While they might not call it “the mistake on the lake” (that’s Cleveland, where I call home!), Buffalo, New York, doesn’t stand in much higher regard by most people – both American and internationally. Don’t get me wrong: Buffalo has a lot to offer, and Buffalonians are rightfully proud of their city, but – like Cleveland – an industrial city’s reputation can be hard to overcome. Luckily we have people like Anthony Bourdain to visit our cities and show off what’s good.
Anthony Bourdain visited Baltimore to film his “Rust Belt” episode (season 5, episode 13) of No Reservations; this was his only on-screen visit, and the city shared screen time with Baltimore and Detroit. Also important to note about this episode/visit: Tony explored Buffalo with multi-time travel companion Zamir Gotta; he jokingly called taking Zamir to this part of the country in the wintertime “payback for Romania.”
While I don’t normally cover destinations that only have two places to visit, I thought it was worthwhile to write a guide to the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Buffalo since it is an iconic American destination in his own right.
So yeah, there aren’t a lot of restaurants on this list compared to other destinations Tony visited – but they are ones he thought Zamir should try, and we can use that as a guide in our own food travels. If it’s good enough for Zamir, it’s good enough for us!
In this post, I promote travel to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee-ga (Haudenosaunee) and Wenrohronon peoples, among others. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
Tony and Zamir’s first of two stops in Buffalo during their winter visit, Ulrich’s Tavern is the perfect juxtaposition: “cold and harsh outside, warm and hospitable inside,” as Bourdain says in the voiceover.
Inside this cozy and historic spot (wihich dates back to 1868), they tuck into traditional dish as well as a more modern one you’d expect to find in Buffalo: liver-dumpling soup, followed by a plate of hot Buffalo chicken wings. Yes, these did originate in Buffalo, and yes, you can find delicious versions across the city – including at Ulrich’s.
After trying Buffalo’s most famous dish, they seek out another regional specialty at Schwabl’s Restaurant – which is in fact older than Ulrich’s and dates back to 1837!
Here, Tony and Zamir try “beef on weck,” a sandwich found in western New York State. It is made with thin-sliced roast beef on a kaiser roll with kosher salt carraway seeds (known as kimmelweck), with lots of horseradish. The pair wash it down with glasses of “Tom & Jerry,” described by Bourdain as “Buffalonian egg nog.”
(It’s likely that Tom & Jerry was only available because they visited near the holiday season, so this is one you might not find if you visit today unless you’re also in the November/December window of the year.)
Buffalo Food Tours to Try
Since the number of places Anthony Bourdain ate in Buffalo is limited, I thought I might add in a few extra ideas to help you taste all that the city has to offer. Food tours are a great option, and here are a few that look delicious:
Have any other questions about the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Buffalo, what he ate, or what you should eat during your trip? Let me know in the comments below!