One of my favorite things in life is a big breakfast. You know the kind, the ones where a plate arrives full of the best things: eggs, toast, bacon (preferably lots of bacon), home fries and, of course, all the coffee. Here’s the thing, though. Maybe I’m old school. But I hate spending lots of money for breakfast. IMO, you should be able to get a savory breakfast for under $10. Leaving breakfast with a $20-$30 bill? Nonsense. Fortunately, we in Buffalo have plenty of options for the “under $10” category. With that in mind, I’ve compiled some of the best spots in Western New York to get a truly great breakfast on the cheap.
1. Sophia’s Restaurant
749 Military Road, Buffalo
Sophia’s is a gold star classic in Buffalo’s breakfast landscape, its celebrity status cemented the moment it appeared on the show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. But we locals have known of its glories long before a national audience did. It’s a small establishment, so a wait is likely, unless you go super early in the morning, but it’s worth every moment of the wait. The service is unfailingly friendly, the coffee hot and the food delicious and cheap. Their No. 2, two eggs, home fries, meat and toast is a steal at $7.50. Be sure to opt for their homemade bread, which is to-die-for. If you’re lucky, you’ll be graced with the presence of Sophia herself.
2. Nick’s Place
504 Amherst St., Buffalo
You cannot say “breakfast” and “cheap” together in the same sentence without someone soon mentioning Nick’s Place. It’s a cozy family restaurant, where checkered tablecloths give that quintessential diner feel. It’s not fancy, but the service is fast and portions huge. The best value for your breakfast dollar here is the “Country Breakfast,” which is as hearty as it sounds. For $9, the mightiest of appetites will be satisfied with two eggs, pancakes or French toast, choice of meat, home fries and toast. A second location, “Nick’s Place Express,” opened in the Village of Kenmore at 2466 Elmwood Ave. (They too offer delicious homemade bread.)
3. Buffalo Joe’s Cafe
8611 Main St., Clarence
Buffalo Joe’s Cafe is a no-frills spot tucked into an unpretentious plaza. If you didn’t know about the great deals and tasty food hidden within, you’d drive right past. The locals in Clarence seem to know about Buffalo Joe’s, but it deserves a wider following. Why? Because it feels like you’re in mom’s kitchen when you’re there. And, most importantly, because the breakfast food is killer, and most meals hover right around the $7 mark. Order the No. 3, two eggs, toast, home fries or hash browns and choice of meat for $6.59, or the amazing French toast. Be sure to order coffee, because it’s a tasty brew, and the re-fills are constant, which we love.
4. Amy’s Place
3234 Main St., Buffalo
Amy’s Place is a cool spot in the University Heights district catering to the vegetarian and vegan demographic, and they serve up a pretty sweet “Early Bird Special” between 7 and 9 a.m. You can get two eggs, home fries, toast and choice of meat for $5.50. They also offer the usual go-to breakfast offerings, including pancakes and French toast, along with expansive vegan options that include lentils, tofu and seitan, a meat substitute, all of which are perfectly priced under $10. Helpful tip: Amy’s Place is cash only.
5. The Poked Yolk
3100 Transit Road, Unit 3, West Seneca
As Leslie Knope would say, “Why would anyone ever want to eat anything other than breakfast food?” She makes a good point, and at the Poked Yolk, it’s all about delicious breakfast with a twist, and without breaking the bank. Impressively, just about everything is made from scratch, including a variety of jams on every table. If you go, order their namesake, “The Poked Yolk” — home fries cooked with spicy chorizo, onions, green peppers and cheddar jack cheese, served with toast and two eggs over easy ($7.99). They also offer a cinnamon roll pancake ($6.99), featuring a cream cheese glaze; it’s as decadent as it sounds. Helpful tip: If you go at peak hours with a group, the wait could be long. Also, be sure to check the specials, which rotate monthly.
6. Boulevard Family Restaurant
2487 Niagara Falls Blvd., Amherst / 716-564-2025
At the Boulevard Family Restaurant, what you see is what you get, and that’s tasty, fill-you-up food that won’t empty your wallet, and we’re 100 percent on board with that. They will seat you speedily, and you’ll find all your diner favorites. The No. 3 will get you two eggs, choice of meat, home fries and toast for $4.95. The chicken souvlaki breakfast is $8.65, a short stack of pancakes $4.45 and full stack $5.45.