January 10, 2022


I texted a friend on Saturday morning. I asked if he was interested in swinging by Mister Sizzle’s for a quick lunch.

I texted a friend on Saturday morning. I asked if he was interested in swinging by Mister Sizzle’s for a quick lunch. Instantly, the three dots appeared in the lower left-hand corner of my Messages app. I am not heavily accustomed to the latest phraseology of today’s youth, but when my friend, who is much more in touch this these things than I am, remarked that Mr. Sizzle’s is what the kids today describe as “lit,” I am proud to say that I understood.

If there was ever any doubt in my mind about the saying “third time’s the charm,” I relinquished that doubt for good. I first showed up to Mister Sizzle’s on a Friday night. This was an uncanny mistake. I was alone. The restaurant was besieged, a melting pot of young and old indulging happily in food and drink. I drove by slowly, peered through the floor-to-ceiling windows of 346 Connecticut Street, and didn’t attempt to go inside. A throng of people were huddled and waiting for seating. I sped off and went home.

Strike one.

I came back on Sunday, expecting a light crowd as the Bills weren’t playing—they were slated to face the Patriots on Monday Night Football. I was terribly mistaken. The place was mobbed for the afternoon games. Circling the block, I parked and went inside with the hope of finding an empty seat at the bar. Again, no luck. And again, people waiting to be seated. I walked in, scanned the bar and admired the festive holiday decorations, and I walked out. 

Strike Two.

Mister Sizzle’s is not a large place. The restaurant is open every day for twelve hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. The bar takes up maybe one-third of the dining floorspace. Following my first attempts, the odds of getting a seat appeared heavily against me. But I was hearing such good things about this place, I knew I had to keep trying. Mister Sizzle’s carries a 4.7 star rating (out of 5.0) on Google reviews with nearly 300 reviews. I admit, this astonished me for an establishment known for smash burgers, chicken sandwiches, and milkshakes. Mister Sizzle’s presents itself as a casual, open-to-everyone hangout—a quintessential neighborhood joint. This is precisely what I discovered when I finally got a seat at the bar at noon on a Saturday on my third attempt; capacity was about half-full and growing. Spruce garland framed the bar as the televisions played continuous video of a crackling fireplace, adding to the warm and festive feel of the space.

It is no accident that the footprint of Mister Sizzle’s bar is significant. And it’s no accident that the bar is a full wraparound, a social-centric design choice if I had to guess. The cocktails being crafted in front of my eyes lavished me with a sense of longing, and the frequency with which they were being made gave the impression that mixologist may be superior to bartender here. Drafts were poured and cans were cracked, but this was nowhere near the rate of cocktail creation. The craft beer selection was sufficient, and the notable highlight for me was that Utica Club is offered on draft. I had never seen this before in Buffalo. At noon on a Saturday, what should I do? I decided I had a productive day ahead of me and didn’t indulge.

What I did indulge in was the house-made pork rinds and a buttermilk fried chicken sandwich slathered in hot sauce and topped with blue cheese. To wash it all down, I decided on the peanut butter vanilla milkshake. The chicken sandwich arrived on a metal tray wrapped in grease-proof foil. I was hungry. My mouth was watering. The sandwich was delicious. But the crisp, gumbo seasoned pork rinds blew me right away. They can also be ordered with hot fudge, peanut butter, and powdered sugar. A little extreme for my first foray, but what’s not to like? I highly recommend the pork rinds.

I’m glad I skipped the beer. The rich and creamy peanut butter milkshake put me fully over the top. I was so full I couldn’t finish the last fist-sized pork rind. It wasn’t a lack of want. I just couldn’t do it.

I now understand the 4.7 star Google reviews rating. Mister Sizzle’s is a casual, neighborhood friendly hangout that does what they do very well. The staff was friendly, the atmosphere inviting. I got the feeling there is a genuine care for the local community because a holiday market with local vendors was being held off the back of the restaurant space.

A crowd was starting to form as people waited for seating. Third time’s certainly the charm. And from what I hear, Sunday brunch at Mister Sizzle’s is a worthy endeavor. I’ve added it to my list.

Mr. Sizzle’s: https://mistersizzles.com/