When it comes to dining in Buffalo, there are a lot of choices. Good choices. Just think of all of the places to go to enjoy breakfast and lunch. What are your favorites? And why? To me, I’ve got a few solid go-tos when it comes to lunching around the city. One of them is a diner that I recently ate at for the first time – Swan Street Diner, which opened in Larkinville.
First of all, what’s not to love about lunching inside of a fully restored vintage dining car? Every square inch of the car has been lovingly brought back to life. The nostalgia factor is off the chart.
When I stopped in this past Saturday with my wife, the car was wall to wall people, but we were lucky to score that last two-top in the house. Half of the reason that I have fallen in love with this diner is the atmospheric attention to detail. The other is the food. As with all other Larkinville attractions, the details shine. From the retro “diner” plates and napkins to the custom coffee mugs, and the pepper grinders, the owners have thought of everything.
As we sat, perusing the menu, I also browsed the surroundings. I counted seating for approximately 42 people, which is a lot considering the size of the space. As I mentioned, every seat was occupied when we first walked in, but it didn’t seem overly crowded. There was a lot of positive energy in the room – everyone was happily chatting and enjoying the scene.
Within seconds of sitting down, a server appeared. Wow! Now long after, we had our coffee, and our questions about the menu were succinctly answered.
My wife ordered the tuna melt, with a couple of minor additions and subtractions. She wanted rye toast (Mazurek’s Bakery – Old First Ward) instead of multigrain, and Muenster cheese instead of cheddar, which was “No problem!” I ordered the Breakfast Taco #2, with egg, house beef hash, cheddar, and house pico served in a soft corn tortilla. My server suggested that I add a few wedges of guacamole, which I readily agreed to.
After placing our order, we sat back and sipped our water and coffee (Undergounds coffee – an Old First Ward roastery). Before we even had time to chat at great length, our orders arrived, thankfully, because we were famished. After taking two bites of her tuna melt, my wife exclaimed that it was the best “melt” that she had been served outside of New York City. My tacos arrived, and I could tell before even tasting them that I was in for a treat. Taking the advice of my server (once again), I placed slices of pickled radishes inside the tacos (they came in a little bowl on the side), which was the ‘icing on the cake’ for the dish. It’s funny, the pickled radish was not my favorite on its own, but once it made its way into the taco ingredient medley, it was a ‘spot on’ addition to the flavors.
As much as we were both fully satiated, I couldn’t help but order a chocolate milkshake at the end of the meal, as I had been eyeing the beautiful industrial-looking shake machine sitting in the corner. When the frothy milkshake arrived, it had a stick of milk chocolate for a stirrer, which was just about the greatest twist ever.
Once again, it’s the attention to details that make Swan Street Diner so special. Right down to the check, that comes with a postcard featuring elements of Larkinville and the diner.
What more could you ask for? A t-shirt, a sticker? A hat? They have it all. They also have some of the best lunch selections that I have ever tried in Buffalo, and I’ve tried a lot.
Kudos to everyone that brought this operation to life. The diner car was an incredible undertaking that is now the talk of Larkinville. I can’t wait to go back… maybe on a Sunday next time? It was so nice to see so many people in Larkinville on a Saturday, mid-afternoon. Larkinville is finally coming to life on the weekends. I can’t wait to see what’s in store next.