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Best Summer Dining Spot - Lumberjack's Patio Grill at 1000 River Road, North Tonawanda
Best Summer Dining Spot - Lumberjack's Patio Grill at 1000 River Road, North Tonawanda

Votes are in: NFP's second annual 'Savory Summer' awards top warm-weather eateries

by jmaloni
Fri, Aug 19th 2022 11:00 am

By Joshua Maloni

GM/Managing Editor

Western New York winters are notoriously filled with cold, gray days. It’s for that reason people take every opportunity to get out and eat, drink and be merry in the warm, colorful spring and summer months.

Patios and live music have become more commonplace in recent years but, at the end of the day, a diner becomes a destination because of its culinary offerings.

Once again this year, we asked readers to tell us where their favorite “Savory Summer Eats & Treats” can be found. Here are the winners:

√ Best Summer Dining Spot – Lumberjack's Patio Grill

Second place: The Dockside Bar & Grill

(Total restaurants nominated: 23)

√ Best BBQ (ribs, chicken, pork) – The Brickyard Pub & B.B.Q.

Second place: Texas Roadhouse

(Total restaurants nominated: 21)

√ Best Frozen Treat – De Dee’s Dairy

Second place: Hibbard’s Original Frozen Custard

(Total restaurants nominated: 11)

√ Best Beef on Weck – Taylor’s Tap & Grill

Second place: Wagner’s Farm Market and Grill

(Total restaurants nominated: 19)

√ Best Hot Dog – Louie’s Texas Red Hots

Second place: Ted’s Hot Dogs

(Total restaurants nominated: 9)

√ Best Hamburger – The Wurlitzer Pizza Co.

Second place: Cask + Cow

(Total restaurants nominated: 20)

√ Best Fries – Wagner’s Farm Market and Grill

Second place: Ted’s Hot Dogs

(Total restaurants nominated: 23)


The Lumberjack's staff. (Submitted photo)

Best Summer Dining Spot – Lumberjack's Patio Grill

1000 River Road, North Tonawanda

One of the most unique summer eateries – both in terms of location and menu – is Lumberjack’s Patio Grill. Now in its 10th year in business, the former Niagara River Yacht Club is located adjacent to Gratwick Riverside Marina.

Patrons rave about the food.

“We're a glorified hot dog/hamburger stand,” owner/operator Carol Tallichet said. “Because of that, we serve beer and wine. We’re noted for our curly-Q fries, which are handmade every day. We have just a great, all-around Western New York menu: fried bologna with some grilled onions, Mineo & Sapio Italian sausage; we do just about everything on Costanzo rolls.”

Lumberjack’s serves Wardynski's hot dogs, because “I like their tender skins, versus their competitor,” Tallichet said. “We do footlongs.”

Customers can enjoy the fare inside, or sit outside and take advantage of one of the best views in Western New York.

“We're located right on the water, with a wonderful patio that cantilevers over the water, that seats 163 people,” Tallichet said.

“We welcome small parties,” she noted. “We have families come; we have people come by boat. …

“We have a very loyal amount of patrons. Some people come in daily, and we consider them family.”

Part of what makes Lumberjack’s special is that, like summer weather, it only lasts so long.

“We’re only open four months out of the year,” Tallichet said. “We always open Memorial Day, and we close the very last day of September.”

While open, “We have live music every Wednesday and every Sunday,” she said.

Lumberjack’s also has unique events from time to time.

“We did a dog adoption event with the Niagara SPCA. We're doing another dog event with the Niagara SPCA on Thursday, Aug. 25, from 4:30-7:30.”

“They're a no-kill organization, and I heavily support them,” Tallichet added.

Lumberjack’s is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays, and from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekends.

“I thank all of our patrons; and I want to say that I have the best staff there is in all of New York,” Tallichet said.


A Brickyard barbecue platter.

Best BBQ (ribs, chicken, pork) – The Brickyard Pub & B.B.Q.

432 Center St., Lewiston

Not all barbecue joints are created – or operated – equally.

Since it opened on Center Street two decades ago, the Brickyard Pub & BBQ has used authentic smoking techniques to make its meats stand out.

“I think it all goes back to the original recipes, and we've stuck with them for going on 19 years,” co-owner Ken Bryan said. “We had a friend of mine, a chef, come in and make us specialty recipes. When we originated the recipes, it wasn't one, two, three recipes, ‘That's the one we like.’ We must have done 35 barbecue sauces. There was probably 20 different house rubs that we tried on wings.

“It’s just a wide variety of things that we've stuck to, and from a quality level, we felt that we’ve just stayed with that also over the years. We haven't shied away from cost – and it's not cheap. Our ‘Ultimate Platters’ and whatnot – they're big portions; but they're expensive.”

The Brickyard offers brisket, burgers, chicken, stews, salads and finger foods.

“Our ribs are those we picked years ago – the size and maker,” Bryan said. “We went to different butchers, looked at different cuts.”

The pulled pork, a staple at festivals and events – and popular with catering orders – is consistently good, Bryan said, because of the smoking techniques.

“It's an art to smoke it,” he said. “It comes from a smoker” and depends on “the wood that you bring in. Everyone uses a little bit different type of wood. We've stuck with one farm, one wood, for 19 years. So, from a consistency standpoint, that's huge.

“I know people who do this and have trouble getting wood. One week, they're using hickory; the next week, they're using peach; the next week, they're using something else. It makes a huge difference in the product. People wouldn't think that, but it does.

“We've been fortunate with the orchards that we have in our area, that we've gotten with one of the farmers and they've taken good care of us.”

To be named “Best BBQ,” “It means a lot,” Bryan said. “I think it's a huge cheers to our staff. I think it says wonders for our staff. A lot of our kitchen staff have been there for years, and that's where you get your consistency – and that's where the quality comes from. Today's day and age in the restaurant business, it's hard to keep help – and we've been very fortunate. The good kitchen staff that we've had, it means the world to us.

“Sometimes those are the little things you don't say ‘thank you’ enough for, and really praise them for how lucky we are to have them.”


Wagner's fries.

Best Fries – Wagner’s Farm Market and Grill

2672 Lockport Road, Sanborn

You might not think a farm market would specialize in french fries, but Amy Wagner Winkelmann takes her spuds seriously.

“I offer four different kinds,” she said. “We have fresh-cut curly fries, which nine or 10 months out of the year is a homegrown, locally grown potato that we hand-cut. It's a curly fry. So, it's a curly fry cutter. And then we have crinkle cut, a spicy seasoned fry, and then we have hand-cut sweet potato fries. I don't use a frozen sweet potato fry, because, of course, I have them fresh; so, I use fresh.”

What difference does fresh make?

“Flavor,” Wagner Winkelmann said. “Strictly flavor. Like anything that's fresh versus frozen, a lot of times if it's fresh you can taste that potato flavor – instead of just tasting almost … it's not freezer burn, but you taste that freezer part of it. It does make a difference.”

She noted, “There's certain people who come in just for our curly fries, because they’re a fresh-cut fry.”

Undoubtedly, they’re the ones who voted Wagner’s into winning this “Savory” category.

“We have loyal customers; we have very smart customers that know, maybe, better food than they can get some other places,” Wagner Winkelmann said. “I try hard for people. And people know that I work hard for them. They appreciate it. It all comes down to just working hard. Keeping your quality up here.

“Prices have gone up, and I have still tried to keep the quality up. And I've tried to keep my prices fair, which is very, very hard right now. But I don't want to sacrifice any of my quality. Because, if you start doing that, you might as well close – in my opinion. Because you can get not-so-great-tasting food a lot of places.

“I've been open for 38 years here. The store’s been here since 1967. So, it's keeping that quality up that’s kept us here.”

Wagner's recently renovated its diner space.


Beef on weck at Taylor's

Best Beef on Weck – Taylor’s Tap & Grill

2279 Niagara Falls Blvd., Wheatfield

Winning Best Beef on Weck two years in a row – and by a sizeable margin – “It just tells you what great customers we have, No. 1; they are 100% loyal to us,” said Julie Taylor of Taylor’s Tap & Grill. “Our clientele keeps us in business. We have regular customers that really come all the time, and they're really like family to us. So, the fact that they go out of their way to do something like that is incredible to me.”

Taylor explained a winning beef on weck starts when “we do use the highest quality roast beef available.

“We don't cut corners, even with the rising costs of goods. I’d just rather serve a really good product, and hope that people really love it – and obviously they must – then to cut corners, even with the way things are currently.”

The quality of meat is important, of course, but so, too, is the preparation, and the customer service that comes with the dish.

“Our kitchen staff is some of the best kitchen staff around,” Taylor said. “They work nonstop.

“The roast beef is slow-roasted, sliced thin. And then we do just a quick dip in the as jus, and it goes on a Constanzo roll, because we like to support local.

“A lot of the products we use are local things. We use Bison chip dip, which doesn't really apply to the roast beef, but we do as much local as we possibly can.

“And then the kimmelwick rolls are made to order each time in house, so they're not sitting around getting mushy. They're fresh every time you order. And the roast beef is sliced daily, so that's fresh, as well.

“They just really do a great job. My kitchen staff is incredible.”

Other winners, not available for comment, include:

√ Best Hot Dog – Louie’s Texas Red Hots

Multiple locations in Erie County

√ Best Frozen Treat – De Dee’s Dairy

8715 Niagara Falls Blvd., Niagara Falls

√ Best Hamburger – The Wurlitzer Pizza Co.

1401 Nash Road, North Tonawanda

The “Best Savory Summer” contest ran May 27 through Aug. 1. All restaurants, bars, street vendors and social clubs headquartered in Western New York were eligible to win.

Thank you to everyone who voted!

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