There was this one time at band camp... actually it was in elementary school, I emptied my Thundercats lunch box onto the cafeteria table; a foil wrapped sandwich, an apple, pretzel sticks and a box of cran-apple juice. I despised the drink, yet my mom insisted on giving it to me every day. But hey, I never had a UTI, so I guess that’s a good thing.
I watched as the kid across from me silently judged my meal before asking, “Anything good to trade?”
“Bologna and cheese,” I answered.
“Eww, my dad says bologna is made from lips and assholes,” he quipped.
“Yea, well your dad is stupid,” I zinged back. I’m not gonna brag but I was pretty witty back in the day.
“At least I have a dad!” Game over, he won. But honestly, I was more affected by the lips and butt hole comment than my father’s death line. After that exchange I asked my mom to switch over to olive loaf.
I Do My Research But...
I wasn't thinking about bologna when I flew into Buffalo for my friends' tradition of visiting a new NFL stadium every year, and for me, an opportunity to sample the local cuisine. I lived in Buffalo for three years as a kid, so this was really a homecoming and a chance to share some of my favorite childhood spots. I couldn’t wait to introduce my crew to authentic chicken wings, Anderson’s beef on weck and Sahlen's hotdogs. But something happened while we were waiting for my charbroiled all beef jumbo at Ted’s Hot Dogs, I noticed a sign for a fried bologna sandwich tucked under the main menu. Interesting, like I said I do my research and there was no mention of this sandwich on their website. That alone intrigued me.
The one thing that stood out to me on the packed tray filled with charred hot dogs, French fries, onion rings and loganberry milkshakes was the thick slab of scorched bologna and cheese smothered with peppers and onions. It had me asking, is fried bologna a thing in Buffalo?
Oh Yea, It’s a Thing
It turns out that fried bologna sandwiches are everywhere, and they seem to taste even better at two o'clock in the morning after a night of boozing on cheap Canadian beer. At “The Pink”, a Seussical looking bar in the newly anointed “Josh” Allentown neighborhood of Buffalo, UB College kids, mix with hipsters and hard drinking townies at the funky hangout voted Hop Cultures Top 10 Best Dive Bars. And while there’s no printed menu, “those in the know”, know to ask the tatted bartender for their famous steak sandwich or fried Wunderbar bologna before catching an Uber ride home.
If dive bars aren’t your thing, try Forty Thieves, a restaurant in the Delaware-West Ferry section known for their bar snacks and eclectic sandwiches. Pair a rosemary gimlet with their $10 fried Wardynski bologna, peppers, onions and cheese on a brioche for a sophisticated dinner.
Another great sandwich can be found at Eddie Brady’s Tavern located in an old brick faced Civil War-era building in the slowly revitalizing downtown. The neighborhood tavern is just as well known for their $3 bottles and $4 mixed drinks as they are for their pub grub. Owner Eddie will proudly put his $9 sandwich up against all competitors.
If you are like Sir Mix-A-Lot and "like them real thick and juicy” then a fried bologna and cheese sandwich from Buffalo is for you. If you can’t make it to one of these spots, grab one at The Anchor Bar or Duff’s Wings. Like I said, they are everywhere, and all slightly unique.
BTW- The loganberry milkshake from Ted’s Hot Dogs is banging. Loganberry is another lowkey Buffalo foodigenous definitely worth a try.