Buffalo West serves up a wonderfully plated 12-oz. rib-eye with mashed potatoes, field greens, and sautéed veggies. Chase Martinez
Buffalo West serves up a wonderfully plated 12-oz. rib-eye with mashed potatoes, field greens, and sautéed veggies. Chase Martinez

What’s going on over on the waaay West Side? Between the high-end Mexican creations hidden inside Salsa Fuego’s humble traffic-circle environs and Cendera Center’s posh event space down the road, there seems to be an uptick in upscale spots in a part of town that’s probably better known for City Vending-owned dive bars, head shops, and (gulp) Illusions Cabaret. Buffalo West, formerly known as Buffalo Gap, is in on this trend, offering food that blends down-home familiarity with chic ingredients for a tasty, filling experience.

Housed in an old Steak & Ale near the traffic circle by Camp Bowie West and Alta Mere Drive, Buffalo West features an integration of some of the former establishment’s décor with a remodel, turning the chain resto’s generic steakhouse feel into comfortable, subtle Texana. Behind a solid oak door (notable for a speakeasy window at eye level), you’ll find the cozy, dark wood and stucco walls of Buffalo West’s predecessor touched up with the kind of natural-finish wood planks you’d find on the walls of an upscale hunting lodge. The theme is underscored by trophy heads of deer and bighorn sheep mounted on the walls, as well as some chairs covered in cowhide.

Since Buffalo West’s fare comes from the imagination of Chef Paul Willis (Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, Yucatan Taco Stand, Buffalo Cantina), the menu might seem a little familiar, despite touches like sushi plating and entrées topped with mashed potatoes. There are lots of julienned vegetables, for example, and the main courses are a little heavy on sauces, sort of like the items at Willis’ other places. In the case of Buffalo West, the signature sauces include a lot of chimichurri and a tasty mushroom demi-glace.

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On my first of three visits, I skipped the burgers and steaks and went with the ground sirloin and beef chorizo meatloaf. For all its middle-America ordinariness, meatloaf can be kind of hard to do well, a point driven home to a lot of cooks by mom-worshipping husbands since the dawn of time. Seeing as Buffalo West’s is built on chorizo, I expected something a little crazy, but apart from being appropriately moist and topped with garlic mash, it didn’t totally wow me — at first. After I’d eaten a third of it, the spicy chorizo seemed to wake up, leaving my tastebuds sweating in a pleasant heat. With the strings of julienned veggies and a few asparagus spears, the dish was a satisfying success.

Thinking I’d nosh a little more for research purposes on my second visit, I ordered the chimichurri chicken chilaquiles, an alliterative nightmare for nervous servers and a literal nightmare should you attempt to eat them all by your lonesome. Perhaps as a joke, the chilaquiles are listed in the “small plates” section. When I ordered them from the bartender, she asked if I was sure I wanted them as an appetizer. “They’re kind of huge,” she said. “Yeah, sure,” I replied. “Put ’em out first.”

Of course, you should always listen to your server, because a runner soon presented me with a ginormous pile of chicken and cheese, topped with green chile sauce, tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta cheese, and purple cabbage. It easily could’ve fed five people. Maybe huge mountains of chips and chicken are Chef Paul’s personal hallmark, because the plate was similar in size and execution to those found at Yucatan, though the chile sauce and creamy, unspecified “Latin” cheeses (near-liquid Chihuahua cheese, I thought) tasted markedly different than anything I’d ever eaten at his other places. I told myself not to eat {any} more than a quarter of it, because I’d ordered something off the “big plates” section. I went way over my limit but still left plenty to take home.

My main course was the house-cured sausage and wild mushroom lasagna, a more reasonable though still hefty portion of flat noodles, sausage, and mushroom sauce. The sausage wasn’t terribly spicy, and its mellow flavor never really surprised me. Don’t get me wrong — I ate the whole thing because it was good, but I felt like I should’ve gone with something more adventurous, like the pan-fried quail fettuccine. I was also curious about Chef Paul’s refried beans, because the bartender had said something about making them with Orange Crush. I’m saving the chicken-fried frog legs, bacon-wrapped stuffed shrimp, and asparagus guacamole for future visits.

For my last visit, I stayed relatively tame, going with the grilled vegetable plate. I also ordered the refrieds. The vegetables were adequately firm but kind of overpowered by the chimichurri. The green Argentinian sauce was used to better advantage on the refritos, adding some tasty zip to the dish’s silky texture. If I hadn’t been tipped off to the secret ingredient, I think I still would’ve noticed a slight sweetness, but the combo of secret and sauce made this version of the Tex-Mex staple worth telling my friends about.




Buffalo West

7101 Camp Bowie Blvd, FW. 817-732-2370. 11am-10pm Sun-Wed, 11am-12am Thu-Sat.

Beer, liquor. MasterCard, Visa accepted.

Chimichurri chicken chilaquiles … $10.25

House-cured sausage

and wild mushroom lasagna ……. $14.00

Ground sirloin and beef

chorizo meatloaf ……………………. $13.00