Lately, my wife and I have found that some of our favorite restaurants in the city are located in South Buffalo. We now have six or seven places that we regularly frequent. After writing about The Nine Eleven Tavern a few weeks ago, and commenting on the spectacular cheeseburger, a BRO commentor suggested that we try Doc Sullivan’s for “The best burger in town.”
On Saturday, we hopped into the car and headed over to South Buffalo to try out the burger. Over the years I had heard great things about Doc Sullivan’s from friends, but for some reason had never managed to make it inside. Now that we’re spending a lot more time in South Buffalo foraging for food, we were happy to add another establishment to our repertoire of lunch and dinner spots.
Upon walking into the restaurant, we immediately spotted an elevated eating area by the front window. It looked like the coziest place in the bar, other than a bar stool. The restaurant is under new ownership as of last year, and along with the change came some restaurant refreshers. Both the inside and outside have a sharp, black, industrial look that is reminiscent of the historic grain freighters and mills at the harbor. The former aesthetic appeared to be centered around the Irish heritage of the neighborhood.
I really liked the exterior appeal of the place – it’s pretty sleek. The inside features a giant square bar in the middle of the room, and a shuffleboard table under the mural-signage on the far right wall. Other than that, there are a bunch of TVs, some historic photos of the grain freighters, and that’s about it – understated elegance.
After ordering a couple of beers at the bar, we were directed to sit down at a table of our choosing. As I mentioned previously, we opted for a table perched up by the front window. Our beers arrived a couple minutes later, delivered by our friendly and accommodating bartender who was also waiting tables. Before ordering the burger, I had to ask about the Smitty’s Wings that I had heard were a staple of many South Buffalo bars and restaurants. I was told that they were better than regular wings – our server said that she had been eating that style wing since she was a little girl. On that recommendation, we opted to start off with an order to share.
My wife was excited to try the burger, as was I. But instead of getting the same thing, I ordered the Philly Cheesesteak, which I had not had since college. The Philly came highly recommended from our server. As we waited for our meal to arrive, we scoped out the bar, and the patrons. Seeing that it was South Buffalo, we were not surprised that every person that walked in knew other people at the bar. There appeared to be a lot of regulars chatting, and a wedding party had just rolled in to add to the bar pace.
As we discussed our fondness for the neighborhood, our Smitty’s Wings arrived. To our collective surprise, my wife said that they were the best wings she had ever had in Buffalo, even beating out The Gate. Although we ordered them “hot”, there wasn’t much kick to them, but… the flavor, and the crispiness on the outside and the tenderness on the inside was all perfect. The spice rub enhanced the flavor tremendously. The house made blue cheese (super chunky) was the perfect accompaniment. The wings were so good in fact that we’re already formulating a return trip.
When the burger arrived, it looked great. Unfortunately it was a bit overcooked – she asked for medium rare and there was zero rare to be found, in fact it was closer to well done. She commented that the beef was excellent however. The fries served with the burger were good, but after the wings and our main orders, we were not in the mood for them. As for my Philly Cheesesteak, I thought that it was great. I loved the super toasted roll – despite all of the messy ingredients on the inside, the bread stayed crispy until the last bite. I will definitely have to try that one again, as it was very flavorful due to the peppers and the homemade queso and steak sauce.
It’s funny. When we went to 911 Tavern, we arrived for the wings and left loving the burger. On the flip side, with Doc Sullivan’s. we came for the burger and left loving the wings. Seeing that all is fair in love and war, we have happily found a couple more places in South Buffalo that are leading the pack with prime bar food selections such as Wardynski’s fried bologna, beef on weck, chicken salad wrap, tacos, grilled cheese (maple cheddar, bacon on sourdough), and a house salad.
Other things that we liked about Doc Sullivan’s was the digital jukebox that attracted a lot of attention by the patrons who played everything from country to Led Zeppelin. The updated saloon atmosphere was nice, and the service was great. Best of all was the Smitty’s Wings, which is a South Buffalo institution. We will definitely be coming back for those, as well as for the South Buffalo hospitality that we have come to appreciate more than anything else.
Doc Sullivan’s | 474 Abbott Road | Buffalo, NY 14220 | (716) 436-3302 | Facebook | Lunch & Dinner