German hospitality is alive and well in Buffalo. Scharf’s German Restaurant & Bar – better known simply as “Scharf’s” – has served up European comfort cuisine for generations. One could say it is a hidden gem, except that it has been a regional fixture for 50 years.
Founded in 1967 by Margarete Scharf and her husband Karl, the restaurant spent its first four-plus decades on Buffalo’s East Side at the site of the former Rimbeck’s Schiller Park Tavern. Its sustained presence and popularity mirrored other longtime Buffalo establishments, whose popularity thrived within the city’s diverse ethnic neighborhoods. Longtime patrons could be found at the bar, grabbing a post-work beer or engaged in lengthy conversations in German. Others stopped by for a surefire, hearty home-cooked meal. In 2014, Scharf’s relocated to West Seneca – just south of the city – to replace the Deerhead Inn, a local staple that was closing after 52 years. The symbolic passing of the torch between family-owned establishments was quintessential Buffalo.
The atmosphere at Scharf’s blends family tradition with a comfortable dining experience where everyone feels welcome. An impressive oak bar room leads into a spacious dining area, complete with blue checkered tables, festive accordion music and decades of vintage advertisements, family photos, memorabilia and even a clock that counts down to the next Oktoberfest (a not-to-be-missed restaurant highlight since the beginning). Visitors in warmer months can also savor the outdoor patio. In this writer’s opinion, German fare knows no seasonal limitations. Neither should you.
The fare is also terrific. German bier [sic] adventurers won’t be disappointed by the six tap selections along with a range of bottles – some of which are more challenging to find elsewhere. Don’t hold back with your meal. The savory potato pancakes are dynamite and best enjoyed with a dollop of sour cream. The classic wiener schnitzel is also not to be missed, especially with a side of German potato salad and red cabbage. But don’t forget your salad. It becomes easier with homemade German House Salad Dressing – a recipe developed by Margarete Scharf that dates back to the restaurant’s early years.
Today, Scharf’s thrives with the same family spirit and trueness to its heritage. Margarete and Karl’s son Jerry runs the restaurant with the help of his wife and sons. And after 50 years, their commitment to a home-cooked experience is a recipe that keeps people coming back.