Local food finds under $10

By Megan Rooney and Becca Brandel

Features Contributors

Continuing its dedication to finding delicious local eats on a student budget, The Griffin sent two features reporters on the prowl this week. Each was challenged to find a great restaurant serving great food at a great price. After travelling and searching, the writers came across two little gems, each situated not far from Canisius and serving food that won’t break a student’s budget.

Ever have a bad day and wish you could flash back to easier times? Well, that may be impossible, but you can flash back to the 1950s at Buffalo’s own Lake Effect Diner in University Heights.

Lake Effect Diner is located just down Main Street by the South Campus of the University at Buffalo and is a throwback, dining car-style diner complete with colorfully cushioned booths, a long counter, and plenty of chrome. The atmosphere has a perfect retro vibe for interested students, plus a lovely view of Main Street from certain parts of the store. Not only is Lake Effect Diner close for the students of Canisius College, but it is inexpensive as well.

From the minute one walks into Lake Effect Diner, they feel as if they entered a time machine. Lake Effect Diner is decorated with neon lights and a clean aesthetic, perfectly reflecting the decade it portrays. One can pick from booth seating or bar seating, each providing a delightful dining experience. The booths are decorated with neon green and pink, with mirrors on both sides of the restaurant. It is an open environment, basically one large open space with booths on one side and the kitchen and counter on the other. From the outside, it looks like a metal bus with large windows and a commanding sign.

The majority of meals at Lake Effect Diner are ten dollars or less, perfect for a college student on a budget. They offer sandwiches, wraps, and salads, as well as all-day breakfast.

One of their most popular menu items is potato pancakes, perfect for any meal of the day. They are essentially giant hash browns cooked until golden brown, similar to a pancake.  They are the perfect combination of salty and sweet that any person would appreciate.

Another popular option is the large selection of milkshakes, with twenty one different flavors, including banana split, Oreo, and chocolate raspberry. On Tuesdays, the diner offers a special where one can get two for the price of one, receiving two milkshakes for $5.50.

Lake Effect also has many vegan options, including vegan “eggs benedict” with tofu and veggie bacon. This is perfect if someone is looking for something like Amy’s Place but desires a change of environment.

All around, Lake Effect Diner is a welcoming and fun place for any meal, any time of the day. It offers a time-warped experience right in our own hometown, complete with friendly service at a low price.

Nestled across from the now-boarded up Don Tequila, a hidden gem of Allentown, Cafe 59 sits prominently on the corner of Allen and Franklin Streets. A seven-minute drive away from Canisius College, with a plethora of parking available in the surrounding area, guests are greeted by a large bar with artistic handmade art on the walls, plants, and a large wrap-around bar.

Seating options encircle the bar, overlook the street, and wait behind the bar with more traditional, restaurant-style seats and tables. It is easy for customers to have a bar experience and watch the game or some similar program on T.V.  I received my menu from a friendly employee behind the bar and, to my surprise, found that I had been disillusioned by its name – Cafe 59 serves much more than just coffee and espresso.

The shop’s fare includes cocktails, beers, appetizers and starters, wraps, sandwiches, salads, and entrees. At the bottom of each menu page is a statement reading, ““Our meats are roasted in house, our dressings and sauces are scratch-made… Simple. Real. Food.” With this message, each patron can rest assured that their meal is made right inside Cafe 59 by the hardworking and talented hands of the staff.

In a seat overlooking the action and bustle of Allentown, I enjoyed a chicken finger wrap that came for $9.95 with a generous amount of potato chips and a dill pickle. Most entrees, sandwiches, wraps, and subs at Cafe 59 are under $10.00, even a full-sized chicken finger sub or a soup-and-sandwich combo. More than a few vegetarian options are also available. With a perfect amount of medium sauce, tomatoes, lettuce, and onions, I enjoyed the wrap as popular rap hits played softly throughout the restaurant.

The cafe offers a friendly atmosphere, as patrons who were clearly regulars hung around the bar speaking with the bartenders and others did homework in the back restaurant area. Many of them seemed very at-home and added to the atmosphere of the place.

The service was phenomenal and the overall quaint venue on a street so rich with culture allowed for a lovely lunch the perfect distance off of campus. The prices were perfect for a student hungering for a meal that can’’t be found in the Dining Hall. I savored each bite as I watched strangers pass by, some of them meeting my glace with a smile.

Cafe 59 offers convenient hours. The restaurant’s great food can be enjoyed Monday through Thursday, as well as Saturday, from 11:00a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Friday from 11:00a.m. to midnight, and Sunday from 11:00a.m. – 6:00p.m.

The restaurant offers an alternate and quaint environment in an area already frequented by Canisius students. It is a small place with a warm vibe, offering great and friendly service on a student-level budget.

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