Back in 2015, not many would have ever expected to see an upstate New York city on National Geographic’s list of the Top 5 Best Food Cities in the World. With such cutthroat competition from every city on the planet, it says a lot that Buffalo, New York, gained the top third spot on the list with an honorable mention for its buffalo wings, its iconic dish. While buffalo wings are one reason to love Buffalo, they’re not the only thing that makes this Great Lake city one of the world’s top foodie-lovin’ spots.
To this day, the city continues to serve eclectic, inspired dishes that feature both international influences and a good mix of all-American flavors, i.e. its buffalo wings. With traditional restaurant staples mixed with new and modern dining establishments, there’s something for everyone in Buffalo. And for foodies, it truly is just an oasis waiting to be ordered from – so be sure to visit with an empty stomach and an open mind.
How Buffalo Became Such A Food City Hub
While Buffalo is known for its great mix of foods (i.e. one can typically order poutine and Chinese food within walking distance, satisfying a myriad of cravings at once), it’s also known for its own unique cuisine. Many people who visit Buffalo are either enticed or overwhelmed by the sheer number of authentic ‘Buffalo’ foods they can try, many of which either can’t be found – or aren’t traditional – anywhere else in New York, let alone in the country.
For Buffalo locals, these foods have become a way of life which is probably what shot the city to the top of Nat Geo’s best food cities list. When it comes down to it, it’s not all that surprising that Buffalo is known for being home to one of the most historic, all-American creations in history – the buffalo wing. However, this also takes away from all the other unique, original foods that Buffalo is also known for. For example, one might run into beef on weck or spaghetti parm, or might not even know that Buffalo has its own Buffalo-style pizza that is completely different from that of New York City. Don’t even get us started on its craft beer scene – that’s an entirely different article. Those curious enough to whet their whistles can indulge in some feature Buffalo favorites, listed below.
Beef On Weck
It might look like a classic roast beef sandwich but it is far from it. In Buffalo, beef on weck is the only roast beef sandwich that matters, and it’s one that’s entirely specific to this region alone. Tender, medium (usually) roast beef is sliced and laid atop a caraway seed (kimmelweck) and salt roll, as is traditional. The sandwich itself is rumored to be at least a century old, but its exact history has yet to be confirmed.
- Where to Try: Charlie the Butcher, Schwabl’s, Bar-Bill Tavern
Classic Buffalo Wings
Obviously, no trip to Buffalo is complete without trying the food that shares the city’s namesake. While there’s an entire history behind this bar food (which one can read at the famed Anchor Bar), there are many places within the city to have some great wings. While Buffalo sauce is a classic option, it’s not unusual to find an entire menu page dedicated to sauces and rubs for these bad boys.
- Where to Try: Anchor Bar, Duff’s Famous Wings, Gabriel’s Gate, Nine-Eleven Tavern
Contrary to popular belief, New York City is not the only place in New York that has its own traditional pizza style. Just like Chicago has deep-dish, Buffalo also has its own version of the comfort food. Known as ‘cup-and-char’ pepperoni due to the way it bows in and gets slightly crispy on the outside, this meaty topping is laid out atop mozzarella cheese, which is layered on top of a sweet tomato sauce, all cooked atop thick, puffed-up dough. The end result is satisfying, filling, indulgent, and altogether ready to make a foodie feel guilty for wanting to finish the entire pie.
- Where to Try: La Nova, Bocce Club Pizza, Bob and John’s La Hacienda, Imperial Pizza
For a sweet treat following all of those savory foods, look no further than Buffalo’s sponge candy. This can be eaten on its own as a snack but it also makes for the perfect after-dinner dessert. In one sweet bite, foodies will taste toffee and chocolate all with a light, airy, and crunchy texture. It’s the stuff of dreams and is also practically impossible to only eat one, so be sure to pick up a bag of these!
- Where to Try: Fowler’s, Watson’s, Parkside Candies, Mike’s Candies
No matter which of these Buffalo foods are on a traveler’s list, they’ll be pleasantly surprised by all this great New York city has to offer.
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