Buffalo, New York is nestled on the shores of Lake Erie midway between Jamestown and Niagara Falls. The state’s second largest metropolitan area (after New York City) is home to hearty folks who endure notoriously bad weather, yearn for a championship from the NFL’s Bills and NHL’s Sabres, and know how to eat! Locals take pride in homegrown, original foods, some of which—like wings(not Buffalo wings, not chicken wings, just wings)—have become synonymous with the area. For 40 years, I lived a few miles south of Buffalo. Now that I’m living in South Carolina I don’t miss the winters a bit, but I do miss feasting on Buffalo food traditions. So I make an annual pilgrimage north to savor favorites at local restaurants and tote home a carload of staples. Here’s a list of the foods that I think sets Western New York apart. Shuffle off to Buffalo, seek, sample, savor and let the feast begin!
If you ask ten New Yorkers where to find the best New York-style pizza, you’re likely to get ten different answers. In the city that boasts the first pizzeria in America (that’s Lombardi’s, for the uninitiated) pizza isn’t a food: It’s a genre, a dietary staple, and a hot button question. Some call the buzzy DiFara’s the last word in pies, others swear by L&B Spumoni Gardens for its slices. Still others come to fisticuffs over the superiority of Joe & Pat’s over John’s of Bleeker Street.
The mention of Lubbock usually raises questions on where the city is located; even the fact that it is in the state of Texas typically garners curious looks. It may be overshadowed by many of the bigger, more popular cities in the nation’s second-largest state, but it’s a foodie travel destination worth notice. This southwestern gem has a surprisingly long history of agriculture as well as food and wine to sample.
Combine engaging travel with hearty, satisfying comfort food at a chuck wagon cook-off—it’s a tasty way to experience one culinary element of the iconic American West’s cowboy/cattleman culture. Dozens of chuck wagon cooking competitions, or cook-offs, take place every year; most occur in western states though they can be found throughout the U.S. According to native Texan and amateur historian Roger Edison, the chuck wagon was invented in 1866 by Texan Charles Goodnight, a rancher trying to find a way to keep his cowboys well-fed during cattle drives that sometimes lasted several months. Goodnight rigged a sturdy army surplus wagon with a large upright wooden pantry box and a hinged door with hinged legs that could be laid flat to serve as a food preparation table. It proved to be an effective way to hold and transport barrels of bulk foodstuffs and other supplies.
The best Southern food isn’t always where you’d expect. While the region certainly does have its award-winning restaurants, some of the best dishes come from humble roadside eateries and even inside gas stations. While not entirely a Southern phenomenon, we’ve certainly perfected the gas station eats. And each state offers something different.
Don’t even try to order pancakes at Two Rivers Lunch in Allagash, Maine. The cooks won’t let you. They will, however, be more than happy to take an order for pancake—singular—at any point during their normal hours of 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. It makes perfect sense once you realize those fluffy, homemade pancakes are the size of a dinner plate and commonly served “lumberjack style” with baked beans, bacon and fried potatoes.