Amy’s Place has been a mainstay on Main Street across from the University at Buffalo’s South Campus since the early 1980s. It’s within walking distance to my house, yet I don’t get there as much as I would like, so I was overjoyed when a couple of friends were in town recently. Out-of-town friends mean Amy’s Place; two visits in three days gave us an opportunity to sample from the breakfast and lunch/dinner portions of the menu.
Settling in at Amy’s Place can be a bit tricky. There are booths down one side, a counter with stools on the other, and a few booths and tables tightly tucked between. With an air traffic-controller-like approach, the staff manages those waiting at the counter with those in line and any additional people outside. (There is very little space to wait, and the crowd lines up on the weekends.) It’s a wonder to watch.
Paper place-mat artwork lines two of the walls, with large chalkboards showing the daily specials on the other.
Some of the servers have been there for years, and even if it’s your first visit, they make you feel like regulars. Your mismatched, eclectic coffee cup ($1.75) never gets too low, and if you order the freshly brewed iced tea ($2), you get a whole pitcher for the table.
Amy’s prides itself on being a Lebanese and American restaurant. The menu highlights this, along with many vegetarian and vegan options.
There were a few different orders of pancakes, and all came out light and fluffy. You can order the short stack ($4.50) or full ($5.50) and add extras such as chocolate chips, fresh fruit or nuts for an additional charge. Bacon was ordered crispy and served accordingly.
My friend ordered the chicken kabob breakfast ($8.50). Over-easy eggs were presented with the whites solid and sunny yolks runny. The marinated chicken strips were charbroiled and still plenty moist.
I ordered the 2-2-2 ($6.99), opting for French toast instead of pancakes. The egg/milk batter had a hint of cinnamon and gave the bread just the right amount of coating without being soggy in the middle.
Home fries traditionally come with most egg dishes, and I did miss having some to mop up my egg yolks, particularly after I tasted my companion’s. Diced potatoes had been sautéed with pieces of green pepper and onion – the potatoes had the right amount of crispiness without tasting like they had been made early in the morning and just reheated. (That technique that can leave you with the look of crispy edges, but a steamed heap on the plate.)
While breakfast is served all day, Amy’s shines with its more hearty offerings. From burgers, salads, soups and sandwiches to traditional Middle Eastern fare and “Crew’s Creations,” you can’t go wrong ordering from this part of the menu.
The Margie Meal ($7.50) is a classic. Charbroiled chicken strips are loaded into a lavash-type pita with fajita fries, diced tomato, hot sauce and garlic mayo spread. It’s an interesting combination, and when you can get all of the ingredients in one bite, you will melt a bit inside. Served with classic crinkle-cut chips and a pickle, it’s big enough to share, but why would you?
My husband chose the half-pound American burger ($6.50) and was pleased. Cooked to desired doneness and served with fresh toppings and a side of fries, it was a satisfyingly safe selection.
There isn’t a children’s menu, but there are plenty of options for the little ones. My adventurous daughter chose the Mini Humis Sandwich ($5.25), and when it arrived, it left us all pondering: How gigantic was the large ($6.99)? The soft, rolled flatbread came overstuffed with the homemade chickpea/tahini mixture, lightly seasoned and with fresh tomatoes and quartered slices of cucumber. After two bites, she opted for a fork and spoon in lieu of her tiny hands and happily ate it up.
If you visit Amy’s Place for the first time, I recommend trying the Wet Shoes ($6.50). Think loaded nachos, but with curly-Q fries instead of chips. It’s a must-have at least once and the first thing ordered when my former Buffalo friends return for a visit. Another go-to favorite is the Lentil-Berry Sandwich ($8.75). My friend still reminisces about this dish 20 years later.
That’s the thing about Amy’s Place. The food evokes memories, and you can’t help but recall the stories from younger days. If you don’t have a tradition of Amy’s Place in your past, it’s not too late to start one.
Where: 3234 Main St. (832-6666)
Hours: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
Extras: Cash only. Plenty of vegan and vegetarian options. Takeout available. Parking on the street.