The mere mention of Buffalo, New York conjures up images of chicken wings and hot roast beef sandwiches. But New York’s Queen City is much more than that. Here are 10 things every foodie must do when in New York’s second-largest city.
Seabar’s beef on weck sushi roll
Seabar: Beef on Weck Roll
Bakery, Restaurant, Sushi, Contemporary, $$$
Elm Street Bakery
Traditionalists will always have plenty of options for one of Buffalo’s biggest contributions to American culinary culture. Seabar offers a creative and playful twist on beef on weck: as a sushi roll. It’s strip steak wrapped in rice and draped in tissue paper-thin beef carpaccio. Dressed with caraway seeds and horseradish mayo, this signature dish is every bit Buffalo as its inspiration.
Buffalo Bites: Food Tasting and Historical Walking Tour of East Aurora
This excursion runs more than two hours and takes you outside gritty Buffalo proper to a quiet suburb that’s loud and proud of its emerging culinary scene. East Aurora is best known for being home to the headquarters of toy giant Fisher-Price. However, stops on this tour, including the Elm Street Bakery and historic Roycroft Inn, are elbowing their way into this small town’s claim to fame. Cupcakes, coffee, handcrafted teas and upscale gastropub fare round out the tour stops. Buffalo Bites also offers a food and cultural tour of Elmowood Village for those who prefer to stay in the city.
Oysters After 9 p.m. at Oshun
Bar, Seafood, Pub Grub, $$$
It’s a former shoe store that has found its soul as an art deco oyster bar. Inventive brunch, lunch and dinner menus feature fresh takes on seafood. Though it’s tough to choose, and repeat visits are likely in order, the real pearl is the half-priced oysters after 9pm. It’s nearly a buck a shuck. And those mollusks are still ridiculously fresh and beautifully briny at that hour.
Everybody has to start somewhere, and this is where new Americans and their foodie fans begin. This marketplace in a West Side strip mall serves as a restaurant incubator for immigrants striving for their version of the American dream. Large plates of authentic Burmese, Pakistani, Thai and Indian cuisine are all options at budget prices, as entrepreneurs master their business plans here before striking out on their own. It’s one of the few places to find freshly made international foods in the city.
Asian Pork Crêpes at Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers' Market
A breakfast staple is the raison d’être for this West Side stop that boasts of revolutionizing the simplest of meals. A menu starring 11 varieties of toast expertly paired with sweet and savory preserves, cheeses, and even icing beckons long but quick-moving lines. It’s quirky enough to require a stop by any food lover, who can also grab a house-made loaf to go for toast at home. Cyclists get a discount on their order.
Asian Pork Crêpes at Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers’ Market
Stocking Up at the Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers' Market
Farmers' Market, Asian
The beer garden at Resurgence Brewing Co.
Saturday mornings are easy here. Locally grown produce abounds for visitors to take home as a souvenir from this producer-only market. It’s considered to be the best in western New York. It can also supply you with growlers of Buffalo’s craft brews, wine, fruit juices, meats, baking, and made-to-order street food, including hearty Asian pork crepes. From May to November, nearly 40 vendors pack this boulevard on the lush Bidwell Parkway in historic Elmwood Village.
The optimistic name of this craft brewery speaks to what’s happening in Buffalo right now. It’s pouring new life into an old and nearly vacant industrial neighborhood bordering the Niagara River. The sponge candy stout and loganberry wit are heady, modern tributes to Buffalo’s culinary history, and must-tries. They can be sipped in a beer garden nestled among old factories that make it reminiscent of Brooklyn.
Bagging a Sourdough Baguette at Breadhive Cooperative Bakery
It’s a bakery specializing in sourdough everything and home of the famed Cheetos bagel. This quaint bakery doesn’t have a store front to browse, however. A big part of its charm is the walk-up window where bread aficionados place their orders for tangy West Side loaves, baguettes and pretzels. Wedged between a convenience store and family homes, and across the street from an elementary school, this bakery might seem out of place. This, of course, were it not for the steady business stepping up to the window.
Explore Buffalo’s Sweet Spot at Watson’s Chocolates of Distinction
Dessert Shop, Dessert
Ted's Hot Dogs | Ted's Hot Dogs
Watson’s Chocolates of Distinction is home to another famous Buffalo culinary export: sponge candy. They’ve been making it since 1946. They will ship it — by air, too — but only if it arrives at its destination in two days or less. That makes a stop for this classic confection mandatory. Just make sure you transport this delicate, airy, chocolate-coated goodness in temperature-controlled conditions. Dark or milk, this sponge candy is gold.
A Buffalo institution, this is where diets get the boot. There are two lines to serve you. While it behooves you to pick the shortest one, the staff at Ted’s are masters of grilling hot dogs — even veggie dogs — over charcoal and dressing however you wish in a timely manner. Just make sure you get your dog with Ted’s famous hot sauce, a concoction of relish, ketchup and kick. It’s required if you’re going to eat like a local. It’s also a must to wash it all down with a loganberry fountain drink.