Whether you are creeping around Spot coffee on your iPad setting your fantasy hockey lineup or lurking inside Urban pretending to be interested in a $150 Paul Frank button down, eventually your Elmwood strip hijinks will work up a Michael Moore size appetite for local grub.

There are no shockers on this list. Not one flash in the pan pseudo hipster hangout with bubble tea and fake exploding volcano’s. These establishments have stood the test of time and will get you exactly what you want; a delightful meal at a reliably thrifty Buffalo price.

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    A major player in Elmwood culinary majesty, Coles is just plain old solid. I have actually attempted to order something off of their menu that I purposely wouldn’t like just to test if their cooks were human, but to no avail. I assume that behind the swinging kitchen door a pride of Centaurs with chef hats prepare their Buttermilk Fried Calamari with hot & sweet mustard seed sauce, while a wizard floating on a rainbow wearing a Sabres jersey is slowly cooking the beef for their Pot Roast Burger. I am a self-diagnosed beer snob as well and their selection is as good as any you will find anywhere. [Coles Website]

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    Blue Monk

    The first two restaurants have been rocking the strip hard together for over a half century but Blue Monk immediately busted onto the scene with veteran swagger and effortless perfection. There is a very good reason why Blue Monk was an instant hit. The owners of Coles decided if no one else was going to copy their recipe for success they would do it themselves. Quickly turning the dark sweaty armpit of the city (Merlin’s) into a cozy upscale pub/restaurant seemed almost too obvious, but man it worked. If for some reason the obscure micro-brew you were craving wasn’t in the Coles lineup you will undoubtedly find it here. Though the prices are closer to that you would find in a major city, it is still very affordable comparatively. Do yourself a favor and try the Duck Frites with House Sauces; it is the closest you will ever come to eating a fried potato that fell from the heavens. Every one of the complimentary dipping sauces I could enjoy as a shot. Did you say a duck Reuben? No, I did. Order it and don’t share it with anyone…it’s ducking great. [Blue Monk Website]

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    This is like recommending the Beatles to someone who is looking for something new and different to listen to, but this isn’t a new and different restaurant recommendation article. New and different usually translates to over packed, overpriced and understaffed. Pano’s is just one of those restaurants that started off mediocre and eventually turned its menu into more than you could have ever expected. Name another restaurant that you can order a respectable glass of Riesling then decide you want pancakes and not feel like an embarrassing contradiction. If you don’t feel like dealing with the crowds during peak hours don’t be afraid to get an order to go. The staff is courteous, helpful and always friendly. A hidden gem I will reveal about Pano’s is that they have the greatest Chicken Parm I have ever had, and I have had it from every major upscale Italian joint in the area. Whether you order the Lobster Tail and Filet or a Grilled Cheese on sourdough you will get high quality food that never breaks the bank. [Pano's Website]

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    People seem to think that Kuni packed up shop in a Sake induced rage and hopped on the first jumbo jet out of NY. In reality Kuni packed up shop in sound mind and hopped on the first taxi down Elmwood avenue, turned right on Lexington and set up shop in a more quaint setting. The thing about sushi is the there is such a gigantic disparity between “Meh” average sushi and the high quality artistically clean and refreshing brand of sushi that Kuni has perfected. If you want to eat dinner and then go out for some drinks Kuni’s is the perfect choice. Toss back some Shrimp Tempura rolls and request a Sochu (Japanese Vodka) specialty cocktail and you will be ready to wang chung without the post-Thanksgiving meal nap time food coma. The Sake selection is nothing to shake a stick at either, but if you DO shake a stick at them beware; Kuni isn’t afraid to round house kick you in the neck. [Kuni's Website]