Kostas: Great food, diner or not!

What does it mean to be a diner? It seems that a lot of people have different opinions when it comes to the criteria that goes into the true diner experience. Some people feel that a NYC style diner must be open around the clock and should serve alcohol. Other people look to see if there’s a diner counter with swivel stools and a blender for milkshakes. Personally, I feel that a diner should offer a great 2-2-2, along with great coffee, a bit on the cheaper side, and yes, I also attribute the swivel bar stools to the experience (with food made right in front of you).

Kostas-Buffalo-NY-3In Buffalo, I often hear that the best “diner” experiences are Bertha’s (Hertel), Lake Effect Diner and Amy’s (University District), Sophia’s (on Military), and Kostas (also on Hertel). My wife and I are big fans of diners, and are constantly battling it out over which diners are the best in Buffalo. Which is why I thought that I would pass along that we both agree that Kostas is our combined favorite (even though we agree to disagree about its status as a true diner). In her book it has almost all of the qualifications. It serves adult drinks, it has great rye bread, and it’s got the makings of the best tuna club in Buffalo. I like it for the coffee, the din of the crowd, and… I hate to say it because I’m such a stickler when it comes to breakfast food served at all times… I’m a sucker for the tuna club too!

Recently Kostas cleared out some of its booths and opted to add more table seating to its dining room – a move that opened up the restaurant even more that it already was. To me, that makes it less of a diner, but to my wife it’s all about the food. Now I’m not saying that diner=better. I’m merely trying to decipher if Kostas is a great restaurant or diner? Or does it matter. We’re always hoping that more diners open in Buffalo because we both share a passion for the occasional greasy-food experience (remember when Pano’s was in a little hut on Elmwood?) That was one of the best diner locations in the city, and gave the owner the ability to supersize the place years later (though no longer a diner in my book).

Kostas-Buffalo-NY-2

Every city needs a few great diners. I am hoping that as downtown picks up speed, we land a couple of diners there too. We will travel across town for good diner food, but there’s nothing like a downtown setting for a real diner. In the meantime, we try to make it to Kostas whenever we feel like getting into a heated battle over what makes a diner a diner. Because no matter who wins the argument, we both walk away happy knowing that we have satiated whatever breakfast or lunch cravings we had to begin with. I think I need to get back to ordering my 2-2-2, because the club sandwich is enough to feed three people, but it’s too hard to put down once you’ve started plowing your way through it.

We’ve been going to Kostas for years, though today was the first time that I ever thought to write about it. Maybe that’s because it’s such a staple of North Buffalo that it doesn’t need any more exposure? I guess it took a lighthearted argument over whether it was a diner or not to make me realize that either way you look at it the place is a shining example of reliably good food and service… and certainly worth a shout out to anyone who has never had the good fortune of eating at this diner eatery.

Kostas Family Restaurant | 1561 Hertel Ave, Buffalo, NY 14216 | (716) 838-5225

 

About the author  ⁄ queenseyes

Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Catalyst behind the Pierce-Arrow Film Arts Center. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette. Themed New Years mayhem at various locations. Next up: Porchfest... Also offers package tours of the city for groups or individuals. Contact Newell Nussbaumer | Newell@BuffaloRising.com

17 comments
OldFirstWard
OldFirstWard

The only diners I have ever frequented usually for texas hots, fries, burgers, milkshakes, and breakfast were:

Nick and Johns Texas Red Hots on Abbott Rd across from the old Towne Theatre

Nicks on South Park Ave. (closed)

Marys formally on South Park Ave in OFW at two different locations. (closed)

Georges on Main St. in the 600 block near Chippewa. (closed)

Even Sams Truck Stop on Ohio St. on occasion. (closed)

ck dexter haven
ck dexter haven

I haven't been to many of the areas Greek diners or diners in general to rate in order, but I give Kostas a thumb up. As a Parksider, I just recently started going there so I haven't had most of the menu. 

I tend to stick to the Greek specialties. If you're looking for a healthy vegetarian alternative then I would highly recommend the melitzanosalata (roasted eggplant & garlic) appetizer served with pita. Also try the other white meat, the grilled octopus. Superb. To date, service has been pleasant and prompt and is priced right. 

Greg_Conley
Greg_Conley

Courtyard Restaurant is Downtown on Franklin.

buffalorr
buffalorr

Dewey's Diner on Chippewa St. next to the Roanoke Hotel. That was a diner! We'd watch the bums stagger in there early in the morning to sober up along with the hookers after they'd finished a nights work.

Sometimes we'd cut class at Hutch Tech to grab a hamburger and fries because the cafeteria was so bad.

I've been trying to figure out what year it was torn down for the parking lot that's now there?

6packjimmy
6packjimmy

Kostas is overpriced and over rated. It's just OK, Acropolis and Family tree are much better, just to name a few.

Stan Da Man
Stan Da Man

Zoe on Transit Rd. in Amherst = best Greek restaurant in WNY

RaChaCha
RaChaCha

Sure looks like a diner in those pics.  Has Greek name.  Diner.

joeyd
joeyd

@buffalorr 

Boy...did that bring back some memories...that was the in thing to do ...hoping Principal Zefferjahn didnt see us sneaking back in...thanks for the memory...


RaChaCha
RaChaCha

Heh heh. He said Transit Road. Heh heh.

buffalorr
buffalorr

joeyd--Principle Zefferjahn would have busted a blood vessel just from yelling at us. Remember how he'd grab the microphone in the aud. during football rallies that got too loud and start cursing like a trooper at us?

What a character he was--no political correctness about that guy!

buffalorr
buffalorr

joeyd--all so true! To this day, I can still sense the stench that was in the air on Chippewa St. I used to take the 8 Main and get off at the corner so I'd have to walk down to Elmwood. The sidewalks were covered in vomit, garbage, needles, all the stuff Times Square was famous for. Places like Radices A Go Go and Fisherman's Wharf would have their front doors open to air out the odor of stale beer along with whatever went on under the tables the night before.

You'd have a nose full of the sweet smell of decay by the time you got to Hutch Tech--just the thing to make you want to pay attention in first period.

joeyd
joeyd

@buffalorr  I was in Mr. Freer's Mech Tech class...and when u misbehaved in Library...Mrs Freer's class..u faced the consequences in her husbands domain....quite an interesting scenario...

Mr Licata, gym teacher, wouldnt hold back with a slap too....

...or the whores/Chippewa st.

propositioning students, before and after school was out for the day...

buffalorr
buffalorr

joeyd--'69 was the year I graduated too. I was in Mr. Saunders English class and we'd get whacked with a thick wooden board so hard you couldn't sit down for a few hours afterward. Lot's of corporal punishment in those days maybe because it was an all boy's school at that time.

The fun part about going to Hutch Tech was being able to wander around Chippewa St. and downtown.

I try explaining how bad Chippewa was in the '60s but unless you saw it, you'd never be able to understand it.

I once found a dead bum on the ground in Johnson Park--it just seemed kind of normal, that's how rough the neighborhood was.

joeyd
joeyd

@buffalorr ......or burying his finger in his nose on stage in auditorium in front of 1200 students...times were much simpler then...1969!

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