At Frankie Mohawk’s Bar and Grill, dedicated oven charmers construct a menu of fresh creations served amid subtle hues and floral arrangements. Guests discuss the merits of pickle spears over slices while awaiting specialty burgers such as the 8-ounce Italian burger with capicola, salami, and provolone cheese ($6.50). The restaurant’s own tomato sauce arrives with many dishes, including the eggplant parmesan ($14.95), and specialty hand-carved meats nestle into fresh-baked bread with a carving-station order ($6.95). Manicotti crepes also sneak up on hunger with hidden reserves of ricotta and parmesan cheese ($13.95). The tortellini contadina with italian sausage and fresh snow peas in a blush plum-tomato sauce ($13.95) provides the necessary energy for analyzing marinara Rorschach tests that mysteriously appear on napkins.
As pedestrians bustle past the eclectic restaurants and theater of the lively Chippewa District, the aroma of sizzling ground beef and freshly baked brioche rolls draws them toward Soho Burger Bar. Executive chef Ray Flor's kitchen is the source of these smells, where chefs whip up a variety of specialty burgers using specialty ground beef from the local Johnny's Meats and custom-made buns from Romeo's Bakery Cafe. They adorn patties of grilled ahi tuna, bison, and turkey with gourmet cheeses, sauces and garnishes, pairing burgers with appetizers of fish tacos or sides of truffle tater tots. Meanwhile, bartenders blend premium liquors into cocktails and decadent spiked milkshakes.
Reporters who lauded the restaurant's burgers in publications such as Buffalo Rising or Buffalo News were equally charmed by the interior decor, citing sultry lighting, an inventive chandelier made of liquor bottles, and walls covered in illuminated retro album covers. Cozy conversation nooks, bistro tables, couches, and translucent tortoiseshell patio chairs scatter the vibrant dining room, upstairs lounge, and outdoor patios of the versatile restaurant, which transforms into a quirky eatery during the day, a lively hot spot at night, and an enchanted yo-yo factory by early dawn.
Buffalo Chophouse serves aged prime steaks in an atmosphere surrounded by a sumptuous turn-of-the century décor. Diners can begin with a dish of steamed middleneck clams ($12.50), simmered in white wine and garnished with parsley, and then move on to a carnivorous main course such as the tender 32-ounce bone-in ribeye ($48) or the steamed Alaskan king crab legs ($46). Regardless of what's featured on the plate, dining experiences are inevitably enhanced by the chophouse's plush wraparound seating, low-key lighting, and stoic, standalone piano that’s just begging for a traditional tickling.
At Laughlin's Hearty Bistro, chefs concoct a menu of rustic, bistro-style fare that spotlights quality cuts of beef, fresh fish, and meaty sandwiches paired with hand-cut fries. Steak- and seafood-laden plates make their way to the cozy dining room, where warm lamplight illuminates dark-wood tables and exposed-brick walls. A mezzanine populated with plush, black leather easy chairs overlooks a copper-topped bar. Here, friendly bartenders and repurposed paint shakers mix a mean martini, and the bar's glassware also brims with wine and beer.
The Snack Shack satisfies sweet and salty cravings with an arsenal of freshly crafted pick-me-ups. Cookies, muffins, and cupcakes headline the shop's sizable snack list, luring lips and taste buds of all types with a cornucopia of flavors that includes oatmeal raisin, banana nut, and chunky chocolate. For on-the-go noshing, chicken wings, hamburgers, and burritos volunteer to cannonball into empty tummies, and a selection of drinks washes back bites and ensures nearby fountains won't be sucked dry by thirsty snackers. Local corporations can also jump in on the munching, as The Snack Shack provides delivery programs to downtown Buffalo corporations.
There are many places to sit at Kaydara—at the circular bar or near the windows that overlook Main Street. In the open kitchen, chefs prepare Southeast Asian noodle dishes in bowls of broth and simmering stir fries. Vietnamese pho is served hot enough to cook thin slices of raw beef, and udon and crispy egg noodles arrive mixed with your choice of meat. Tofu is typically an option, too, as the menu makes many efforts to accommodate vegans and vegetarians. Daily features have included vegan pho, and there's always a vegetable side of the day.
Aside from noodles, Kaydara serves a variety of small and large plates. Potstickers stuffed with potatoes, goat cheese, and Chinese vinegar can preface entrees of beef tenderloin with sweet chili butter, or spicy black-bean pork riblets. To balance out the piquant flavors, try sipping on a house-made pear and lychee soda or licking one of the wall's more calming paintings by local artists, each one available for sale.