This spring’s Restaurant Week celebrates Buffalo’s unique spin on food. Iconic fare, like great Italian, chicken wings and beef on weck, beloved menu classics, creative chefs, diverse offerings and, this year, national recognition for innovation: James Beard award finalist chef Ryan Fernandez of Southern Junction Barbecue has joined this season’s biannual promotion of local restaurants for the third time.

This celebration of local restaurants, from April 15 – 21, follows the announcement, earlier this month, of Fernandez’s designation as one of five finalists in the emerging chef category of the James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef awards to be given out in June.

Fernandez, also the host of this year’s Restaurant Week press conference, continues to support the effort as his career advances from his original takeout kitchen at the Chandler Street center of food entrepreneurs to his new restaurant home at 365 Connecticut St.

The spotlight on Fernandez, who fuses Southern Indian and Texas tastes into his menu’s offerings, is one benefit of setting aside a week to celebrate restaurants.

“What I enjoy about the opportunities that Restaurant Week provides both residents and visitors is that it gives them a chance to try new restaurants and try the variations of food that we have,” said Patrick Kaler, president and CEO of Visit Buffalo Niagara. “We do have flavors from around the world. I think this helps expose the restaurant scene and its diversity.”

A number of local breweries, beer bars, bottle shops and cideries will take part, including Big Ditch Brewing, 42 North Brewing, Clarksburg Cider, Magic Bear Beer Cellar, New York Beer Project, RationAles and Wayland Brewing will all take part.

This year’s participating restaurants are listed here, many with prix fixe menus or other special offerings created for the week.

This will be the fourth Restaurant Week, coordinated by Visit Buffalo Niagara in collaboration with the New York State Restaurant Association’s Western New York chapter. It is an invitation for visitors, local diners, and Canadian friends to try new offerings from local restaurants, taverns, bistros, diners and cafes.

“Food and eating is the one thing that every visitor has in common, whether or not they’re coming for a convention, a sporting event or our arts and culture,” said Kaler. “Restaurant Week is a chance to show off the diversity of our restaurants. Most are local. And they aren’t chain restaurants. That’s one of our strong suits as a destination.”

Buffalo has increasing reputation as a place with a lively and innovative food scene, said Andrew Galarneau, founder of, independent food writer and restaurant critic.

Fernandez’ food is just one of many delicious local examples that await diners.

“He has created another, only-in-Buffalo taste sensation with worldwide potential,” said Galarneau.

Western New York is a particularly welcoming place for food entrepreneurs, he said.

“Skilled, passionate restaurateurs who could make a living anywhere have chosen Buffalo, because of family reasons, or reasonable rent. Immigrants trying to make their American dream come true are giving Buffalo a world of dining opportunities,” he said. “That’s why Buffalo offers a huge bang for your buck: You can eat big-city food at Buffalo prices.”