The Taste of Buffalo presented by Tops today announced that several local restaurants were named award winners in a variety of categories at the 35th annual festival. The judging took place Saturday morning, July 7th, by a panel of representatives from the local media/well known writers–including myself, along with members of Western New York’s political and business sectors.
This year, festival organizers introduced several new awards including The Buffalo News Gusto Critic’s Choice Award, which went to SEAR (Buffalo) for their Guajillo Roasted Hog Taco and the Yelp’s Choice Award, which Fat Bob’s Smokehouse (Buffalo) earned for their Smoked Watermelon.
In addition, Independent Health Foundation added a “Healthy Options Best Healthy Dessert” Award, which went to Sweet Melody’s (East Amherst) for their Red, White & Blue Sundae. Additional 2018 Taste of Buffalo award winners include:
Chair’s Choice: Carmine’s (East Amherst), Crab Cake Stuffed Shrimp
Children’s Choice: Paula’s Donuts (Tonawanda), Donut Holes
Pat Sardina Memorial Award for Best Comfort Food: Dirty Bird Chicken N’ Waffles (Niagara Falls), Chicken N’ Waffle on a Stick
Lou Billittier Memorial “Rookie of the Year” Award: Ru’s Pierogi (Buffalo), Pierogi
Veteran Restaurant Award: India Gate (Buffalo), Chicken Butter Tikka Masala
Best of Buffalo Award: Rolling Cannoli (Buffalo), Sponge Candy Caramel Cannoli
Best Overall Item: Stack Burger (West Seneca), Demon Burger
Best Meat Item: Stack Burger (West Seneca), Demon Burger
Best Seafood Item: Black & Blue Steak and Crab (Amherst), Tuna Tartar
Best Dessert: Taste of Siam (Buffalo), Fried Ice Cream with Sweet Berries
Best Sandwich: Mineo & Sapio Street Eats (Buffalo) – Chorizo Po’Boy
Independent Health Foundation’s Healthy Options First Place: Lloyd Taco Truck (Buffalo), Black Bean Tacos
Independent Health Foundation’s Healthy Options Second Place: Osteria 166 (Buffalo), Arugula Salad
Independent Health Foundation’s Healthy Options Third Place: Bravo! Cucina Italiana (Cheektowaga), Chilled Grilled Shrimp & Couscous
Best Red Wine: Spring Lake Winery (Lockport), Cabernet
Best White Wine: Victorianbourg Wine Estate (Wilson), Pechette, Blend
This year, the Taste inducted Louie’s Hot Dogs, Chrusciki Bakery, Caribbean Experience, and Merritt Estate Winery into the inaugural class of the Taste of Buffalo Silver Fork Club. The club was introduced as a way to honor restaurants and wineries that have been involved in the Taste for 25 years or more.
My personal picks included high scores for The Caribbean Experience, and their stellar Jerk chicken, along with their Curry chicken and rice. The chicken was fall off the bone delicious. So tender and juicy, with a hint of the cherry wood used to smoke it. I was also a huge fan (although this dish is by no means healthy) of the food truck Dirty Bird. Their Chicken and Waffle on a stick, and the classic Dirty Bird chicken and waffles were creative, salty, and packed with flavor.
It was a great day of judging, and I feel honored to continually be part of this amazing experience. I look forward to next year. Congrats to all the winners!