About six months ago, I was watching the show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network. Although I really can’t stand Guy Fieri, the places that he visits on this show really appeal to me. On the particular episode that I was watching they showed a five minute clip of a restaurant in Buffalo that caught my eye. The restaurant is called Sophia’s and it specializes in Greek cuisine. Check out the clip from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives: Sophia’s Restaurant.
The first time I tried to stop at Sophia’s several months ago, it was closed. It was a Monday and I should have known better. My friend Jamie and I were in Buffalo scouting out some equipment at the time which happened to be in Buffalo. While we were there, I suggested that we hit up Sophia’s. Jamie checked it out and decided that there were enough vegetarian options to stop, so we did. Sam, the restaurant owner, answered the door to let us know they were closed and sent us to his cousin’s restaurant. That afternoon, we ate at Nick’s Restaurant, which was excellent, inexpensive and had huge portions. We sat at the counter and enjoyed about six different dishes that we just had to order. All-in-all, we had a really good time at Nick’s and I would suggest it to anyone looking for a good spot in Buffalo.
This past weekend, Caroline and I had her brother Alexi and some good friends in from Boston for the holiday weekend. The closest major airport to Chautauqua is Buffalo, so I thought that perhaps it would be a good plan to try Sophia’s again while we were in the neighborhood. Earlier that week, I sent through the link to Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives with the clip about Sophia’s to see if anybody had an interest in stopping here on the way home. Everyone agreed and a plan was formed. Unfortunately for me, on the way to pick everyone up the last stand of my salmonella decided that it would plague my gut, so I had to take it easy at the restaurant. The group, however, did a pretty good job of sampling around the breakfast menu.
Sophia’s is not a good looking restaurant from the outside. It is some shade of beat-up gray with a bruised red trim. It’s got the Buffalo grime which is a result of hard winters with lots of salt. The parking lot once was gravel but is mainly dirt now. On our way in, Justin said “well, I can see now that it is a dive.” Man, I just hope that the food is good. Once you walk into the restaurant, it is a completely different story. The interior is sparse with inexpensive diner booths and chairs but looks extremely clean. The walls are covered in either pictures of Guy Fieri or gold-gilded pictures of religious figures who are unknown to me. The air smells delicious with hints of sweet maple syrup, breakfast meats and fresh toast. Yumm.
Sam was behind the counter cooking up a storm in his Got Breakfast t-shirt and latex glove covered hands. His mother, Sophia, was assisting in the kitchen. Everyone else working at the restaurant is sure to be family, but that is an unsubstantiated observation. Just feels that way from being in the restaurant that everyone working there is related. We choose a booth that looks out to an automotive repair shop surrounded by a chain link fence. There is a hat tacked to the wall with a message from Guy Fieri written in silver ink on the brim with something like “Your restaurant is off da hook!” A small picture of Sugar Ray Leonard is in a frame behind the ketchup bottle and Franks Red Hot. This is a real American diner and I love it. Reminds me of a lot of places I frequented with my grandfather as a kid.
Let’s get into the food. Justin ordered the corned beef has with a couple eggs. Prior to ordering, we had a discussion on whether the hash would be home made or from a can. I insisted that everything was scratch made, I mean the guy makes his own bread! My optimism was met with some sceptical looks, but he ordered it anyhow. The hash came out of a can, which was disappointing, especially to me. It was somewhat disguised because it was mixed in with the home fries which are really delicious and have a crust on them like I have never seen before. I am not sure how hard it is to make your own corned beef hash, but if Sam could figure that out, this would be a winning dish.
Linda ordered the omelette with gryo meat, tomatoes and feta (as seen in the picture to this posting- thank you Linda for providing the shot.) Should be called the Greek Delicious Omelette. She also received a side of the hash browns, which you can see have this really dark crust with a super crunch. They are not burned, just really browned. The portion sizes are just huge, so you will not leave Sophia’s feeling hungry. She loved her omelette and the home fries as well. I had never seen gyro meat in an omelette before and it really appealed to me. Mental note for the next time I encounter this combination on a menu.
Alexi decided on an omlette, I believe, but I don’t remember which one (sorry). What I do remember is that he joined the clean plate club, so it had to be good.
My breakfast was just straightforward. Two eggs over hard with cheddar, four slices of the home made toast and a side of the hash browns. There were a couple orders of the home made toast at the table. After watching the bread made fresh on the clip from Diners, Drive-In’s and Dives how could you not order it? The one big disappointment with the home made toast was the size of the slice itself. It was sliced thin like a Pepperidge Farm loaf. Made it hard to contain the eggs and cheese when I made my breakfast sandwich. Felt as though the bottom would fall right out. We were all hoping for thick slices, toasted to the perfect brown and slathered in just enough real butter to make the first bite irresistible. Don’t get me wrong here, the bread was good, but it could be so much better. Like everyone else, I loved the hash browns.
As we left Sophia’s the conversation ensued on the quality of the breakfast. The high points were discussed and some of the disappointments were “hashed” through (sorry for the terrible pun, but it had to be done.) Overall, we were glad that we stopped, but decided that it was not the best diner breakfast that any of us had experienced. We did discuss that for lunch it might be a very good option to try again. The fried bologna sandwiches look better in person than they do on the show (yes, people were ordering them at 9A on a Friday morning.) If you live in Buffalo and have not tried this restaurant, you need to put it into the rotation. The hash browns alone are worth the effort. In my book, Sophia’s gets a solid B+ and would have been an A- if the bread was cut just a bit wider.