out, all the people around you will stare with envy and lust. This monster of a sandwich is absolutely glorious and it is one of my most liked food pictures on Instagram.
Sitting between a freshly made chive waffle is a Southern spiced, buttermilk battered, panko fried, chicken breast. It is topped with jalapeno coleslaw, Applewood smoked bacon, sliced Wisconsin cheddar, and drizzled with spicy maple mayonnaise. As I was typing these ingredients my stomach gurgled with delicious memories and I am suddenly craving this sandwich and a nice cold draught beer. If you like beer and great food, get to the Griffon Gastropub nearest you!
Butera’s Craft Beer & Craft Pizzas – BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf Sandwich
Hamburg is quickly becoming a foodie destination, and I am a proud Hamburger. This next delicious sandwich comes from Butera’s Craft Beer & Craft Pizzas, right in the heart of Hamburg. The BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf Sandwich is as good as it sounded as you just read it.
Is it a Cheeseburger sub? Is it a meatloaf sandwich? I honestly don’t care. All I know is that it was phenomenal. Smoked with love for 3 hours in house, this sandwich is topped with pepper jack cheese, house made Saranac Hoppy Hour Hero cajun mayo, coleslaw, on top of a homemade roll.
From the first bite until the last, I tasted the perfect combination of sweet, tangy, spicy, cheesy, and meaty goodness. It was served with sweet potato wedges which were such an amazing addition to this already filling sandwich.
Owner Jimmy Butera is a master at pairing beers with his delicious food and he suggested I pair this with a nice cold Saranac Hoppy Hour Mosaic IPA, making it the perfect Hump Day lunch. Butera’s is well-known for their brick oven pizzas and great variety of chicken wings, so put it on your list of places to bring the family!
JP Fitzgerald’s – Monster McCree
I left this monster for last because well, it’s called the Monster McCree and it brought me down the road to another Hamburg hotspot, JP Fitzgerald’s.
Restaurant, Irish Pub, and Banquet Facility all in one. JP’s boasts one of the most solid menus filled with Buffalo favorites like chicken wings, beef on weck, and Rueben, JP Fitzgerald’s is one of my go-tos when showing out-of-towners the staples that we have become known for.
Bob Brunner, owner of JP Fitzgerald’s is also one of the reasons I chose to feature this sandwich. He exemplifies the care and hospitality of Western New York dining establishments by touching every table and making sure everything is up to his standards. He actually sat down with me for lunch and we talked about the sandwich, his inspiration for food, and his love of serving others.
The Monster McCree was a full pound of corned beef and I definitely felt the love. Topped with Russian dressing and Swiss cheese and sitting on a freshly baked rye roll, this puppy is a mouthful. Speaking of puppies, it is topped with corned beef hush puppies! As if the full pound of meat wasn’t enough! Whether you’re stopping in for a beer to watch the game or bringing the family for a night of casual dining fun, JP FItgerald’s has your pallet covered!
Is your mouth watering yet?
I hope you enjoyed eating vicariously with me on my first of many Buffalo Dinner Club Foodventures as much as I enjoyed eating the sandwiches above. If you have any sandwiches you think I should try, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org! Stay tuned for more culinary journeys!