Downtown has been the nucleus of Buffalo since its foundation; over two centuries later, it retains its central importance in the Niagara Frontier both geographically and commercially. Though its bygone era of bustling streets and fancy department stores along Main Street has not been completely reclaimed, visitors to downtown today will be greeted with a lot more than the boarded-up storefronts and eerie desolation that they would have seen a quarter-century ago.
For the purposes of this article, the Medical Corridor — located north of what has traditionally been called downtown, where the University at Buffalo Medical School has helped cultivate a complex of medical research institutions that are a new and growing sector of the area's economy — falls under the umbrella of downtown due to its abundance of tall buildings and white-collar workers.
Downtown Buffalo has come a long way in the past decade or two, and now contains a number of distinct attractions for tourists. Main Street's Theater District sprang up around the grand old silent movie palace-turned-performing arts venue, Shea's Buffalo Theatre, when it was rescued from the wrecking ball in 1976. The Theater District now boasts a range of restaurants, bars, shops, music venues, and of course, theatres, that is astonishingly wide for a city Buffalo's size. Nearby, though the club kids and rowdies of old are largely gone these days, there's still a healthy (and now much more chilled-out) bar scene along West Chippewa Street. Most recently, the ongoing revitalization of the Canalside area is a paradise for history buffs, families with children, and those who just enjoy the simple pleasure of a stroll along the lakefront on a warm summer day. Fans of architecture will also be enraptured by the many well-preserved examples of turn-of-the-century buildings found all over the business district, many of which have been lovingly restored and have been repurposed with new identities amid the modest but growing renaissance that Buffalo is currently enjoying.
Not surprisingly, downtown Buffalo is the oldest section of the city. Though the official incorporation of Buffalo dates to 1804, it is known that there was a tiny trading post, a few cabins, and perhaps a half-dozen settlers located here before that date — and perhaps even before the Holland Land Company's purchase eleven years earlier of all of what is today New York State west of the Genesee River. However, it was in 1798 when Joseph Ellicott, a land agent and surveyor for the Holland Land Company, arrived at the junction of the Buffalo River and Lake Erie. Soon afterward, he began to lay out streets and lots for a village he called New Amsterdam, but which the residents insisted on calling Buffalo (a name change that was made official in 1808). Joseph Ellicott was the brother of Andrew Ellicott, who was responsible for surveying the streets of Washington, D.C.; the radial streets that Joseph Ellicott laid out in Buffalo, centered on Niagara Square and largely intact today, certainly bear a great deal of similarity to the street plan of Washington and also testify to the greatness that Ellicott envisioned for Buffalo — though it was well beyond the frontier of settlement at that time, Ellicott predicted that Buffalo would someday be a huge city and an important inland port. Ellicott's vision came to fruition in 1825 with the completion of the Erie Canal from the Hudson River at Albany to Buffalo Harbor, kickstarting a century of meteoric growth for Buffalo.
It is important to note that for all of Buffalo's importance during those early years as an inland port and manufacturing center, commerce played a much smaller role in its economy than industry. Buffalo's commercial district at that time was quite small, hugging the north side of the harbor and extending no further north than Church Street. By contrast, the northern reaches of today's downtown, i.e. the Theater District, were residential; even Niagara Square was a cluster of elegant and spacious mansions with an appearance much more akin to a village green in New England than the center of an urban business district. It was not until after the Civil War that commerce truly began to take a place in Buffalo's economy; by the turn of the century, Lafayette Square, two blocks north of Church Street, was the home of large office buildings such as the Buffalo German Insurance Company and the Mooney & Brisbane Building. The business district's boundary continued to creep further north during the first part of the 20th Century; at the onset of the Depression, Niagara Square was an odd mishmash, with the remaining mansions standing side by side with tall skyscrapers like the twelve-story Buffalo Athletic Club, the 19-story Hotel Statler, and the then brand-new City Hall, which, at a height of 398 feet (121m), is still the second-tallest building in Buffalo.
However, things were slowly beginning to change. Though World War II saw Buffalo's steel mills and automotive plants working at full force, a number of factors converged after the war that stymied, and finally reversed, Buffalo's growth. In downtown specifically, the Main Street retail corridor began to grow less and less crowded each year as shoppers began to pass up grand old department stores like Adam, Meldrum and Anderson, Hengerer's, and L. L. Berger in favor of suburban plazas and malls. Sadly, the response of Buffalo's civic leaders to the decline of downtown was the same as their response to the deterioration in other neighborhoods: "urban renewal", for the most part poorly thought out and incredibly destructive. Among the many examples of the devastation of downtown's urban fabric was the demolition of the stunning, castlelike Erie County Savings Bank building to make way for the Main Place Tower, a bland modernist office tower with an attached suburban-style shopping mall, the razing of Cyrus Eidlitz's Buffalo Public Library, a beautiful Romanesque edifice in red sandstone at the east end of Lafayette Square, to be replaced by the drab monolith that houses the Central Library today, and the replacement of the beautiful French Second Empire-style Buffalo German Insurance Company with the minimalist, boxlike Tishman Building, which stood abandoned for nearly a decade before a belated redevelopment as a combination Hilton Garden Inn and headquarters to local development company, the Hamister Group.
By 2000, signs of hope had begun to emerge. Buffalo's preservationist movement, which was kickstarted in 1950 with the city's shortsighted demolition of Frank Lloyd Wright's glorious Larkin Administration Building, had gained strength all through this time as their list of successes in preventing future disasters of that type grew. Thanks to their efforts, downtown Buffalo retains many splendid old buildings that would otherwise have been demolished. More importantly, the failure of Robert Moses-style urban renewal to address Buffalo's decline has inspired the city's leaders to adopt a new strategy for development, favoring a more broad-based approach that has already borne fruit in similar Rust Belt cities like Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Without this epiphany, West Chippewa Street would likely still be overrun with seedy flophouses, prostitutes, and other unsavory characters, Canalside would likely still be a desolate patchwork of parking lots and moribund warehouses, and downtown in general would likely still be replete with boarded-up storefronts and a virtual ghost town after the end of the workday and on weekends. The most recent phase in downtown's renaissance, beginning over the past decade, has been the conversion of disused office space into high-end downtown apartments and condominiums — a commodity for which many Buffalonians have been surprised to discover there is considerable pent-up demand.
Because of its proximity to Lake Erie, downtown Buffalo is noticeably cooler and windier than other areas of the city and region. This has the effect of making the Erie Basin Marina and other waterfront areas popular places for Buffalonians to escape oppressive summer heat, but also makes nighttime baseball games at Coca-Cola Field early in the season fairly uncomfortable.
Get in and around
Although a car is probably necessary for most visitors to Buffalo, the small size of Buffalo's downtown, coupled with issues such as traffic, the proliferation of one-way streets, and the hassle and expense of parking, make walking a far more sensible method of transportation for those who only need to travel from one downtown location to another. In fact, it could be said that walking is the only way to fully experience the best of what downtown Buffalo has to offer — its magnificent architecture, the proliferation of unexpected things to see, and the bustle of the streets are often missed by those who merely pass through in a car. It's really quite a pleasant experience.
Due to its central location and the famously light traffic on area roads, downtown Buffalo is easily accessible by car. (Parking, however, is another story!)
Niagara Square was designed as the central node of Buffalo's network of streets, a status it retains, and thus it is a good point of reference for visitors in navigating the streets of downtown. Niagara Square is where many of Buffalo's most important thoroughfares converge: Niagara Street, Elmwood Avenue, Delaware Avenue, Genesee Street, and Court Street (which splits three blocks east of here, at Lafayette Square, into William Street and Clinton Street). Downtown's other major thoroughfares include Main, Church, Pearl, Tupper, Washington, Chippewa, Ellicott, Oak, and Elm Streets.
In addition, downtown Buffalo is also served by three urban expressways: the Kensington Expressway (NY 33), which begins at the airport and passes through the suburb of Cheektowaga and the East Side before ending at Oak Street at the northeast corner of downtown; Interstate 190, Exits 6 and 7 of which serve downtown via Elm and Church Streets, respectively; and the Buffalo Skyway (NY 5), which parallels the lake shore along the Outer Harbor before ending at its junction with I-190 downtown.
Visitors should keep in mind that although Main Street has been closed to automobile traffic between Mohawk and Scott Streets since 1985 to accommodate the above-ground portion of the Metro Rail, the "Cars Sharing Main Street" project allowing for the gradual return of cars to that thoroughfare has been ongoing for some time. The segment between Tupper and Chippewa Streets and Chippewa and Mohawk Streets reopened in January and December 2015, respectively, with cars and trains sharing the tracks; the next segment scheduled to reopen is the block between Exchange and Scott Streets, just north of Canalside. However, it will likely be many years before all of Main Street is accessible to autos.
On-street parking in the downtown core can be hard to come by (though the scenario is certainly not as dire as in larger cities like New York or Toronto). This is especially true on weekdays during business hours and, in and around the Chippewa Street entertainment district, also at night and on weekends. Parking meters generally charge $1 per hour; parking is free after 5PM on weekdays and all day Saturday and Sunday. Parking is much more easily available, but also more expensive, at downtown's many paid parking lots and ramps. Rates at parking ramps average about $1.50 per hour up to a daily maximum of about $6; surface lots range from $4 to $5 per hour up to a daily maximum of between $8 and $10. During special events at the KeyBank Center, Coca-Cola Field, or the Convention Center, rates at parking ramps and (particularly) surface lots rise steeply.
Members of Zipcar have access to a Nissan Frontier crew-cab pickup truck stationed in the parking lot on the east side of Washington Street between High and Carlton Streets in the Medical Corridor, behind the 2 Kevin Guest House. The vehicle is available for a price of $10/hour or $80/day M-Th; $11/hour or $87/day F-Su. This price includes fuel, insurance, and 180 free miles (about 290 free kilometers) per day.
By public transportation
Public transit in Buffalo and the surrounding area is provided by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA). The NFTA Metro system encompasses a single-line light-rail rapid transit (LRRT) system and an extensive network of buses. The fare for a single trip on a bus or train is $2.00 regardless of length, with the sole exception of the Enhanced Express service described below. No transfers are provided between buses or trains; travelers who will need to make multiple trips per day on public transit should consider purchasing an all-day pass for $5.00.
Downtown Buffalo is served by virtually all of the NFTA's bus routes, either directly or via the Metro Rail, and thus is easily accessible from the majority of the metropolitan area by public transportation. The 1 Buffalo Metropolitan Transportation Center, at Ellicott and North Division Streets, is the central node of the bus network and serves as a stop on most if not all bus routes that access downtown directly. Individual routes and schedules are available at the NFTA Metro System's website.
In addition to regular routes, the NFTA operates thirteen express buses that directly connect downtown Buffalo with more far-flung suburbs, with few if any intermediate stops. Of particular interest to tourists will be NFTA MetroLink Bus #204 — Airport-Downtown Express, which makes 12 runs in each direction Monday through Friday between the Buffalo Niagara International Airport and the Buffalo Metropolitan Transportation Center. Because these buses are primarily intended for residents of the suburbs who need to commute to jobs downtown, all express buses (with the exception of Bus #204) make inbound trips on weekday mornings only, and outbound trips on weekday evenings only. Thus, travelers who are staying in the suburbs but would like to visit downtown may find express buses convenient. Visitors should also note that some express buses fall under the Enhanced Express service that was introduced by the NFTA in September 2012. In addition to the usual one-way fare of $2.00, an additional 50¢ surcharge per trip applies on Enhanced Express buses. These routes are enumerated on the NFTA Metro System's website.
By Metro Rail
The Metro Rail is an LRRT line that extends along Main Street from the University at Buffalo's South Campus in North Buffalo southward to downtown. The northern portion of the system is a subway, but as it enters downtown it emerges from its tunnel and runs at street level. Riding on the above-ground portion of the Metro Rail — from Fountain Plaza Station near Genesee Street southward to Erie Canal Harbor Station — is free, and is a pleasant and efficient way to travel from one end of downtown to the other. It's important to note, though, that travelers who continue northward past the Fountain Plaza Station without having paid a fare ($2.00 one-way/$4.00 round trip) may incur a substantial fine.
There are six Metro Rail stations located downtown. From north to south, they are:
- 2 Fountain Plaza Station — Main Street at Huron Street.
- 3 Lafayette Square Station — Main Street at Court Street.
- 4 Church Station — Main Street at Church Street.
- 5 Seneca Station — Main Street at Seneca Street.
- 6 Erie Canal Harbor Station — Main Street at Scott Street.
- 7 Special Events Station — Main Street at Perry Street, adjacent to the KeyBank Center. This station is only open immediately before and after certain events at the KeyBank Center, otherwise Erie Canal Harbor Station serves as the last stop on the Metro Rail.
Additionally, the 8 Allen-Medical Campus Station, the next stop north of Fountain Plaza, is located at the corner of Main and Allen Streets, adjacent to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Corridor. Though most Buffalonians would argue that this area is not part of "downtown" per se, the fact that the Medical Corridor is covered in this article makes the Allen-Medical Campus Station the most convenient one for several of the attractions listed below. Also keep in mind that the Allen-Medical Campus Station is not part of the free-fare zone.
The Metro Rail is the backbone of Buffalo's public transit system — the line intersects with most NFTA bus routes, including many crosstown routes that do not access downtown directly. In particular, the University Station, at the outer end of the line, is serviced by many suburban bus routes that traverse the towns north of Buffalo, making for easy access to downtown.
Buffalo has been making great strides in recent years in accommodating bicycling as a mode of transportation, with recognition from the League of American Bicyclists as a Bronze-Level "Bicycle-Friendly Community" to show for its efforts. As far as bicycling infrastructure goes, downtown Buffalo, along with the city as a whole, has come a long way in a short time. At the present time, there are "sharrows" (pavement markings on roads too narrow to accommodate dedicated bike lanes, indicating that drivers should be aware of bicyclists on the road) on West Chippewa Street between Main Street and South Elmwood Avenue, on West Huron Street between the same two streets, and in the Medical Corridor along Ellicott Street between Goodell and Best Streets. As well, there are bike lanes along Delaware Avenue from Niagara Square northward through downtown (and as far as North Street in Allentown), along Genesee Street between Elm Street and Roosevelt Plaza, along Pearl Street between Exchange and West Tupper Streets, along North and South Division Streets (one on each of those parallel one-way streets, oriented in the same direction as car traffic) between Main and Elm Streets, and along Marine Drive and its eastern extension, Scott Street, between Erie and Washington Streets.
This trend is slated to continue into the future as well, as the aforementioned Cars on Main Street program will see Main Street progressively transformed from a failed attempt at a pedestrian mall lined with moribund businesses to what will be almost inarguably the most "complete" street in Buffalo's "Complete Streets" program, whose aim is to redesign streets so as to promote alternative methods of transportation. At its completion, Main Street will see cars and trains sharing the Metro Rail tracks in the middle of the roadway, flanked by ample sidewalks and — yes — a bike lane on each side of the road as far south as Chippewa Street.
This is not to say that cyclists should throw caution to the wind: downtown Buffalo is still a place of heavy automobile traffic and crowded sidewalks. In particular, despite the pavement markings, West Chippewa is still an extremely busy road in terms of both automobile and foot traffic.
As well, Canalside serves as a main nexus of the Shoreline Trail, a multi-use trail 17.6 miles (28.2 km) in length that runs north along the Niagara River to the Erie Canal terminus in Tonawanda as well as south through the Outer Harbor. Originally called the Riverwalk, this was one of the first purpose-built bike trails in the area, dating to the 1980s, and it's still a perennial favorite especially on warm summer days, boasting scenic views over the water. Particularly avid bicyclists will note that the Shoreline Trail also links up directly to the Scajaquada Creekside Trail to Delaware Park, as well as the Erie Canalway Trail through Tonawanda and Amherst. If you're headed south to the Outer Harbor instead, the Queen City Bike Ferry (fare $1, operates late May-mid Oct) is a nice shortcut for those who don't want to deal with the on-street bike lanes along Marine Drive, Main Street, etc.
Bike sharing and rental
You'll find Reddy Bikeshare racks at the following locations downtown:
- on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, on the east side of Ellicott Street between High and Carlton Streets, across the street from the Kevin Guest House
- on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, on the north side of North Oak Street at the corner of Ellicott Street, across the street diagonally from Ulrich's Tavern
- the east side of Main Street between Tupper and Chippewa Streets, in front of the Andrews Theatre
- the west side of Delaware Avenue between West Tupper and West Chippewa Streets, at the entrance to the Westin Buffalo hotel
- the north side of West Chippewa Street between South Elmwood and Delaware Avenues, across the street from Ted's Hot Dogs
- at Roosevelt Plaza, at the corner of Genesee and East Huron Streets
- the east side of Lafayette Square, in front of the Central Library
- at Niagara Square directly in front of City Hall
- the east side of Ellicott Street at the corner of East Eagle Street, at the side entrance to the Metropolitan Transportation Center
- the south side of Swan Street at the corner of Washington Street, in front of Coca-Cola Field
- at Canalside, on the south side of Marine Drive just past the corner of Pearl Street, in front of Liberty Hound
Additionally, the stretch of Main Street from Edward Street south to Church Street is a free parking zone, wherein you can return your Reddy bike when you're done to any public bike rack without incurring the $2 fee for parking outside of a hub.
If you're in town between May and October and are keen to take a two-wheeled spin around the harbor, 9 Blue Bikes of Canalside is another option. Made possible by BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, Blue Bikes' fleet of 46 includes adult- and child-sized bikes and even a few tricycles for the littlest riders, which are rented from a kiosk on the west side of Main Street across from the Courtyard by Marriott, near the paddleboat station. In theory you can ride wherever you like, but the fairly steep prices — $15 per hour, $20 for two hours, $25 for three hours, and $35 for four or more hours (BlueCross BlueShield members can show their card for a $5 discount) — make this a less practical option if you're planning to venture outside of the immediate Canalside area.
The 10 Buffalo-Exchange Street Amtrak Station (BFX) is located downtown at 75 Exchange St., and is directly accessed by a number of NFTA Metro Bus routes. See the main Buffalo article for more information on arriving via Amtrak.
- 1 , One Naval Park Cove (Metro Rail: Erie Canal Harbor), ☎ . Apr-Oct 10AM-5PM daily, Nov Sa-Su and F after Thanksgiving 10AM-4PM, Dec-Mar closed. Located adjacent to Canalside, the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park opened in 1977 and consists of three historic warships: the USS Little Rock, a cruiser which served in the Mediterranean Sea during the Cold War as a flagship for the Second and Sixth Fleets of the U.S. Navy and is now the only guided missile cruiser in the country on display; the USS The Sullivans, a destroyer that saw intense action in the Pacific theater of World War II; and the USS Croaker, a submarine that also saw action in the Pacific during WWII. These ships are open for self-guided tours during the warm months. There is also a museum on site that displays memorabilia such as Medals of Honor awarded to area residents. $10, seniors and ages 6-16 $6.
- 2 Western New York Book Arts Center, 468 Washington St. (Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☎ . W-Sa noon-6PM. A 501(c)(3) educational non-profit organization, the mission of the Western New York Book Arts Center (WNYBAC) is, in the words of its website, to "promote, encourage and develop the printing and book arts through education and access for individual artists and underserved communities". Presented at the WNYBAC are permanent exhibits detailing the history of printmaking, writing, bookbinding and related crafts, temporary shows featuring the work of local writers, artists and illustrators, and workshops that educate individuals and groups on techniques in bookbinding, papermaking, screen printing, and letterpress. The WNYBAC also holds Open Studios twice monthly for local artisans to work on their own projects. Exhibitions free, variable prices for special events and workshops.
- 3 Lower Lakes Marine Historical Society Museum, 66 Erie St. (Metro Rail: Seneca), ☎ . Th & Sa 10AM-3PM and by appointment. The shipping industry was greatly important to Buffalo's economy in earlier times, and the Lower Lakes Marine Historical Society's mission is to pay tribute to, and increase awareness and appreciation of, that facet of local history. To that end, a wide variety of historic artifacts, old photographs, models, and interpretive materials relevant to the Great Lakes shipping trade are displayed in a warm and airy museum located in what was once the offices of Howard H. Baker and Company, a ship chandlery that served Buffalo Harbor in the 19th Century. Free.
- Mark Twain Room, Central Library, 1 Lafayette Squ. (Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☎ . M-W & F-Sa 8:30AM-6PM, Th 8:30AM-8PM, Su noon-5PM. Mark Twain lived in Buffalo for a short period at the beginning of his career, from 1869 to 1871; though not his most prolific period as a writer, it was during his time as editor and co-owner of the Buffalo Morning Express that he courted and married his wife Olivia and fathered his first child. Today, at the Central Library on Lafayette Square, there's a small exhibit space that displays a range of memorabilia related to the iconic author and humorist, including most famously the original manuscript of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn handwritten by Twain in 1885. In addition, you can see a collection of English and foreign-language editions of Huck Finn gradually amassed by the Library beginning in the 1930s, as well as the restored mantel that once stood in Twain's handsome mansion at 472 Delaware Avenue in present-day Allentown (destroyed by fire in 1963). The Mark Twain Room is open whenever the Central Library is open; it's on the first floor of the building, on the right side of the corridor as you walk past the escalators. Free.
Monuments and memorials
- 4 McKinley Monument (At Niagara Square; Metro Rail: Lafayette Square). Erected in 1907 in commemoration of the assassination of President William McKinley at the Pan-American Exposition exactly six years prior, this gleaming 96-foot (29 m) obelisk of Vermont marble anchors Niagara Square at the focal point of Joseph Ellicott's 1807 radial street plan. The McKinley Monument was designed by Carrere and Hastings, the same architects in charge of the Exposition; the lions and turtles resting at its base (symbols, respectively, of strength and eternal life) were carved by well-known sculptor A. Phimister Proctor. The monument was also the subject of Carl Sandburg's poem "Slants at Buffalo, New York".
- 5 Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument (Metro Rail: Lafayette Square). Designed by architect George Kellar of Hartford, Connecticut with bronze reliefs by Caspar Buberl, the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument is the centerpiece of Lafayette Square, a granite shaft that stands 85 feet (25 m) tall. Talk of a Civil War memorial monument (originally intended to be located at Soldier's Place in the Delaware District) had begun as early as 1866, but it was not until 1884 when the Ladies' Union Monument Association finally effected its construction. Soon after its dedication it was noted that, due to the uneven settlement of its foundation, the monument was tilted and was structurally unsound; it was dismantled, rebuilt, and rededicated five years later. The Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument was thoroughly restored in 1982.
More and more, Buffalo's exquisite and well-preserved architecture has grabbed the attention of locals and tourists alike. As of June 2017, there are 20 historic neighborhoods in Buffalo that have been recognized by either the National Register of Historic Places or the Buffalo Preservation Board, at least partly for reasons of architectural importance. Four of those are located downtown:
- The 6 Genesee Gateway Local Historic District. A row of seven buildings on the south side of Genesee Street between Ellicott and Oak Streets, at the east end of the business district just past the terminus of the Kensington Expressway, this district is the aptly named "gateway" to downtown. These two-, three-, and four-story brick blocks were built mostly in the final quarter of the 19th Century in styles popular at the time, and represent the most intact period streetscape remaining in Buffalo's business district. Thankfully, after years of neglect and talk of demolition, these properties have been thoroughly renovated as office space and are for lease once again.
- The 7 Joseph Ellicott Local Historic District. encompasses the blocks surrounding Niagara Square, as well as most of the area between Church and Seneca Streets west of Oak Street. The Joseph Ellicott Historic District preserves the nucleus of Ellicott's original street plan for the village of Buffalo, which remains substantially intact, and contains historic buildings in diverse architectural styles from all eras of Buffalo's history — from the Greek Revival-style Title Guarantee Building (110 Franklin St., 1833) through to the Gothic St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral (128 Pearl St., 1849) and Erie County Hall (96 Franklin St., 1871), the Italianate Main-Seneca Building (237 Main St., 1913), the Art Deco Walter Mahoney State Office Building (65 Court St., 1932), and the striking postmodern Robert H. Jackson U.S. Courthouse (2 Niagara Squ., 2011), to name just a few.
- The 8 500 Block of Main Local Historic District. Also known as the Main-Genesee Local Historic District, the 500 Block is bounded by Main, Genesee, East Huron, Washington, and Mohawk Streets. This block chronicles the development of Buffalo's business district from the mid-19th Century to the early 20th Century, consisting mostly of low-rise brick commercial buildings in vernacular interpretations of Greek Revival, Renaissance Revival, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco styles. The small scale of these buildings, which generally rise to no more than three or four stories in height, hearkens back to the appearance of the downtown business district before the construction of gargantuan skyscrapers like the Tishman Building and Fountain Plaza began altering the character of this stretch of Main Street in the middle 20th Century.
- The 9 Theater Local Historic District. Centered on Main Street and bounded by Chippewa, Pearl, Edward, Goodell, and Washington Streets, also including the former Buffalo Courier-Express Building at the northeast corner of Main and Goodell Streets, the Theater Historic District is not only significant as Buffalo's traditional and enduring entertainment district, which has been given a new lease on life in recent years, but also for the architectural grandeur of its buildings, most of which were constructed around the turn of the century in the Beaux-Arts Neoclassical style and feature exquisitely detailed terra cotta decoration. Examples include the Pierce Building (651 Main St.), the Alleyway Theatre (672 Main St.; quite unlike the others, this was constructed in 1941 in the Art Moderne style), the Perron Building (674 Main St.), the Market Arcade (617 Main St.), and the centerpiece of the district, Shea's Performing Arts Center (646 Main St.)
In addition to these historic districts, among the many individual buildings in downtown Buffalo of architectural significance is the...
- 10 Guaranty Building, 140 Pearl St. (Metro Rail: Church), ☎ . Interpretive center open M-F 8:30AM-5PM or by appointment with Preservation Buffalo Niagara. Erected in 1896, the Guaranty Building was one of the earliest high-rise office buildings in Buffalo, an architectural wonder in ruddy terra cotta designed by the "Father of the Skyscraper" himself, Louis Sullivan. With breathtaking vertical lines, exquisite Art Nouveau ornamentation all over the façade, and a design that is a near-perfect embodiment of the modernist credo "form follows function", the building was for many years the headquarters of the Buffalo Prudential Insurance Company (hence its alternate name, the Prudential Building) and was named a National Historic Landmark in 1975. There's an interpretive center in the northeast corner of the lobby with exhibits on Sullivan and his partner, Dankmar Adler, the building's history and architecture, and the history of its current occupant, the law firm of Hodgson Russ, now the oldest continually operating business in Buffalo. Guided tours are also offered by appointment.
Recent years have seen the emergence of a growing arts community in downtown Buffalo, centered in the Theater District as well as the emerging 500 block of Main Street immediately south of there. For more art galleries in downtown Buffalo — specifically, ones where art is sold as well as displayed — see the Buy section.
- 11 BOX Gallery, 667 Main St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-F 5PM-8PM. Located in the Theater District inside of Hostel Buffalo Niagara, BOX Gallery was opened in September 2014 by the hostel's general manager, Jon Piret, in conjunction with local artist Jeffrey Vincent, as a home for temporary exhibitions by local artists. At BOX Gallery you'll find innovative work by neophytes and veterans of the local scene alike, often synthesizing multiple different media. As well, there's a performance space for musicians, dancers, and performance artists. Free.
- 12 CEPA Gallery, 617 Main St. (At the Market Arcade; Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-F 7AM-9PM, Sa 8:30AM-4:45PM, Su 10AM-3PM. Located in the historic and architecturally stunning Market Arcade in the Theater District and funded by CEPA members as well as charitable foundations, the CEPA Gallery's mission, according to its website, is "to present contemporary photo-related art, to support working artists, and to promote a greater understanding of photography and its associated aesthetic and cultural issues", with a particular focus on the work of local photographers as well as those who come from groups that have been traditionally underrepresented in the field. To that end, exhibitions of work by CEPA members and others are frequently held in the gallery space. Donation.
- 13 Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, 341 Delaware Ave. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Tu-F 11AM-6PM, Sa 11AM-2PM. Founded in 1974 on the West Side by a collective of visual artists that includes such future luminaries of the Buffalo arts scene as Diane Bertolo, Charles Clough, and Robert Longo, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center has operated since 2006 in Babeville, the complex created by Ani DiFranco in the redeveloped Asbury United Methodist Church. With a mission of creating and making available to the public new works in a diversity of genres of contemporary art, Hallwalls operates a large exhibition gallery that features a permanent collection as well as temporary exhibitions of works by local artists, as well as a screening room and performance space. As well, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center is a dedicated advocate for local artists on issues such as funding for the arts and freedom of expression. Donation.
- 14 Main St. Gallery, 515 Main St. (Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☎ . M-Sa 9AM-5PM. Opened in January 2016 in the former home of MAIN(ST)UDIOS, the Main St. Gallery represents a proud continuation of its predecessor's dedication to the downtown arts community that has coalesced around the 500 Block of Main Street. In this large, two-story combination art gallery and performance space, curator Cole Pawlowski hosts a diverse range of temporary art exhibitions as well as live music, poetry readings, and even film screenings and theatrical pieces.
- 15 Shark Girl, at Canalside near the foot of Perry Boulevard (Metro Rail: Erie Canal Harbor). A work of local artist Casey Riordan Millard, Shark Girl is a life-size fiberglass statue of a young girl with an old-fashioned blue dress, bright red shoes, and a great white shark for a head that's been perplexing — and polarizing — visitors to Canalside since it was unveiled in 2014, borne of a partnership between the city government and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery aimed at promoting works of public art around Buffalo. Shark Girl is a recurring character in Millard's repertoire of paintings and drawings — a representation, she says, of "the existential conundrums of life, love, family, and loss". She sits atop a boulder on one of the whipple-truss bridges over the restored canal.
- 16 Starlight Studio, 340 Delaware Ave. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-F 9AM-4PM. Located in the Theater District and operated by the Learning Disabilities Association of Western New York, Starlight Studio is a gallery and studio that showcases works by artists with disabilities. With a rotating collection on display of works by member artists, frequent temporary exhibitions, and display space available for rent to the community, the overarching goal of Starlight Studio is to support the creative expression and artistic development of adults with disabilities. Donation.
- 17 Big Ditch Brewing Company, 55 E. Huron St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Tours run hourly M, Tu & F 11AM-6PM, W & Sa 11AM-3PM. In the 19th Century, "The Big Ditch" was a popular name for the Erie Canal, which, over the course of only a few decades, took Buffalo from a sleepy frontier backwater to one of America's foremost industrial centers. In much the same way, the Big Ditch Brewing Company's name pays homage to its role in the revival of Buffalo's proud brewing tradition, which was all but dead after the closure of Iroquois Brewing in 1972 but now comprises a growing legion of locally-owned craft microbreweries like the brand-new one on East Huron Street where they operate. During retail hours, Big Ditch's staff leads craft beer lovers on free tours of their production floor, where folks can watch two batches of beer a day get brewed, fermented, carbonated, and racked into kegs. Afterward, head over to the attached tap room and restaurant to sample the finished product. Brewery tour free.
- 18 Canalside (Along the north shore of the Buffalo River between the Commercial Slip and the foot of Main Street; Metro Rail: Erie Canal Harbor), ☎ . Situated on 20 acres (8 ha) of formerly idle land at the harbor, Canalside combines the celebration and preservation of Buffalo's rich history as a rough-and-tumble canal town with an expansion of waterfront recreational opportunities for Buffalonians of today to enjoy. At Canalside, amenities such as tour boats offering cruises of the harbor, river, and lake, a lengthy slate of festivals, and one of the city's favorite new restaurants (Liberty Hound) can be enjoyed in an environment that also pays tribute to history with features such as a recreation of the Commercial Slip — once the western end of the mighty Erie Canal — on the side of which are the restored foundations of old Canal District buildings, dating to the mid-19th century and rediscovered in the early 2000s. As well, a restored canal bridge, interpretive plaques, and the enthralling Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park are on the scene. With further expansion of the offerings slated for the near future, such as two new hotels, a children's museum, a sports complex, and restaurants and shops, Canalside is only going to get better as time goes on.
- 19 Erie Basin Marina, 375 Erie St. (Metro Rail: Erie Canal Harbor), ☎ . Daily 6AM-10PM, May 1-Oct. 15. Much more than just a place to park boats, the Erie Basin Marina is popular with Buffalo residents during the summer as a place to walk, jog or bike, enjoy an ice cream cone and cool lake breezes, or just relax and watch the people go by. A longtime fixture on Buffalo's waterfront, the Erie Basin Marina is located next to the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park, the Canalside redevelopment, the Waterfront Village Condominiums, and the Buffalo Light, which was built in 1833 and is the oldest existing building in Buffalo still on its original site. The marina also boasts such amenities as a snack bar and ice cream shop (The Hatch), an upscale restaurant (Templeton Landing), a waterfront boardwalk that provides access to the small Emerald Beach, and an observation tower that boasts excellent views of downtown, the West Side waterfront, Elevator Alley, Lake Erie, the Niagara River, and Canada. Also located here are the Erie Basin Marina Gardens, whose 200 different species of plants come into bloom each spring and summer along Erie Street and which serve not only as a delightful attraction for visitors but also as a test garden for floral and seed companies to experiment with growing their plants in a Northeastern climate.
- Buffalo City Hall Observation Deck, 65 Niagara Squ. (Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☎ . M-F 8AM-5PM. As mentioned before, Niagara Square is the center of Joseph Ellicott's original radial street plan for Buffalo, which makes the 360-degree panoramic views available from the 28th floor of 20 Buffalo City Hall — the second-tallest building in Buffalo — all the more impressive. Guests take the elevator as far as the 25th floor, then ascend a stairwell for the remaining three floors, and are then rewarded with unparalleled views over Buffalo and its surroundings, Lake Erie, and Canada. On clear days, the mist from Niagara Falls can be seen over the northern horizon. Free.
Festivals and events
Buffalo's calendar of annual festivals, parades and events is huge and growing, and its central location makes downtown a popular location for these events. In particular, Niagara Square and Canalside are among Buffalo's preeminent venues, each hosting a multitude of festivals per year.
- Buffalo St. Patrick's Day Parade. Since 1940, on the closest Sunday to March 17th, downtown Buffalo, as well as Allentown, has been the scene of New York State's second-largest St. Patrick's Day celebration, held by the Buffalo United Irish-American Association. Traditionally, Mass is said by the Bishop of Buffalo at St. Joseph's Cathedral on Franklin Street immediately before the participants gather at Niagara Square, marching up Delaware Avenue as far as North Street. The grandeur of this event is testimony to the continuing importance of Buffalo's Irish-American community.
- Taste of Buffalo. Every year since 1984, the first weekend of July has seen foodies descend on Niagara Square and the few blocks of Delaware Avenue north of there for the two-day Taste of Buffalo festival, where Buffalo's most popular restaurants offer samples of their finest dishes to the public. Local wineries often show up to showcase their vintages, and food demonstrations and even live music are also on hand to please 450,000 festival attendees from all over Upstate New York, Southern Ontario, and Northwest Pennsylvania.
- Buffalo Maritime Festival. For three days in mid-September, Canalside celebrates Buffalo's history as one of the most important inland ports in North America as a sort of grand finale to the summer festival season on the waterfront. At the Buffalo Maritime Festival, visits to the harbor asre paid by famous ships that, in recent years, have included the tugboat DeWitt Clinton, the schooner Lynx out of Newport Beach, California, and even the USS Niagara, the warship commanded by Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry in the War of 1812. Tours of some of the boats are offered, as well as a children's parade, a chowder competition, a beer tent, food and drink, and live music. Admission and most activities are free.
- National Buffalo Wing Festival. Each Labor Day weekend sees Coca-Cola Field in downtown Buffalo host the National Buffalo Wing Festival, two days dedicated to Buffalo's best-known addition to the annals of American cuisine. Inspired by the 2001 movie "Osmosis Jones" as well as a column by iconic Buffalo News editorialist Donn Esmonde, the National Buffalo Wing Festival has, since its inception, drawn nearly 600,000 hungry guests from all 50 states and 33 foreign countries to Buffalo, who have collectively eaten over 3 million chicken wings and raised over $200,000 for various local charities. Showcased by a long list of national media such as "The Today Show", "The View", "Live with Regis and Kelly", numerous Food Network series, and even a PBS documentary, the National Buffalo Wing Festival sees over 30 restaurants in Buffalo and around the country — including the Anchor Bar, where chicken wings were first served in 1964 — serve up their individual recipes and compete for prizes.
- Curtain Up!. Curtain Up! takes place in mid-September, when downtown Buffalo's Theater District toasts the opening of the theater season with a slate of new shows generating excitement anew among Buffalo's theater fans. Opening performances in the various theaters are preceded by a gala black-tie dinner at Shea's Performing Arts Center and followed by an outdoor party on Main Street that is open to the public.
- The World's Largest Disco. The largest event of its kind in the world, the World's Largest Disco brings back the 1970s for one day each Thanksgiving Day weekend, with the 1 Buffalo Niagara Convention Center transformed into New York State's largest dance floor. Every year, thousands of locals and visitors age 21 and over dance the night away to the retro tunes that are played on the festival's 500,000-watt soundsystem, and have the chance to meet disco-era celebrities that have included Henry Winkler, Erik Estrada, Leif Garrett, and the cast of "The Brady Bunch". The World's Largest Disco has been featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal as well as such television programs as "CBS This Morning", VH-1's "Where Are They Now", and the Travel Channel's "Secrets". All proceeds go to benefit Camp Good Days and Special Times, a local summer camp for children with cancer.
- Downtown Buffalo Christmas Tree Lighting. In addition to serving as the official opening of the ice skating season at the Rotary Rink at Fountain Plaza, the lighting of downtown Buffalo's Christmas tree has unofficially kicked off the holiday season in the local area since 1984. Immediately after the tree lighting, the crowd can enjoy an exciting fireworks display over Fountain Plaza, followed by horse and wagon rides, clowns and balloon art, face-painting, skating at the Rotary Rink, and, of course, visits with Santa Claus.
- First Night Buffalo. A drug- and alcohol-free New Year's celebration, First Night is a celebration that takes place in various cities in the United States. Beginning in Boston in 1976, First Night made its way to Buffalo in 1989. In addition to the "ball drop" that takes place at the stroke of midnight from the top of the Niagara Mohawk Building (second in annual attendance in the U.S. only to the famous Times Square ball drop in New York City), live music can be had downtown; other venues around the city present a diversity of free entertainment such as poetry, dance, comedy, puppet shows, and other performing arts, as well as activities for children such as bounce houses and jungle gyms.
- Buffalo Soup Fest, ☎ . A new tradition that takes place in early January, the Buffalo Soup Fest sees Buffalonians stave off the cold of winter with hot, hearty bowls of soup, all to benefit a variety of worthwhile causes. This offbeat but popular festival was inaugurated in 2011, and spent its first few years bouncing around various venues in suburbia before growing crowds forced it to relocate to the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center in 2014. At the Buffalo Soup Fest, over 30 vendors representing restaurants, food trucks, and specialty shops from all over the Niagara Frontier compete for 17 different prizes, while youngsters can enjoy the Oogie Games "Kid's Corner" with video games. The Brooklyn Brewery Soup Challenge was also inaugurated as part of the 2014 festival, where competing restaurants create new soups using beer as an ingredient. Admission $5, food tickets $1 each.
Downtown is home to four of Buffalo's six professional sports teams.
- Buffalo Bandits, KeyBank Center, One Seymour H. Knox III Plaza (Metro Rail: Erie Canal Harbor), ☎ , toll-free: , fax: . The Buffalo Bandits have been a member of the National Lacrosse League (and its predecessor, the Major Indoor Lacrosse League) since 1992. Buffalo's most successful sports team in recent years, the Bandits won the league championship in 1992, 1993, 1996, and 2008, as well as the divisional championship in 1994, 2004, 2006 and 2011. Games are played at the 2 KeyBank Center downtown from December through April. Tickets to these family-friendly events are affordable and easily available.
- Buffalo Beauts, HarborCenter, 100 Washington St. (Metro Rail: Erie Canal Harbor). The city's newest sports team made its debut in 2015, playing ice hockey in the National Women's Hockey League at HarborCenter, just across the street from the KeyBank Center.
- Buffalo Bisons, Coca-Cola Field, One James D. Griffin Plaza (Metro Rail: Seneca), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. After several years as an affiliate of Major League Baseball's New York Mets, as of September 2012 the Bisons are now the AAA farm team of the Toronto Blue Jays. The Bisons won the International League pennant in 1933, 1936, 1957, 1961, 1998, and 2004, and the American Association pennant in 1997. Bisons baseball games are a great place to see up-and-coming talent before it makes the big leagues, and their home stadium, 3 Coca-Cola Field, hosted the AAA All-Star Game in 1988 and 2012. Coca-Cola Field is a "new classic" ballpark, built in 1988 by HOK (now known as Populous), the renowned firm that went on to build Camden Yards in Baltimore. Seats are usually available and cheap, and provide a great view of downtown.
- Buffalo Sabres, KeyBank Center, One Seymour H. Knox III Plaza (Metro Rail: Erie Canal Harbor), ☎ , toll-free: . Member of the National Hockey League (NHL), the Buffalo Sabres advanced to the Stanley Cup finals in 1975 and 1999 and, in 2007, won the Presidents' Trophy for the best win/loss record in the NHL. The Sabres' home games at the KeyBank Center sell out on a regular basis.
Pro sports aside, HarborCenter is also home to the Canisius College Golden Griffins men's ice hockey team, playing Division I hockey in the Atlantic Hockey Conference.
- 4 The Ice at Canalside, West side of Main St. between Exchange and Scott Sts. (Metro Rail: Erie Canal Harbor). Public skate M-Th 3PM-7PM, F 3PM-10PM, Sa 10AM-10PM, Su noon-8PM; season runs Dec-Mar. The Ice at Canalside is New York State's largest outdoor ice rink, two and a half times the size of a regulation hockey surface and three times the size of the skating rink at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan. Located on the new northern extension of the Commercial Slip — the site of both the Erie Canal terminus and the playing surface at the old Memorial Auditorium (a special insignia on the surface of the rink pays homage to the Buffalo Sabres' former home ice) — the Ice at Canalside opened just in time for the start of the 2014-15 skating season, and also hosts broomball, curling, and other winter pastimes. Skates and "ice bikes" are available for rent as well. In summer, the Ice at Canalside is converted to a lovely reflecting pool, with old-fashioned whipple-truss bridges crossing over the water that evoke the bygone days of the Erie Canal. $5, children 6-12 $2, children 5 and under free.
- 5 The Rinks at HarborCenter, 95 Main St. (Metro Rail: Erie Canal Harbor). When they're not being used for Buffalo Sabres practice sessions or Buffalo Beauts, Buffalo Junior Sabres, Canisius Golden Griffins, or Erie Community College Kats hockey games, the two indoor NHL-sized rinks on the sixth floor of the HarborCenter at Canalside occasionally host public skates. See the HarborCenter website for a schedule of open times and ticket purchasing information. $6, with skate rental $9; children 7 and under $1.25, with skate rental $4.
- 6 Rotary Rink, 20 Fountain Plaza (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Public skate Tu-Fr 11AM-2PM & 5PM-9PM, Sa 11AM-8PM, Su 11AM-6PM, weather dependent; season runs Dec-Mar. Named for the Rotary Club whose $500,000 donation made its construction possible, the Rotary Rink has, since 1991, provided city residents with a unique opportunity to ice skate outdoors in an urban setting just steps from the Theater District, Chippewa Street, and downtown hotels and attractions. Skating at the Rotary Rink is very popular during winter events downtown such as the Christmas Tree Lighting, the New Year's Eve ball drop, and Winterfest, with the rink open extended hours during those times. Free; skate rental $2 for children, $3 for adults.
- 7 BFLO Harbor Kayak, 1 Naval Park Cove (Metro Rail: Erie Canal Harbor), ☎ . Daily 9AM-6PM, Memorial Day-Labor Day. Launched in 2013, BFLO Harbor Kayak has grown into a Canalside institution that offers locals and visitors a new way to get up close and personal with downtown Buffalo's waterfront: on your very own (rented) kayak! The format is decidedly freeform: after a brief introductory talk on oar gripping, seating, and other mechanics of kayaking, you're set loose into the water to explore Canalside, the Naval Park, and the elevators of the Buffalo River at your leisure — just make sure you're back when your time is up. Stand-up paddleboarding — a watersport imported from Hawaii that's perhaps best described as surfing with an oar — is also offered, as are guided historical tours of the harbor and the Buffalo River (check website for details on those). Keep in mind that BFLO Harbor Kayak is one of the most popular activities offered at Canalside, with waits of three hours or more not uncommon on balmy summer weekends, so arrive early and plan accordingly as no advance reservations are taken. Single kayak or stand-up paddleboard rental $20/hour or $50/half-day; tandem kayaks $30/hour or $75/half-day.
- 8 Canalside Paddleboats, near corner of Main St. and Marine Dr. (Metro Rail: Erie Canal Harbor), ☎ . Sa-Su 10AM-6PM, Memorial Day-June 20; daily 10AM-6PM, June 20-Labor Day. Courtesy of Water Bikes of Buffalo (see below), both young and old can cruise their way around the rebuilt Canalside canals on their choice of six adult-size paddleboats or 12 child-size double-passenger boats. Boats are rented for 20-minute intervals on a first-come-first-served basis from the kiosk at the east end of the canals, adjacent to Main Street. Life vests are provided free of charge and, even though the water is only 18 inches (45 cm) deep, are mandatory for all ages. Single-passenger boats $5 per 20-minute session; two-passenger boats $10 per 20-minute session.
- 9 Sail the Canal (Metro Rail: Erie Canal Harbor). Sa-Su noon-8PM, Memorial Day-June 20; daily noon-8PM, June 20-Labor Day. The miniature remote-control sailboats you see puttering around the rewatered Erie Canal were inspired by the model boat races that have long taken place at Conservatory Pond in Manhattan's Central Park, and Canalside is still the only other place in the world that has them. As you stand alongside the edge of the water, you use the remote-control unit that the folks at Sail the Canal give you to adjust your boat's sail and rudder — but as with a real sailboat, the wind does all the rest of the work. For that extra touch of authenticity, they'll even sell you a captain's hat. $11 plus tax per half-hour.
- 10 Water Bikes of Buffalo, south end of Main St. (Metro Rail: Erie Canal Harbor), ☎ . Sa-Su 10AM-6PM, June 6-20; daily 10AM-6PM, June 20-Labor Day. A "water bike" is a contraption that looks rather like two parallel kayaks with a bike frame, pedals and handlebars suspended between them, and Water Bikes of Buffalo has ten of them (plus one tandem "waterpillar") docked at the far southeast corner of Canalside. What a unique way to explore the downtown waterfront, the hulking grain elevators of the lower Buffalo River, and the handsome, historic Buffalo Lighthouse. Water bikers must be at least 8 years old and at least 48 inches (122 cm) in height, and children must be accompanied by an adult 18 years of age or older. $15/hr; $30/hr for tandem "waterpillar".
- 11 Buffalo Harbor Cruises (Metro Rail: Erie Canal Harbor), ☎ . Narrated Sightseeing Tour: July-Labor Day Tu-Su 12:30PM & 3PM, Historic Buffalo River Tour: July-Labor Day daily 12:30PM, Landmark Tour: July-Aug Wed 3PM. During the warm months, the Miss Buffalo II takes visitors on their choice of three sightseeing cruises that cover various parts of Buffalo's waterfront. The basic Narrated Sightseeing Cruise takes in the sights along the upper Niagara River including the old Buffalo Light, the Black Rock Canal, and (on the opposite side of the river) Old Fort Erie. The Historic Buffalo River Tour explores Buffalo's mighty industrial past with a visit to the old Erie Canal terminus and "Elevator Alley", a stretch of the Buffalo River adjacent to the harbor that is lined with historic grain elevators. The Landmark Tour uses Buffalo's scenic harbor as a base to explore the magnificent architectural landmarks of downtown. Tours leave from the Erie Basin Marina rain or shine. Parties, corporate events, and private charters are also available. $16, children $11, lunch cruise $28.
- 12 Moondance Cat, 2 Templeton Terr. (Metro Rail: Erie Canal Harbor), ☎ . Cruises leave May-Oct 12:30PM, 3PM, 6PM, 8:15PM. The Moondance is a 51-foot catamaran that offers two-hour cruises on Lake Erie. Four cruises depart daily from Erie Basin Marina, and passengers can take advantage of an open bar, sound system, and ample space for sunbathing. Group charters and banquet packages are available. $23, seniors $20, children $11.50.
- 13 Queen City Ferry (Metro Rail: Erie Canal Harbor), ☎ . noon-8PM May-Oct. Debuting in 2011, the Queen City Ferry runs a water taxi service seasonally that takes visitors around Buffalo's scenic and historic harbor. Tours leave every hour on the hour from the main dock at Central Wharf in Canalside, heading to Buffalo RiverFest Park in the Old First Ward and then to Wilkeson Pointe on the Outer Harbor. If you're planning your cruise for the evening, pay attention to the Outer Harbor Concert Series schedule: on days when there's a show, regular service is suspended after 5PM so they can ferry people over to the concert site. $8 adults, $6 children.
- 14 Spirit of Buffalo (Metro Rail: Erie Canal Harbor), ☎ . Cruises leave May-Oct, call for schedule and availability. Serene and scenic cruises on Lake Erie and around the harbor are to be had on the Spirit of Buffalo, an unmissable 73-foot schooner that affords them the opportunity to experience a trip aboard a traditional 19th-century sailing vessel. Day cruises, sunset sails, and a Wednesday "Wine in the Wind" Cruise featuring local vintages from the Niagara Peninsula are all offered; kids love the Pirate Cruises that sail on Saturdays and Sundays. All cruises leave from the Commercial Slip at Canalside. Private charters are available as well. $28, children $18, Pirate cruise $23, children $19, Wednesday Wine in the Wind cruise $38.
For a city its size, Buffalo has a surprisingly large, active, and diverse theater scene. The Theater District, bounded roughly by Washington, Tupper, Pearl, and Chippewa Streets, is especially vibrant, with Curtain Up!, the gala event that marks the opening of the theater season, drawing larger-than-ever crowds downtown each September.
For further information on many of the theaters listed here, and on the shows currently running, please visit the Theatre Alliance of Buffalo's website.
- 15 Alleyway Theatre, 672 Main St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Located in a striking Art Moderne building in the heart of the Theater District that once housed Buffalo's Greyhound bus station, the Alleyway Theatre presents a full slate of plays and musicals year-round in a comfortable and intimate setting. Popular features of the Alleyway Theatre's annual schedule include "Buffalo Quickies" (a festival of one-act plays by local writers), the Maxim Mazumdar New Play Competition, and the theater's annual presentation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol each December. The Alleyway is also home to Theatre Plus, a troupe that puts on musicals, plays, dance performances, and other such fare, geared toward and performed by women.
- Irish Classical Theatre Company, 625 Main St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Housed at the 16 Andrews Theatre in the Theater District, the Irish Classical Theatre Company was founded in 1990 by a pair of brothers from Dublin with a mission "to present the greatest works of dramatic literature: international classics; modern plays of exceptional merit; and Irish plays, both traditional and contemporary... at the highest level of artistic excellence for the public of Buffalo, Western New York and Southern Ontario, and subsequently, for national and international audiences." Despite its name, the Irish Classical Theatre has a broad and international focus; over the course of its history, the company has presented performances by the late French mime Marcel Marceau, the renowned Polish dramatist Kazimierz Braun, and Buffalo native Jesse L. Martin, whose work includes performances in the Broadway musical Rent and the television series Law & Order.
- 17 Road Less Traveled Theatre, 500 Pearl St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Located on Pearl Street in what was once the Buffalo Christian Center's Forbes Theater, Road Less Traveled has as its goal the development and production of works by playwrights of local extraction. Its in-house program for developing local talent, the Emanuel Fried New Play Workshop, has been of especial assistance in Road Less Traveled's recent initiative to better reflect the increasingly diversified identity of Western New York in order to present local audiences with a picture of their world that is as true-to-life as possible, and to capture the interest of young people and others who may be new to the experience of live theatre. Additionally, Road Less Traveled Theatre often presents theatrical productions of exceptional quality by dramatists from outside the region.
- 18 Shea's Performing Arts Center, 646 Main St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Located in an dazzlingly ornate former movie palace that has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Shea's Performing Arts Center has been the cornerstone of downtown Buffalo's Theater District since the late 1970s, when its opening thwarted plans by civic leaders to demolish the grand old building. Today, Shea's is Buffalo's premier venue for lavish Broadway-style musicals such as Dreamgirls, The Lion King, and Wicked, as well as live music and performances such as "Sesame Street Live" and the "Radio City Christmas Spectacular". The Mighty Wurlitzer organ, installed in the theater in 1926 to provide musical accompaniment to silent movies, is also occasionally dusted off for performances of various types.
- 19 Shea's 710 Theatre, 710 Main St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . The most exciting news to hit the Theater District recently was the reopening of the former Studio Arena Theatre, which was one of the oldest resident theatres in the United States and Buffalo's only professional regional theatre at the time of its closure in 2008 due to financial difficulties. Now operated by Shea's Performing Arts Center in partnership with a variety of other local, regional, and college theatre institutions, the 710 Theatre is operational once again as a presenting theatre where an assortment of productions are performed for the enjoyment of local audiences. The theatre is also available for private and corporate events.
- 20 Shea's Smith Theatre, 660 Main St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Next door to the main Shea's building is the Smith Theatre, a cabaret-style venue that presents fare that is quirkier and more locally-focused as opposed to major national touring productions. The Smith Theatre hosts a diversity of fare, including stand-up comedy sets and off-Broadway-style material that's often written and performed by Buffalo-area natives.
- 21 Squeaky Wheel, 617 Main St. (At the Market Arcade; Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Founded in 1985, Squeaky Wheel is a nonprofit, grassroots, artist-run media arts center that periodically screens locally-produced independent and avant-grade film and video projects.
- 22 Asbury Hall, 341 Delaware Ave. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Ani DiFranco is the locally-based musician and record company honcho who was responsible for saving the historic Asbury United Methodist Church from demolition in 1996 and transforming it into "Babeville", a complex that encompasses the headquarters of her record label, Righteous Babe Records, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center's gallery and screening room, and the concert venue Asbury Hall. Located in the sanctuary of the former church, Asbury Hall is a 1,000-capacity venue that hosts live performances of music that trends heavily toward folky indie singer-songwriters, in many cases from Righteous Babe Records' stable of artists. Comedy, variety shows, and other events are also held regularly at Asbury Hall.
- Canalside Live. This long-running series of Thursday evening outdoor concerts traces its history to 1986, the first year "Thursday at the Square" was held at Lafayette Square in the heart of downtown. In 2011, event organizers responded to the increasingly large crowd sizes by moving the second half of the schedule to the much larger Canalside area, where the entire series is now held. Evolving from its humble beginnings as mainly a showcase for local bands, Canalside Live has grown to host internationally known artists and groups such as Blues Traveler, Parliament/Funkadelic, the Violent Femmes, Hootie and the Blowfish, They Might Be Giants, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and dozens more, and is also well-known for regularly showcasing Canadian acts such as Sam Roberts, the Lowest of the Low, Sloan, and 54-40. Concerts are held from June through August. $5 general admission, children 5 and under free.
- KeyBank Center, One Seymour H. Knox III Plaza (Metro Rail: Erie Canal Harbor), ☎ . The home of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres is also Buffalo's venue of choice for first-tier national and international musical acts, as well as touring shows such as Cirque du Soleil and WWE wrestling.
- 23 Mohawk Place, 47 E. Mohawk St. (Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☎ . Famous for boasting the "Finest in Underground Rock Since 1990" until its closure in January 2013, Mohawk Place is back and better than ever. Or, perhaps better said, it's just "back" — aside from a new floor, a few touch-ups to the original tin ceiling, and a bar that's more consistently well-stocked than before, new owner Rick Platt has kept the place true to its divey, eccentric roots, to the delight of the local musicians and fans who considered the place almost a second home. Mohawk Place's previous iteration was known to book the occasional nationally-known touring act and was beloved for such annual events as the Irving Klaws Halloween Party, the Annual Joe Strummer Tribute Show, and The Smiths vs. The Cure Dance Party; at this early date there's no word on whether any of that will continue to be the case, but the punk, metal, and hard rock scene in Buffalo is glad all the same to have the place open again.
- Shea's Performing Arts Center, 646 Main St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . The jewel of downtown Buffalo's Theater District, Shea's is a midsize venue that features live music of various genres alongside its usual slate of Broadway shows, stand-up comedy acts, and other touring shows.
- 24 Town Ballroom, 681 Main St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Once a Prohibition-era speakeasy that was Al Capone's favorite Buffalo hangout, the Town Ballroom has been reborn as one of the city's premiere venues for nationally famous pop, rock and hip-hop acts to strut their stuff. The upcoming concerts at the Town Ballroom as of this writing — hip-hop veterans Cypress Hill, Canadian alt-rockers Billy Talent, metalcore favorites Killswitch Engage, and jam band Umphrey's McGee — are indicative of the caliber and range of groups that perform there.
- 25 Tralf Music Hall, 622 Main St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Celebrating its 30th Anniversary in 2012, this Theater District mainstay started out as a small jazz club but has branched out into roots, rock, soul, R&B, and world music with an emphasis on mid-level national acts as well as local bands.
- Tudor Lounge, 335 Franklin St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Located in the heart of the Theater District, the Tudor Lounge has spent the past few years steadily transforming itself from a divey blue-collar watering hole to one of the best places in Buffalo to see local blues combos (including the house band, the Jony James Blues Band) strut their stuff. Bluesy alt-rock acts take the stage from time to time, as well. The Tudor Lounge also has karaoke on Friday nights starting at 11PM.
- 26 Venu, 75 W. Chippewa St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Unlike what has generally happened on Chippewa Street lately when old businesses have given way to new, the 2016 reimagining of the space formerly home to Lux nightclub didn't take the place too far from its thumping clubland roots. There's still plenty of drinking and dancing to be done inside of Venu, but in the context of what manager Timothy Walton calls a "Vegas-style concert experience", with a ground-level dance floor playing host to a full schedule of DJs, rave and electronica musicians, and the occasional rock band, while a second-floor balcony accommodates live music fans looking for a less kinetic experience. Themed dance parties and other special events are also frequently held at Venu.
- 27 Hatchets & Hops, 505 Main St. (Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☎ . Generally F, Sa and usually at least one other day of the week 3PM-10PM; see website for scheduled times. Basically a scaled-up version of darts that makes use of a decidedly different projectile, axe-throwing is a longtime staple of lumberjack competitions that over the past few years has become something of a craze in the Toronto area — and has now dipped south of the border with Hatchets & Hops, only the third such facility in the United States, which, in the words of owners Dustin Snyder and Andrew Piechowicz, "merges the rustic sport of axe throwing with the urban industrial heritage of the Great Lakes". Throwers (of hatchets at this place, not full-size axes) are divided into teams of a maximum of six people and assigned to one of the facility's six lanes, each cordoned off from its neighbors with chain-link fences and containing a large wooden bullseye target at the far end. These six teams each face off in a round-robin, bracket-style tournament that lasts about two hours. Admission to Hatchets & Hops is by advance reservation only (though the policy says 24 hours, they're usually booked out several weeks in advance, so reserve early) with a $100 deposit required at the time of purchase that can be transferred to a new session date and time within the window of the 2-week rescheduling/cancellation policy, but is nonrefundable. Prices are quoted per lane rather than per player, with no discount given for teams of less than six people, so to maximize the bang for your buck you should try to gather a group of participants numbering in a multiple of six. And, as you can imagine in a place with sharp objects flying around, the folks at Hatchets & Hops are dead serious about safety — there's a liability waiver you have to sign before you begin, as well as an exhaustive set of safety rules you'll review with their staff of extensively trained instructors. Open-toed shoes are prohibited; loose-fitting clothing such as hoodies, scarves, and dangly jewelry are strongly advised against; and you'll be escorted out for safety purposes if you're found to be intoxicated. (Notwithstanding that, there is a bar onsite — while tournaments are ongoing they only serve Snowy Owl Kombucha and Public Espresso, but after you're through you can freely indulge in a decent selection of local craft brews, wines, and ciders.) $240 per lane.
Urban renewal gone wrong
No discussion of downtown Buffalo retail would be complete without a mention of the Main Place Mall, opened in 1969 on two blocks on the west side of Main Street, between North Division Street and Lafayette Square. In the midst of suburbanization, the Main Place Mall was a tragically wrongheaded attempt on the part of downtown developers to provide a shot in the arm to the then-declining phenomenon of Main Street retail by recreating the sterile ambience of a suburban shopping mall in an urban setting. Although this attempt was mostly a colossal failure, the Main Place Mall clings to life today, albeit with the vast majority of its storefronts vacant. An exception to that rule is the food court, which is fairly active as a lunchtime destination for the white-collar workers at the nearby office towers. However, one would be hard-pressed to recommend the mall as a shopping destination to anyone other than those few readers who happen to be in the market for dollar-store trinkets, basketball sneakers, or cheap prepaid mobile phones.
Downtown Buffalo is not the retail draw that it was 50 or 75 years ago, before suburbanization took its toll. However, as Buffalo continues its renaissance, a growing number of specialty shops are creeping back in to the business district.
- 1 Old Editions Book Shop & Café, 74 E. Huron St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Tu-Sa 10AM-6PM or by appointment. Housed in a turn-of-the-century commercial block at the corner of East Huron and Oak Streets, Old Editions Book Shop and Café is one of the largest antiquarian bookstores in the United States. Three full floors of used & rare books, original art and prints, historical documents, collectible magazines and other memorabilia are available to guests of Old Editions for purchase or simply to be browsed through. A small café is available as well. Old Editions Book Shop and Café is a member of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers and of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America.
- 2 Print Collection, 686 Main St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Sa 1PM-8PM. Doug Levere was the man who, in October 2016, signed the lease as the first retail tenant to open up shop in the Theater District's newly restored Barrington Building. Print Collection is much older than that, though — it launched as an online store six years previously, and indeed most of its business is still transacted via the Internet, but if you happen to be downtown on Saturday afternoon or evening you can saunter in to this little boutique — fascinating, stylishly decorated, and seeming in equal measure almost like an art gallery; a place made for browsing. Browsing what, exactly? A selection of stunning, museum-quality framed art prints, that's what (you might call Print Collection the cooler, more sophisticated younger brother of the Elmwood Village's Poster Art). The selection is eclectic, well-curated, and constantly expanding, with designs comprising everything from Ernst Henkle's famous 19th-century etchings of radiolarian protozoa, to old Works Progress Administration posters from the '30s, to architectural photographs of Buffalo, Levere's native New York City, and elsewhere. And if wall art is not your thing, Levere can instead take any of these same images and custom-print them for you on fabric — tote bags, throw pillows, t-shirts, you name it. (Naturally enough, a line of home goods is said to be in the works.)
- 3 Queen City Gallery, 617 Main St. (At the Market Arcade; Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Tu-F 11AM-4PM, Sa by appointment. The Queen City Gallery is operated by photographer Michael Mulley, whose other space, the College Street Gallery, can be found in Allentown. The gallery's mission, according to its website, is "Celebrating the Architecture of Buffalo"; accordingly, the Queen City Gallery is filled not only with Mulley's work, but also photography and works in other media by a bevy of local artists, with an accent on vintage and contemporary depictions of Buffalo and Western New York. Books and prints are offered for sale at reasonable prices.
Clothing and accessories
- 4 Buffalo Scrubs, 1031 Main St. (Metro Rail: Allen-Medical Campus), ☎ . M-F 10AM-5PM, Sa 10AM-2PM. Located (appropriately enough) in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Corridor within easy walking distance of Buffalo General Hospital, Buffalo Scrubs is Western New York's #1 dealer of high-quality professional medical apparel. Scrubs, lab coats, shoes, and accessories are available in a wide range of styles and brands, with free office consultations, on-site fittings and delivery services provided.
- 5 DC Theatricks, 747 Main St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-F 10AM-5PM, Th till 6PM, Sa 10AM-2PM. DC Theatricks is a full-service costume company specializing in custom-made men's period suits and uniforms for sale or rent. Not surprisingly, DC Theatricks does an especially brisk business around Halloween selling literally hundreds of custom-made costumes for adults and children, as well as wigs, makeup, accessories, costume kits, party supplies, decor, and other such goods. DC Theatricks' manufacturing department also takes online orders for shipment anywhere, and wholesale pricing is available to qualified purchasers.
- 6 Free Agent, 702 Main St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza). M-Sa noon-8PM, Su noon-6PM. Memorial Day 2017 saw the opening of what is easily downtown Buffalo's most distinctive shopping destination: Free Agent is a "spy-themed" clothing and accessories store located at the EMI Building in the heart of the Theater District, with an "arsenal" of independent designers represented on the shelves. If you're thinking skintight leather, slinky black dresses, high-heeled boots, trench coats, or dark shades, this is your place. If not, Free Agent also stocks a decent range of more conventional, yet still up-to-the-minute, fashions for both men and women.
- 7 Made by Anatomy, 391 Washington St. (At the Hotel Lafayette; Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☎ . Open by appointment. Newly moved from the Elmwood Village to the beautifully restored Hotel Lafayette, this lovely clothing boutique is the brainchild of Ali Eagen, who springboarded from New York City's Fashion Institute of Technology to a rising star in the design industry in Columbus, Ohio and then back to her hometown of Buffalo. Upscale ladies' clothing is the name of the game at Made by Anatomy, with a stated goal of helping women express their unique sense of identity through fashion. To that end, the showroom features two collections of made-to-measure designs conceived and constructed on-site by Eagen herself, as well as a carefully-selected array of pieces by local designers chosen with a view to an up-to-the-minute fashion style, an impeccable quality of handiwork, an ethos of sustainability and environmental consciousness, and support of the local fashion community. Custom-designed bridalwear is a specialty at Made by Anatomy, with staff on hand to help customers every step of the way in conceiving their own wedding dresses and bridesmaid's gowns from a wide array of fabrics, colors, necklines, sleeve lengths, and other embellishments.
- 8 MMW Style Studio, 403 Main St., Unit 103 (In the Brisbane Building; Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☎ . M-F 10AM-6PM, Sa noon-5PM. MMW's owner, Nia Badger, is a Buffalo native who cut her teeth on the retail scene in Brooklyn before coming home in 2012 to open the first iteration of her shop, which was located for a few years in Allentown. Today, the store's interior is dominated by a huge mural photo of Lafayette Square as it looked in Buffalo's early-20th Century glory days: a symbol of the optimism that inspired Badger to take a chance on downtown and resurrect MMW in the Brisbane Building. In the words of the store's website, MMW's prototype customer is "a trendy fashionista, wearing her clothing, jewelry and accessories like a celebrity... stays on the best-dressed list; is original, ahead of her time, and is at the tip of everyone's tongue for her style choices" — and for those stylish urban ladies, a selection of eye-catching clothes, jewelry, and accessories are offered; bold fashion statements for ladies of all shapes and sizes, from 0 to 3X. Best of all are the prices: with all jewelry priced under $100, stylish sunglasses running you about $20, and prices on other items similarly reasonable, a shopping trip to MMW won't break your budget.
- 9 New Era Flagship Store, 160 Delaware Ave. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-Sa 10AM-6PM. The New Era Cap Company — the exclusive manufacturer and marketer of caps for all Major League Baseball teams and their minor-league affiliates, as well as a licensee of apparel for the NHL, NBA, and over 200 colleges and universities nationwide — has been headquartered in Buffalo since its foundation in 1920. At its flagship store on Delaware Avenue, in the former Federal Reserve Building, shoppers can choose from hats representing just about every professional sports team imaginable. As you can imagine, caps for local teams such as the Sabres and Bisons dominate the selections at the store, as well as the New York Yankees, who also boast a loyal following in Buffalo.
- 10 Phenominal Xpressions, 517 Main St. (Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☎ . Tu, W & F noon-5:30PM, Th noon-8PM, Sa noon-4PM. The inimitable, (accurately) self-styled "local celebrity" Nikita Williams is the phenom behind local production company LateLuci, public access cable TV program The Advocator, and now the 500 Block of Main Street's newest retail destination, Phenominal Xpressions. Launched in the spring of 2016 as part of the annual Queen City Pop-Up small business incubator program, the store's popularity was so resounding and so immediate that Williams proved able to lease the space outright after that year's program had concluded. No empty boast, the name is about as accurate as it gets: here you have a well-curated selection of fashion accessories hand-picked (and in some cases designed) by Williams herself: jewelry (tends toward the dangly and chunky, with lots of sterling silver); handbags (in bright colors and loud patterns; animal prints abound); hats, scarves and other items in bold styles for those who want to make an unmistakable and unforgettable statement. All of this is contained in a spacious store with racks and shelves splayed around in a charmingly helter-skelter array, perfect for folks who like to linger and browse, but not so crowded and jumbled that those who know what they're looking for would have a hard time finding it. Best of all, Phenominal Xpressions' fancy window displays are a throwback to the Main Street of old.
- 11 SaiOne, 617 Main St. (At the Market Arcade; Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-F 11AM-7PM, Sa 11AM-6PM. Newly relocated in the Market Arcade after a successful run of several years in the Elmwood Village, SaiOne is run by Angel Rodriguez, a gregarious native New Yorker who is as enthusiastic about giving impromptu tarot card readings as he is about the fashions he offers at his store at fantastic prices. Sold here is a wide variety of one-of-a-kind clothes, jewelry, handbags, and gifts, including many of his own designs (look for the "OMI Clothing" label) as well as other locally produced pieces available only in Buffalo. However, what makes SaiOne stand out among its competition is its extensive and fashionable selection of menswear — some customers have even opined that the men's clothing here is better than the women's! Prominent among SaiOne's selection of menswear are stylish t-shirts with bold prints and a refreshing lack of ironic pop-culture references or other Urban Outfitters-style hipster cutesiness, as well as a range of smart accessories and stylish sunglasses.
- 12 Sarah Danielle, 295 Main St. (In the Ellicott Square Building; Metro Rail: Seneca), ☎ . M-F 10AM-5PM, extended hours on request. Taking over the reins from its predecessor at Suite 101A of the Ellicott Square Building, Destination by Lee Powers, Sarah Danielle offers affordable ladies' apparel and accessories in a diverse range of styles — the dresses, casual tops, pants and leggings sold here run the gamut from classic looks to the latest trends, attracting a similarly diverse range of customers. The operative word at Sarah Danielle is "bold" — bright colors and vibrant patterns rule the day here — but not so bold that you'll never be able to wear these things out and about. A modest range of accessories such as jewelry and handbags, as well as bath and body products, round out the inventory. Best of all, the prices at Sarah Danielle (nothing is over $100!) belie the high quality of the 100% American-made materials and workmanship of these items, and frequent sales and promotions sweeten the deal even more.
- 13 Sasmita Batik Indonesia, 617 Main St. (At the Market Arcade; Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-F 11AM-6PM, Sa 11AM-5PM. Former Indonesia Stock Exchange trader Novi Paluch has guided Sasmita Batik Indonesia from relatively humble beginnings as a stall at the West Side Bazaar, to a quick ascent into part of the growing wave of retail tenants that have returned to the historic Market Arcade building (and downtown in general). As can be inferred from the title, the stock in trade of this cute, brightly decorated little shop is an exciting and colorful array of fashions, jewelry and loose batik cloth that ably reflect the beauty and culture of Southeast Asia. As well, Sasmita stocks a modest range of accessories, home decor, kitchenware, and unique gifts of the same ilk.
- 14 Tent City, 674 Main St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-Sa 9:30AM-6PM, Su midnight-5PM. Tent City is one of Buffalo's foremost purveyors of activewear, work clothes, and surplus military uniforms. Camping supplies, work boots, winter coats, and apparel from brands like Timberland, Nike, Dickies, Carhartt and Columbia can be found at Tent City's outlet in the heart of the Theater District.
- 15 Trend Up, 617 Main St. (At the Market Arcade; Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Tu-F 11AM-6PM, Sa 10AM-5PM. Trend Up is the project of Giovanni Centurione, a fashionista, photographer, and local booster-turned-downtown retail pioneer who cut his teeth on the runway scene in New York City around the turn of the millennium before returning to his hometown in 2005 to strike out on his own. Contemporary clothing for the modern male of the city is the name of the game here: the overarching aesthetic of the jackets, jeans, and t-shirts you'll find at this at this Market Arcade boutique is an über-stylish take on urban streetwear for teens to thirtysomethings. The raison d'être is to provide a local retail outlet for great clothing by hard-to-find designers from around the world, and to that effect Trend Up is today Buffalo's only seller of DOPE, European Apparel, and Other UK branded clothing.
- 16 Yar Mo's Muse, 700 Main St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Tu-Sa 10AM-6PM. A boutique selling a range of vintage and modern clothing, jewelry and accessories in the heart of the Theater District, Yar Mo's Muse specializes in mixing and matching pieces from among their vast inventory of dresses, hats, jewelry, and other accessories to create one-of-a-kind, head-to-toe ensembles that balance timeless elegance with nods to any of a kaleidoscope of head-turning styles. And "kaleidoscope" is no exaggeration: Yar Mo's merchandise runs the gamut from brightly-colored dresses in patterns inspired by West African mudcloth, to stylish retro pieces that look like something Audrey Hepburn might have worn, to unusual Victorian-era flourishes such as capes. A respectable range of menswear is also offered.
Furniture and home decor
- 17 David Tiftickjian & Sons Oriental Rugs, 300 Delaware Ave. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-F 9AM-5PM. Founded in 1892 and run by four generations of its eponymous family, Tiftickjian Oriental Rugs is one of downtown Buffalo's longest-standing businesses, not to mention by far Western New York's largest and best-known dealer in fine Oriental rugs. That uncommon longevity is probably creditable to the second-to-none care taken by the Tiftickjian family of their customers — buying an Oriental rug is a complicated process that requires extensive knowledge of what you're buying, and the staff here is not only knowledgeable but also trustworthy, even to the point of allowing customers to "live with" the rugs for a while in their own houses before making a final decision on whether to purchase. As for the merchandise itself, a dizzying variety of rugs and carpets are available, from hand-weaved antiques from Persia to high-quality modern rugs. As well, Tiftickjian offers first-rate cleaning, repair and appraisal services for your rug.
- 18 Scherer Furniture, 124 Genesee St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-Sa 9AM-4PM, M & Th till 8PM. Scherer Furniture is Buffalo's oldest furniture store, operating since 1897 in the same handsome four-story brick block at the corner of Genesee and Oak Streets, across the road from the lovingly restored Genesee Gateway row. Even as similar businesses fled for the suburbs, the loyal customers of Scherer Furniture have continued to travel here from all over the region to purchase the quality products sold in this showroom. Those products include solid oak, cherry and hardwood furnishings for every room in the house from renowned manufacturers such as Statton, Wesley Hall, Lexington, Colonial, and Hallagan, sold at reasonable prices with delivery and setup included. Free parking is provided.
- 19 Diamond Cutters of Western New York, 295 Main St. (In the Ellicott Square Building; Metro Rail: Seneca), ☎ . M-Th 9AM-6PM, F 9AM-5PM, Sa by appointment. Diamond Cutters of Western New York began in 1984 as a small brokerage serving downtown Buffalo, and has since grown into one of Western New York's largest and best-regarded purveyors of wholesale diamonds, selling its products nationwide. "To go to a more direct source, you'll need a miner's hat", so the slogan says, and indeed, Diamond Cutters of Western New York are able to offer customers unthinkable deals on diamond jewelry by cutting out the middleman, traveling the world to carefully hand-select loose diamonds, which are cut and polished by the two award-winning gemologists on staff, mounted into a selection of lovely contemporary rings, earrings, pendants and other pieces by Diamond Cutters' own goldsmith (a selection of other lines of jewelry designs, including Cordova, Prima New York, and Vanna K are also available), and sold directly to the customer. The friendly and talented staff can even help you custom-design your own jewelry! To top it all off, Diamond Cutters of Western New York offers a 30-day exchange policy on all jewelry, lifetime diamond upgrades and cleaning and polishing, and free appraisal.
- 20 Melting Point Jewelers, 255 Delaware Ave. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-F 10AM-5PM and by appointment. Melting Point Jewelers is the place where owner Diane Von Heckler handcrafts personalized custom-designed gold and platinum jewelry for a growing legion of loyal customers — designs which usually include the diamonds and other precious and semiprecious gemstones that Melting Point sells. Melting Point will also appraise, repair or restore your old jewelry or watch, or remount gems from your old piece into a completely new setting.
- 21 New Generations Jewelry, 403 Main St. (In the Brisbane Building; Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☎ . M-F 9:30AM-5PM, Sa 11AM-3PM. Located in the Brisbane Building on newly revitalized Lafayette Square, New Generations is a friendly neighborhood shop that does it all — not only do they sell a wide range of rings, earrings, bracelets, charms, timepieces and other jewelry items in gold and sterling silver, but the store provides complimentary gift wrapping and engraving, and will adjust and replace watchbands and change watch batteries while you wait. The friendly and knowledgeable service at New Generations is matched by amazing prices — customers speak again and again of spending less than half what they would at other stores for items that are of respectable quality.
- 22 Fry Baby Donuts, 336 S. Elmwood Ave. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Tu-Sa 11AM-6PM. Neither Jacobi's nor Nickel City Pizza had much success during their short runs at the location, but in June 2017 the tide finally turned for this out-of-the-way storefront on the outer edge of downtown. As you might have guessed, doughnuts are the name of the game here — vegan ones, and far from the usual animal product-free approximations of regular foods that vegans make do with and everyone else wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole, both meat eaters and non-meat eaters are in near-unanimous agreement that Fry Baby's doughnuts are among the best in Buffalo (with some going so far as to call them "better than Paula's"!) It really can't be emphasized enough how high the demand for these things are: despite their odd and limited opening hours, as of this writing six weeks after opening day it remains a rare occasion for them not to sell out of stock and close early, so if you want to see what the fuss is about, make sure to show up as soon as possible after they open. Fry Baby's selection of flavors changes daily and ranges from the ordinary (chocolate and vanilla frosted, apple fritters, Bavarian cream) to the truly extraordinary (bubble gum, cotton candy, cherry cola), all handmade.
- 23 Niagara Distilling Company, 459 Ellicott St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Tu-Th 3PM-10PM, F-Sa 3PM-midnight. With the Niagara Distilling Company, Nick Kotrides, once best known as the former owner of Hertel Avenue's Empire Grill and Elmwood's Toro Tapas Bar and Faherty's, along with partner Eric Heuser, who brings to the table ten years of experience at a distillery in Germany, manufactures and bottles a range of organic farm-to-bottle craft spirits sourced exclusively from New York State suppliers. Niagara Distilling currently churns out 2,000 bottles a day of vodka and gin sold under the 1812 brand name — with plans to inaugurate a line of moonshine, bourbon and rye in the near future — in a former carriage house and stable whose historically-sensitive restoration was inspired by the revived Distillery District in nearby Toronto. Set back a good distance off Ellicott Street, you pass through a lovely outdoor courtyard with patio seating — a sort of "beer garden" for cocktail aficionados — to get to the spacious tasting room/retail outlet in the front of the building. Tours are also offered on request, and seminars are offered for those who'd like to try their hand at home distilling.
- 24 Whimsy Confections, 610 Main St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-F 10AM-5PM, Sa 10AM-2PM. Michele Ogden, Whimsy Confections' owner and "chocolaterian", is a real local renaissance woman: even through an impressive career in media strategy and production with the likes of GLAAD and Black Entertainment Television, she kept her passion for pastry artisanry alive (with a stint at École Chocolat and an appearance on the Food Network series "Cupcake Wars" under her belt). Now back in her hometown, Ogden's dedication shines through in every delicious bite of the chocolate treats she has been making and selling since 2016, first as a "pop-up shop" launched with the help of the Westminster Economic Development Initiative (the folks behind the West Side Bazaar on Grant Street), then in her own brightly colored and fabulously decorated space on the ground floor of the City Center Building in the Theater District. Feast your eyes on the goodies on display in the glass cases at the front of the store and you might be forgiven for wondering how anyone could possibly countenance eating something so beautiful — these bonbons are handmade, hand-painted works of art in the truest sense of the word, molded in whimsical shapes and infused with even more whimsical flavors (not for nothing the name of this place): caramel passionfruit hearts, pastel purple rosebuds of Earl Grey tea and wildflower honey, a "kings and queens set" of dark chocolate Grand Marnier crowns and Mexican hot chocolate lips. Best of all, Ogden's counter-side manner exemplifies superlative service with a personal touch.
Toys and gifts
- 25 Buffalo Adore, 617 Main St. (At the Market Arcade; Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Tu-W 10AM-6PM, Th-Sa 10AM-5PM. The second and perhaps more fortuitously-located branch of Buffalo Adore — South Buffalo's favorite outlet of one-of-a-kind Buffalo-themed gifts run by the husband-and-wife team of Andrea and Eric Dacey — opened up shop in the Market Arcade in September 2015. Here you'll find essentially the same merchandise as at the original Abbott Road store — the usual clothes and coffee mugs augmented by posters, embroidered wall hangings, decorative throw pillows, and other tchotchkes that are the work of locally-based artisans — but in a much more convenient and centralized location in the heart of the downtown Buffalo action.
- 26 The Gift Loft, 390 Main St. (In the Main Place Mall; Metro Rail: Church), ☎ . M-F 9AM-5:30PM. Described succinctly and accurately by one reviewer as "the only decent store left inside the Main Place Mall", there's scarcely a better place to go than the Gift Loft if you're in the mood for the kind of souvenir or tchotchke that could only have come from Buffalo. The main stock in trade here are locally-designed, locally-printed and locally-themed t-shirts, glassware and other gifts that pay homage to all the facets of the Queen City's identity. From points of Buffalo pride like chicken wings and fabulous architecture, to dearly departed landmarks like the old Memorial Auditorium, to local politicians and celebrities like Jimmy Griffin and Irv Weinstein, to Buffalo's vibrant Irish, Polish, Italian, German, and other ethnic communities — if there's something you noticed as unique during your trip to Buffalo, there's probably a gift here for you to commemorate it. (Yes, that even includes the smell of Cheerios that fills downtown courtesy of the General Mills factory.) The inventory also includes art and literature by local artists, posters and postcards, handmade jewelry, and an ever-changing range of miscellaneous kitschy baubles. Best of all, the staff — helmed by owner Edwin Jablonski — are supremely friendly, helpful, and will answer any question you have about their products or Buffalo in general.
- 27 room2, 391 Washington St. (At the Hotel Lafayette; Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☎ . M-Sa 11AM-7PM, Su 11AM-4PM. The second location of the upscale boutique of the same name that has made such a splash on Hertel Avenue has been in business at the Hotel Lafayette since 2012. In contrast to the focus of the original room on luxury furniture and housewares, room2 places more of an emphasis on quality gifts, many of which are locally-themed: quirky items such as buffalo-shaped bottle openers and throw pillows with the geographical coordinates of the city printed on them are a great way for visitors to downtown to commemorate their visit to Buffalo. A modest array of accessories such as scarves and jewelry are also on offer, and the typical stock in trade of the Hertel Avenue location is not neglected either: interestingly, many of the same upscale furnishings found in the Hotel Lafayette's guest rooms upstairs are available for sale at room2. As with the original room, the items at room2 are high-end and priced accordingly — the aforementioned throw pillows sell for upwards of $100 — so do not expect any bargains here.
- 28 Abino Mills, 255 Delaware Ave. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Tu-F 10AM-5PM, Sa 11AM-4PM. "Swarovski with a Buffalo twist", in the words of one visitor: at Abino Mills the name of the game is one-of-a-kind, customized etched glass, courtesy of mother-and-son owner team Connie and Ted Constantine. From her former career as a photo restorer, Connie has brought to bear dedication, patience, and an unwavering eye for detail to this new venture which began in the family basement before growing into a storefront in suburban Williamsville in 2012, and from there to its current location four years later — with end results that are a cut above what you'll find elsewhere. The interior of Abino Mills is perfect for browsing — the hardwood floors, dark-toned walls, and warm lighting (brought to you by Buffalo's own Litelab, best-known for designing the light-up dance floor in the movie Saturday Night Fever) really draw shoppers' eyes to the merchandise on the shelves. Speaking of, the selection here consists of a wide variety of bowls, vases, wine glasses, decanters, and the like, crafted in the finest Riedel and Darlington crystalware whose etchings often reflect a Buffalo theme — the kind of upscale, intimate shopping experience that brings to mind the Delaware Avenue of old. If none of that is to your liking, you can work with Abino Mills' staff to create your very own designs.
- 29 Buffalo Barkery, 617 Main St. (At the Market Arcade; Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza). Tu-F 11AM-5:30PM, Sa 11AM-5PM. If the name of this place brings to mind a bakery for dogs, that's entirely intentional: the Buffalo Barkery opened its doors in downtown's Market Arcade in April 2016, the brainchild of a pair of dog-loving sisters-in-law who'd been searching for an alternative to mass-produced, overprocessed pet foods before taking matters into their own hands, offering a line of all-natural, homemade dog biscuits and treats made with all human-grade ingredients (and without preservatives, by-products, or unnecessary fillers). The "Buffalo" half of the moniker is done justice as well — specialty biscuit flavors include beef on weck and Buffalo chicken wing, and they also sell a yummy pumpkin treat in the shape of Canalside's own Shark Girl. Beyond the realm of the edible, Buffalo Barkery also offers a carefully curated range of high-quality squeak toys, shampoos and grooming supplies, and collars and leashes, all manufactured in the United States. Cat fanciers aren't left in the cold, either: a range of collars, catnip mice, and the like are sold as well.
- 30 Lincoln Coin & Stamp Company, 33 W. Tupper St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-F 10AM-5PM, call for Saturday hours. In business in the Theater District since 1972, owner Lou Montesano has built Lincoln Coin & Stamp's renown with collectors from all over the city and region with his honesty, integrity, and friendly and helpful service to his customers. A wide and changing selection of coins and stamps of all descriptions are available, as are supplies and accessories for the collector. Appraisal service is also available. Despite Lincoln Coin & Stamp's downtown location, ample free parking is available!
- 31 M. Steffan's Sons Leather Supplies, 761 Main St. (Metro Rail: Allen-Medical Campus), ☎ . M-Tu & Th-F 9:30AM-4:30PM, W 9:30AM-1PM, Sa 9AM-noon. M. Steffan's Sons was founded in 1851, and is the oldest continually-operated leather goods store in the United States. Once a powerhouse in the industry, furnishing supplies from its own tannery to the majority of America's shoemakers and harnessmakers as well as selling its own shoes under the Winchester brand name, Steffan's today is a smaller business, occupying an unassuming storefront at the north end of the Theater District. There, a huge variety of merchandise is available — buckles, rings, rivets and snaps, leather shoelaces, leatherworking supplies such as needles, shears and thread, and a myriad of other items — all curated by Linda Steffan, scion of the same family that's owned the business for over a century and a half, and her trusty dog Milo. Friendly and helpful customer service is king here — Steffan really goes out of her way to educate local crafters about the art of shoemaking and leathercraft, going so far as to offer workshops every Monday morning where enthusiasts can learn from experts in the field in a hands-on manner. Steffan's will also gladly repair your leather shoes, handbags and other accessories, and phone and fax orders can be shipped nationwide.
Downtown's dining scene is flourishing, with great new restaurants opening on a constant basis. The scene has taken a turn for the luxurious of late, but affordable options are plentiful too — especially for those who are in the neighborhood at breakfast or lunch time on weekdays.
- 1 Bada Bing Sports Bar & Grill, 42 W. Chippewa St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-F 11AM-1AM, Sa-Su noon-1AM. Bada Bing was one of the last holdouts at the former Delaware Court Building, which was demolished at the end of 2013 to make way for a new high-rise — but now it's back in a new location at the other end of Chippewa Street. Much more than just another rowdy Chip Strip nightspot, head chef Dominic Paladino has set to work transforming the place into an authentic Italian restaurant where guests are treated like family. An Artvoice feature story described Bada Bing's fare as "pub grub with an Italian twist" and gave a succinct description of the "sangwiches" served there — garlic bread and grated cheese concoctions that are Paladino's own creation. Pasta, chicken and sausage parmigiana, chicken wings and fingers, and salads are also available. $15-20.
- 2 Casa-di-Pizza, 11 E. Mohawk St. (Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☎ . M-Th 10AM-midnight, F 8AM-2AM, Sa noon-2AM, Su noon-9PM. After 62 years on Elmwood Avenue, Casa-di-Pizza moved downtown in 2015, making its mark on the revitalization of Buffalo's business district in its new home just off the burgeoning 500 Block of Main Street. Though the location has changed, the menu is much the same as before: at heart Casa-di-Pizza remains an old-school neighborhood pizzeria, Italian restaurant, and bar, whose food — chicken wings and fingers, subs, salads, sandwiches and burgers, pasta dishes, simple yet hearty homestyle entrees such as barbecue chicken and ribs, and, of course, pizza — is as delicious as it is unpretentious. One new addition to the menu are the "breakfast pizzas" served up to hungry downtown office workers on weekday mornings. $10-25.
- 3 The Dish, at Canalside, on the boardwalk about halfway between the Commercial Slip and the Skyway overpass (Metro Rail: Erie Canal Harbor), ☎ . Daily 9:30AM-9PM, late May-late Sept. When it opened in 2011 it was little more than Canalside's answer to The Hatch at Erie Basin Marina, with a pleasant and summery but fairly unimaginative menu of hot dogs, burgers, and ice cream. But lately owner Kate Elliott has revamped The Dish with a more upscale focus: to the pleasant surprise of diners, interesting new additions such as a tofu banh mi and curried lentil fritters have appeared on the menu, and old favorites were given innovative new twists, such as a burger made with a blend of short rib and sirloin sourced from Pat LaFreida Meats. Breakfast time sees a variety of egg sandwiches served up for early birds. As always, al fresco dining is the rule at The Dish: long communal tables line the boardwalk along the side of the river, with refreshing lake breezes caressing you and the plaintive wail of seagulls serenading you as you eat. $5-15.
- E-Café. M-Th 7AM-4PM, F 7AM-3PM. More than just another lunch-break destination for the suit-and-tie crowd, E-Café is a veritable Internet café, rare in these parts, with free WiFi and a collection of wired PC terminals available free to customers. Here you can get simple but well-prepared lunches and breakfasts served with a smile and lightning speed. The usual range of subs, wraps, burgers, soups, and salads are all on offer and all delicious, but E-Café's customers reserve special praise for the dozen or so melt and focaccia sandwiches on offer at lunchtime, from hot ham and roast beef to turkey reuben on rye to tuna on sourdough. Breakfast sees office workers savoring the scent of bacon in the air as they gobble up omelettes and breakfast sandwiches (available on English muffins or bagels) before the workday begins. The downside is the coffee, which is just okay. On Fridays they close early, but make up for it with free fountain beverages all day. $5-15.
- E-Café has two locations, both located on Main Street and both with the same opening hours and menu:
- 6 Ellicott Square Building food court, 295 Main St. (Metro Rail: Seneca). In the lobby of the historic Ellicott Square Building are a quartet of food stands where businesspeople and other on-the-go downtowners can stop for a quick breakfast or lunch in the midst of the impossibly ornate Gilded Age splendor of this local architectural masterpiece. The downtown location of Charlie the Butcher Express (see below) is one of the four; the other three are...
- Bon Bon's Gluten-Free Bakery, ☎ . M-F 8AM-3PM. Despite the boom in downtown's dining scene over the past few years, there remains a relative lack of options for gluten-sensitive folks. But never fear: that discrepancy grew a little smaller in February 2017 with the opening of the downtown branch of West Seneca's favorite gluten-free bakery — which actually keeps more regular opening hours than the original, and has a more extensive menu to boot. Yes, at both Bon Bon's locations you'll find the same crusty Italian bread by the loaf, the same variety of house-baked bagels, the same cookies, cupcakes, and other pastries for those looking to satisfy their sweet tooth, which consensus holds to be well-nigh indistinguishable from the "real thing". But here in the lobby of the Ellicott Square Building, Bonnie Scirri and her staff will also be equally happy to serve you a selection from their sandwich board, ladle you out a bowl of delicious piping hot soup (selections change daily), or provide you with delicious breakfast fare in the morning. Best of all, if your gluten-free diet precludes you from enjoying store-bought sweets like Twinkies, Ho Hos, and others, fear not: Bon Bon's sells their own homemade versions! $10-15.
- The Grove, ☎ . M-F 11AM-4PM. Like Lloyd's Taco Truck, Frank Gourmet Hot Dogs, and a number of others before it, The Grove started its life in 2016 as one of Buffalo's legion of food trucks before establishing a brick-and-mortar home for itself the following year at the Ellicott Square Building. All along, the credo here has been "healthy drinks and clean eats with the needed nutrition to replenish and heal the human body", and that's something that carries over the menu of its Ellicott Square Building location as well. Here you can choose from a range of cold-pressed fruit and vegetable juice blends, vitamin- and nutrient-packed smoothies, organic coffees and teas, and — uniquely in Buffalo — savory bone broth served as a hot beverage, replete with collagen, minerals, and other nutrients. All made fresh before your eyes using organic, all-natural ingredients, all delicious, all served with a friendly smile. Outside the realm of beverages, you've got about half a dozen specialty salads to choose from at lunchtime, made with a house-formulated base of greens that consists of spinach, kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, and watercress to pack the strongest possible punch of vitamins and nutrients into your meal — but prime time here is the morning, where breakfast options include non-GMO sprouted wheat toast or pancakes with your choice of specialty toppings, as well as ever-popular "breakfast bowls" of Greek yogurt mixed with various fruits and grains. $5-10.
- Joseph's Panini Stand, ☎ . M-F 11AM-4PM. Operated by Joseph's Catering Service, Joseph's Panini Stand's specialty — as its name implies — is a huge selection of delicious made-to-order panini and wraps. You can't go wrong no matter what you choose, according to conventional wisdom, but for something especially unique try the apple tuna panini or the onion teriyaki burger wrap. Add to this a wide variety of salads (small side salads, specialty main-course salads and a full salad bar), delicious homemade soups that are the highlight of the menu according to local consensus, and smoothies and smoothie shooters made with real fruit, and you have one of the business district's favorite spots for light, healthy and inexpensive lunches on the go. Vegetarians, vegans and the gluten-free crowd are well taken care of too, and not just with salads. $5-10.
- 7 Emerson Commons, 70 W. Chippewa St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-F 7:30AM-10AM & 11:15AM-1:30PM, except school holidays. Emerson Commons is a food court that's staffed by high school students and faculty from the Buffalo Public Schools' Emerson School of Hospitality and open on school days. Appropriately enough, the fairly pedestrian cuisine here can be likened to school cafeteria fare kicked up a few notches in quality — the upside, however, is that this is among the most affordable food you can get in the downtown core. Lunchtime offerings change daily; the menu usually contains two soups, two hot sandwiches, and three heartier main courses. The current week's menus are posted at the website for those who want to make their mind up in advance. Pizza by the slice, a salad bar, and an assortment of homemade desserts are available every day. Breakfast is also served. $10-15.
- 8 EXPO Market, 617 Main St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-F 8AM-9PM, Sa 11AM-8PM. The founding credo of the Pan-American Exposition, held in Buffalo in 1901, was all about "bringing closer together the peoples of this hemisphere in their social, political, and commercial relations", and it's that collective community spirit that inspired the name of EXPO Market, opened in 2016 in the former home of Perfetto restaurant by a partnership of local real estate developer Nick Sinatra and restaurateur Paul Tsouflidis, owner of Elmwood Avenue's Acropolis and Newbury Salads. EXPO has been described variously as a "food court" for the adjacent and attached Market Arcade and as downtown's fancier, less culinarily daring answer to the West Side Bazaar, but perhaps a better comparison would be to an upscale take on a university dining hall — compete with colorful contemporary decor on the walls, loud piped-in music (mostly upbeat, singalong-able '90s and early '00s alt-rock hits), and an overall surprisingly youthful feel to the place. The dimly lit interior of this cavernous space accentuates stylish decorative accents like the exposed brick of the wall and the track lighting and exposed ductwork on the ceiling, while also calling attention to the brightly lit LED screens and lighting elements that make up an important component of the decor. EXPO is home to five food counters, most of which are satellite locations of brick-and-mortar restaurants or food trucks elsewhere in Buffalo, and all of which offer quick service to the downtown lunch crowd. There's also GBGB — Gypsy Bohemian Grove Bar — where a team headed jointly by the folks behind the West Side's Gypsy Parlor and Allentown's Duke's Bohemian Grove pour a range of craft brews as well as some of Gypsy Parlor's signature cocktails — and, in the morning, locally brewed Public Coffee.
- Breezy Burrito Co.. The Breezy Burrito experience splits the difference serviceably enough between Mighty Taco-style Americanized fast food fare and the somewhat more authentic "Fresh-Mex" street food that's the stock in trade of Lloyd taco trucks; unfortunately, notwithstanding the presence of pickled onion as an optional topping which seems to be de rigueur for all new taco places in Buffalo since the advent of Lloyd, the quality of the food itself hews closer to the former. Like most EXPO vendors, service is assembly line-style: the main menu items are burritos (wrapped in a flour tortilla or else in a bowl, with Mexican rice and black beans as a base), tacos (two to an order, on your choice of the aforementioned flour tortilla, a hard corn shell, or marginally tastier if not particularly authentic soft corn tortillas), or taco salad (dressed with your choice of chipotle vinaigrette or jalapeño ranch); you start by choosing a meat or vegan-friendly meat substitute (ground or braised beef, shredded chicken, or tempeh) and then advance to a modest but adequate selection of veggie toppings, as well as homemade pico de gallo and two types of hot sauce with a zippy tang and an odd but pleasant sweetness. Rounding out the menu are a nacho platter and a specialty health-food burrito created in conjunction with Body Bar gym next door. Portion sizes are nothing to write home about, but prices are reasonable and service is as friendly as can be. $15-20.
- Frank Gourmet Hot Dogs. Filling a hole in the scene left empty after the brief but eventful reign of Dog é Style on Genesee Street, EXPO Market's newest food stall — like the still-popular food truck that has served as the original incarnation of the Tripi brothers' operation since 2013 — is a place where the hot dog is reimagined into a bevy of truly creative, upscale concoctions. You start by choosing a sausage (pork, beef, or a vegetarian dog made from lentils and rice) and then choose from a wide range of specialty topping schemes to dress it up in. Witness the fiery "Holy Moly" where the heat of sriracha sauce and jalapeños is tempered just a bit by fresh guacamole, the sweet-and-savory "Violet Beauregarde" with cheese, crunchy French fried onions, and (you guessed it) blueberry glaze, and a faithful take on the Chicago hot dog. The unadventurous needn't worry, either: if you want to stick to the standard ketchup/mustard/onion/relish scenario, they'll serve you an "Original Frank" too. Whatever your pleasure, you can rest assured that you're enjoying high-quality fare made fresh in-house from locally sourced ingredients. $10-20.
- Mercato. Osteria 166's EXPO Market outlet offers an abbreviated but respectably diverse selection of a half-dozen signature pasta dishes that run the gamut from familiar but well-executed favorites like spaghetti and meatballs to more interesting creations such as tortellini alfredo with peas, as well as changing daily specials. However, the most recommendable thing on the menu at Mercato is almost inarguably the $10 build-your-own pasta option that enables many combinations that are more creative than the menu standards. You get your choice of one pasta, one sauce, one meat (perennials like grilled chicken and Italian sausage but also pancetta and Italian pulled pork), and an unlimited number of the two dozen or so vegetable toppings Mercato offers (unique standouts here include escarole, pine nuts, and wild mushrooms). Throw in a side of risotto sticks or parmesan truffle chips, add a San Pellegrino soda to drink, and you're good to go. $15-25.
- Newbury Salads. Another Paul Tsouflidis-owned Elmwood Avenue health-food purveyor with a presence at EXPO Market, this emporium of organic, locally-sourced, "non-GMO approved" light lunch fare takes its name from Newbury Street, owner Paul Tsouflidis' favorite shopping district in his hometown of Boston. As you might expect, salads are the main attraction here: popular specialty creations including the "Brainy Beet" (spinach/arugula mix, raw beets, fresh blueberries, feta, walnuts and broccoli) and the "Jalapeño Chicken" (the titular meat over romaine lettuce with tomatoes and cucumbers) are among the most popular, but most visitors opt for the build-your-own salad, where you choose a leafy green as a base, any of four additional vegetable ingredients, premium toppings if you like, and dressing. Build-your-own quinoa bowls and wraps work under similar principles, and the locally-baked multigrain bread offered for a paltry 35-cent upcharge, sourced from the West Side's own BreadHive Cooperative Bakery, tops it all off (figuratively, and literally too if you like). Wash it all down with a selection of healthy smoothies. $10-25.
- Sun Roll. The EXPO iteration of Black Rock's ever-popular Sun Restaurant focuses not on tasty Burmese specialties but on sushi, many varieties of which incorporate chef/owner Kevin Lin's signature ingredient, black rice. Aficionados of the original location will be pleased to know that the pickled tea leaf salad (le peth thoat) is indeed included in the selection of side salads, and if you're not in the mood for sushi, you can also avail yourself of black rice pudding, steamed chicken or vegetable dumplings, or refreshing Thai iced tea or coffee to drink. $10-25.
- 9 Greenhouse Food Court, 424 Main St. (In the Main Place Mall; Metro Rail: Lafayette Square or Church). Mall open daily 9AM-5:30PM; many restaurants closed on weekends. Pretty much the only lifeline keeping the Main Place Mall alive is its food court (see infobox above), which at lunchtime on weekdays is filled with workers from the attached high-rise office tower. Indeed, if you're downtown on a weekday and you're in the mood for an inexpensive bite, it can be worthwhile to make your way through the corridors past the empty storefronts and enjoy pizza at Zesto's or Gino and Joe's, deli sandwiches at Hoagie Brothers or H. B. Carver, Mexican food at Tijuana Taco or Chinese at Ding How Express. On weekends it's a dicier proposition; though the mall is open seven days a week, many of the restaurants are closed and the ghost-town ambience can be downright eerie. $5-10.
- 10 The Hatch, 329 Erie St. (Metro Rail: Erie Canal Harbor), ☎ . Daily 7AM-10PM, May 1-Oct 15. The Hatch is the snack bar at the Erie Basin Marina, serving tasty burgers, hot dogs, fries, and a wide selection of ice cream and other frozen treats. The real appeal of The Hatch, though, are the lovely lake breezes and the stunning waterfront views that grace its visitors on hot summer days. This is why the Erie Basin Marina is popular not only with boaters but also with joggers, sunbathers, and people-watchers. Convenient to the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park and all downtown attractions. Watch out for seagulls! Under $10.
- The Healthy Scratch, 75 Main St. (At HarborCenter; Metro Rail: Erie Canal Harbor), ☎ . Daily 8AM-6PM. The owners of this cheekily named destination are none other than Jessie and Kelly Pegula: respectively, a pro tennis player/health food aficionado and a local clothing designer notable for her "One Buffalo" gear, and collectively, the daughters of local sports magnates Terry and Kim Pegula, owners of the Buffalo Bills and Sabres as well as the HarborCenter where this juice bar and health-food eatery is located. The main draw at The Healthy Scratch is a range of cold-pressed juices, smoothies, and coffee (q.v.), but those in the mood for a light lunch instead can choose from a modest but tantalizing range of toast spreads as well as fruit and grain bowls — the "Too Much Is Never Enough" (yes, they all have cutesy names like this) features açaí and a mixture of other berries as well as banana, topped with granola, hemp seed, and flaxseed and drizzled with honey, but there's also a build-your-own option with a range of fruit blends and dry toppings. The menu helpfully enumerates not only all ingredients but also the calorie, carb, sugar, protein, and fat content of each menu item. $10-15.
- Hot dog carts. Downtown Buffalo's staple street food, and probably the most affordable lunch you'll find there, is served by the open-air hot dog carts that work the busy street corners of the business district. Unmissable with their big, bright red and yellow umbrellas, the most popular selection here is, of course, hot dogs (invariably Wardynski's, for some reason), which go for around $2. Also available for a bit more money are jumbo all-beef franks, Polish and Italian sausage dogs, and, in some cases, burgers. Most carts also offer a value pack of two hot dogs and a drink, which usually run about $4.50. The friendly vendors cook your food before your eyes on portable outdoor grills, slather on the condiments of your choice, and customers can fish soft drinks out of Styrofoam coolers on the sidewalk nearby. On weekdays from roughly 9AM-4:30PM you'll find a dozen or more hot dog carts up and down the Main Street pedestrian mall (especially in Lafayette Square and around Cathedral Park), as well as other spots with heavy foot traffic, such as Niagara Square and Canalside. Some operate on weekends too, but they're much fewer and further between outside of business hours. Under $10.
- 11 Jaz & Jack's, 36 Broadway (Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☎ . M-F 7AM-3PM. Open since August 2016 on Lafayette Square in the former home of Perks Café, this new downtown eatery is where eponymous owners Jazmine and Jack Accardo offer a range of yummy options to nine-to-five power lunchers that are tinged with the savory flavors and aromas of homestyle Southern American cuisine. Indeed, though breakfast is served all day (everything you'd expect plus build-your-own breakfast sandwiches as well as chicken-and-waffle platters), the lunch crowd seems to be the target audience at Jaz & Jack's — counter service is the model here, but in order to speed things along, there are several different food stations to choose from depending on what you're in the mood for: a salad bar (not self-serve; try the chicken Caesar salad if you want to go this route); a deli case where you can choose from a selection of fresh pre-made sandwiches and wraps; a hot-food area where most of the action seems to be (offerings change daily but include such Southern-fried specialties as barbeque ribs, fried chicken, and braised pork made with craft beer brewed just a couple of blocks up Ellicott Street at Big Ditch Brewery; impeccably prepared fried green tomatoes make for the perfect side), and a dessert and soup of the day option. All this is served in a lovely dining room that's the polar opposite of the stuffy, cramped space Perks used to be: exposed brick walls are set off by wood trim painted in bright colors and a whimsical retro feel courtesy of old ads framed on the wall and refurbished '50s-era appliances visible in the open kitchen. $10-30.
- 12 [dead link]Just Fries, 523 Main St. (Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☎ . M-Th 11:30AM-8PM, F 11:30AM-9PM, Sa 11:30AM-10PM, Su 1PM-7PM. Ask local foodies what was the most anticipated restaurant opening in recent memory on the 500 Block of Main Street, and they'll invariably say Raclette's. But a solid second place has to be Don Warfe's lunchtime spot just a few doors down, which opened its doors in June 2016 in the historic Genesee Block and moved around the corner to Main Street the following year. The first rule of thumb for Just Fries is not to let yourself be put off by the lines that routinely stretch out the door — service is lightning-fast, and the food is worth it. That being said, for best results you should not bother holding out for a table in the postage stamp-sized dining room: if it's a nice day you can enjoy a nice al fresco lunch at one of the tables on Roosevelt Plaza, or else take your order to go. As for the menu, the inevitable comparison is with Buffalo's other "French fries as main course" eatery, the ever-popular Allen Street Poutine Company, and there are indeed some similarities — real, honest-to-goodness poutine is one of the biggest sellers here, available in both the classic fries-gravy-cheese curd setup and "Buffalo style" with blue cheese and hot sauce. But for the most part, the loaded-fry platters that make up the real backbone of the menu are distinct entities: the low prices they charge belie the size of the portions and the high quality of the ingredients. Standouts include the souvlaki fries (topped with marinated beef, feta, and tzatziki sauce), the pizza fritta (melted mozzarella, marinara sauce, and pepperoni), and the cheeseburger fries (ground Angus beef, cheddar, ketchup, and pickles). Surprisingly enough, the place's major weak spot are the fries themselves: Warfe makes much of the imported German "air fryer" he's purchased to cook up healthier fries with 40% less fat and 30% less calories, but consensus says a bit of the flavor is lost with that method. To drink you have not only a selection of locally-bottled Johnnie Ryan craft sodas, but a full lineup of homemade milkshakes and other sweet treats courtesy of Jerk's, the old-school malt shop and soda fountain that shares the same space. $10-15.
- 13 Marotto's DuBois Restaurant, 56 Niagara St. (Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☎ . M-F 6:30AM-3PM. Mark Marotto may be better-known these days as the chef, owner and namesake of Marotto's Restaurant in Kenmore. However, the original restaurant where he and his two brothers cut their teeth is still alive and kicking in downtown Buffalo, a block from Niagara Square. Founded in 1958 by Mark's father Jerry Marotto and continuously owned by the family since then, Marotto's DuBois complements the elegant upscale Italian fare available at the Kenmore location with a smaller but equally delicious slate of breakfast and lunch options perfect for on-the-go downtown office workers. Burgers and fries, club sandwiches (featuring turkey roasted and hand-carved in house), and similar items are available, as well as pasta dishes and other somewhat more elaborate fare. DuBois wears its old-school identity on its sleeve — the serving staff here is decked out in "waitress whites", and the place has the feel of a private club — and it's the perfect setting to bear witness to judges and officials from the nearby courthouse talking shop over lunch at "The Roundtable", or local hotshot attorneys relaxing at the cocktail bar which stays open long after the kitchen closes. $15-25.
- 14 Molly's on Main, 40 Fountain Plaza (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-F 7AM-7PM. Up to now, local restauratrice extraordinaire Molly Ford Koessler has been best known as the purveyor of a handful of waterfront dining destinations — William K's and The Hatch downtown at the Erie Basin Marina, as well as Acqua to the north in Black Rock, all businesses that flourish in the warm summer months but close (or, in the case of Acqua, die down to a trickle of hardy customers) in winter. Every autumn without fail, when the cold nip began to penetrate the air, profit margins would evaporate and workers would need to be laid off. What to do? The answer came with the closure of long-term downtown lunch-break hotspot Vito's, and Koessler jumped at the chance to open a new business at its former home in Fountain Plaza that would be a year-round affair (in fact, they seem to be at their best during the winter, when folks flock in after an ice-skating session at the adjacent Rotary Rink to warm up with hot soup and cocoa). Vito's had a winning formula, and Molly's on Main hasn't tried to fix what wasn't broken — like its predecessor, it does double duty: Molly's is a cafe serving sandwiches, salads, and other light lunch fare to the nine-to-five office crowd, but also an upscale bodega with a gourmet deli counter, packaged snacks, and a cooler full of house-baked pastries and desserts to take home. On the menu is a soup of the day, some wraps, and a healthy variety of salads, but Molly's true calling seems to be as a sandwich shop: you've got a whopping slate of options, with the "Main Street Reuben" (with craft ale sauerkraut and gruyère cheese) ruling the roost, but also including some two dozen other selections from the blue-collar (fried bologna with Weber's horseradish mustard) to the upscale (the "PLT" on a tolera roll, where pancetta stands in for regular bacon and a slathering of basil aioli tops everything off). $10-25.
- 15 Natalie's Mediterranean Eatery, 111 Genesee St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-F 9AM-6PM. After having done a brisk business for over twenty years at the original Natalie's in Amherst, Tony Mansour brought his trademark slate of quick, light, all-homemade Greek and Lebanese specialties to a second location at the Genesee Gateway in late 2015. At Natalie's, you have your choice of copious Mediterranean favorites such as shawarma, souvlaki, and gyro that can be ordered either as wraps or full-size platters; fresh, flavorful fatoush and tabbouleh salads, hummus and baba ghanoush appetizers, and — in the morning — a killer range of breakfast sandwiches. The vegan and vegetarian crowd will be particularly delighted with the wide selection of veggie-, falafel- and hummus-based wraps. Natalie's delivers, too. $10-20.
- 16 Olive & Ivy, 302 Main St. (Metro Rail: Church), ☎ . M-F 7AM-3PM, Sa 9AM-2PM. Olive & Ivy took over the former downtown location of Vasilis Express in 2016, but the story is still essentially the same: it's a classic Buffalo Greek diner in the heart of the business district, open six days a week for breakfast and lunch, with Hellenic-derived specialties such as pita wraps of gyro, souvlaki, and falafel, Greek salads, and spanakopita rubbing elbows on the menu with burgers, panini sandwiches, tacos, subs, and other American diner fare that come in portions that are generous even by Buffalo standards. Their French fries are fried in a light batter, making for a delectable crispy texture; the breakfast menu, meanwhile, is crowned by a selection of about a half-dozen crêpes that come stuffed with custard and a variety of other fillings — chocolate, honey, various fruit compotes — grilled light and airy with the perfect hint of sweetness. Aside from the food, what you'll notice as distinctive in the Olive & Ivy experience is the speed and efficiency of the service — this place's main customer base are downtown office workers on their lunch breaks for whom time is of the essence, so the place really operates like a well-oiled machine. $10-25.
- 17 Prima Pizza & Pasta, 38 W. Chippewa St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-Tu 9AM-11PM, W-Th 9AM-2AM, F-Sa 9AM-3:30AM, Su 1PM-9PM. Serving the best pizza in downtown Buffalo, Prima Pizza & Pasta is situated at the east end of the Chippewa Strip and is a popular place to grab a bite to eat after a night at the bars or while staying in one of the area's many hotels. In addition to the astounding variety of pizza, subs, wings, pasta, salads, and tacos are served. $10-15.
- Roux Soup Bar & Café, 1 News Plaza (In the Buffalo News Building; Metro Rail: Erie Canal Harbor), ☎ . M-F 8AM-8PM. Opened in January 2015 by Jason Davidson, best known as the proprietor of the nearby waterfront seafood eatery Liberty Hound, Roux Soup Bar occupies the space on the fifth floor of the 3 Buffalo News Building that was once its cafeteria; as you can imagine, this place is still most popular with News staffers, but it's open to the general public too (sign in at the security desk in the lobby), and it's a great place to grab an affordable lunch or light dinner downtown. With a wide variety of po' boys on the menu as well as a delicious seafood gumbo — not to mention its name — it's safe to say that the cuisine here skews Cajun and Creole, an idea that was born of Davidson's nostalgia for his former home of New Orleans. But Roux is no one-trick pony: the menu includes local favorites like beef on weck, familiar Greek diner fare like chicken souvlaki served on a pita, and even the po' boy template is used for sandwich fillings that have little to do with Creole cuisine, like chicken Milanese. Most diverse of all are the homemade soups, four apiece that change daily and draw from chef Jamie Zynda's encyclopedic repertoire of delicious recipes. Breakfasts are among the heartiest downtown has to offer, and there's a gargantuan self-serve salad bar. As for ambience, Roux mixes corporate sterility with a few delightfully unique touches: for a taste of local history, there's a glass display case at the front entrance where every day they hang the front cover of the 100-years-old-to-the-day issue of the News, and the dining room boasts unsurpassed views over both Canalside and the News building's fourth-floor atrium, ringed with a giant trough where tropical plants grow year-round. $10-15.
- 18 Taki's, 45 Court St. (Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☎ . M-F 8AM-3PM. Open weekdays for breakfast and lunch, this perennial favorite with the downtown office crowd serves simple but tasty Greek diner fare for reasonable prices. The interior is spartan and dated (try to snag one of the unfortunately limited number of outdoor tables if weather permits), but customers rave about Taki's fried-to-perfection French fries, homemade Greek dressing, and light and healthy souvlaki. $10-20.
- 19 Anchor Bar, 1046 Main St. (Metro Rail: Allen-Medical Campus), ☎ . M-Th 11AM-10PM, F 11AM-midnight, Sa noon-midnight, Su noon-10PM. Easily Buffalo's most famous restaurant, and one of the few places in town that could justifiably be called a "tourist trap". Whether the Anchor Bar is recommendable to you largely depends on why you've come. If you're a hardcore chicken wing fan who wants to make a pilgrimage to the place where they all began, and maybe pick up some chicken wing-themed T-shirts and other merchandise while you're at it, you'll likely leave happy: this is indeed the place where, in 1964, chef Teressa Bellissimo fried up a platter of wings that she was about to throw away and served them, doused in spicy sauce, to a group of her son's friends who arrived at closing time. But if you care more about a quality dining experience than paying homage to chicken wing history, look elsewhere: service is generic, utterly indifferent, and seems designed to get you in and out as fast as possible, and the food quality and price point are pretty much what you'd expect from a place where the majority of patrons are out-of-towners rather than potential repeat guests. Offerings include wings in various sauces such as barbeque, mild, medium, hot, or "suicidal", and also a variety of salads, sandwiches (including that other standout of Buffalo cuisine, beef on weck), and simple but hearty Italian fare. $20-40.
- 20 Bambino, 297 Franklin St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-Th 11:30AM-10PM, F 11:30AM-11PM, Sa 5PM-11PM, Su noon-10PM. Bambino Bar and Kitchen is a new restaurant downtown that has earned rave reviews for its casual, simple, and old-fashioned — yet upscale — Italian cuisine served up in an airy, inviting ambience in the Theater District. Wood-fired pizzas are a specialty, with the pizza oven open till midnight M-Th and 2AM F-Sa. By way of appetizers, the mozzarella bar — featuring balls of homemade, hand-stretched mozzarella cheese served with a choice of garnishes that includes Sicilian and Greek olive tapenade, prosciutto di Parma, and Caprese salad — is the most interesting choice. Completing the picture is the modest but delectable range of pastas, soups, salads and heartier entrees, the latter characterized by delicious pork and chicken cutlets of the type that made chef/owner Noel Morreale's previous restaurant, Fiamma Steak on Hertel Avenue, locally renowned. Some of Buffalo's best cocktails are served at the bar, catering and private party space are available, and live music performances happen periodically. $20-40.
- 21 Bijou Grille, 643 Main St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M 11AM-3PM, Tu-Su 11AM-11PM. One of the Theater District's finest dining establishments, the Bijou Grille specializes in upscale Continental and Italian cuisine in a prime setting just across the street from the historic and beautiful Shea's Buffalo Theatre. Burgers, sandwiches, and salads are also available, and the second floor features two elegant and spacious banquet rooms. $20-40.
- 22 Cabaret, 490 Pearl St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-Tu 10:30AM-9PM, W-Sa 10:30AM-10PM, Su 10:30AM-4PM. In the heart of the Theater District, Cabaret is a popular place to enjoy high-quality upscale cuisine before or after shows and musicals. A wide variety of delicious salads, sandwiches, and entrees are on offer, with Continental and Italian selections predominating. A banquet room is also offered. $25-40.
- 23 Casa Azul, 128 Genesee St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-Sa 11:30AM-9PM. At the tail end of 2016, at the tender age of twenty-seven, Victor Parra Gonzalez was poised to be the newest young wunderkind chef to explode onto the burgeoning Buffalo restaurant scene — this Acapulco native, at that time best-known as head chef of Jaguar at the Bistro in out-of-the-way Youngstown, announced the imminent and nearly-simultaneous opening of two new restaurants that, after the warm reception to Hamburg's Valle of Mexico and Kenmore's La Divina, are set to notch another step forward for the Western New York Mexican cuisine landscape: Las Puertas in Five Points is upscale Mexican haute cuisine served in an intimate setting, while Casa Azul, on Genesee Street in the former home of Dog é Style, sets its sights on creative takes on tacos and other Mexican street foods. With a name that is a double entendre, referencing the pair of blue-painted packing crates the building is constructed from as well as the famous house in Mexico City that was the birthplace of Frida Kahlo, Casa Azul is nothing if not a versatile space — it's perfect for a quick but delicious downtown power lunch, with bar-style seating facing an open kitchen (one reviewer compared it to a sushi bar), but the upstairs dining room also suits those in search of a more leisurely-paced dinner. Casa Azul's signature offering is a range of tacos that come served in a flight on a wooden slab one next to the other, wrapped in a single-layer homemade corn tortilla. Authenticity is the name of the game with these, and unusual ingredients rule the day — alongside run-of-the-mill options like chicken, beef, fish, and tacos al pastor, adventurous diners can enjoy a birria (braised goat) taco that comes wrapped in a banana leaf (Casa Azul is the only place in Buffalo where you can find this tapatío specialty), the aptly-named "Mexican Kiss" wherein cilantro and minced onions serve as the garnish for a mixture of braised and pickled tongue, or a sweetbread taco that sees the titular ingredient cured in tequila, fried up crisp and seasoned with sal de maguey. However, the newly expanded menu also features some more elaborate specialties that display some of the creative flair that Gonzalez brings to bear more fully at Las Puertas, but scaled down quite a bit in price: chicken confit enchildas with mole rojo as well as chiles rellenos stuffed with adobo pork and queso Chihuahua are delicious indeed. The main problem with Casa Azul is the pint-sized portions, an issue that's compounded by the upscale prices you pay here. Still, you can be sure that whatever you order, it will come artfully prepared and bursting with flavor — and you can wash it all down with your choice of a wide range of traditional Mexican hot and cold beverages: tres leches, horchata, atole, and various fruit-based concoctions. $15-30.
- 24 Chris' NY Sandwich Shop, 395 Delaware Ave. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-F 11AM-2:30PM. Situated on the ground-floor storefront of the Colonial Apartments on the northern fringe of downtown, this popular lunch spot is a family-run operation, which cuts both ways: their website is not lying when it touts their "generous sandwich[es] with the freshest bread and finest ingredients", but it's hard to fire your own flesh and blood, which makes for less-than-stellar service. If you luck out, you might end up with a waitress that's friendly and efficient, but more often the service at Chris' is slow, indifferent, and downright surly. (Luckily, takeout and delivery are available.) Still, this place packs 'em in during their brief lunchtime opening hours, seemingly on the deliciousness of their food alone. The sandwiches served here are creative concoctions that are sure to be delicious no matter what you order, on your choice of ten different breads and with a variety of optional toppings. A particular favorite is the smoked turkey salad sandwich blended with fresh dill for an incomparable flavor. All sandwiches come with chips by default, but try a side of sweet potato fries for a $3 upcharge. Grilled fare such as burgers and steak sandwiches are offered (if you're a fan of turkey burgers, Chris' has an unusual abundance of varieties), specialty salads include a variation on caprese salad with lemon basil vinaigrette in place of balsamic, and fish fries are served on Friday. Prices at Chris' are high, but — if you're willing to put up with the aforementioned lousy service — you really do get what you pay for. NOTE: Chris' NY Sandwich Shop suffered a fire in April 2017. While the restaurant has since reopened for takeout and delivery, and a limited number of tables are available on the sidewalk terrace, the dining room was damaged more heavily and as of this writing (October 2017) will probably remain closed for several more months. $15-25.
- 25 D'Avolio's Kitchen, 535 Main St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Kitchen M-F 10:30AM-5PM; retail M-F 10AM-6PM. In August 2015, the revitalized 500 Block of Main Street landed the eighth and newest location of locally renowned olive oil and vinegar purveyor D'Avolio, and the second to feature an attached restaurant. D'Avolio's Kitchen sates the appetites of the downtown lunch crowd with a menu of "build your own" salads, pizzas, antipasto plates, and sandwiches (the latter come with a side salad or cup of soup) for $11.95 apiece. When you enter, you're shown to your table and given a laminate-surfaced blackboard menu and a dry-erase marker; just mark off your selection of ingredients (choose a bread/crust/base of some sort, one or two meats, one or two cheeses, veggie toppings, and condiments) and hand it to your server. There's not much in the way of side dishes or other items on the menu, but a soup du jour and seasonal fruit bowl are offered, as is a wide range of hot and iced teas and other nonalcoholic drinks, plus a somewhat more modest selection of beer and wine. The food is prepared simply but beautifully with time-tested Old World techniques that really bring out the subtle flavors of the ingredients, and portions are large. Best of all, before or after your meal, you can browse the sales racks filled with the same selection of gourmet olive oils and vinegars as at D'Avolio's retail locations. $15-25.
- 26 Deep South Taco, 291 Ellicott St. (Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☎ . Su-Th 11AM-11PM, F-Sa 11AM-midnight. November 2015 saw the debut of yet another entry in the roster of the emerging "restaurant row" on Ellicott Street: Deep South Taco is an upscale taquería situated in a former storage warehouse just off Lafayette Square. Paying tribute to his roots in the Southern U.S. with the name of the place, owner Richard Hamilton is an Oklahoma native and veteran restaurateur whose inspiration for Deep South Taco was the authentic, downhome Mexican cooking he dabbled in as a sort of antidote to the hoity-toity fine dining of the places he owned over the years. Far from the sleepy cantina you may be picturing, though, a meal at Deep South Taco is a real experience: as you walk up to the place you see a giant rotating lucha libre mask on the front wall of the building facing Ellicott Street, framed by psychedelic lights and visuals courtesy of an outdoor video projector; indoors you're bathed in garish blue, purple and red LED lights punctuated by the eerie greenish glow of illuminated heating ducts and bar taps. (If that sounds like too much sensory overload for you, there's also the more subdued environment of the heated rooftop patio, open all year, as well as the outdoor street-level patio perfect for warm summer days.) Deep South's menu is small but packs a punch, dominated by a range of different tacos that you order singly — at $4-5 apiece, you can mix and match a combination of several; favorites include the taco de pescado (with crispy or grilled tilapia and chipotle mayo) and the taco de carnitas (spicy pulled pork and guajillo serrano salsa). Tacos are served on homemade tortillas that draw mixed reviews: fresh as can be, but fluffier than you may be used to and sometimes prone to falling apart in your hand. Elsewhere on the menu, there's a meal-in-itself nacho platter smothered in melted cortija cheese for that extra touch of authenticity, bean and cheese tacos and mushroom tostadas for vegetarian visitors, a chips-and-salsa starter that comes with your choice of three of six salsa options, and side orders of Mexican street corn that are as authentic as it gets. $15-30.
- 27 Dinosaur Bar-B-Q, 301 Franklin St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-W 11AM-11PM, Th-Sa 11AM-midnight, Su noon-10PM. Local buzz began to build about Dinosaur Bar-B-Q — the awesomely popular Syracuse-based chain whose meaty, saucy tentacles spread statewide — in 1998, when its second location opened in Rochester, and it amplified further when Dinosaur-brand barbecue sauces and other items began turning up in area supermarkets. And when the Buffalo location finally opened in February 2014, the local barbecue scene, formerly nothing to write home about, got a major shot in the arm: even the most ardent "Buffalovers" who've experienced it concede that local favorite-by-default Fat Bob's has some major catching up to do. Situated in a former Universal International Pictures film vault on Franklin Street, this location is smaller than others in the chain, but it's got the same rowdy roadhouse vibe and is brimming with historic character to boot. Dinosaur's fare is Kansas City barbecue done to perfection, lauded on the Travel Channel series Man v. Food and cited by many reviewers, media outlets, and satisfied customers as the best barbecue north of the Mason-Dixon Line — and by ABC's Good Morning America as the best in the whole country. Start with appetizers like out-of-this-world fried green tomatoes or "Dino poutine" topped with pulled pork, then move on to mains such as barbecue chicken, pulled pork, hand-sliced brisket, and catfish that come with your choice of sides (the mac & cheese is to die for and the peel-and-eat "drunken spicy shrimp" are gargantuan, but stay away from the bland "A.K. Chili") or as part of a range of combo platters, including a build-your-own option. Also available are some of the most mouth-watering ribs you've ever tasted, marinated all day in a secret spice rub then slowly smoked and glazed with just the right amount of Dinosaur's own barbecue sauce. Prices are decent, especially given the huge portions — those who are not so hungry might prefer lighter fare such as brisket and pulled pork sandwiches or various burgers — and service is efficient and exceptional, with a staff that's friendly to a fault and happy to point newbies to the best dishes on the menu. $15-40.
- 28 Frankie Primo's +39, 51 W. Chippewa St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-W 11AM-11PM, Th-Sa 11AM-midnight, Su noon-9PM. Opened in December 2015, Frankie Primo's is another milepost in Chippewa's evolution from one-dimensional strip of thumping dance clubs to multifaceted fine dining and entertainment destination. After 16 years as owner of Soho Burger Bar just down the block, Jay Manno jumped at the chance to open a second Chippewa Street eatery that would serve up some of the Italian food he grew up with — simple yet creatively conceived and well-executed specialties from his ancestral homelands of Sicily and Campania — in the former home of City Tavern, whose old-school interior, with its exposed brick, warm-toned woodwork, and original tin ceiling, was a perfect match for the "Little Italy-type restaurant" he envisioned. Even the "+39" suffix in the restaurant's name is a subtle nod to his roots, being Italy's telephone calling code. The backbone of Frankie Primo's is a deceptively straightforward-seeming yet wide-ranging slate of pizzas (fired in a brick oven; not too greasy, with a thin, crispy crust), pasta dishes (including the Roman specialty cacio di pepe, the only place in Buffalo where you can find it), panini sandwiches (served on fresh, crusty ciabatta bread baked in-house), and main-course salads (the cavolo toscano is especially interesting; a heaping mound of kale topped with currants, toasted pine nuts, pecorino romano cheese, and lemon vinaigrette), which come in ample portions and at prices that aren't half bad for what you get. About a dozen specialty cocktails are served up at the homey bar — classics like Negronis and Manhattans, plus more newfangled creations that still betray a strong classicist influence — and if you prefer your drinks at the table with dinner, the wine selection is encyclopedic. $15-45.
- 29 Hearth + Press, 665 Main St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Daily 8AM-10PM. It may be that its owners are a pair of Lebanese brothers who got their start running a Greek diner in Amherst and are best known today for serving up some of the finest Middle Eastern food Buffalo has to offer at Elmwood Avenue's Mezza, but at Hearth + Press it's all about the Italian — and that means real Italian, not warmed-over, Americanized schlock. Sure, artisanal pizza is everywhere these days, but nowhere else in town can you find an experience quite so manifestly European — this place is essentially a charming, laid-back coffeeshop and a chic trattoria all rolled into one, with a bright, airy ambience afforded by the huge picture windows looking out onto the heart of the Theater District. You order at the counter, take a number, and have a seat, and as you can guess, the gas-fired stone pizza hearth is the star of the show — thin-crust, Neapolitan-style fan favorites like classic margherita, quattro formaggio (a cheese lover's dream come true with a blend of mozzarella, fontina, parmigiano-reggiano, and goat cheese), and meatball pizza (savory lumps of tender ground pork; this may be Hearth + Press' best seller of all) are crisped up in 90 seconds flat, at a temperature of north of 1000ºF (about 550ºC). But that's not all. The other half of the place's name is represented by a slate of sandwiches that come on fresh house-baked baguettes — the aforementioned pork meatballs are present in a sandwich that includes many of the same ingredients as the pizza, and the roast beef sandwich is an austere but deceptively flavorful construct dressed simply with arugula and house aioli. And in the morning, Hearth + Press's coffeeshop alter ego comes to the forefront, with breakfast sandwiches also served. $15-40.
- 30 Lafayette Brewing Company, 391 Washington St. (At the Hotel Lafayette; Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☎ . Su-F 11:30AM-9PM, Sa noon-9PM. Opened at the Hotel Lafayette in 2012, the Lafeyette Brewing Company's lush decor, featuring furnishings original to the Lafayette that date back to the first decade of the 20th Century, is a tribute to the Pan-American Exposition, which took place in 1901 and for which the Lafayette was constructed. This place shares the same owner as the Pearl Street Grill & Brewery (see below), which means that aside from the fact that many of the delicious craft beers brewed and served at Pearl Street are also available here, the food menu bears a great deal of similarity to the one at its sister restaurant. To call the cuisine here "pub grub" would be to do it an injustice, but nonetheless, the fairly elegant take on classic American cuisine served at Lafayette Brewing splits the difference between upscale quality and reasonable prices. A familiar yet creative range of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, and entrees are accompanied by an ample selection of flatbreads and a range of homemade pizzas available in "Speak Softly" (12") and "Big Stick" (18") sizes — another evocation of the Pan-American Exposition era. Simply put, the Lafayette Brewing Co. is one of the best options in downtown Buffalo for those in search of a decent sit-down meal that won't break the bank. $10-35.
- 31 Liberty Hound, 1 Naval Park Cove (Metro Rail: Erie Canal Harbor), ☎ . M-Th 11:30AM-9PM, F-Sa 11:30AM-10PM, Su 10AM-3PM. Located inside the Buffalo & Erie County Naval Park at Canalside, Liberty Hound is a celebration of seafood from across the U.S. and the world, in a wonderful lakeside setting convenient to all downtown and waterfront attractions. Traditional offerings such as Maine lobster rolls and crab boil share space on the menu with exotic and innovative offerings, such as steamed littleneck clams with chorizo garlic butter and a Vietnamese-style banh mi sandwich stuffed with crispy fried calamari, that can be found nowhere else in Buffalo. Best of all are the refreshing lake breezes and lovely views over the waterfront and downtown. $20-40.
- 32 Local, 88 W. Chippewa St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-W 11AM-9PM, Th-Sa 11AM-1AM. Justin Anderson bills his new eatery as a "kitchen and beer bar" — and true to that designation (and mirroring the evolution of Chippewa Street as a whole), the former Noir nightclub has been revamped into a completely new establishment that offers something more than drinking and rowdy clubbing. The "kitchen" half of the equation serves up a classed-up take on pub grub — one major standout from among the list of sandwiches, burgers, appetizers (mostly of the deep-fried variety), personal pizzas, and main-course salads is the "Ultimate Chicken Sandwich", where flavorful, well-seasoned grilled chicken comes topped with avocado, goat cheese, tomato, fresh basil, bacon, alfalfa sprouts, potato chips, and pesto mayo for a dazzlingly complex yet ultimately harmonious blend of flavors. A few heartier entrees are on offer as well, including a beer-battered fish fry made with Southern Tier Brewing Company's "One Buffalo" American blonde ale — a huge seller on Fridays. As for the latter half of the surname, it's a bit of a misnomer — sure, you've got a pretty good selection of craft beers on tap from local and regional brewers such as Hamburg Brewing Company, 12 Gates, and Resurgence, but also cocktails made with about 50 types of bourbon, Scotch and rye. In every aspect of the experience, Local does justice to its name — from the local craft brews, to the Western New York-based suppliers the kitchen uses in many of its recipes (Camellia Meats provides the ham for the Cuban sandwich and the ham and mozzarella melt, for example, while the jalapeño mustard for the soft pretzel appetizer comes from Deb's Delights), to the huge "Buffalove" sign adorning the back wall, even to the interior: wooden beams from an old barn in Clarence were reused here as wall paneling and to build the bar, for a rustic look redolent of nothing so much as an Old West saloon. $15-35.
- 33 Osteria 166, 166 Franklin St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-F 11AM-9PM, Sa 4PM-10PM. Newly opened at the corner of Franklin and Mohawk Streets and already receiving rave reviews from hungry Buffalonians, Osteria 166 is a "casual Italian eatery and pub" that walks a fine line between the humble "red-sauce Italian" restaurants of Hertel Avenue and what's left of the Italian West Side, and the upscale establishments more typical of downtown. Entrees trend heavily toward the former, with classic favorites such as spaghetti and meatballs, shellfish fra diavolo, and an Italian sausage sandwich all making appearances on the menu. However, the appetizers are far more imaginative, with the creativity of the offerings in that category exemplified by grilled octopus, pork confit, and stuffed pepper risotto cakes. An impressive wine list caps off Osteria 166's menu in grand style. $15-45.
- 34 Papaya, 118 W. Chippewa St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-Tu 11AM-11PM, W-Th 11AM-midnight, F 11AM-2AM, Sa 3PM-2AM, Su 3PM-10PM. One of the first fine dining establishments to challenge Chippewa Street's previously monolithic identity as a thumping clubber's paradise, Papaya opened its doors in 2005 on the ground floor of the Hampton Inn hotel. Serving daring Asian fusion cuisine with an accent on Thai and Vietnamese influences, as well as sushi, Papaya's menu is one of downtown's most innovative. Beer, wine, sake, and cocktails are served including excellent martinis. $25-50.
- 35 Pearl Street Grill & Brewery, 76 Pearl St. (Metro Rail: Seneca), ☎ . M-Sa 11AM-4AM, Su noon-4AM. Located in a 1841 brick block in the middle of the former Canal District, which the menu describes as once having been "the most evil square mile in America", the Pearl Street Grill & Brewery does its best to evoke those bygone days with an upscale — and unmistakably Buffalo — take on traditional pub grub served in a setting that has been beautifully restored to mimic its 19th-century ambience. An interesting variety of burgers, sandwiches and wraps — including an astounding pulled pork sandwich served with North Carolina-style barbeque sauce, and of course, beef on weck — and hearty entrees are all served, but particularly recommendable are the variety of pizzas on offer at the Pearl Street Grill. Best of all, the restaurant also doubles as a brewery, with a variety of award-winning beers such as their signature brew, "Trainwreck", that are brewed on the premises, as well as a rotating selection of seasonal and specialty beers. The Pearl Street Grill is very busy on nights the Buffalo Sabres play at home, due to its proximity to the arena. $20-40.
- 36 Pizza Plant, 125 Main St. (At One Canalside; Metro Rail: Erie Canal Harbor), ☎ . M-Th 11AM-11PM, F-Sa 11AM-midnight, Su 11AM-10PM. After over a year of preparation, Bob and Dan Syracuse opened their long-awaited downtown Buffalo location of Pizza Plant in fall 2015, in the building at Canalside that's also home to Courtyard By Marriott hotel. Those who are familiar with the original location on Transit Road will be happy to know that the menu is exactly the same; for the uninitiated, the specialty of the house are pods: like calzones but bigger, these football-shaped shells of pizza dough are as long as your forearm and contain your choice of pizza topping-style fillings (select from about two dozen specialty pods, or build your own). Equally worthwhile, though, are the selection of thin-crust and stuffed deep-dish pizzas, pasta dishes, and bread bowl salads (including, oddly enough, the best Greek salad in town), not to mention a craft beer selection that rivals anywhere else in Buffalo. Vegetarians, vegans, and the gluten-free crowd have a lot to choose from on Pizza Plant's menu, and craft beer tastings, live music, and other events are frequent. $15-40.
- 37 Raclette's, 537 Main St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-Th 11AM-9PM, F 11AM-10PM, Sa noon-10PM. In what must be a contender for longest lag between initial announcement and opening day, Raclette's opened its doors on the 500 Block of Main Street in March 2016, after just a bit over four years of preparation. The fact that the delay was due to the need for a complete top-to-bottom reconstruction of its building — one that many claimed was too far gone to be saved — is testament to the dogged perseverance and dedication of owners Paul and Sandra Wilkens, equally to the preservation of downtown's period buildings as to the provision of a topnotch dining experience to their customers. The specialty to which Raclette's owes its name is a Swiss French dish that one might describe as a cousin to fondue — you place a large block of cheese on a flat grill to slowly melt, then scrape it off onto a platter that includes buckwheat crêpes, potatoes and/or gherkins, and your choice of charcuterie meats. It's a dish that's available nowhere else in Buffalo, and the friendly staff is happy to walk newbies through the process, but a quick meal this is not — Raclette's advises you to allow at least an hour and a half for the whole experience. If you're pressed for time or otherwise not interested, the balance of the menu is made up of serviceable bistro fare — an interesting selection of Belgian-style moûles frites, main-course salads, and coq au vin and other classic Gallic fare are dished out at dinner, the lunch menu boasts a range of croques and baguette sandwiches, the French onion soup and vegetable bouillabaisse (the latter one of the few items on the menu suitable for vegans) are spectacular, and there's an extensive and reasonably priced selection of wines available by the bottle or by the glass. All this goodness is served up in one of two environments: an oddly laid out but warm and comfortable dining room, with exposed brick walls full of old-school charm and comfortable, slightly offbeat furniture for an effect described by one reviewer as "like dining in a wealthy friend's cozy library", or else outdoors on the breezy sidewalk patio facing Roosevelt Plaza. If there's a complaint to be made about Raclette's, it's that the portions are more European-sized than American-sized (let alone Buffalo-sized), but the reasonable price point goes a long way to compensate. $15-45.
- 38 Sato Brewpub, 110 Pearl St. (Metro Rail: Seneca), ☎ . Tu-Th 11AM-midnight, F-Sa 11AM-1AM. Since 2011, when Serene Gardens first opened its doors on Grand Island, chef Satomi Smith has made it her mission to broaden Buffalo's culinary horizons in terms of Japanese food beyond just the sushi and hibachi steak that locals had been enjoying for years — and Sato Brewpub, the third and newest addition to the semi-eponymous restaurant empire she's built, really takes it to the next level: while the two original Sato locations in the Elmwood Village and University Heights specialize in ramen, and the since-closed Serene Gardens was a well-rounded summary of Japanese cuisine as a whole, this new foodie destination in the basement of the Dun Building (Buffalo's first high-rise office building, erected in 1895; architecture buffs might want to linger outside and drink in the Beaux-Arts Neoclassical majesty for a bit before entering) is in fact the first izakaya in North America to brew its own beer on the premises (and the first one in Buffalo, period). The house brews are, for the most part, pretty faithful renditions of time-tested European classics enhanced with distinctly Japanese touches — witness the notes of soy complementing the clean, dry finish of the "Aggretsuko" Belgian stout, while the "Urban Samurai" IPA packs a strong, bitter, hoppy punch at 6.2% ABV. If that doesn't strike your fancy, the "Yuz' Not That IPA" brewed in conjunction with Community Beer Works for Sato's University Heights location is poured here too, as well as a range of sakes and mixed drinks at the bar. Similarly to the beer options, fans of Sato's other locations will be pleased to see some of their favorite ramen soups and donburi bowls on offer here (not to mention the okonomiyaki fries that are such a hit in the Heights), but the heart and soul of Sato Brewpub's food menu is the short but well-curated range of kushiyaki and yakitori skewers, small sashimi plates, and other shareable Japanese bar snacks that comprise traditional izakaya fare — all expertly flavored and cooked, with the teriyaki spare ribs (sautéed in a house-made glaze) reserved for especially high praise. Service is quick and friendly as can be — and Sato Brewpub stays open far later than other downtown restaurants, making for an ideal stop before or after a Sabres game or other event at the KeyBank Center. $15-40.
- 39 Seabar, 475 Ellicott St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Lunch M-F 11:30AM-2:30PM; Dinner M-Th 4:30PM-9:30PM, F-Sa 4:30PM-10:30PM. Aside from being one of Buffalo's finest sushi restaurants, Seabar is one of the premier destinations in downtown Buffalo for cocktails and a wide selection of entrees, with Japanese cuisine accompanied on the menu by specialties such as short ribs, glazed duck breast, and linguine with clam sauce. Convenient to the Theater District and the Chippewa strip. $25-30.
- 40 Señor Tequila, 414 Pearl St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-Sa 11AM-3AM, Su 11AM-2AM. Señor Tequila is a sort of tragic figure in the world of Buffalo-area Mexican restaurants: intended by original owner Saul Sanchez as a more upscale sister restaurant to La Delicias, his taquería down the block that upended downtown's already thriving Mexican food scene with a new level of culinary authenticity and just plain deliciousness, his plans went literally up in smoke in the three-alarm fire that claimed La Delicias' building in April 2017. Local gourmands were understandably surprised at Señor Tequila's opening (albeit under different management) in summer 2017 despite deafening silence regarding the promised reopening of La Delicias, but that excitement was soon tempered with a degree of disappointment: while the fairly run-of-the-mill Tex-Mex fare served here is more well-rounded than La Delicias' bare-bones selection of tacos and tasty enough to pass muster among the competition, it's several unmistakable steps down in culinary creativity. Still, if you're content to stick within your comfort zone of burritos, fajitas, nachos, enchiladas, seafood platters, and the like, Señor Tequila may be the option for you — and their kitchen is open way later than most other downtown restaurants, so if you've just finished a night of bar-hopping, this may be the only place open anyhow. If you're not impressed by the food, you can still kick back at the bar (with your choice of tequilas, mezcals, over 30 different margaritas, and a roughly equal number of beers on tap) and take in the lively atmosphere and well-executed decor: all the old-school charm of original tin ceilings and exposed brick walls accented in the classic Mexican restaurant color scheme of yellows, oranges, and lime greens. $15-35.
- 41 (716), 7 Scott St. (At HarborCenter; Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Su-Th 11AM-1AM, F-Sa 11AM-2AM. Located at HarborCenter a stone's throw away from the KeyBank Center, (716) is the perfect place to catch dinner before a Sabres game — and even if you don't have tickets, the experience at Buffalo's sports bar par excellence is, in the words of one reviewer, "probably better than actually going to the game". That's because you can watch the Sabres (or pretty much any other team) in grand style on the 38-foot (11 m) big-screen TV situated front and center above the bar and visible from all over the restaurant, as well as some 70 more HD screens covering pretty much every interior surface right down to the mirrors in the restrooms. Fans of traditional sports-bar pub grub will be happy with the menu, but those looking for something a little more distinctive won't be disappointed either — the fare at (716) includes interesting twists such as beer-can chicken seasoned with a secret-recipe dry rub and served with jicama slaw, Buffalo mac & cheese and fresh hand-cut fries, as well as a charcuterie pizza topped with soppressata, prosciutto, spicy Calabrese salami, pepperoncini, peppadew peppers, and a blend of mozzarella, provolone, and ricotta cheeses. All the food is reliably good, but special praise is heaped on the "Power Play Poutine", smothered in locally-produced Yancey's Fancy cheese curds and a gravy that boasts a spicy kick (some speculate that they add Frank's hot sauce). At the extra-long bar, bright white and illuminated to imitate the ice of a hockey arena, you can enjoy a choice of three or four dozen beers available on tap and in bottles, including a great selection of local craft brews from places like the Hamburg Brewing Company and Community Beer Works. The weak link at (716) is the service, which is often dashed-off and indifferent, if still passable. $15-60.
- 42 Tappo, 338 Ellicott St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-Sa 5PM-10PM, Su 3PM-9PM. "Let's enjoy city dining again", implores Tappo's website, echoing the sentiment of a growing number of Western New Yorkers. Developer Rocco Termini and Buffalo restaurateur extraordinaire Mike Andrzejewski teamed up in 2013 to convert the former Horton Coffee building into this casual restaurant serving Italian fare that is familiar yet creative and well-prepared. Diners rave about delicious interpretations of classic favorites like lasagne, chicken cacciatore, and Italian wedding soup, as well as more imaginative options such as a basil prawn risotto and Tappo's lauded brasciole. The wine list features no fewer than 41 imported vintages, with a few domestic wines for good measure. Best of all, the value for what you get can't be beat — and neither can the view of the downtown skyline from the rooftop patio. $15-35.
- 43 Toutant, 437 Ellicott St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Th-M 5PM-2AM, Su brunch 11:30AM-2:30PM. With Toutant, owner James Roberts pays homage to his roots in Louisiana bayou country — he took the name of the trapping and fishing camp that has family operated there for many years and applied it to the Southern and Cajun food destination he opened in downtown Buffalo in 2015. Local old-timers may remember the building's previous tenant, the Golden Swan, one of the diviest of the dive bars of old downtown Buffalo — but oh, how times have changed. Toutant has been utterly transformed into three floors of class, with a beautifully restored bar at street level and upper floors that boast great views over the skyline. The decor is understated and mindful of the building's historic character, with exposed brick predominating. But you're not here for the view or the decor, you're here to eat, and at Toutant the choice is from a menu that's underwhelming in size but superlative in quality. Start off with a slate of small plates ("sharing is caring", the menu reminds you) that include delicious, flaky "cast-iron cornbread", fried pork cracklins that according to one reviewer "taste like bacon-flavored chips", and sausage and bacon smoked in-house, then graduate to main courses including excellent fried chicken — crunchy and not too greasy — or jambalaya whose spiciness you can adjust to your taste, like in an Asian restaurant. All the dishes at Toutant are made with locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible. Weak spots include the service, which tends to be fumbling, thoughtless, and glacially slow (this place is newly opened as of this writing, so take those criticisms with a grain of salt) and the noise level, which can be deafening when the place is crowded (i.e. more often than not). $15-55.
- 44 Ulrich's Tavern, 674 Ellicott St. (Metro Rail: Allen-Medical Campus), ☎ . M-F 11AM-11PM, Sa 4PM-10PM, Su noon-8PM. Opened in 1868 and named for a later owner, German immigrant Michael Ulrich, Ulrich's Tavern is Buffalo's oldest operating restaurant — despite the fact that it spent most of 2013 and 2014 intermittently closed due to the fiduciary woes of its former owners. Sadly, the German specialties that made up the heart and soul of its former iteration's menu are paid mere lip service, with maybe a half-dozen options, dubbed "Ulrich's Favorites", cordoned off to an isolated sector of the menu: you can get wienerschnitzel, potato pancakes, rouladen, and the "Oktoberfest", a platter of three German sausages and sides of sauerkraut and potato salad, but that's about it. The balance of the offerings consist of a slate of sandwiches, burgers and main-course salads that are upscale, but for the most part aren't anything you can't find elsewhere in the city. The sandwiches are big and hearty, though: local favorites like beef on weck and fried bologna with onions are present, the burger is a full half-pound of meat, and the shredded pork sandwich comes with pickles and is served on olive-pressed French bread. And while borscht is technically native to lands east of Germany, Ulrich's is one of the few restaurants in Buffalo where you can find it (and it's really good). As for drinks, Germanophiles who were disappointed with the food might like the beer and wine list better, with offerings from Germany and elsewhere. $15-30.
- 45 Bacchus, 54 W. Chippewa St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Lunch: Tu-F 11:30AM-2:30PM, DInner: Tu-Th 5PM-11PM, F-Sa 5PM-midnight. Appropriately named for the Roman god of wine, Bacchus has always been Chippewa Street's odd-man-out, offering a decidedly upscale and laid-back experience since long before the rest of Chippewa's thumping party bars began to follow suit. Located in the historic Calumet Building, Bacchus is owned and operated by Buffalo's premier restaurateur, Mark Goldman, which locals know makes for an experience of unrelentingly high quality where meticulous attention is paid to every detail. Impeccably prepared specialties of diverse influences — entrees such as panko crusted ahi tuna, steamed Prince Edward Island mussels, and duck confit share space on the menu — are complemented by an impressive wine list with a variety of glasses, half-bottles and full bottles available to suit all tastes. Now open for lunch. $25-55.
- 46 Buffalo Chop House, 282 Franklin St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-W 4PM-10PM, Th-Sa 4PM-11PM, Su 3PM-10PM. Proudly serving mouth-watering cuts of the finest aged USDA prime beef in an elegant setting, the Buffalo Chop House is the most exclusive restaurant in the city, with prices to match. What guests to the Chop House can expect, however, is luxury that is unmatched in the region, with a variety of steaks as well as pork, lamb and veal chops, chicken dishes, and mouth-watering seafood selections taking center stage on a menu that also features a huge selection of elegantly prepared salads and appetizers, the latter category predominated by seafood selections such as clams casino with apple-smoked bacon and tuna tartare with tomatillo and mango. In October 2014, owner Mark Croce also launched a "5 for $55" prix fixe menu including an appetizer, main course with two sides, and dessert, the better for people to experience the Chop House "without taking out a second mortgage" (in his words). As for the interior ambience, it boasts a '40s Rat Pack theme that was introduced as part of a recent $750,000 renovation, including a wood-panel inlay on the second-floor wall imported from Indonesia that features an image of Frank Sinatra. The Chop House also has Buffalo's finest banquet facility, the Franklin Room. $50-110.
- 47 Buffalo Proper, 333 Franklin St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Tu-Th $ Sa-Su 5PM-2AM, F 3PM-2AM. In spring 2014, after a twelve-year stint on the corner of Franklin and Tupper, local restaurateur-turned-real estate magnate Mark Croce closed Laughlin's Beer & Barrel, saying "it was time for a change". That change has come in the form of Buffalo Proper, a Roaring Twenties-themed cocktail bar and fine dining restaurant helmed by some of the heaviest hitters of the Western New York restaurant industry: executive chef Edward Forster, formerly of Mike A's at the Lafayette, is joined by Vera Pizzeria founder John Karel and a pair of young upstarts he brought over from his most recent creation, Rochester's The Revelry: Zack Mekida and Donny Clutterbuck. In a write-up in Buffalo Rising, Buffalo Proper's food is described as "honest American cuisine that honors the low country of the South", but the maddeningly eclectic, immensely creative, and ridiculously upscale concoctions on the menu would be nearly unrecognizable to the average Southerner. For instance, they don't serve rabbit here: instead, it's "tartine of rabbit en terrine" with whole-grain mustard, arugula, pickled onions, and armagnac-apricot mostarda (whatever that is). Even that Southern favorite, slow-roasted pork, is crusted with candied malt, drizzled with an alegrette flavored with local craft beer, and accompanied by kohlrabi sauerkraut. A variety of steaks are offered, and if you're a fan of seafood, try the roast fluke with haricot, brown butter and toasted almonds, or the grilled wild sturgeon garnished with shallots and shaved apples. And yes, all this is as expensive as it sounds. $25-90.
- 48 Marble + Rye, 112 Genesee St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Lunch M-Th 11:30AM-2PM; dinner Tu-Sa 5PM-midnight. At Marble + Rye, Mike Dimmer and Christian Willmott take the upscale touch they brought to Buffalo's food truck scene in 2013 with the Black Market Food Truck into the world of brick-and-mortar restaurants, with smashing success. Located across from the restored Genesee Gateway buildings in a part of downtown that's become known as an up-and-coming hotspot for fine dining, Marble + Rye's small but well-curated menu is divided up into a selection of small plates and a somewhat more modest slate of full-sized main courses, emphasizing in both cases fresh, seasonal ingredients that are locally sourced whenever possible. The large plates are more expensive but a good sight less creative — a half or whole chicken comes with various mildly interesting accoutrements such as pork-fat potato and oyster mushrooms, while the steak is a run-of-the-mill if well-executed 24-ounce seasoned T-bone — but it's with the small plates where Marble + Rye really fires on all cylinders (and don't worry, you won't leave hungry if you order one; portion sizes are much larger than what you'd expect in an upscale restaurant). On that half of the menu, you have pickled onion rings with green garlic aioli; a grilled octopus appetizer that's inconsistent in quality but out of this world when at its best, with charred scallion, jalapeños, and romesco sauce; and a choice of four phenomenal burgers served on homemade buns and cooked to order with a mix of sirloin, brisket, and chuck, perfect for those on a budget. These and other culinary delights are experienced in a dining room that's rustic and homey yet urbane — exposed brick and finished wood abound — and the bright lighting is a welcome change of pace for those who are tired of squinting to read the menu in fancy restaurants. The character continues at the trendy yet laid-back bar, where the selection is dominated by regional microbrews and a range of truly creative house-exclusive craft cocktails making heavy use of rye whiskey, that newly trendy spirit to which the restaurant owes half its name. Service is topnotch: attentive, knowledgeable, and not dashed-off. This place gets crowded, so reservations are recommended especially on Friday and Saturday nights. $25-75.
- 49 Templeton Landing, 2 Templeton Terr. (At the Erie Basin Marina; Metro Rail: Erie Canal Harbor), ☎ . M-Th 11AM-9PM, F-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su brunch 10AM-2:30PM. Formerly Shanghai Red's, Templeton Landing is located at Erie Basin Marina, a popular summertime hangout for boaters, walkers, joggers, and people-watchers. Boasting fine food and stunning views of Lake Erie from their patio that is open seasonally, Templeton Landing's entrees comprise hearty fare such as steaks, pork loin, burgers, and ribs, but the true pride of this place is their side dishes, which often share the spotlight with the main course rather than mere afterthoughts. Open all year, but summer is when you really want to come. $25-60.
- 50 The 31 Club, 31 N. Johnson Park (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Lunch W-F 11AM-2:30PM & Su (brunch) 11AM-3PM; Dinner M-Th 5PM-10PM, F-Sa 5PM-noon. The 31 Club began in the 1940s as Buffalo's premier supper club; though its original incarnation closed in 1983, it has now reopened in its original historic brick building on Johnson Park at the north end of downtown. The style and sophistication of the original 31 Club has returned, but with a contemporary twist. Freshly prepared Continental cuisine, such as Australian rack of lamb and filet mignon au poivre, is the rule at the 31 Club, as well as martinis and other specialty cocktails. Brunch and lunch are also served. $35-60.
- 51 William K's, 329 Erie St. (At the Erie Basin Marina; Metro Rail: Erie Canal Harbor), ☎ . Tu-Th 5PM-10PM, F-Sa 5PM-midnight, Su 11AM-3PM (brunch) & 5PM-10PM. Though the Buffalo waterfront is still primarily a warm-weather attraction, the slow growth lately in the trickle of wintertime visitors to places like the Erie Basin Marina was significant enough by 2015 for local restaurateur Molly Ford Koessler — coming fresh off a successful makeover of her Black Rock restaurant, Acqua — to take a chance on a waterfront restaurant that would be open 12 months a year. Sadly, Koessler's experiment operating a year-round waterfront fine dining destination didn't pan out (they closed for the season in December 2016 and will reopen in the spring), but if you're in town anytime but the dead of winter, a topnotch experience awaits. Located next to The Hatch just past the entrance to the marina (there's always ample parking in the huge lot across Erie Street), William K's dining room is gifted with spectacular views over Lake Erie and across the mouth of the Buffalo River to the historic lighthouse — but unlike some other waterfront restaurants that are content to sell themselves based on scenery, this place follows through with food that's a cut above the competition in quality, elegance, and price. The menu here is smallish and could be described as an especially innovative take on the upscale steak-and-seafood template with the balance tipped decidedly in favor of the latter: the grilled Spanish octopus over chorizo and chickpea stew is a tantalizing combination of flavors and textures, and a changing selection of fresh seafood from the Gloucester Fish Market comprises the "Boston's Finest" seafood platter. Elsewhere on the menu, you've got a variety of steaks and chops, a roasted beet salad topped with burrata, masala milk powder, and locally sourced honey that's arguably the most popular item on the menu, and — for those with a smaller budget to work with — a selection of thin-crust brick-oven pizzas with some very interesting toppings (how about bone marrow, smoked beef tongue, fresh horseradish, and pecorino romano cheese?) Portions tend to be a bit on the small side for the money, but the service is unfailingly attentive and friendly, and there's an extensive wine list and some great craft cocktails at the bar. $25-65.
The following local chain restaurants have locations downtown. Descriptions of these restaurants can be found on the main Buffalo page.
- Charlie the Butcher Express, 295 Main St. (In the Ellicott Square Building; Metro Rail: Seneca), ☎ . M-F 11AM-4PM.
- 52 Jim's Steakout, 92 W. Chippewa St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Su-W 10:30AM-2AM, Th-Su 10:30AM-5AM.
- 53 Marco's Italian Deli, 111 Genesee St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-F 11AM-6PM.
- 54 Mighty Taco, 52 W. Chippewa St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-Th 10AM-11PM, F-Sa 10AM-5AM, Su noon-8PM.
- 55 Rachel's Mediterranean, 235 Delaware Ave. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Daily 11AM-10PM.
- 56 Ted's Hot Dogs, 124 W. Chippewa St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza). Su-Th 10:30AM-10PM, F-Sa 1O-30AM-2AM.
The following pizzerias are located downtown. Those who are interested in pizza delivery (as opposed to pickup) might want to also check listings in adjacent districts; local pizzerias will often deliver to several different neighborhoods of the city.
- 57 Dough Bois, 56 Niagara St. (Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☎ . M-F 7:30AM-8:30PM.
- Prima Pizza & Pasta, 38 W. Chippewa St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-Tu 9AM-11PM, W-Th 9AM-2AM, F-Sa 9AM-3:30AM, Su 1PM-9PM.
A new high-rise building that's being planned for a parking lot behind the Central Library is slated to be the location of downtown Buffalo's first proper supermarket. For self-caterers of the here and now, however, the nearest ones are the Tops on Niagara Street on the Lower West Side and the Towne Gardens Supermarket on William Street on the Near East Side.
- 58 Downtown Country Market, Main St. between Court and Church Sts. (Metro Rail: Lafayette Square or Church). Tu & Th 8AM-2:30PM, mid-May thru mid-Oct. A downtown tradition for over thirty years, the Downtown Country Market sees dozens of vendors converge on Buffalo's business district to the delight of office workers, local residents and visitors who come to purchase a wide range of farm-fresh produce, meats, baked goods, and flowers. The Downtown Country Market is a member of the Pride of New York Program, meaning that all goods sold there are produced in New York State.
- 59 Roswell Park Farmers' Market, Kaminski Park, corner of Elm and Carlton Sts. (Metro Rail: Allen-Medical Campus). W 11AM-2PM, Jun-Sep. Named for and sponsored by Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the Roswell Park Farmers' Market is held in Kaminski Park, a lovely green oasis amid the gleaming new high-rises of the Medical Corridor. Each Wednesday afternoon in season you can pick up the usual assortment of locally-sourced fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods, jams and jellies, and other specialty foods and gifts, including an especially good variety of cut flowers and ornamental plants.
Though it's "grown up" a great deal since its glory days, there are still a few lively party bars and thumping dance clubs to be found along West Chippewa Street, generally clustered near the corner of Franklin Street. That being the case, these days the western half of the strip, closer to Delaware and Elmwood Avenues, is dominated by more laid-back, upscale bars and fine restaurants that cater to an older clientele.
- 1 Bottoms Up, 69 W. Chippewa St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ .
- 2 Coliseum Entertainment Complex, 257 Franklin St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Mark Croce's nightlife destination just off Chippewa Street contains three different bars: D'Arcy McGee's Irish Pub on the ground floor, LiFT Nightclub on the second floor, and Skybar on the top floor.
- 3 The Cowboy, 45 W. Chippewa St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza). Country-and-western themed nightclub with line dancing and occasional live music. If you're looking for a throwback to the tawdry Chippewa of old, the giant naked-lady mural paintings that cover the entire back wall will let you know you're in the right place.
- 4 MES Lounge, 228 Franklin St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ .
- 5 67 West, 67 W. Chippewa St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ .
- Bacchus, 54 W. Chippewa St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ .
- Bada Bing, 42 W. Chippewa St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ .
- 6 Chocolate Bar, 114 W. Chippewa St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ .
- Local, 88 W. Chippewa St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ .
- 7 Sidelines Sports Bar & Grill, 189 Delaware Ave. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ .
- 8 Soho Burger Bar, 64 W. Chippewa St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ .
- 9 Tap House Pub & Grill, 85 W. Chippewa St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ .
- 10 Underground, 274 Delaware Ave. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . LGBT bar.
Here you'll find a sizable selection of more upscale establishments, especially along Pearl and Franklin Streets on the western periphery of the district. These places have traditionally busiest before and after shows during theater season, but that's changing — with new life coming to Main Street thanks to the Cars Sharing Main Street program and the downtown revival in general, the Theater District's bars now attract their share of the Friday and Saturday night crowd too.
- Cabaret, 490 Pearl St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ .
- 11 Club Marcella, 622 Main St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . LGBT bar.
- 12 Encore, 492 Pearl St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ .
- GBGB (Gypsy Bohemian Grove Bar), 617 Main St. (At EXPO Market; Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ .
- 13 Matinee, 698 Main St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ .
- 14 Tudor Lounge, 335 Franklin St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ .
- Anchor Bar, 1046 Main St. (Metro Rail: Allen-Medical Campus), ☎ .
- 15 Angelica Tea Room, 517 Washington St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Though there is a selection of eight loose-leaf teas on the menu (everything from Irish breakfast to Egyptian chamomile to sencha), the name of this place is really less a reference to the drinks than the decor: dainty and dazzlingly colorful, it really does look like an old-school European tea room. At the bar are poured a range of upscale, classic-inspired yet creative specialty cocktails in which imported whiskeys and other spirits predominate, as well as some really swanky wines. There's also a small food menu — think gourmet bar appetizers like ibérico chorizo and tuna belly, as well as (of course) a half-dozen tea sandwiches to choose from.
- Big Ditch Brewing Company, 55 E. Huron St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ .
- 16 Eddie Brady's, 97 Genesee St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ .
- 17 Electric Avenue, 300 Ellicott St. (Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☎ .
- 18 Lucky Day Whiskey Bar, 320 Pearl St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ .
- Niagara Distillery, 459 Ellicott St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ .
- Pearl Street Grill & Brewery, 76 Pearl St. (Metro Rail: Seneca), ☎ .
- Sato Brewpub, 110 Pearl St. (Metro Rail: Seneca), ☎ .
- 19 Union Pub, 38 Swan St. (Metro Rail: Seneca), ☎ .
- 20 Washington Square Bar & Grill, 295 Washington St. (Metro Rail: Seneca), ☎ .
Coffee shops and miscellaneous
- 21 Buffalo Coffee Roastery, 350 Main St. (Metro Rail: Church), ☎ . M-F 7AM-5PM, Sa 9AM-3PM.
- 22 Fera's Electric Tower Café, 535 Washington St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . M-F 7AM-3PM.
- 23 The Healthy Scratch, 75 Main St. (At HarborCenter; Metro Rail: Erie Canal Harbor), ☎ . Daily 8AM-6PM. A small space in the Shops at HarborCenter smartly appointed with modern decor and warm-toned wood paneling, the Healthy Scratch offers up a selection of several dozen organic cold-pressed juice blends and smoothies — each a delicious and nutritious blend of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and herbal ingredients available on their own or with "booster" shots of healthy additives such as whey protein, wheatgrass, and multivitamin cocktails. You can get a smaller range of iced and hot coffee drinks here too, as well as fruit bowls and other light, healthy lunches.
- Hearth + Press, 665 Main St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Daily 8AM-10PM. Hearth + Press may be best known for the artisanal pizzas and baguette sandwiches they dish out during lunch and dinner hours, but in the morning they're at the service of caffeine-starved office workers with what is easily downtown's most eclectic selection of coffee — roasts hailing from Guatemala to Ethiopia to Hawaii and everywhere in between can be sampled.
- 24 Public Coffee + Espresso, 391 Washington St. (At the Hotel Lafayette; Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☎ . Daily 7AM-10PM.
- 25 SPoT Coffee, 227 Delaware Ave. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Su-Th 6AM-11PM, F-Sa 7AM-midnight.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
The number and quality of hotels available in downtown Buffalo has exploded in recent years, with new hotels opening their doors, such as the Westin in the Delaware North Building, as well as renovations and modernizations at existing ones such as the Hyatt Regency and the Hotel Lafayette. This boom shows no signs of slowing, with several new hotels slated to open in the near future — in many cases under the framework of the myriad rehabilitation projects of historic buildings that have come to pass recently.
All of the establishments listed below offer free wireless Internet to guests.
- 1 Adam's Mark Buffalo-Niagara, 120 Church St. (Metro Rail: Church), ☎ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Downtown Buffalo's largest hotel. Convenient to the KeyBank Center, Coca-Cola Field, and Canalside, with excellent waterfront views. Dry cleaning and laundry service, gift shop, pool, fitness club, business center, restaurant and bar ("Harbor Bistro"). $99-159/night in high season.
- 2 DoubleTree Club by Hilton Hotel Buffalo Downtown, 125 High St. (Metro Rail: Allen-Medical Campus), ☎ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Located in the heart of the Medical Corridor and also convenient to Allentown. Business center, fitness center, valet parking, restaurant ("The Carlton Grill"). Connected to Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Buffalo General Hospital via covered walkways. Airport shuttle available. $159-209/night in high season.
- 3 Holiday Inn Express & Suites Buffalo Downtown, 601 Main St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. An all-suite property located in the Theater District and also near the Chippewa Street entertainment district. 24-hour business center with Internet and fax. Small fitness club. Guest laundry and dry cleaning service. Free buffet breakfast, and T.G.I. Friday's is located on site. $153/night in high season.
- 4 Hilton Garden Inn Buffalo Downtown, 10 Lafayette Squ. (Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☎ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. This gleaming new property opened in October 2014 in the first fourteen floors of the thoroughly rehabilitated Tishman Building on the north side of Lafayette Square, and the rooms on the upper floors boast impressive views of the downtown skyline and Lake Erie from their huge windows. Guests can avail themselves of modern amenities such as a heated indoor pool, ample fitness center, 24-hour business center, complimentary wireless Internet and an onsite gift shop; 124 guest rooms all contain mini-fridges and microwaves, 39-inch LCD TVs, and MP3 alarm clocks. Kick back and relax in the large second-floor bar or by the fireplace in one of two conservatories, or have a bite to eat at the Garden Grille and Bar which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Valet parking is available at a rate of $18/day, or you can try your luck with on-street parking is available, though it's subject to metered rates and availability is quite scarce. $169-219/night in high season.
- 5 Hotel Lafayette, 391 Washington St. (Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☎ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. An architectural masterpiece in the French Renaissance Revival style built in 1903 from a design by Louise Blanchard Bethune, America's first female architect of importance, the Hotel Lafayette re-opened in May 2012 after an extensive renovation that has brought it back to its former glory after years of neglect. The Hotel Lafayette is located on Lafayette Square in the heart of downtown and boasts shops, upscale apartments, and a 57-room luxury boutique hotel. Flat-panel TVs, banquet facilities, two restaurants (including the "Pan-American Grill") and two bars/lounges. Suites are available that contain full kitchens with refrigerator and stove. Complimentary breakfast. $169-339/night in high season.
- 6 Hyatt Regency Buffalo, 2 Fountain Plaza (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Convenient to the Theater District. One of Buffalo's finest business hotels. 3 bars and restaurants including Atrium Bar & Bistro, Morton's The Steakhouse and Starbucks. Spa, fitness club, business center. Connected to Buffalo Convention Center. $159-259/night in high season.
- 7 Buffalo Marriott HarborCenter, 95 Main St. (Metro Rail: Erie Canal Harbor), ☎ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Opened in August 2015, this 205-room high-rise hotel is one of the showpieces of the new Buffalo, and its location can't be beat: the Marriott HarborCenter is located in the heart of the Canalside action, directly connected to the KeyBank Center and across the street from the historic rewatered Erie Canal terminus, with all of Buffalo's waterfront amenities an easy walk away. The luxurious guest rooms each feature a 55-inch flat screen LCD TV with premium cable and movies, a workstation that includes wireless Internet ($12/day) and multiple USB ports, a mini-fridge, coffee maker, iron and ironing board, and panoramic views over either Lake Erie or the downtown skyline. For shopping, dining, and nightlife, HarborCenter offers (716) sports bar, the fine dining restaurant Panorama on Seven, a Tim Hortons coffee shop, and the snazzy Shops at HarborCenter — not to mention all the superlative offsite options that are only steps away — as well as a full fitness room, laundry, and dry-cleaning services. Parking is easily available in the HarborCenter ramp or the Marriott's private ramp, at $10 and $15 per day respectively. $234-339/night in high season.
- 8 Courtyard by Marriott Buffalo Downtown/Canalside, 125 Main St. (Metro Rail: Erie Canal Harbor), ☎ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Opened in May 2014 in the former Donovan State Office Building (renamed One Canalside), the Courtyard by Marriott is one of several new hotels in the rapidly developing Canalside area. The sleek and stylish guest rooms are done in muted yet pleasant colors, and each contain a refrigerator, microwave, complimentary wired and wireless Internet, and a Smart TV with various apps. The Courtyard also boasts a business center, a fitness room, and an indoor saltwater pool and whirlpool spa. Dine at the onsite bistro or enjoy delivery service from local restaurants. Parking is available for a $12 daily fee. $229-254/night in high season.
- 9 Curtiss Hotel, 210 Franklin St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza). Buffalo's most elegant, most expensive, and only five-star hotel is a 68-room boutique property situated in the beautifully restored Harlow C. Curtiss Building, a Sullivanesque masterpiece from 1912 that's been reborn as what owner Mark Croce envisions as providing well-heeled visitors with an ultra-high-end experience of the type you might expect in New York City or Las Vegas, but certainly not Buffalo. In fact, Las Vegas is an apt point of comparison, as the amenities and decor in the Curtiss Hotel's rooms and common areas are so brimming with luxurious bells and whistles that some have described it as gaudy and over-the-top (if Donald Trump ever spent the night in Buffalo, he'd probably feel right at home amid all the ornate chandeliers, gold, and marble). The Curtiss is part of Choice Hotels' "Ascend Collection" of hotels specially tailored to better reflect the individual identities of the local area, so aside from the luxury and refined customer service touch, you can expect lots of the odd quirks and peculiarities you'll often find in old buildings: each room is custom-designed and uniquely laid out, with amenities that may differ from one to another, but with an overall guest experience that blends old-school class with the latest high-tech innovations: the rooms are smartly decorated in rich earth tones with a curated collection of books and art, and feature bathrooms outfitted in dark marble and equipped with soaking tubs, rain-head showers, and in some cases plantation blinds from which you can look out into the room or onto the street below; yet they've also got a flat-screen TV, a bedside tablet computer that you can use as an alarm clock and with which you control the lighting and room temperature, a work area where business travellers can make use of complimentary high-speed WiFi, and of course a fridge, microwave, minibar, hair dryer, and all the usuals. The parade of amenities continues into the hotel itself: you've got not only a business center and fitness center with attached spa but also an airport shuttle, complimentary valet parking, valet laundry service, a massage therapist, an onsite men's barbershop and salon (Leon Studio One), and a ground-floor saltwater pool styled as a Roman thermal bath, open year-round and decorated with a fresco mosaic. Like all Choice Hotels, the Curtiss also offers a free continental breakfast — but for lunch and dinner, the place to be is the dining room or enclosed sidewalk patio at Chez Ami, whose name (and rotating bar, Western New York's only) pays homage to downtown's hippest, swinging-est supper club of the 1940s and '50s, and then on a warm summer night it's up to the roof for cocktails at the Vue Rooftop Lounge, where "dress to impress" is the rule and the panoramic views over downtown and the waterfront are among the best in the city.
- 10 Embassy Suites Buffalo, 200 Delaware Ave. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Opened in 2009 to great fanfare. Complimentary breakfast every morning and nightly manager's reception featuring complimentary appetizers and cocktails. Pool, fitness club, business center, onsite restaurant (SEAR Steakhouse). $199-249/night in high season.
- 11 Hampton Inn & Suites Buffalo Downtown, 220 Delaware Ave. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Located in the heart of the Chippewa strip and directly connected to many of the street's most popular bars and restaurants, including the Chocolate Bar, Papaya, and Salsarita's Fresh Cantina. Coin laundry ($1.50), gift shop, information desk, valet service, lounge, business center, fitness club, pool. $214-384/night in high season.
- 12 The Lofts on Pearl, 92 Pearl St. (Metro Rail: Seneca), ☎ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. The Webb Building, also known as the Jewett M. Richmond Block, was built in 1888 and is the finest example of Commercial Richardsonian Romanesque architecture remaining in Buffalo, but was vacant and falling apart in 2006, when local developer and preservationist Rocco Termini purchased the building and renovated it into a charming boutique hotel. Today, the Lofts on Pearl share with the adjacent Pearl Street Grill and Brewery not only an owner, but also an unequaled devotion to honoring Buffalo's history. This handsome property boasts 32 one- and two-bedroom suites with fireplaces, kitchens, full living rooms with sofa beds, and spacious closets, and can accommodate up to six guests each. Located in the heart of downtown in what has come to be called the "Brewery District", the Lofts on Pearl are convenient to shopping, dining, sports, and all other downtown and waterfront attractions. $199-289/night in high season.
- 13 Westin Buffalo, 250 Delaware Ave. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. The September 2016 opening of this luxury hotel, situated on five floors of the brand-spanking-new Delaware North Building at the center of the Chippewa action at the corner of Delaware Avenue, has brought some of the heaviest hitters the Buffalo hospitality industry has ever seen (including general manager Thomas Long, who came over from the Waldorf Astoria in New York City), and they've really pulled out all the stops. Each of the hotel's 116 guest rooms boast top-shelf amenities such as a 55-inch Smart TV with in-room movies, multiple telephones, a workdesk with outlet adapters and an ergonomic office chair, in-room WiFi ($9.95/day), a spacious private bathroom with their own waterfall-style shower system — and yes, also Westin's famous pillow-top, down-cushioned bedding that everyone raves about. In addition to all that, if you book a suite you've also got a full kitchen at your disposal with a stainless-steel dishwasher, full-size refrigerator and microwave, cabinets stocked with dishes and silverware, and grocery delivery if you like. Elsewhere in the hotel, you'll find a two-story fitness room, a luxurious spa with yoga classes every day and deep-tissue massage, an onsite parking ramp for your convenience ($17 a day to self-park, valet service also available), free airport shuttle — and if the panoply of dining and nightlife options around Chippewa wasn't enough for you, the Westin offers two restaurants of its own: Jake's Café, serving up light, fast, and delicious breakfasts and lunches, as well as Patina 250, downtown's newest swanky fine-dining destination, as well as a fully stocked food market for those who prefer to self-cater. This is truly as good as it gets in Buffalo. $279-329/night in high season.
- 14 Hostel Buffalo Niagara, 667 Main St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Buffalo's only hostel is a friendly, safe, and clean facility in the heart of the Theater District. The charming innkeeper and her hip staff run a first-rate facility — Hostelling International named it the third-best hostel in the United States in 2007, though Hostel Buffalo Niagara is no longer HI-affiliated — and are knowledgeable about local points of interest and worthwhile events and activities. Hostel Buffalo Niagara offers a choice of dormitory-style accommodations or private rooms, and boasts a full kitchen, game and media room, living room, and a small library. The walls of the guest rooms and common areas are decorated with works by local artists, many of which are donations from those who've exhibited at the adjacent BOX Gallery (see listing above). Hostel Buffalo Niagara is only steps away from Shea's Performing Arts Center, the Alleyway Theatre, and the Chippewa Street nightlife. Dorm beds from $30/night, private rooms from $85/night.
There are two post offices located downtown:
Free wireless Internet is available through BuffaloConnect, whose hotspots run along the Main Street corridor from North Street through the KeyBank Center and also cover all of Canalside. In addition, free WiFi is offered at Starbucks and SPoT Coffee on Chippewa Street, and the Market Arcade and EXPO Market on Main Street.
For wired computer terminals, the 6 Central Library on Lafayette Square is the place to go: their media room has several dozen Internet-enabled computers available for a nominal charge, as well as WiFi if you've brought your own laptop.
Despite the fact that Buffalo's crime rate has fallen steadily since the 1990s, it is still higher than the national average for cities its size. Downtown Buffalo registers more crimes than other areas of the city, but this probably has to do with the fact that it has a far denser concentration of people and businesses than other neighborhoods. Though the usual precautions should obviously be taken — locking your car doors, keeping valuables out of sight, being aware of your surroundings — the central business district is patrolled vigilantly by police officers, and generally speaking, it doesn't "feel" especially unsafe by Buffalo standards.
The pickpocketing, drunken brawls, and assaults that were once common in the Chippewa Street entertainment district have decreased sharply in number over the past five years or so, thanks to the Buffalo Police's vigilant patrols and stepped-up enforcement of drinking laws (not to mention the resultant decrease in the number of nightspots operating there). Still, if you're planning a night out at one of Chippewa's remaining clubs, it never hurts to be aware of your surroundings and to make yourself scarce if you find yourself in a heated situation.
Panhandling is an increasingly common phenomenon in many neighborhoods of Buffalo, including downtown. Panhandlers can be found all over downtown but seem to be especially fond of the Theater District and the 500 block of Main Street, with the Tim Hortons at Lafayette Square particularly notorious in that regard. They can be a nuisance, but they are rarely aggressive. A polite but firm "no" almost always suffices.
Buffalo has a remarkably large number of hospitals and medical facilities for a city its size. Located just north of the business district, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, a complex of health care centers, research institutes, and educational facilities that is the epicenter of Buffalo's growing medical technology and bioinformatics industry, was established in 2001 by the University at Buffalo Medical School, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and others.
- 7 Buffalo General Hospital, 100 High St. (Metro Rail: Allen-Medical Campus), ☎ . Founded in 1855, Buffalo General is one of the oldest hospitals in the city. This 501-bed facility is especially well-known for its expertise in cardiovascular treatment, stroke care, and neurology, and is well-equipped to handle any medical emergency that might befall a visitor to downtown Buffalo.
- 8 Oishei Children's Hospital, 818 Ellicott St. (Metro Rail: Allen-Medical Campus), ☎ . After 125 years in the Elmwood Village, the newly renamed John R. Oishei Children's Hospital moved to the Medical Corridor in November 2017. One of the oldest facilities of its kind in the world, Oishei Children's traces its roots to 1892 — a time when the idea that the treatment of children should be different than that of adults was still on the fringes of medical theory. Today this 185-bed facility serves as a teaching hospital for UB Medical School and offers comprehensive care in the field of pediatrics, maternity and neonatal care.
Places of worship
Downtown Buffalo is the site of some of Buffalo's most historic and imposing church buildings, including the seats of both the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York. Attending services at many of these locations is a truly magnificent experience.
For a part of Buffalo that is not primarily residential, and especially given the decline of population in the inner city and the rash of closures and mergers of Catholic parishes in recent years, a surprising number of older Catholic churches remain open and active downtown in neighborhoods that have long since transitioned from residential to commercial.
- 9 St. Joseph Roman Catholic Cathedral, 50 Franklin St. (Metro Rail: Church), ☎ . Mass Su 8AM & 10:30AM, Sa 4:30PM, M-F 7:30AM & 12:05PM. Built in 1855 to serve as the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, the design of St. Joseph's Cathedral is based on that of Salisbury Cathedral in England, and its sanctuary boasts stained-glass windows that were donated by King Ludwig II of Bavaria.
- 10 St. Anthony of Padua RC Church, 160 Court St. (Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☎ . Mass Su 9AM (Latin Tridentine) & 11AM (Italian), Sa 4PM, M-F 12:05PM. Located immediately behind City Hall, St. Anthony of Padua was built in 1891 in what until the 1950s was Buffalo's "Little Italy". Its school was the first one in the United States to be held in Italian. St. Anthony still holds one Mass per week in Italian, a nostalgic tradition that brings neighborhood old-timers back together again.
- 11 St. Louis RC Church, 35 Edward St. (Metro Rail: Allen-Medical Campus), ☎ . Mass Su 9AM & 11AM, Sa 4PM, M-F 12:05PM. St. Louis, the first Catholic church in Buffalo, was founded in 1829. At this early date in Buffalo's history, most of the city's Catholics were of French descent, and it was Louis Stephen LeCouteulx de Chaumont, a French nobleman from Rouen who had settled in Buffalo, who donated the land where the church stands today.
- 12 St. Michael RC Church, 651 Washington St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Mass Su 7AM, 8:30AM, 10AM, noon & 5PM; M-Sa 6:45AM, 12:10PM & 5:15PM. Founded in 1851 by German-speaking Alsatians who split from St. Louis Church, St. Michael is significant as the first home of Canisius College, a Jesuit school that is now Buffalo's largest private college.
- 13 St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral, 128 Pearl St. (Metro Rail: Church), ☎ . Services Su 8AM & 10AM, M-F 12:05PM. The seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York, St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral is the most architecturally distinguished church in Buffalo — built by Richard Upjohn in 1849 to replace an earlier structure built on the same site, the church has been named a National Historic Landmark, the U.S. government's highest level of recognition for a man-made structure, and it was the tallest building in Buffalo until 1912.
- 14 Trinity Episcopal Church, 371 Delaware Ave. (Metro Rail: Allen-Medical Campus), ☎ . Services Su 10:30AM & 7PM, W 11AM, Th 7PM. The second-oldest Episcopal church in Buffalo, Trinity was founded in 1836. Its current building was erected in 1886 and is famous for its stained-glass windows, the work of prominent names like Louis Comfort Tiffany and John LaFarge — the latter of whom was responsible for "The Sealing of the Twelve Tribes", which was exhibited at the Exposition Universelle de Paris in 1889.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
- 15 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 780 Michigan Ave. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . Services Su 9:30AM. Built in 1992, this meetinghouse serves the LDS Church's Buffalo Ward.
- 16 SGI-USA Buffalo Community Center, 121 W. Tupper St. (Metro Rail: Fountain Plaza), ☎ . This is the home of the Buffalo chapter of Soka Gakkai International, a Buddhist sect that emphasizes pacifism, individual development and empowerment, and community activism. Group chanting and meditation sessions are offered, as well as other events and programs.
The Elmwood Village boasts all the hip boutiques, trendy restaurants, and engaging cultural attractions a visitor to Buffalo could want, not to mention a bar scene that is a lot more laid-back than Chippewa.
The Delaware District — particularly Millionaire's Row, along Delaware Avenue between North and Utica Streets — is the place for architecture buffs to be bowled over by the opulent mansions that were once the home of Buffalo's élite aristocracy of yesteryear, most of which have been given new leases on life in recent decades as the headquarters of locally-based businesses and not-for-profits.
For those who want Delaware District-style history and architecture and Elmwood Village-style culture and nightlife in the same compact, thoroughly charming neighborhood, Allentown is the place to Go Next.