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Best Niagara Falls Restaurants

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Niagara Falls’ best restaurants are in the fairly new Seneca Casino, and they add a much-needed coating of glamour to an otherwise foodie-bereft town. Niagara is known for many things, but fine dining is not one of them. Top restaurants in Niagara Falls exist—they're just not spectacular. But if you manage your expectations, you can be pleasantly surprised. Many local hangouts that don't do fancy nonetheless churn out well-prepared and appetizing comfort food. Niagara's multitude of old-fashioned Italian joints look a bit outdated, but their recipes are timeless. Generally speaking in Niagara, the farther away you go from the slightly overpriced tourist traps crowding around the State Park, the better your chances of eating well.

La Cascata

Neighborhood: Downtown Niagara Falls Price: Expensive

Inside the Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel is Niagara's premier, white-tablecloth Italian eatery. Niagara is rich with Italian heritage, but none do it with the same modern flair as La Cascata (Italian for cascade). Honeymooners and people with romance on their minds are drawn to its dark and intimate space—just ignore the pinging, brightly-lit casino that greets you at the Seneca door. Baked clams dusted with a soft herb cheese, or flash-fried calamari and zucchini pasta bowls—spaghetti and meatballs, rigatoni Bolognese, chicken cavatappi and penne alla vodka—are delectable first courses. Heartier veal and jumbo crab Florentine, lobster and jumbo shrimp scampi, filet mignon, rib-eye steak and fried veal parmesan go for the main course.

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La Cascata  

Koi

Neighborhood: Downtown Niagara Falls Price: Expensive

Sweet sake surprise! Nobody would expect a Japanese restaurant of this magnitude in Niagara Falls. Inside the Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel—a most un-pagoda-like setting—is Koi, where the tempura is light, the Dungeness crab fried whole, and the sake served chilled or hot upon request. The menu is especially strong on Japanese-inspired seafood dishes like Gui Hua clams, steamed sea bass with shiitake 'shrooms and Ahi tuna steak. The rest of the dishes are a potpourri of Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese favorites (sweet and sour pork and chicken, vermicelli noodles, crabmeat Rangoon, Cantonese-style spare ribs.) The wine list is equally wide-ranging: California domestics next to Kikkoman plum wine.

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Koi  

"Lou's" Pete's Market House

Neighborhood: Downtown Niagara Falls Price: Moderate

It's not pretty, but if you're looking to fuel up on some protein without breaking the bank, Pete's will get the job done. The small steakhouse gets cramped when it's busy, and the situation is not helped by the awkward layout—you're likely to get bumped in the back of the chair a time or two. But that's the price you pay for Pete's crispy hand-cut fries and sizzling steaks, not to mention the surf-n-turf combos that can be had for under $15. If you want atmosphere with your prime rib, it's better to look elsewhere; if not, this old standby is a good choice for you.

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Top of the Falls Restaurant

Neighborhood: Niagara Falls State Park Price: Moderate

The views from the best-known Niagara Falls restaurant inside Niagara Falls State Park are so mesmerizing you might just forget to eat. Of course, Top of the Falls has floor to ceiling windows and outdoor dining decks; from where it sits, guests can stare right over Terrapin Point into the gushing Horseshoe Waterfall. The menu is heavy on sandwiches, starting with the classic Buffalo beef on weck (that’s roast beef on a roll to you and me) and burgers and healthy wraps. It also serves "pizza log," a Niagara specialty that's a pepperoni pizza in a wrap. Bigger meals include fish 'n' chips, the Western New York sandwich (barbecued chicken and bleu cheese) and pasta primavera.

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Top of the Falls Restaurant »

The Como Restaurant

Neighborhood: Downtown Niagara Falls Price: Moderate
Not much has changed at The Como since its founder, Francesco Antonacci, opened it more than 80 years ago. It still serves heaping portions of piping hot Italian dishes from recipes Antonacci brought with him from Italy in 1927. The dinner menu alone has more than a dozen ways to eat spaghetti and fettuccine—and that's before you arrive at the pasta section, which gets into gnocchi, manicotti, ravioli, lasagna, tortelli and mostaccioli. There are lots of chicken, steak and seafood dishes, too, but The Como's real talent lies in coaxing deep flavors out of its starchy noodles.

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La Galera

Neighborhood: Downtown Niagara Falls Price: Moderate

This Niagara Falls restaurant serves humble Mexican dished up amid humble surroundings, with tasty results. La Galera's not fancy or big, but it can pack in a Mariachi band on weekends. You won't find the spicy complex flavors of deep Mexico here—no poblano chilis or rich moles—but rather the light heat that many gringos prefer. That makes it easy to chow down on the chunky salsa and nachos, or the sizzling fajitas, fried chimichangas, chicken enchiladas with a piquant green sauce, or the big burritos without having to drink a waterfall to cool your mouth.

Lewiston Silo

Neighborhood: Lewiston Price: Moderate

Gorge yourself on the incredible water views from atop this converted old grain silo while you nosh on a burger and fries. Back in the day, over 100 years ago, the silo was used for food storage for the busy waterfront, which saw people coming and going on the nearby railway. When the railroad disappeared, so did the people, and the silo sat abandoned. Since the late 1990s, however, it's been a hot dog and burger stand—now branching out to more exotic fare like wheat wraps, chicken sandwiches and sweet potato fries. From the circular patio built up top you have a bird's eye view of Niagara.

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Gawdawski's

Neighborhood: Downtown Niagara Falls Price: Budget

Just around the corner from Seneca Casino in an old Polish neighborhood, Gawdawski's is famous for two things: its Friday fish fry, and impeccably authentic pierogi, sausage and bigos (hunter's stew). Inside it looks like a leprechaun exploded, sprinkling green shamrocks everywhere. That's because owner Eddie Gadawski is an insanely dedicated fan of the Fighting Irish Notre Dame football team. You can get a perfect fusion of his two worlds by ordering the Polish Platter (a sampler of sorts) and a Guinness beer.

Hot Stuff Southern Cafe

Neighborhood: Downtown Niagara Falls Price: Budget

The motto here is to “put some South in your mouth, honey,” and believe me, you will. Whether you stop by on “Fry-days” for crispy fried haddock or catfish (accompanied by a live jazz singer) or catch the Sunday New Orleans-inspired extravaganza of “Gumbo, Grits & Gospel,” you will leave sated and happy. Hot Stuff rotates its menu seasonally, but you're always going to find staples like fried green tomatoes, Aunt Lou's chicken, cobbler (apple or peach, probably) and sweet potato pie.

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Hot Stuff Southern Cafe  

Mii Restaurant

Neighborhood: Downtown Niagara Falls Price: Budget

It's in Niagara Falls' Italian district, but this is the real deal when it comes to Thai and Vietnamese food. Mii won't win any decor awards for its green carpet, austere white walls and plain tables and chairs, but that's hardly relevant when you're eating food of this caliber. Vegetarians will be happy with the many choices they have on the menu, which offers 11 sauces (you pick that first), many of them traditional soy-based sauces with ginger or other spices. Pair the sauce of your choice with vegetables, chicken, pork, beef or seafood. There are also many rich broths and soups to choose from, including the ever-popular beef broth Pho, with bean sprouts on the side. It's not fancy or expensive, but Mii is delicious.

Chu's Chinese Food

Neighborhood: Downtown Niagara Falls Price: Budget

Niagara Falls' most mouth-watering Chinese food used to be located in Ontario, until the Chu family packed it up and moved across the border. Bad news for Canada, but a boon for anyone visiting the U.S. side of Niagara Falls. Inside Chu's white-walled restaurant with wood paneling, geometric paintings and plushy red chairs, you can sample spicy Szechuan and Cantonese dishes like loo fung kew (shrimp and cashews), tai dop voy (veggies with chicken and pork) and beef satay, or stick with Americanized versions of Chinese specialties, like General Tso's chicken, egg rolls and shrimp with green peppers.

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