If you're a visitor in Buffalo and you ask a local for advice, one of the things you'll almost certainly be told is to stay away from the East Side. "You take your life in your hands when you cross Main Street", so they might say, perhaps punctuating their warning with lurid tales straight out of a pulp magazine about the trouble a friend of a friend ran into there, or half-remembered news headlines about street gangs and drive-by shootings. And for that certain type of person whose curiosity is piqued enough to take a look for themselves, at first they might think the stories are true: with boarded-up storefronts, garbage-strewn vacant lots, and run-down houses all over the place, the East Side's socioeconomic problems are plain to see. What could this place possibly have to offer visitors?
The first thing you need to know is that the East Side's reputation as a crime-infested hellhole is largely hype. The poverty in which many East Siders live doesn't always translate to high crime rates: yes, the most dangerous neighborhoods in Buffalo are found within this district, but it has its share of quiet areas too. And as in any American city, with just a modicum of common sense and advance planning, the crime around here is quite avoidable. The second thing to know is that the East Side is one of the most interesting and historic parts of Buffalo, populated since the dawn of its history by wave after wave of hardworking immigrants who came in search of a better life in the factories, railroads, and stockyards of what was then one of America's top industrial centers. First came the Germans, then the Poles and the Italians, then Russian Jews and an assortment of Eastern Europeans, then the African-Americans who migrated up from the South starting in the early 20th century and were the East Side's dominant group by the 1960s and '70s. Many vestiges of that rich tapestry of the past still soldier on, like the old Polish district along Broadway, and the vicinity of Michigan Avenue where many of the pivotal events in the history of Buffalo's black community came to pass.
But that's just the beginning of the story. The East Side also has the Buffalo Museum of Science that's been dazzling visitors in the midst of the Olmsted-designed greenery of Martin Luther King, Jr. Park since 1929; architecture buffs will be bowled over by the palatial majesty of the huge old churches that pepper the streetscape; jazz lovers will be — well — jazzed by the neighborhood's summer festival calendar. And the East Side isn't finished as an immigrant haven either: today thriving communities of Yemenis, Bangladeshis, and Southeast Asians call the district home.
Yeah, the locals will think you're nuts, but the joke's on them. The rich variety of experiences that this part of town has to offer is unfamiliar even to most people who've lived in Buffalo all their lives. In fact, if you do your homework, the time you spend on the East Side might even be the highlight of your visit — especially if you're looking for an experience that is truly unique, miles away from the same old cliché Buffalo tourist attractions that the guidebooks all rave about. Either way, the East Side is an undiscovered treasure that's worth discovering.
In the East Side, the reality is a bit more complex than the unfair caricature locals smear it with. While it certainly has its problems, the East Side is actually a diverse mishmash of communities, thriving independently while intermingling with each other in a vibrant tapestry. The different neighborhoods each have their own character and history.
African-Americans predominate, making up 73% of the district's population as of the 2010 census. There are indeed some poor and blighted areas that live up to the East Side's unfortunate reputation, such as 1 Delavan-Grider, 2 Genesee-Moselle, 3 Delavan-Bailey (you'll notice a trend of neighborhoods named after their primary intersection) and, increasingly, 4 Highland Park and 5 Schiller Park. But closer in to Main Street and downtown, you'll also find a number of nicer areas — the new "infill" houses of the 6 Near East Side, populated with upwardly mobile middle-class black families, are (for better and worse) a taste of suburbia a stone's throw from downtown; the 7 Ellicott District boasts more of the same plus a small middle-class Puerto Rican enclave between Swan and Seneca Streets, and the tree-lined streets of historic Hamlin Park are home to students of Canisius College, friendly families with kids, and a growing collection of young, upwardly mobile urban pioneers busy restoring many of the handsome turn-of-the-century homes to their original luster. These same urban pioneers have also begun to colonize the blocks of 8 Cold Spring and 9 Masten Park closest to Main Street — a newly gentrifying area real-estate types have dubbed 10 Midtown — and are poised to do the same to the old red-brick Victorians of the 11 Fruit Belt, just east of the massive economic dynamo that is the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
Meanwhile, on the far eastern fringe of the city you'll find some enclaves of blue-collar white ethnics that are real slices of old Buffalo: the tenacious old Polish community of Broadway-Fillmore is still hanging on, though it's much diminished in size from its turn-of-the-century glory days; 12 Kaisertown is a friendly off-the-beaten-path neighborhood that, despite its name, is far more Polish than German these days, and 13 Lovejoy is populated by a mix of Italians, Poles, Russians and Ukrainians. Also, the vitality of the 14 Kensington-Bailey neighborhood in the northeast corner of the city is maintained by the robust and diverse student body of the University at Buffalo's nearby South Campus — cheap student-oriented eateries and other shops line the business district of Bailey Avenue, while the residential streets sandwiched between Bailey and Main Street (an area sometimes differentiated from the rest of the neighborhood as 15 Kensington Heights) are a mix of college students and lower-middle-class African-Americans.
Finally, while they are not as visible or as well-known as their West Side counterparts, the East Side boasts thriving communities of immigrants that have given new life to formerly derelict neighborhoods and provide visitors with some of the most interesting experiences to be had in the district. A growing contingent of Vietnamese, Burmese, Arabs (including the Yemenis who took a dominant place among the East Side small-business community in the 2010s), and — especially — Bangladeshis rub shoulders with the old-school Poles of Broadway-Fillmore and also extend northward along Fillmore Avenue into 16 Humboldt Park.
In addition to the neighborhoods mentioned above, there are also other place names visitors to the East Side might hear or encounter. Polonia is most often used as a synonym for Broadway-Fillmore, especially when talking about the Broadway Market, St. Stanislaus Church, and other remaining relics of the old Polish presence there; other times, it's used as shorthand for the entire Buffalo-area Polish community regardless of location. In addition, the eastern end of Broadway-Fillmore, stretching along Broadway between the New York Central Railroad tracks and Bailey Avenue, is often referred to as 17 St. John Kanty after the church that dominates the streetscape there. As well, East Buffalo is an alternative name for the whole district that's gaining currency among local boosters who want to avoid the stigma connected with the term "East Side".
The story of Buffalo in the 19th century was one of meteoric growth and the arrival of a colorful patchwork of new immigrants from distant lands, and nowhere in the city was that more true than on the East Side. The East Side's history begins about 1830, just a few years after the inauguration of the Erie Canal which transformed the sleepy village of Buffalo almost overnight into America's newest boomtown. In those years, political strife and religious persecution was driving many people in Germany to seek refuge in the United States, and Buffalo soon became home to a mostly Catholic population of Germans from Bavaria, Württemberg, and other parts of southern Germany (as well as Alsace, a neighboring region of France whose culture is heavily influenced by Germany). These Germans were generally well-educated and skilled at a variety of trades, and the flat, fertile meadows on the east edge of Buffalo was where they settled: close enough to town that services were easily accessible, but far enough into the periphery that they could continue some semblance of the agrarian lifestyle they'd enjoyed in their homeland. As it grew, that area became known as the German Village.
Soon the Archdiocese of New York, whose territory then included Buffalo, took notice, and in 1843 a new church was built in the heart of the German Village: St. Mary's, on Batavia Road (now Broadway) just past Michigan Avenue. Overseen by the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, or "Redemptorists", St. Mary's grew into a major force in the neighborhood, running a parochial school as well as an orphanage and hospital, and serving as a beacon attracting still more settlement to the neighborhood. By 1850, there were about 20,000 Germans in Buffalo — over a third of the city's population — living in three main areas: the German Village itself lay between Genesee Street and Broadway; to the south, in what's now called the Ellicott District, were the fashionable townhouses of well-to-do merchants as well as a small, tight-knit Jewish community along William Street; and the isolated Fruit Belt in the city's northeast corner, a quiet, largely Protestant neighborhood on the high ground north of the German Village, named for the fruit trees the residents kept in their yards.
The Germans weren't the only people who settled east of downtown: Buffalo also had a tiny community of a few hundred African-Americans, centered around Vine Alley — the stretch of present-day William Street between Oak Street and Michigan Avenue, just inward from the Jewish quarter. Though they were victims of prejudice and discrimination as in the rest of the country, Buffalo's blacks were comparatively well-off by the standards of the day, with many working in skilled trades such as barbery and carpentry. The hub of their community was the Michigan Street Baptist Church, at the east end of Vine Alley.
After the Civil War, the booming East Side population began to spread out from the German Village: northward along Main Street, swallowing up the once-sleepy hamlet of Cold Spring with the ample wood-frame houses of wealthy businessmen, as well as eastward along Genesee Street into the countryside. By 1870, Germans made up fully half of Buffalo's population, not to mention a huge chunk of the city's elite: in the political realm, there was prominent lawyer-turned-U.S. District Attorney William Dorsheimer, as well as Philip Becker and Solomon Scheu, Buffalo's first and second German-American mayors, elected in 1875 and 1877 respectively (Becker would return to office in 1886). The German business community, for its part, included merchant William Hengerer, brewing magnate Gerhard Lang, prominent architect August Esenwein, and Jacob Schoellkopf, owner of the largest tannery in the United States and later founder of the first hydroelectric company to draw power from Niagara Falls. Buffalo Germans placed a great deal of importance on preserving their native language and culture: German schools, churches, social clubs, newspapers (including the Täglicher Demokrat, notorious for its political radicalism, and the Buffalo Volksfreund, financed by the head priest of St. Mary Redemptorist and widely seen as the mouthpiece of the Catholic Church), and other institutions abounded to such a degree that English was a second language on the East Side. In fact, there were calls for the city to make German an official language alongside English.
In 1868, William Dorsheimer invited his friend, landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, to come to town and do for Buffalo what he had done earlier for New York City — design a large central park for the city's denizens to enjoy. Instead, Olmsted went one better and designed an interconnected network of many parks, linked to each other by wide, tree-lined boulevards he called parkways. The eastern extremity of this network was situated on Genesee Street at what was then the edge of the urbanized area of Buffalo, and The Parade, as Olmsted called this park, was designed with the East Side Germans in mind: it was centered on a rustic outdoor beer garden dubbed the Parade House. The park helped attract still more settlers to the outskirts of town — and Humboldt Parkway, the magnificent boulevard that connected it to the rest of the park network, soon became the East Side's most prestigious address: a wide swath of bucolic greenery with rows of large and opulent mansions on each side. Shortly after, the area's outward expansion would get another shot in the arm courtesy of the New York Central Railroad's Belt Line, a 15-mile (24-km) commuter loop that curved through the East Side a little bit outward from Humboldt Parkway, intended to enable residents of the periphery to commute to jobs downtown. Through the 1880s and '90s, the urbanized area advanced eastward all the way to the city line, including what is today Schiller Park, Lovejoy, and Kaisertown.
As the wealthier Germans pushed outward in the late 19th century, fundamental changes came to the areas closer to downtown. The massive wave of German immigration to the U.S. began to subside, and in their place came different nationalities that would add to the increasingly colorful East Side tapestry. By the turn of the century, the old German Village was a Russian Jewish stronghold, and the Ellicott District to the south was a dismal slum populated by a mix of Jews, Italians, and Eastern Europeans. Later on, wealthier Jews moved to Hamlin Park, an attractive neighborhood north of Cold Spring built on the site of the old Buffalo Driving Park. By far the most numerous of the newcomers to the East Side, though, were the Polish immigrants who settled around the corner of Broadway and Fillmore Avenue. Polish immigration to the United States began in earnest about 1850, but at first most of the Poles who arrived in Buffalo stayed only long enough to arrange for travel further west, to well-established Polish communities in places like Chicago and Detroit. That all changed in 1872, when Joseph Bork, a land speculator of Polish descent who owned a large tract southeast of the old German Village, remembered that towns in Poland usually centered around a large church. To entice itinerant Poles to stay in Buffalo, he donated a prime lot to the Catholic diocese for the explicit purpose of establishing a Polish church. The diocese recruited Father Jan Pitass, a Polish-speaking priest from Silesia, and named the church St. Stanislaus, Bishop and Martyr. By the time St. Stanislaus opened, Bork had ensured that several hundred new houses were already completed and waiting to be bought; he repeated the same tactic when St. Adalbert was built in 1886, and for every new church in the neighborhood thereafter. By 1890, Broadway-Fillmore was home to 20,000 Poles.
As the 20th century dawned, the East Side was in its glory days: the last bits of empty land in the city were being colonized by new neighborhoods (Kensington-Bailey, also known as "Summit Park" in those days as it was on the highest ground in the city; Delavan-Bailey, an Italian district gathered around St. Gerard Church; and Highland Park, also known as Fillmore-Leroy, on the former site of the Bennett Limestone Quarry), and Broadway-Fillmore had grown to be the second-largest shopping district in the city, with a lineup of discount stores (Neisner's, Eckhardt's, and the granddaddy of them all, Sattler's) to complement the high-end department stores of downtown. But in the background, the seeds of the area's decline were being sown. Beginning around the First World War and continuing through much of the century, the United States saw a Great Migration of African-Americans, who fled segregation and racist violence in the South and were attracted by the easy availability of factory jobs in the urban Northeast and Midwest. Buffalo, too, received its share of these newcomers — and soon the old black neighborhood around Vine Alley was bursting at the seams. African-Americans began to press outward, and while conditions in Buffalo were markedly better than where they came from, the abandonment by white residents of any neighborhood blacks were seen to be moving into (a phenomenon known as white flight) demonstrated the prejudicial attitudes they still had to face. By the Second World War, the Ellicott District and the old German Village were majority-black and had gained a reputation as a bad part of town — a reputation that was made quasi-official due to a practice called redlining, whereby real-estate agents and mortgage lenders conspired to effectively prohibit African-Americans from buying houses or renting apartments west of Main Street (the proverbial "red line"), while at the same time openly encouraging white buyers to avoid the East Side. Though the Fair Housing Act of 1968 made redlining de jure illegal, it continued behind closed doors for years thereafter.
However, these beginnings of the decline of the East Side were just a prelude to the decline that Buffalo as a whole would suffer beginning after the Second World War. The reasons for that decline were varied, but foremost among them was the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, which enabled freight ships to access the ocean directly via the Welland Canal rather than unloading their cargo at Buffalo for shipment further east by railroad. Within ten years, the once-bustling Buffalo Harbor was virtually empty, and though few East Siders worked at the port itself or in the grain elevators, the shockwaves reverberated all over the city. The combined effect of the Seaway and the new Interstate Highway System caused traffic on the railroads to decline sharply, shuttering many of the warehouses and industrial facilities on the Belt Line, putting many railroad workers in Lovejoy and Schiller Park out of work, and leaving the New York Central Terminal in Broadway-Fillmore, which opened in 1929 on the eve of the Great Depression and had never been used to its full capacity, virtually derelict (it was abandoned outright in 1978). The Interstate highways also enabled erstwhile city residents who worked downtown to move to the (literal) greener pastures of suburbia; consequently, Buffalo's population plummeted from nearly 600,000 in the mid-1950s to less than 300,000 in 2000. The department stores, food markets, and other businesses followed the residents out of the city as well; one by one, the glitzy shopping destinations along Broadway closed their doors, unable to compete with suburban malls and plazas. To cap it all off, the nationwide groundswell of resentment among blacks that culminated in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s fed into the hostility between Buffalo's African-American community and the remaining East Side whites; though Buffalo never had a full-scale race riot as other U.S. cities did during this period, the palpable tensions drove many of the latter over the city line into the lily-white suburbs.
Worse still was the urban renewal that served as the city's hamfisted response to the decline. "Slum clearance" actually began earlier on the East Side than anywhere else in the city — during World War II, the Willert Park Homes, one of three public housing developments built in anticipation of the flood of American GIs returning from overseas, went up on several blocks of the Near East Side. The other two developments, Kensington Gardens and the Kenfield Homes, were built near the city line in areas that were still considered desirable; those were reserved for whites only, while the nominally integrated but de facto all-black Willert Park served to further concentrate poverty in the city's most blighted district, worsening the problem it intended to solve. As in the rest of Buffalo, the urban renewal campaign accelerated after the war: it was in 1959 when three dozen city blocks of the old Ellicott District (bounded by Michigan Avenue, William Street, Jefferson Avenue, and Swan Street) were completely leveled, with a massive new series of public housing developments promised — but with the exception of the Towne Gardens high-rises, the majority of that land remained vacant for over a decade afterward, a "72-acre wasteland in the heart of the city" according to a particularly scathing editorial in the Buffalo Courier-Express. But the coup de grâce came in 1960, when the tree-lined median of Olmsted's Humboldt Parkway was eviscerated to make way for the Kensington Expressway, a noisy intrusion that tore the heart out of Hamlin Park and Humboldt Park and left the formerly bucolic greenway as little more than a pair of expressway service roads.
Since hitting rock bottom around the year 2000, Buffalo has picked itself up and turned itself around with increasing momentum. However, perhaps because it was the hardest-hit part of the city during the downturn and because of the ongoing stigma regarding what lies east of Main Street, the East Side has struggled to share in that rebirth. Crime, poverty, urban blight, and other associated ills remain severe problems, and there are many areas that are going to continue to deteriorate before they bottom out — but signs of hope have belatedly begun to emerge in some parts of the East Side, especially those closest to downtown and Main Street. While the demolition of abandoned buildings continues to rob the district of its historic character, the newly-built infill housing that has gone up in the Near East Side since the 1990s is at least transforming formerly derelict areas into tracts of taxable, owner-occupied housing. The infill continues to creep eastward, but much to the consternation of preservationists the suburban style of the new builds clashes with the historic character of what remains of the old streetscape. But naysayers can take pride in the status of the Central Terminal as one of the largest-scale, highest-profile, and longest-term historical preservation projects in Buffalo to date, all the more remarkable given its location in blighted Broadway-Fillmore. As well, the shiny new Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus has spurred investment in the adjacent Fruit Belt, where property values have skyrocketed and old Civil War-era cottages are being restored, as well as along Main Street, where a growing number of old warehouses and seedy brownstones in the westernmost blocks of Cold Spring and Masten Park (now rebranded Midtown by real estate promoters) have been reborn as upscale apartment buildings marketed to medical professionals. The young, upwardly-mobile urban pioneers who have transformed the West Side have gotten into the act on the East Side as well, especially in Midtown and Hamlin Park; they've been spurred on by Buffalo's Urban Homestead Program, by which abandoned, city-owned houses in blighted areas are sold for $1 to those who have the financial means to rehabilitate them, and who agree to live in the house themselves for three years. The East Side's traditional identity as a haven for immigrants has come full circle, with new arrivals from Asia and Africa attracted to its ample low-cost housing (and increasingly priced out of the newly trendy Upper West Side, where they had amassed previously). With 2015 shaping up to be a record-breaking year in terms of new redevelopment projects planned for the area, it looks like the East Side may finally be starting to turn the corner along with the rest of the city.
Broadway Fillmore Alive is an online information resource that is for its neighborhood what Buffalo Rising is for the city as a whole: a source for news on business openings, cultural events and other happenings, and historic preservation; tidbits of neighborhood history and profiles of local movers and shakers, all delivered with an upbeat tone intended to help in the struggle to "promote, preserve and revitalize East Buffalo's historic Polonia".
- The Last Fine Time by Verlyn Klinkenborg (ISBN 9780226443355). Set in Broadway-Fillmore between 1920 and 1970, this is the true story of the Wenzek family and the Sycamore Street bar they owned: from its early years as a gin mill slaking the thirsts of working-class Polish immigrants, to its post-World War II rebirth as the swank nightspot George & Eddie's. Most if not all of the people, places and products mentioned in this impeccably well-researched book are real, making for a remarkably true-to-life chronicle of everyday life in old Polonia and the changes the neighborhood went through from its heyday to its decline.
- Strangers in the Land of Paradise: Creation of an African-American Community, Buffalo, New York, 1900-1940 by Lillian Serece Williams (ISBN 9780253214089). Chronicling the growth of Buffalo's black community from a tiny enclave to a dominant presence on the East Side during the 20th-century Great Migration, Strangers in the Land of Paradise explores how the migrants' lifestyle, culture, and values evolved over the transition from their former homes in the rural, agricultural South to their new one in the urban, industrial North, and recounts their struggle to get by and be accepted in a community unaccustomed to any African-American presence.
Get in and around
A combination of light traffic and an extensive highway network makes the East Side the easiest part of Buffalo to get around by car. A downside is the condition of the roads: potholes abound, especially on the side streets.
The Kensington Expressway (NY 33) is the main highway thoroughfare through the East Side, entering the city from Cheektowaga on a due-west course, then turning south at its junction with the Scajaquada Expressway (NY 198) and ending downtown. From east to west, interchanges are at:
- Eggert Road, whose exit is directly on the city line and provides access to the residential side streets of Kensington-Bailey and Delavan-Bailey via Eggert Road northbound and southbound, respectively.
- Suffolk Street, which heads northward into Kensington-Bailey and Kensington Heights. If you're heading to the Bailey Avenue business district from the westbound lanes, get off here, turn right on Suffolk, then left down one of the side streets.
- Bailey Avenue, accessible from the eastbound lanes only. One of the East Side's main surface-level roads (see below), you can take Bailey northward into the heart of the Kensington-Bailey business district or southward into Delavan-Bailey, and (further afield) Schiller Park, Lovejoy, and Kaisertown.
- Olympic Avenue, accessible from the eastbound lanes only. Mostly used by trucks for access to the industrial park along William L. Gaiter Parkway, you can also take this exit to get to the residential streets on the western fringe of Delavan-Bailey and Kensington-Bailey.
- Grider Street, which provides easy access to the Erie County Medical Center and Delavan-Grider to the south, and to Highland Park to the north.
- The Scajaquada Expressway (NY 198), the first exit off of which puts you on Main Street (NY 5), which, in turn, takes you north to Hamlin Park and Highland Park or south to Midtown. Continuing westward on the Scajaquada will take you to Parkside, the Delaware District, the Elmwood Village, and Black Rock.
- Humboldt Parkway, from which you can get to the Cold Spring business district and Masten Park via East Ferry and East Utica Streets. If you're coming from the eastbound lanes, you can also reach East Delavan Avenue from this exit, which takes you east to Delavan-Grider or west to Hamlin Park.
- Best Street. Turn eastward and you're right in front of Martin Luther King, Jr. Park and the Buffalo Museum of Science; turn westward and you're soon in Masten Park.
- Jefferson Avenue, accessible from the westbound lanes only. Another major East Side thoroughfare, Jefferson Avenue leads you northward to the outer edge of the Fruit Belt and, beyond that, the Cold Spring business district. Head south to get to the Near East Side.
- Locust Street, accessible from the westbound lanes only. Get off here and you're in the heart of the Fruit Belt.
- Goodell Street, accessible from the westbound lanes only. Goodell itself takes you into Allentown and downtown, but the East Side is accessible from the first cross-street after the interchange, Michigan Avenue. Head north into the Fruit Belt and the back end of Midtown, or south into the hotbed of Buffalo African-American history that is the Michigan Street Heritage Corridor, and, further afield, the Ellicott District.
Interstate 190 runs mostly through South Buffalo, but it clips the southeast corner of the East Side near the city line. You can get to Lovejoy and Kaisertown easily via Exit 1 (South Ogden Street) and Exit 2 (Clinton Street/Bailey Avenue). Also, although the New York State Thruway (I-90) runs north-to-south beyond the city line in Cheektowaga, Exits 52W (Walden Avenue) and 52A (William Street) provide relatively easy access to Schiller Park and Lovejoy, respectively.
The pattern of surface streets on the East Side is basically a gridiron overlaid with a number of roads that fan outward from downtown like the spokes of a wheel — extensions of Joseph Ellicott's historic radial street plan that dates back to 1804. Clockwise from the northwest, you have: Main Street (NY 5), Kensington Avenue (which doesn't extend to downtown itself, but branches off from Main Street and proceeds northeastward in the same radiating direction), Genesee Street, Sycamore Street (which merges with Walden Avenue at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park), Broadway (NY 130), William Street, Clinton Street (NY 354), and Seneca Street (NY 16). These streets are among the East Side's major thoroughfares, and for travellers without a car at their disposal, they're among the best-served public transit routes in the city: catching a bus or train into downtown or out to suburbia along any of these streets is a cinch, even on weekends.
As for crosstown routes, the north-to-south thoroughfares are some of the East Side's most crowded streets, home to business districts that bustle despite being in marginal areas off the radar screens of most locals. Heading inward toward downtown, there's Bailey Avenue (US 62), the single busiest street in the East Side that links the neighborhoods of the Far East Side: Kensington-Bailey, Delavan-Bailey, Lovejoy, and Kaisertown, followed by Fillmore Avenue, Jefferson Avenue, and Michigan Avenue. The East Side's major east-west crosstown routes are, from north to south: East Amherst Street, East Delavan Avenue, East Ferry Street, East Utica Street, and finally Best Street, which turns into Walden Avenue at its junction with Genesee Street in front of Martin Luther King, Jr. Park.
Realistically, unless there's a special event going on such as Dyngus Day in Broadway-Fillmore, you are virtually never going to have a problem finding a place to park on the East Side. Even if by chance parking on the main thoroughfares is crowded, you'll always find a spot on a side street nearby. And parking is almost invariably free – except for one block of Broadway between Michigan Avenue and downtown, the district does not contain a single parking meter. The only place where you might run into a problem is in the western half of the Fruit Belt, adjacent to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. Here, much to the consternation of neighborhood residents, hospital employees regularly park on-street in order to dodge the high rates at the paid parking lots. The Common Council has considered limiting on-street parking in the Fruit Belt to permit holders (i.e. neighborhood residents) only, but for now no limitations are in effect.
A few East Side business districts do have parking regulations worth mentioning. On Main Street between Hertel Avenue and Best Street — through Highland Park, Hamlin Park and most of Midtown — parking is limited to two hours every day but Sunday between the hours of 7AM and 7PM. Between Humboldt Parkway and East Delavan Avenue in the vicinity of Canisius College (and along Jefferson Avenue from Main to East Delavan) it's prohibited entirely — visitors to campus should ask for a parking permit at the admissions office in Lyons Hall and then park in the lot in front of the building, or else find a spot on a side street. Visitors to Sisters Hospital can park in the lot facing Main Street; rates are $5/day. South of Best Street, it's two-hour parking on weekdays from 8AM to 5PM.
On Bailey Avenue, parking is limited to two hours Mondays through Fridays from 7AM to 7PM between Millicent and Highgate Avenues in the Kensington-Bailey business district. In Delavan-Bailey, Lovejoy, and Kaisertown, parking is one hour everyday from East Delavan Avenue south to Lang Avenue between 10AM and 4PM, and prohibited outright south of Walden Avenue. If you're visiting these areas, East Delavan Avenue, East Lovejoy Street, and Clinton Street are all much better options than Bailey — parking on those streets is easily available and unrestricted at all times. In Broadway-Fillmore, parking along Fillmore Avenue between Stanislaus and Peckham Streets and along Broadway from Strauss Street to Memorial Drive is two hours only, everyday but Sunday from 7AM to 7PM; east of there, along Broadway from Memorial Drive to Gatchell Street, it's one hour only (same days and times). If you're heading to the Broadway Market on a Saturday in the weeks leading up to Easter, on-street parking will be hard to find, but never fear — the Market has a free ramp that, while well-used, rarely fills up completely.
Elsewhere, parking in the Cold Spring business district is limited to one hour on weekdays between 7AM and 7PM along Jefferson Avenue between East Ferry and Riley Streets, and in Delavan-Grider to two hours on weekdays between 7AM and 7PM along Grider Street from the Kensington Expressway ramps to East Ferry Street. If you're visiting the Erie County Medical Center in the middle of the week, either use the pay lot in the front of the hospital ($1/hour up to a maximum of $4/day; free for the first hour and 5PM-5AM) or park on one of the side streets on the other side of Grider, where spaces are generally easy to find.
- 1 Budget, 1477 Main St. (Metro Bus 8, 12 or 13; Metro Rail: Utica), ☏ .
- 2 Enterprise, 1312 Main St. (Metro Bus 8, 12 or 13; Metro Rail: Utica), ☏ .
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 (March 2022). 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. Seniors and children 5-11 pay half fares.
The East Side is better served by public transit than any of Buffalo's other districts, doubtless because East Siders tend to be less well-off and are less likely to own their own vehicle than people from other areas of the city.
The East Side is served by the following NFTA Metro bus routes:
To and from downtown
NFTA Metro Bus #1 — William[dead link]. Beginning at the AppleTree Business Park in Cheektowaga, Bus #1 enters the East Side on William Street, serving Lovejoy via North Ogden Street, East Lovejoy Street, and Bailey Avenue. Returning to William Street, the route passes through Broadway-Fillmore and the Near East Side before ending on the Lower West Side.
NFTA Metro Bus #2 — Clinton[dead link]. Beginning at the Bank of America Operations Center in West Seneca, Bus #2 proceeds down Clinton Street through Kaisertown, the southern edge of Broadway-Fillmore, and the Ellicott District. It then turns north from Clinton onto Michigan Avenue and continues back toward downtown via William Street, ending on the Lower West Side. Outbound trips take Clinton Street directly from downtown.
NFTA Metro Bus #4 — Broadway[dead link]. Beginning at the Thruway Mall Transit Center in Cheektowaga, Bus #4 proceeds down Broadway through Broadway-Fillmore and the Near East Side, with service to the Broadway Market. It ends on the Lower West Side.
NFTA Metro Bus #6 — Sycamore[dead link]. Beginning at the Walden Galleria in Cheektowaga, Bus #6 serves Schiller Park, Genesee-Moselle, Broadway-Fillmore, and the Near East Side via Walden Avenue and Sycamore Street. It ends its run at the Waterfront Village Apartments downtown.
NFTA Metro Bus #8 — Main[dead link]. Beginning at the University Metro Rail Station, Bus #8 proceeds down Main Street through Highland Park, Hamlin Park, Cold Spring, and Masten Park, with service to all the East Side's Metro Rail stations. It ends downtown.
NFTA Metro Bus #15 — Seneca[dead link]. Beginning at the Southgate Plaza in West Seneca, Bus #15 serves a small portion of the Ellicott District via Swan Street, Michigan Avenue, and North Division Street before ending at the Adam's Mark Hotel downtown. Outbound trips take South Division Street to Michigan Avenue.
NFTA Metro Bus #24 — Genesee[dead link]. Beginning at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport in Cheektowaga, Bus #24 proceeds through the East Side via Genesee Street, passing through the Schiller Park, Genesee-Moselle, Humboldt Park, and Near East Side neighborhoods with service to Schiller Park and Martin Luther King, Jr. Park. The route ends at the Buffalo-Exchange Street Amtrak Station downtown.
NFTA Metro Bus #12 — Utica[dead link]. Beginning on the West Side, Bus #12 takes East Utica Street through Cold Spring and Humboldt Park, with service to the Utica Metro Rail Station. Turning right on Fillmore Avenue, the bus meanders its way through Humboldt Park and Genesee-Moselle via French, Kehr, and East Ferry Streets before turning northward, serving Delavan-Bailey and Kensington-Bailey via Bailey Avenue, Langfield Drive, and Eggert Road. From there, the bus turns down Winspear Avenue and passes through Kensington Heights on its way to its terminus at the University Metro Rail Station.
NFTA Metro Bus #13 — Kensington[dead link]. Beginning at the University Metro Rail Station, Bus #13 proceeds down Bailey Avenue, Kensington Avenue, and Grider Street, passing through Kensington Heights, Kensington-Bailey, and Delavan-Grider with service to the Erie County Medical Center. Turning westward down East Ferry Street and from there southward on Main Street, the route proceeds through Hamlin Park, Cold Spring, and Masten Park before ending at the Utica Metro Rail Station.
NFTA Metro Bus #18 — Jefferson[dead link]. Beginning at the Delavan-Canisius College Metro Rail Station, Bus #18 passes down Jefferson Avenue through Hamlin Park, Cold Spring, Masten Park, the Fruit Belt, and the Near East Side before ending in the Old First Ward.
NFTA Metro Bus #19 — Bailey[dead link]. Beginning at the University Metro Rail Station, Bus #19 passes down Bailey Avenue through Kensington Heights, Kensington-Bailey, Delavan-Bailey, Genesee-Moselle, and Lovejoy, before ending in South Buffalo.
NFTA Metro Bus #22 — Porter-Best[dead link]. Beginning on the West Side, Bus #22 proceeds along Best Street through Masten Park and Humboldt Park, with service to the Summer-Best Metro Rail Station, Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, and the Buffalo Museum of Science. Continuing eastward along Walden Avenue, it passes through Genesee-Moselle and Schiller Park, and ends at the Thruway Mall Transit Center in Cheektowaga.
NFTA Metro Bus #23 — Fillmore-Hertel[dead link]. Beginning at the Black Rock-Riverside Transit Hub, Bus #23 proceeds through North Buffalo via Hertel Avenue, emerging on Main Street at the East Side's inner boundary and serving the Amherst Street Metro Rail Station before turning onto Fillmore Avenue. Proceeding southward on Fillmore, the bus passes through Highland Park, Humboldt Park, and Broadway-Fillmore, with service to Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, before ending in South Buffalo.
NFTA Metro Bus #26 — Delavan[dead link]. Beginning on the West Side, Bus #26 proceeds along East Delavan Avenue through Hamlin Park, Delavan-Grider, and Delavan-Bailey, with service to the Delavan-Canisius College Metro Rail Station, ending at the Thruway Mall Transit Center in Cheektowaga.
NFTA Metro Bus #29 — Wohlers[dead link]. Eastbound trips begin on the Lower West Side and proceed through the Fruit Belt and into Masten Park via High and Johnson Streets. Turning northward, the bus then continues through Cold Spring and Hamlin Park via Wohlers Avenue, Hager Street, and East Delavan Avenue (with service to the Deaconess Center via Riley Street, Humboldt Parkway, and Northampton Street), terminating its run at the Delavan-Canisius College Metro Rail Station. Westbound trips continue further down East Delavan and serve Hamlin Park, Cold Spring, and Masten Park via Humboldt Parkway and Dodge Street before rejoining the above-described route at Wohlers Avenue. Bus #29 does not run Saturdays, Sundays or holidays.
NFTA Metro Bus #32 — Amherst[dead link]. Beginning at the Black Rock-Riverside Transit Hub, Bus #32 proceeds along Amherst Street through Highland Park, with service to the Amherst Street Metro Rail Station. From there, Kensington-Bailey is served via Berkshire (on westbound trips only), Bailey, and Kensington Avenues. The bus ends its run at the Thruway Mall Transit Center in Cheektowaga.
By Metro Rail
The Metro Rail is an LRRT line that extends along Main Street from the University at Buffalo's South Campus southward to downtown, along the western border of the East Side. The Metro Rail serves as the backbone of Buffalo's public transit system, accessed directly by many bus routes. Like the buses, the fare for the Metro Rail is $2 ($4 round-trip); the $5 all-day passes available on Metro buses are also valid for the Metro Rail (March 2022; seniors and children 5-11 pay half fares).
There are five Metro Rail stations on the East Side. From north to south, they are:
- 1 Amherst Street Station — Main Street at East Amherst Street (Highland Park).
- 2 Humboldt-Hospital Station — Main Street at Humboldt Parkway (Hamlin Park).
- 3 Delavan-Canisius College Station — Main Street at East Delavan Avenue (Hamlin Park).
- 4 Utica Station — Main Street at East Utica Street (Cold Spring).
- 5 Summer-Best Station — Main Street at Best Street (Masten Park).
Buffalo has made great strides 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. The East Side lags behind the rest of Buffalo when it comes to bicycle infrastructure, but it's rapidly catching up.
On each side of Humboldt Parkway, there's one dedicated bike lane from Martin Luther King, Jr. Park north to East Delavan Avenue, but past there only the southwest side has one (the other side has been discontinuous since the Kensington Expressway was routed through here in 1960). To cross the expressway by bike, you can use the footbridge next to Northland Avenue or else take East Delavan, where the bike lane on the abbreviated northeast half of the parkway continues across the overpass to the other side. South of there, still straddling the Kensington, Cherry Street and BFNC Drive each have a dedicated bike lane set up similarly to the ones on Humboldt; beginning at Jefferson Avenue, the latter side ends at Lemon Street while the former extends westward clear to Michigan Avenue. As above, there are two pedestrian bridges that cross over the expressway, one just east of Hickory Street and one between Peach and Grape Streets.
Elsewhere in the district, on Broadway there's a bike lane on each side of the street from Bailey Avenue all the way into downtown, and Fillmore Avenue has a lane on each side from William Street north to Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, with "sharrows" (pavement markings on roads too narrow to accommodate dedicated bike lanes, indicating that drivers should be aware of bicyclists on the road) north from there to East Ferry Street. There's also another connection from Broadway to Martin Luther King Park via sharrows on Herman Street. On the Near East Side, you'll also find parallel bike lanes on William Street between Michigan and Jefferson Avenues, as well as sharrows along Main Street from Humboldt Parkway out to Bailey Avenue. In Kaisertown, South Ogden Street has sharrows between Seward and Griswold Streets, continuing north of there as a pair of parallel bike lanes on each side of the street as far north as Dingens Street. Finally, in the Fruit Belt, High Street sports sharrows extending westward from Jefferson Avenue into the Medical Corridor.
There are five Reddy Bikeshare racks on the East Side:
- on the campus of Canisius College, on the east side of Main Street between Jefferson and West Delavan Avenues, on the side of Science Hall
- on the north side of Glenwood Avenue at the corner of Fillmore Avenue, on the side of the Alphonso "Rafi" Greene Masten Resource Center
- at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, on the east side of Humboldt Parkway north of Best Street, at the entrance to the Buffalo Museum of Science
- on the east side of Main Street at the corner of Best Street, in front of the Summer-Best Metro Rail Station
- on the south side of Broadway between Lombard and Gibson Streets, in front of the Broadway Market
Walking can be a good way to get from place to place within certain particularly pedestrian-friendly East Side neighborhoods, such as Lovejoy, Kaisertown, and to a lesser extent Kensington-Bailey. But, in general, the East Side does not lend itself well to this method of transportation. Aside from the high crime rate in many areas (a danger that's greatly amplified when the sun goes down), the distances between points of interest on the East Side are too long to effectively cover on foot. If you don't have a car or bike at your disposal, you're best off using public transit.
The emerging East Side arts community is centered on the newly gentrifying neighborhoods just east of Main Street, now home to a growing population of creative types.
- 1 Albright-Knox Northland, 612 Northland Ave. (Metro Bus 13, 23, and 26), ☏ . F noon-7PM, Sa Su noon-5PM. Buffalo art lovers were understandably bummed at the announcement that the Albright-Knox's main campus in the Elmwood Village would be closed for two and a half years for a major expansion project, and that the museum's permanent collection would be inaccessible during that time. But that blow was softened by the news that the fire would be kept burning with a temporary satellite gallery housed in a restored warehouse in the burgeoning Northland Corridor that would play host to a full calendar of special exhibitions and events for the duration of construction. In addition to visual arts, Albright-Knox Northland also hosts performances as well as a full range of art classes suitable for all ages and skill levels; check their website for details on those. Admission is always "pay what you wish".
- 2 Amber M. Dixon Gallery, 1221 Main St. (Metro Bus 8, 11, 13, 22, and 25; Metro Rail: Summer-Best), ☏ . Opening hours vary by exhibition. Artspace Buffalo is a homegrown artists' colony comprised of sixty loft apartments-cum-art studios that are home to some of the foremost emerging names in the Buffalo art community, as well as this expansive gallery space that displays works by Artspace residents and other artists from Buffalo and around the region. With a full schedule of exhibitions all year long, you never know quite what's going to be on at the Amber M. Dixon Gallery: works displayed there span a wide variety of media, from traditional formats like painting, sculpture and photography to offbeat exhibitions of collage and jewel art. There are even musical performances from time to time.
- Gallery @ the Guild, 980 Northampton St (Metro Bus 12, 22 or 24, on the top floor of The Guild @ 980), ☏ . Opening hours vary by exhibition. The headquarters of and sometime retail store belonging to the local purveyor of upcycles building materials, ReUse Action — is an art gallery with a purview unique to the Buffalo area, and while the temporary exhibitions they put on are not what you would call "frequent" if you happen to be in town for one, you're in for a real treat. At the Gallery @ the Guild, the focus is on so-called "restoration art": found objects from some of the same soon-to-be-demolished buildings where the warehouse store downstairs sources its merchandise are repurposed and reimagined in magnificent ways, displaying the timeworn beauty of the old craftsmanship.
- 3 Locust Street Art, 138 Locust St. (Metro Bus 14, 16, 18 or 29), ☏ . By most people's definition, what's housed in this repurposed Civil War-era convent on a residential street in the Fruit Belt is not an art gallery. Rather, Locust Street Art is best-known for offering free, professionally-taught art and photography lessons for children and adults; it's been doing so since 1959, when local art teacher Molly Bethel began giving informal painting lessons to neighborhood children in her living room. Locust Street Art has fostered the formative talents of many successful artists over the years, and has been recognized as a winner of the New York Governor's Award in 1985, as well as by the Harvard Graduate School of Education for excellence as an educational resource for economically disadvantaged communities. The best way to see the fruits of this effort are during the art shows and fundraisers Locust Street Art holds on an occasional basis, featuring the work of current students as well as other area artists.
- 4 The Rabbit Hole Gallery, 1700 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 2 or 19), ☏ . Tu-F 11AM-5PM, Sa 11AM-4PM. Offering an experience that's somewhat but not completely different from the rest of Buffalo's roster of small art galleries, where the somewhat insular local scene is focused on to an almost solipsistic degree, the programming at this off-the-beaten-path exhibition space in Kaisertown comprises an interesting mix of both locally-based and nationally- and internationally-famous artists. A good example of the latter is the exhibition of Romero Britto sculptures that kicked off just a month after the gallery itself opened for business; as for the former... let's just say that if you've visited Canalside and duly fallen head over heels for Shark Girl, you'll be delighted to learn she also puts in frequent appearances in the works on display here, courtesy of Casey Riordan, her creator and Rabbit Hole part-owner.
- 5 Tri-Main Center, 2495 Main St. (Metro Bus 8, 23 or 32; Metro Rail: Amherst Street), ☏ . The massive old factory building in Highland Park that was once Trico Plant #2, built in 1915 by the pioneering windshield wiper manufacturer and later used by Ford Motors to build airplanes during World War II, was reborn in 1991 as the Tri-Main Center. Intended as a mixed-use facility for offices and light industrial concerns, the building instead became an epicenter for the nascent East Side arts community, with studios, galleries, and cultural institutions snapping up a disproportionate share of the space. The prominent presence of the arts here is celebrated with Trimania, a huge biannual festival featuring live music, performances and art shows on all five floors of the building, as well as Fourth Fridays, a smaller monthly open house where studios and galleries display artists' works. The Tri-Main Center contains:
- Buffalo Arts Studio (Suite 500), ☏ . Tu-F 11AM-5PM, Sa 10AM-2PM (Sep-May only). With about two dozen artists-in-residence working in a diversity of different media and representative of a broad cross-section of the local arts community, the Buffalo Arts Studio provides artists from Buffalo and beyond a venue to exhibit their works — either as part of the permanent collection or through the temporary exhibitions they hold frequently — as well as affordable studio space in one of the area's premier up-and-coming arts facilities. As well, the Buffalo Arts Studio's mission to advance awareness and enjoyment of art among the community at large manifests itself in the form of art classes, mural paintings and other public art projects offered to local citizens. Donation.
- Mundo Images (Suite 255), ☏ . Tu-F 11AM-4:30PM, Sa by appointment. Moved to the Tri-Main Center in 2014 from its former home in Allentown, Mundo Images is run by Ann Peterson, a professional photographer, language instructor, and world traveler whose mission is to enrich the world through photography, educate young people, and raise awareness of environmental issues. In addition to the small gallery where works by Ann as well as other artists are displayed, Mundo Images also produces, and sells at local stores, greeting cards printed locally on chlorine-free FSC-Certified paper, which promotes environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of forests. Free.
- 6 Buffalo Museum of Science, 1020 Humboldt Pkwy (Metro Bus 12, 22, 23, 24 or 29), ☏ , toll-free: . Daily 10AM-4PM. Located in Olmsted's Martin Luther King, Jr., Park, the Buffalo Museum of Science is in a lovely building built in 1929 by the prominent Buffalo architectural firm of Esenwein & Johnson. The emphasis of the Buffalo Museum of Science is on natural and physical sciences; items from its collection of more than 700,000 specimens and artifacts, encompassing almost every conceivable aspect of the anthropology, botany, entomology, mycology, paleontology, and zoology of Western New York and elsewhere, are on display in the Museum's galleries. The Buffalo Museum of Science also boasts interactive science studios and a National Geographic 3D Cinema and operates the Tifft Nature Preserve, 264 acres (105ha) of reclaimed industrial land in South Buffalo. $9, seniors 62+ $8, ages 2-17, students, and military $7, museum members and children under 2 free.
- Kellogg Observatory. 30-minute viewing sessions held on the half hour, W 6:30PM-11PM. The Buffalo Museum of Science is also home to the city's only astronomical observatory. Reinaugurated in 2018 after nearly two decades of closure to the public due to needed repairs and updates, the Kellogg Observatory hosts guided viewing sessions, including looks through the restored Lundin telescope (now equipped with the latest in celestial mapping technology), helmed by the resident astronomy expert. Your visit to the observatory ends on the museum's new rooftop deck, where you can enjoy not only the "Buffalo in Space" science studio exhibit but also sweeping views of the downtown skyline.
- 7 Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum, 263 Michigan Ave. (Metro Bus 14, 15, 16 or 42; Metro Rail: Seneca), ☏ . Th-Sa 11AM-4PM. Operated by James Sandoro, a former curator of exhibits at the Buffalo History Museum and a lifelong collector of historic artifacts, the Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum draws 10,000 visitors per year to their museum complex in a historic neighborhood just east of downtown, despite minimal advertising. As one might expect, the exhibits at the Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum run heavily towards antique cars and automotive memorabilia, especially Pierce-Arrows, the luxury sedans produced in Buffalo in the early 20th century to which the museum owes its name. The museum's pièce de résistance debuted in June 2014: Buffalo's seventh and newest Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building, a filling station constructed according to an original 1927 blueprint which Wright intended for the corner of Michigan Avenue and Cherry Street a short distance north of here. $10, seniors $8, children $5, guided tour $15.
History and culture
The East Side is the place to learn the story of Buffalo's African-American community — especially the place where it all began, just outside downtown on the Near East Side, where the formative institutions of black Buffalo are preserved as the Michigan Street African-American Heritage Corridor.
- 8 Buffalo Fire Historical Society Museum, 1850 William St (Metro Bus 1), ☏ . Sa 10AM-4PM and by appointment. The Buffalo Fire Historical Society Museum is in Lovejoy, a blue-collar neighborhood that is home to many Buffalo firefighters. This modest-sized building houses an extensive collection of antique fire trucks, apparatus and other artifacts, and historic photographs and exhibits related to the history of the Buffalo Fire Department. The museum's mission also encompasses educating the public about fire safety and prevention, and firefighting as a career. Donation.
- Colored Musicians' Club Museum, 145 Broadway (Metro Bus 1, 2, 4, 6, 14, 16, 24 or 42; Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☏ . W-Sa 11AM-4PM or by appointment. The Colored Musicians' Club is a designated Buffalo Landmark, and easily the most storied jazz club in the city — founded in 1918 as the social club of the all-black American Federation of Musicians Local 533, it almost immediately became the place to see informal jam sessions by members of Buffalo-area ragtime and jazz bands as well as the world-famous elite performers of the genre. The club continues to function as a venue for live jazz, but it also contains a museum with a range of artifacts and exhibits that detail the history of the club and of jazz music in Buffalo. $10; discounted tickets for children, senior citizens, teachers, and active military.
- 9 Iron Island Museum, 998 E. Lovejoy St. (Metro Bus 1 or 19), ☏ . M 2PM-6PM, Th 5PM-9PM, F Sa 10AM-1PM, also by appointment. With a history linked closely to the railroad industry that was so prominent in Buffalo at the turn of the century, the neighborhood of Lovejoy is nicknamed "Iron Island" because it is surrounded by railroad tracks on all four sides. The Iron Island Museum was opened in 2000 by the Iron Island Preservation Society and is dedicated to retelling the history of Lovejoy with a particular emphasis on the railroads that have shaped its identity. Formerly a funeral home, the Iron Island Museum's reputation for ghost sightings has attracted the attention of paranormal researchers from around the region and further afield, as well as the television shows "Ghost Lab" and "Ghost Hunters". Accordingly, overnight ghost hunts, conducted periodically by reservation, are a popular offering of the Iron Island Museum. $2, ghost tours $5.
- 10 Michigan Street Baptist Church, 511 Michigan Ave. (Metro Bus 1, 2, 4, 6, 14, 16, 24 or 42; Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☏ . Though it no longer plays host to regularly scheduled services, the importance of the Michigan Street Baptist Church to the history of Buffalo's African-American community cannot be overstated: it's the oldest continuously black-owned property in Buffalo, in the years immediately prior to the Civil War it was notorious as a "station" on the Underground Railroad by which escaped black slaves from the South were spirited away to freedom in Canada, and it retains its prominence today as the centerpiece of the Michigan Street African-American Heritage Corridor. Historical tours are offered by appointment. $5.
- 11 Nash House Museum, 36 Nash St (Metro Bus 1, 2, 4, 6, 14, 16 or 42; Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☏ . Th Sa 11:30AM-4PM and by appointment. A Nationally Registered Historic Place that's part of the Michigan Street African-American Heritage Corridor, the Nash House Museum was once the home of Rev. Dr. J. Edward Nash, who — aside from being the pastor of the Michigan Street Baptist Church from 1892 until his retirement in 1953 — was a personal friend of such nationally-known luminaries of black history as Booker T. Washington and Adam Clayton Powell, and was instrumental in the founding of the local chapter of the NAACP and in advocacy on behalf of Buffalo's African-American citizenry in the years before the Civil Rights Movement. Today, his house is open as a museum that contains engaging exhibits and archival records chronicling the history of Buffalo's African-American community. Also, the house itself is architecturally significant as a particularly good example of the wood-frame, partially prefabricated "Buffalo doubles" that were built here by the thousands around the turn of the century. $10.
- 12 WUFO 1080 AM/96.5 FM, 143 Broadway (Metro Bus 1, 2, 4, 6, 14, 16, 24 or 42; Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☏ . Yet another component of the Michigan Street African-American Heritage Corridor, Western New York's only black-owned radio station has a history that dates back to 1948 and has served over the years as a launch pad for some of America's foremost African-American radio personalities — Frankie Crocker, Gary Byrd, and Jerry Bledsoe are only a few — not to mention the locally legendary George "Hound Dog" Lorenz, who was the first to play what was then known as "race music" on the Buffalo airwaves. Free studio tours, available by appointment, regale visitors with more of this history as well as taking them behind the scenes to see how a radio station operates.
The Demise of Humboldt Parkway: A "Heinous Act of Urbicide"
Frederick Law Olmsted had designed his share of parks before he came to Buffalo, but the system he conceived here in the 1870s was the fullest expression of his architectural philosophy to date. The whole idea of a park, according to Olmsted, was to provide such a completely wild and natural experience that visitors would forget they were in the city. The parkway, in turn, was an extension of that idea: it was a way for people to get from one park to another without leaving that bucolic setting. Olmsted's parkways were wide boulevards lined with row upon row of huge shade trees, and the East Side's Humboldt Parkway was the grandest of them all: it stretched between Delaware Park and what is now called Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, 1.8 miles (2.9 km) long and 200 feet (61 m) wide, with eight rows of elms down the middle and one on each side, rivaling the Champs-Elysées and the other grand avenues of Paris that served as its models. In short order, Humboldt Parkway became the most prestigious address on the East Side, lined with huge mansions that were the homes of the elite upper crust of the Buffalo German community.
But Humboldt Parkway's glory days as the verdant heart of its neighborhood came to an abrupt halt in what author and historian Mark Goldman describes as a "heinous act of urbicide". It was the age of the automobile, and local bigwigs had planned for a major highway, dubbed the Kensington Expressway, to run between downtown and the airport — straight down the middle of the parkway. A few prescient members of the community rallied in opposition, but they were no match for the city government and the powerful business interests pushing for the expressway — and this was the 1950s, after all, before public opinion had turned against the idea of destroying city neighborhoods in this manner. By 1960, when the bulldozers arrived to uproot the beautiful century-old trees, most of the well-to-do neighborhood residents had already left, replaced by slumlords and destitute tenants. Thus Humboldt Parkway soon fell victim to the same pattern of abandonment and blight as the rest of the East Side. It was such a disgrace that, in an act of defiant disgust, prominent local architect Robert Traynham Coles bought a vacant lot on Humboldt Parkway the next year and built a beautiful modern-style house on it, designed so the entrance was in back and the rear faced the street and the highway. The house is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
Despite the monumental scale of the task, there have been several proposals to rehabilitate Humboldt Parkway in one form or another. One plan, favored by the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy and the state Department of Transportation, would deck over a one-mile (1.5 km) portion of the expressway, between Best and East Ferry Streets, at a price of $250 to $500 million. A disadvantage to that plan is that the deck would not be able to support large shade trees like the ones the parkway originally had, nor would the side streets that were cut off from each other by the expressway "moat" be reconnected. Another proposal, favored by the city government, would eliminate the expressway altogether and replace it with a tree-lined, ground-level urban boulevard. Some purist preservationists object to that plan because it would not be an exact recreation of the old Humboldt Parkway, though it would indeed resemble many thoroughfares designed by Olmsted for other cities.
While it's not by any means the greenest part of Buffalo, East Siders take full advantage of the parks and other open-air spaces their neighborhood has to offer.
- 13 Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, North side of Best St. between E. Parade Ave. and Kensington Expressway (Metro Bus 6, 12, 22, 23, 24 or 29). The crown jewel of the East Side's parks is its representative in the roster of Buffalo's Olmsted network: the site of the Buffalo Museum of Science, the Humboldt Basin, a handsome rose garden, walking paths, playgrounds, picnic shelters, and pleasant greenery. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park was the first of Buffalo's Olmsted parks to open to the public, in 1872: called "The Parade" at first, it was designed to host military drills and other large gatherings, with the brightly colored Parade House as its centerpiece and Humboldt Parkway, the most magnificent of all the Olmsted parkways in Buffalo, linking it to the rest of the system. But the Parade was far from any military installations Buffalo had; to the consternation of Olmsted, the park instead became a gathering place for the Germans in the surrounding neighborhood, who disturbed his quiet pastoral vision for it with raucous oompah bands that played at the Parade House and neighborhood scamps damaging the grass with their roughhousing. To the rescue came Olmsted's two sons, the successors in his firm; their 1896 redesign curved Fillmore Avenue to discourage through traffic and added the Humboldt Basin, a lovely Lily Pond, and formal gardens. The Olmsted brothers renamed the park Humboldt Park, a name that was changed yet again in 1977 to its current one. Sadly, like most of the other elements of Buffalo's park system, the integrity of the Olmsteds' original design of the park sustained considerable damage over the course of the 20th century: the Parade House is long-gone, part of its west edge was sacrificed in 1929 for the science museum, and there's a basketball court where the Lily Pond used to be. But the greatest indignity happened in 1960, when Humboldt Parkway was torn asunder to make way for the Kensington Expressway (see infobox at right). The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy is hard at work righting those wrongs: the Humboldt Basin has already been renovated and reopened, the restoration of the Shelter House is ongoing, and plans are afoot to recreate the Lily Pond.
- 14 Humboldt Basin (west side of Fillmore Ave. in center of park; Metro Bus 22, 23 or 24). The centerpiece of Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, the Humboldt Basin is a five-acre (2 ha) water feature of several functions: in the summer it serves as a "splash pad" where neighborhood kids can cool off and frolic underneath fountains of cool water that jet upwards from sprinklers embedded in the ground, in the winter it's an outdoor ice rink, and in the spring and fall it's a pleasant, peaceful reflecting pool. The Humboldt Basin was reconstructed and reopened in 2013 by the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy; originally, it was part of the Olmsted brothers' 1896 redesign of what was then called Humboldt Park, an immense wading pool with a sand and clay bottom (later replaced with concrete) that had been dry and abandoned since the 1980s.
- 15 Martin Luther King Tribute Plaza (east side of Fillmore Ave. across from Humboldt Basin; Metro Bus 22, 23 or 24). Designed by sculptor John Wilson, the Martin Luther King Tribute Plaza was unveiled in October 1983, six years after the city made good on its longstanding promise to neighborhood residents to rename the erstwhile Humboldt Park in honor of the civil rights leader that's depicted in this eight-foot (2.5-m) bronze bust portrait. The figure is sculpted in a somewhat idealized way; in the words of the artist, it was intended to "sum up the larger-than-life ideas" of Dr. King and capture his "inner meaning" rather than simply as a lifelike representation. Underneath the bust, on the side of the low stone wall that serves as its pedestal, is a bas-relief engraving of Dr. King at the podium at his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.
- 16 Rose Garden (just east of Buffalo Museum of Science; Metro Bus 12, 22, 23, 24 or 29). Hidden in plain sight on a quiet pedestrian walkway right next to the science museum is Martin Luther King, Jr. Park's rose garden: a small, cozy, tree-shaded oasis that was restored by the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy where a variety of roses and other flowering plants bloom in season.
Of the other parks in the district, the largest ones vary widely in quality: the baseball diamonds, soccer fields, and playgrounds at 17 McCarthy Park and 18 Walden Park bustle with romping children and amateur sports teams in the warm months, while 19 Schiller Park is little more than an overgrown lawn with an abandoned park shelter and derelict duck pond. As well, smaller parks like 20 Hennepin Park in Lovejoy, 21 Houghton Park in Kaisertown, and 22 Sperry Park in Broadway-Fillmore serve as gathering places for their respective local neighborhoods.
Aside from Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, Olmsted also designed two smaller East Side green spaces, neither of which survive in their original form: 23 Masten Park is next to the Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Pavilion and is today completely covered with basketball courts, a baseball diamond, and other sports facilities, and Bennett Park on the Near East Side has been lost entirely (the Bennett Park Montessori School stands on its site).
For the architecture buff, the East Side's main claim to fame are the magnificent churches that pepper the landscape liberally. These palatial edifices represent styles popular in the second half of the 19th century: Gothic, Romanesque, and Renaissance Revival (with the "Polish Cathedral" style of floor plan especially common in the dense cluster of churches around Broadway-Fillmore), and serve as relics of the East Side's bygone days as home to populous and prosperous communities of Catholics from Germany, Poland, and elsewhere. While some of the churches carry on as active parishes and some have been sold off to outside buyers and repurposed for various uses, others remain vacant and deteriorating, with uncertain futures ahead of them. See the Historic Churches of Buffalo's East Side tour for more information about these architectural treasures.
Leaving aside monumental structures of the most obvious historical notability, such as the churches and the Central Terminal (described below), the preservation movement took far longer to take root on the East Side than elsewhere in the city. It was not until well into the 21st century when meaningful efforts to preserve the district's architectural heritage began, by which point many if not most of its historic buildings had already been lost. Still today, out of the 23 historic districts in Buffalo that are recognized by either the National Register of Historic Places or the Buffalo Preservation Board, only four of them are found on the East Side, despite the fact that it comprises nearly half the city's land area — and it's interesting to note that three of those (the Broadway-Fillmore, High Street, and Michigan-Sycamore Local Historic Districts) were established not proactively, in recognition of their historic integrity in a more general sense, but rather reactively, as the results of grassroots community efforts to rescue specific buildings against the already-impending demolition plans of local developers.
- 24 Broadway-Fillmore Local Historic District. On the East Side, the designation of historic districts is generally not so much intended as a stimulus for restoration than as a preventative measure (often a last-ditch one) to forestall the imminent destruction of the historic built environment. The Broadway-Fillmore Local Historic District, an irregularly-shaped expanse of 70 acres (28 ha) centered around the corner of the two namesake streets and also encompassing the few blocks east of the Broadway Market, is a textbook example of this, chosen in part because it's a relatively dense cluster of period buildings amidst an East Side that's more and more succumbing to the plague of vacant lots. Of course the neighborhood is rich in historical and architectural importance too: the houses and commercial buildings here represent a mix of 19th- and early 20th-century styles and together tell two different stories: that of the vibrant Polish-American community that it was once at the heart of, and the devastation wrought on that community by the post-World War II trends of suburbanization and economic stagnation. Some of the most prominent ones you'll see here are the magnificent Beaux-Arts style Union Stockyards Bank (1910) at 949 Broadway, the Streamline Moderne building across the street at 950 Broadway (1940) that was home to Eckhardt's and later Kobacker's department stores, the humble but handsome Adam Mickiewicz Library and Dramatic Circle (1895) at 612 Fillmore Avenue, and the majestic Corpus Christi RC Church (1909) at 199 Clark Street.
- 25 Hamlin Park Historic District. The United States' largest residential preservation district with a majority-black population, Hamlin Park is an attractive middle-class area that's listed on both the national and local historic registers — it's a triangle bounded by East Ferry Street on the south, Main Street on the northwest, and Humboldt Parkway on the northeast (the locally listed portion includes only what's east of Jefferson Avenue). The neighborhood is divided into two parts: the northern half is the older one, dating to about 1890, with curvilinear streets as an imitation of the Olmsted-designed streetscape in nearby Parkside. The southern half was the site of the Buffalo Driving Park, a racetrack owned by Cicero Hamlin (hence the neighborhood's name) that closed in 1912 and became a residential neighborhood thereafter, with the more-or-less gridiron street pattern that's common to the rest of the East Side. By the 1920s, the streets of Hamlin Park were filled with handsome pattern-book houses in the Craftsman, Bungalow, and American Foursquare styles, home to a population of middle-class Germans as well as Jews who migrated north from the Ellicott District. As well, in 1912, the new campus of Canisius College was built on Main Street and, over the next decades, came to dominate the northern half of the neighborhood. Today, despite the destruction of its main thoroughfare, Humboldt Parkway, Hamlin Park has preserved its historic integrity remarkably well: it has almost none of the abandonment, blight and vacant lots that plague other East Side areas. Its significance today for architecture buffs has more to do with the period streetscape as a whole rather than any individual building, though the Stone Farmhouse at 60 Hedley Place, dating to about 1850, is notable as one of only two such houses left within Buffalo's city limits.
- 26 High Street Local Historic District. Located in the Fruit Belt — a neighborhood that's on the cusp of radical change thanks to the presence on its western flank of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Corridor, a huge engine of the region's emerging high-tech economy that will employ some 17,000 people when complete — Buffalo's smallest historic district comprises three properties on both sides of High Street between Maple and Mulberry Streets. The buildings that make up the district are the former High Street Baptist Church at 215 High Street, built in 1883 and now home to the Promiseland Missionary Baptist Church, a red brick church in a hybrid Romanesque and Gothic style whose stout, angled bell tower has long been a neighborhood landmark; the three-story Italianate at 195 High Street built in 1875 as home to Henry Schirmer's meat market and now the site of the High Street Deli, the oldest continuously operating food market in the city; and the 1871 Meidenbauer-Morgan House at 204 High Street, the long-vacant home of a succession of two local doctors whose planned demolition to make way for a new grocery store was the factor that spurred the historic district's creation.
- 27 Michigan-Sycamore Local Historic District. This is the smallest historic district in Buffalo, at only a quarter of an acre (1,050 square meters) in area, consisting in its entirety of three adjoining Near East Side properties at the corner of Sycamore Street and Michigan Avenue (hence its name) that represent some of the only remaining pre-Civil War architecture in the vicinity of downtown, yet were under serious threat of demolition at the time the district was created. The Eliza Quirk Boarding House at 72 Sycamore is the most famous of them, built in 1848 as a boardinghouse but named for a subsequent owner, a prominent Buffalo madam; it's now being redeveloped as apartments and office space. For their part, 82 Sycamore Street (c. 1847) was a grocery store and boardinghouse owned by Theodore and Louisa Stover, and 608 Michigan Avenue (c. 1900s or early '10s) was an auto glass shop for many years; they're both vacant today.
Outside the realm of churches and historic neighborhoods, the premier attraction on the East Side for architecture buffs is the...
- 28 New York Central Terminal, 495 Paderewski Drive (Metro Bus 4 or 23), ☏ . Check website for tour schedule. All tours begin at 11AM and last approximately 2-2½ hours. Of all the magnificent train stations built in Buffalo at the height of the railroad era (when it was second only to Chicago as a railway hub), the Central Terminal was the grandest — and today it's the only one left standing. The Central Terminal opened for business a few months before the stock market crash of 1929 and served as the gateway to Buffalo for passengers on the New York Central Railroad (and, later, Amtrak) until 1979, when it was shuttered as a cost-cutting measure. The building spent the next twenty years being passed from owner to owner; by 1997, the year the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation acquired it for $1 plus back taxes, the Terminal had fallen victim to the ravages of vandalism and more than a few harsh Buffalo winters. Despite all that, it's still one of the architectural wonders of Buffalo: an Art Deco masterpiece designed by the New York City firm of Fellheimer & Wagner, the same ones who designed Grand Central Station in Manhattan sixteen years previously, with a tower that rises 272 feet (83 meters) over old Polonia, the tallest building in Buffalo outside of downtown. Today, despite the overwhelming scale of the task at hand, the CTRC has made a good deal of headway in stabilizing and renovating the building. The best way to see the inside of the Central Terminal is on one of the docent-led historical tours (which cover various areas of the passenger concourse and tower, depending on the status of the renovations) that occur once a month from May to September. But if you're not in town for one of those, there are occasional special events held inside the concourse that are open to the public (including a train show and an annual Oktoberfest celebration), and "ghost tours" in the two weeks or so leading up to Halloween are also a hit. Historical tours $15; check website for admission rates to other tours and events.
Festivals and events
The East Side's calendar of annual events represents both old and new: most notably, a full schedule of summer jazz festivals at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park and elsewhere are bookended by a pair of Polish-American ethnic shindigs in Broadway-Fillmore in the spring and late summer. The most well-known festival venue in the district is the exquisite Art Deco-style New York Central Terminal on Memorial Drive, rescued from demolition in 1997 by the not-for-profit Central Terminal Restoration Corporation, who have been diligently restoring it to its former glory since then. Attending an event there is an opportunity to help Buffalo preserve one of the crown jewels of its architectural cornucopia.
- Dyngus Day. Dyngus Day is a traditional Polish holiday that falls on the Monday after Easter; on this day, young boys are known to "slap" girls who catch their eye with pussywillows or squirt them with water guns in a courtship ritual called śmigus. Today, Buffalo hosts the largest organized Dyngus Day celebration in the world — including Poland, where the festival has largely been forgotten. Since the mid-2000s, Buffalo's annual Dyngus Day celebration has once again been held in the traditional Polish neighborhood of Broadway-Fillmore at the grand old New York Central Terminal, a majestic old Art Deco train station that is yet another of Buffalo's architectural masterpieces that is undergoing extensive restoration. After the Dyngus Day Parade through the streets of Broadway-Fillmore opens the festivities, traditional Polish food and (even more popularly) drink are served in the old dining room, with polka bands attracting revelers to the dance floor. Celebrations are also held at St. Stanislaus, Bishop & Martyr Church (the so-called "Mother Church of Polonia"), the Adam Mickiewicz Library, and the many Polish-owned bars and taverns that continue to soldier on in the old neighborhood.
- Trimania. Presented every three years in mid-April, Trimania is a raucous evening of "art, music and mischief" at the Tri-Main Center on Main Street. Not only do artists and other businesses open their studios and display their latest masterwork to the public, but all six floors of this old WWI-era factory building are transformed for an evening into a giant freeform performance space, where live bands, DJs, comedians, dancers, poets, and performance artists vie for your attention in a lively multimedia art party that doesn't wind down until well after midnight. Drinks flow freely, the hungry can choose from a multitude of food trucks and other vendors, and all proceeds go to benefit the Buffalo Arts Studio. $20 in advance, $25 at the door.
- Juneteenth Festival. Springing from a commemoration of the abolition of slavery in the state of Texas on June 19, 1865, Juneteenth is celebrated in the black community of the U.S. today as a holiday that signifies African-American pride and cultural heritage. Today, each June 19th sees Martin Luther King, Jr. Park host the nation's third-largest Juneteenth festival. Beginning with a parade that proceeds westward down Genesee Street from Moselle Street to the park, Buffalo's Juneteenth festival is a lively two-day celebration that includes demonstrations of traditional African and African-American art, music and dance, ethnic foods, crafts and wares, and activities for children.
- Masten District Jazz Festival. Held on the final two consecutive Sundays of June behind the Buffalo Museum of Science at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, the Masten District Jazz Festival is as homegrown as it gets: in a downhome, grassroots ambience you'll catch locally-based performers and bands whose playing features the distinct flavor of Buffalo jazz music (including James "Pappy" Martin, who founded the festival in 1996 and whose Love Supreme Jazz Orchestra plays every year). As well, a sprinkling of nationally-famous jazz performers stop by occasionally, plus other types of music (for instance, on the bill of the 2014 festival was Alassane Sarr, an African dancer and fourth-generation griot originally from Senegal). There are eight performances in all: four on each festival day.
- Queen City Jazz Festival. The newest in a growing list of festivals celebrating Buffalo's long-neglected jazz history, the late-July Queen City Jazz Festival sees a slate of mainly local jazz artists take the stage for an evening at the historic Colored Musicians Club on Broadway. There are two stages — the main one indoors as well as a refreshing outdoor performance space — that host about fifteen acts combined, and the adjacent Colored Musicians Club Museum opens during the festival with reduced admission rates.
- Pine Grill Reunion, ☏ . Though the Pine Grill closed some thirty years ago, the memories of the halcyon days of that Jefferson Avenue nightspot — when jazz greats like Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, and Dizzy Gillespie played to packed houses — are sweet enough to have inspired the African-American Cultural Center to launch an annual jazz festival that bears its name. Much like the Masten District Jazz Festival, concerts take place at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park on consecutive Sunday evenings: in this case, the first two in August, beginning at 4PM sharp. The first week features nationally-famous acts, while the second week is all about the local jazz scene that's still going strong in Buffalo — and best of all, performances often feature the same old Hammond B3 organ that was once the centerpiece of the Pine Grill. Also, unlike the Masten District festival, food vendors are on hand (though you're welcome to BYO as well).
- Dożynki Polish Harvest Festival. Dożynki is a traditional harvest festival of rural Poland that goes back centuries, and since 1980, it's been celebrated in Buffalo over three days in mid-August at Corpus Christi Church on Clark Street. Dożynki is has grown into one of the largest annual festivals in Polonia; appropriately enough for its harvest theme, Polish cuisine is the star of the show: chefs vie annually for the coveted prize of "Buffalo's Best Pierogi", and a special "Polish pizza" is trotted out just for the occasion. As well, there's live polka music, folk dancers, guided tours of the church, raffles, and the ever-popular crowning of "Miss Dożynki", as well as a special Harvest Mass that kicks off the final day of the festivities.
- Jefferson Avenue Arts Festival. By now, Buffalo has to be close to the #1 spot among American cities when it comes to neighborhood art festivals per capita — there's the Allentown festival in June, Elmwood Avenue in August, and now the Jefferson Avenue Arts Festival in the Cold Spring business district on the Saturday after Labor Day. The three blocks of Jefferson between East Ferry and East Utica become a fun-filled street fair with live music, dancers, yummy food, kids' activities, and — of course — a panoply of artists and artisans offering up their works for sale.
- Canisius Golden Griffins, 2001 Main St. (Metro Bus 8, 18, 26 or 29; Metro Rail: Delavan-Canisius College), ☏ . Canisius College is home to seventeen athletic teams whose games are huge draws for Buffalonians. The "Griffs" play Division I Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference basketball at the 1 Koessler Athletic Center on Main Street at East Delavan Avenue, while outdoor sports like soccer and lacrosse are held at the 2 Demske Athletic Complex a short distance away. Canisius' hockey team, a member of the Atlantic Hockey Conference, plays at the HarborCenter downtown. Tickets — which are affordably priced at $12 for hockey games, $10 for basketball, $7 for lacrosse, $5 for women's basketball, and free for all other sports — can be purchased at the ticket office at the Koessler Center on weekdays from 10AM-4PM.
- FC Buffalo, 2885 Main St. (Metro Bus 8, 18, 26 or 29; Metro Rail: Delavan-Canisius College). Founded in 2009, FC Buffalo is a member of the National Premier Soccer League. After spending the previous two years at Canisius College's Demske Athletic Complex, as of the 2015 season the team has moved back to its original home at 3 All-High Stadium in Highland Park. Nicknamed "the Blitzers" (in honor of the locally born CNN anchor and FC Buffalo fan, Wolf Blitzer), FC Buffalo's dedication to the well-being of the Buffalo community is exemplified in their motto, "For Our City". Tickets are reasonably priced.
- Humboldt Basin, ☏ (ext. 17 for ice conditions). Open M-F 1:30PM-5:30PM, Sa Su noon-5:30PM; season runs Jan-Mar. In winter months, the beautiful reflecting pool/splash pad at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park is frozen over and opened to the public for old-fashioned pond skating. The rink is open on a weather-dependent basis. Best of all, skating and equipment rental (hockey or figure skates) are both free of charge.
- 4 New Skateland Arena, 33 E. Ferry St. (Metro Bus 8 or 13; Metro Rail: Utica), ☏ . Open skate Sa 1PM-4PM & 6PM-9PM, Su 2PM-5PM. $7, skate rental $1.
- 5 Kerns Avenue Bowling Center, 163 Kerns Ave. (Metro Bus 24), ☏ . M Th 4PM-10PM, Tu W noon-10PM, F Sa 4PM-close, Su noon-close.
- Paul Robeson Theatre, 350 Masten Ave (Metro Bus 12, 13 or 18; Metro Rail: Utica), ☏ . The Paul Robeson Theatre is the oldest African-American theatre in Buffalo, founded in 1968 and at the 6 African-American Cultural Center. The 130-seat theater is inside the cultural center's headquarters on Masten Avenue in Buffalo's East Side, featuring a handful of productions each year with a special focus on the African-American experience. Among the famous personalities that have performed on the Paul Robeson Theatre's stage include Ossie Davis, Phylicia Rashad, and Woodie King, Jr.
- Torn Space Theater, 612 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 1, 4 or 23), ☏ . Aside from being Western New York's premiere Polish-American social club as well as home to both Buffalo's oldest Polish library and one of its largest Dyngus Day celebrations, the historic 7 Adam Mickiewicz Library and Dramatic Circle is also where this avant-garde black box theater has been operated since 2000 by local impresarios Dan Shanahan and Melissa Meola. Torn Space Theater's production team draws on multiple different artistic media and disciplines, such as music and visual art, to present lively, imaginative, and truly original dramatic works by auteurs from around the local region, as well as innovative reimaginations of well-known existing works like Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy Ape. In addition to the performances at the Mickiewicz Library, Torn Space is unique among the Buffalo theatre community in producing site-specific works designed specifically to be performed in iconic Buffalo settings such as Canalside and Silo City. And, around Halloween, their annual Prom of the Dead art and music bash packs the house at the Dnipro Center on Genesee Street.
- 8 Central Park Grill, 2519 Main St (Metro Bus 8, 23 or 32; Metro Rail: Amherst Street), ☏ . Most of the time, "CPG's" is a cozy, sedate Main Street bar & grill situated about midway between Canisius College and University Heights, serving well-prepared comfort food and cocktails to the over-25 crowd. What it's best known for, though, are the sizzling blues shows that happen every Friday and Saturday night, where local combos like Dive House Union, the Jony James Band, and the Heavenly Chillbillies strut their stuff at the center of the Buffalo blues universe. Other genres like soul, funk, jazz and reggae crop up from time to time too, and if there's no band onstage when you visit you can still get your fix with the Internet jukebox and its encyclopedic selection of blues numbers.
- 9 Colored Musicians' Club, 145 Broadway (Metro Bus 1, 2, 4, 6, 14, 16, 24 or 42; Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☏ . Located on Broadway just outside downtown, this former home of American Federation of Musicians Local 533 (and, before that, the Charlie Zifle Shoe Store) has done double-duty as a renowned jazz club since not much later than the union chapter's foundation in 1918, made necessary when Local 43 voted to bar local African-American musicians from membership. With jazz music all the rage among the black community at the time, the union's second-floor performance space became the place to see informal jam sessions by members of local ragtime and jazz bands after their workday was finished, or on Sundays, to see them rehearse in the practice space the union provided free to its members. Soon enough, it was a venue in its own right, playing host to world-famous luminaries like Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, Lionel Hampton, and more. The tradition continues today: the Colored Musicians' Club hosts big-band concerts on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights, as well as Sunday afternoons followed by a legendary open jam session in the evening. And if you're interested in the club's storied history, there's also an attached museum where you can learn all you've ever wanted to know about Buffalo's jazz scene of yesterday and today.
- 10 The Foundry, 298 Northampton St. (Metro Bus 18 or 22), ☏ . The Foundry is a former industrial workshop in Masten Park that now serves as an incubator for a wide range of grassroots small businesses, as well as a venue for various community-centered events and happenings. One of those events is Roc da Mic, a monthly showcase for Buffalo's underground hip-hop community. On the last Thursday of each month, local MCs, DJs, breakdancers, poets, and other artists converge to strut their stuff in a freeform open-mic extravaganza.
- 11 Varsity Theatre, 3165 Bailey Ave (Metro Bus 13, 19 or 32), ☏ . It's a story that, in many ways, parallels that of the Allendale Theatre in Allentown: built in the 1920s as a silent movie palace in a then-thriving neighborhood, by the '70s it had been reduced to showing B movies and porn before closing outright, and was subsequently rescued from the threat of demolition and resurrected as a performance venue. Unlike the Allendale, though, the rebirth of the Varsity Theatre was as a venue for live music instead of theatrical performances — and rather than a multipronged effort on the part of a diverse group of preservationists and community stakeholders, the restoration of the Varsity was the six-year labor of love of a single individual: Ibrahim Cissé, a computer technologist originally from Côte d'Ivoire who now serves as head of the Bailey Business Association. The Varsity had its grand reopening in January 2016, and now plays host to everything from hip-hop acts to gospel choirs to the Nickel City Opera.
Buffalo's third-largest institution of postsecondary education and its largest private one, 3 Canisius College's sprawling Main Street premises have, after a vigorous period of expansion over the past two decades, come to dominate the northwest part of Hamlin Park. Founded in 1870 by a group of German Jesuit priests and originally next to St. Michael's Catholic Church downtown, the college's current location began as a satellite campus in the first decade of the 20th century and quickly evolved into its main one. Canisius today is a highly-regarded educational institution where some 5,000 students earn undergraduate and graduate degrees in over a hundred different fields.
The stretch of Bailey Avenue between Winspear Avenue and the Kensington Expressway is the most bustling retail district on the East Side.
Clothing and accessories
If you're on the hunt for streetwise urban fashions, Ken-Bailey is the place to be: up and down the strip, there's an abundance of options.
- 1 Bailey Jewelry, 3124 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 13, 19 or 32), ☏ . Daily 10AM-6PM. Yes, "CASH FOR GOLD" is proclaimed loudly and proudly on the signs that adorn the front of this humble storefront, but Bailey Jewelry is more than just another sleazy old-gold broker. On the contrary, the selection of 10-karat, 14-karat and silver jewelry here is impressive indeed. As is the rule on the East Side, the merchandise here runs heavily toward big, chunky hoop earrings, pendants, diamond watches, and other hip-hop-inspired styles; as is not the rule on the East Side, you should come prepared to splurge a little bit: prices are fair for what you get, but what you get is of surprisingly high quality.
- 2 Beauty Plus, 3121 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 13, 19 or 32), ☏ . Su-Th 9AM-9PM, F Sa 9AM-10PM. In business on Bailey Avenue since 2009, the main stock in trade at Beauty Plus is a range of wholesale beauty salon equipment and supplies, as well as a great selection of wigs, in many cases made of real human hair. However, there's a wide range of street-style jeans, t-shirts, hoodies, and other clothing on the walls and shelves of this crowded shop at the heart of the Kensington-Bailey business district. Beauty Plus is also an authorized dealer of Dickies workwear.
- 3 Carrie's High Fashions, 3329 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 19 or 32), ☏ . Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM. Carrie's High Fashions is a small place that's not particularly easy to find: look for the small "Hats & Shoes" sign in the window next to Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, on the east side of Bailey Avenue. Hats and shoes are indeed the cornerstones of the merchandise at Carrie's, the selection of which comprises resale vintage items as well as vintage-inspired new pieces. There's elegant, high-fashion ladies' hats perfect for church on Sunday, and beautiful dresses in bold yet refined colors and styles.
- 4 City Fashion, 2987 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 13, 19 or 32), ☏ . M-Th 11AM-6:30PM, F Sa 11AM-7PM. Since 2005, City Fashion's stylish, elegant ladieswear has been attracting folks from all over the city and beyond — folks come from as far as Toronto to browse the great selection of quality items on the racks. if you're planning a special occasion such as a graduation, prom or wedding, you're in luck. The service here is friendly and helpful, and they do tailoring and alterations as well.
- 5 Fashion City, 3112 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 13, 19 or 32), ☏ . Daily 9AM-10PM. At Fashion City, you'll certainly find plenty of the streetwise urban styles you see in other clothes shops on Bailey, but that's not the end of the story: there's also a decent selection of items in a more traditional, even preppy, aesthetic. The interior sports a brash and vibrant decorative scheme, highlighted by a loud black-and-white checkered tile floor, and it's where you'll find a wide range of name-brand clothes for men and women on racks, shelves, even hanging from the rafters: sweats, hoodies, jeans, t-shirts, baseball caps, flannels, bubble jackets, shoes and boots (there's a huge wall given over to Timberlands). Fashion City is also an authorized dealer of Dickies work apparel.
- 6 Lucky's Fashions, 1074 Kensington Ave. (Metro Bus 13, 19 or 32), ☏ . M-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su 10AM-8PM. Lucky's may not look like much from the outside, but there's a huge selection of different stuff inside that goes above and beyond "The Latest Fashion and Beauty" touted by the sign outside. The front of the store is given over to a decent selection of polo shirts, men's and women's T-shirts, jeans, and workwear, while in back you have bath products, body oils, wigs, hair extensions, and other such items. Finally, this jack-of-all-trades shop even sells, unlocks and repairs cell phones — a variety of brands and plans are offered.
- 7 Mz. Tammy's Fashions, 3389 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13 or 19), ☏ . Tammy Scott makes it clear with the sign out front that the Bailey Avenue store she owns is "4 women with curves" — and if you're a plus-sized lady who doesn't want to miss out on the loud and proud, attention-getting urban styles you find at other East Side clothing boutiques, head in for a snazzy selection of everything from club-wear to church-wear, at fantastic prices.
- 8 One of a Kind Fashion, 3000 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 13, 19 or 32), ☏ . Daily 11AM-11PM. "Don't be predictable", exhorts the motto on the sign, and true to its word, One of a Kind Fashions' inventory is a refreshing change of pace: fashions that are decidedly upscale without sacrificing any streetwise sass. The retail space here is split into two levels: in front you'll find streetwear and accessories whose aesthetic tends toward the loud and outlandish; walk up a few steps in back for a range of more conservative dresses, skirts, and tops perfect for a night on the town. Furthering this balancing act is the interior, brightly lit and decorated with stylish minimalism yet with delightfully gaudy accents here and there like mirrored walls.
- 9 Styles, 1012 Kensington Ave. (Metro Bus 13, 19 or 32), ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-7PM. Open on Kensington Avenue since 2015, Styles is less a fashion boutique than a custom screen-printing and embroidery workshop where you can have the design or logo of your choosing (pick from a selection of house-created ones, or come up with your own) placed on any number of different articles of clothing, accessories, or other goods — most often t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, and the like, but also baseball caps, headbands, leather jackets, and even laptop cases and dog collars. Owner Joe Graham and his staff hold court in a store that's small in size but brightly lie and smartly appointed in minimalist style, and sell their wares for decent prices.
- 10 Swag, 2883 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13 or 19), ☏ . M-Th 9AM-8PM, F Sa 9AM-9PM. There's lots of urban clothes crammed into this ample, warmly decorated strip-mall boutique, particularly menswear: t-shirts, jeans, hoodies and more. Belts, shoes, boots and other accessories come in bold, bright colors and really make a statement. The folks at Swag also fix broken mobile phones, iPads and iPods.
- 11 United Men's Fashion, 3082 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 13, 19 or 32), ☏ . M-W 10AM-6:45PM, Th F 10AM-7:45PM, Sa 10AM-5:15PM. Established in 1929, United Men's Fashions is by far the oldest operating business in the neighborhood, with a selection that comprises an extensive and high-quality yet reasonably priced array of suit jackets, dress shirts and pants, tuxedos and other formalwear, sweaters, hats, and men's accessories. Despite sporting a style that's sometimes a bit too flashy for its own good — bright colors and offbeat styles abound — the inventory is classy and sophisticated, seemingly much more at home in a high-end men's shop in New York or Los Angeles than on the East Side.
- 12 Young Fashion, 3096 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 13, 19 or 32), ☏ . Daily 10AM-6PM. Since 1992, owner Kim Young has operated this urban fashion boutique, stocking street gear and accessories for both men and women at the heart of the Bailey strip. The styles you'll find at Young Fashions are pretty much in line with the standard set by its neighboring competitors, but the selection is decent, and they're also an authorized seller of Dickies brand workwear.
- 13 An Chau Asian Market, 3306 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 19 or 32), ☏ . M-W 10AM-7:30PM, Th 10AM-9PM, F Sa 10AM-8:30PM, Su 10AM-6PM. If you've been to An Chau's other location on Niagara Street, you know what to expect: crowded aisles stacked floor-to-ceiling with a wide variety of international, and especially Asian, specialty groceries. Compared to its counterpart, the Bailey location is smaller yet cleaner and less chaotic and claustrophobic, but you'll find the same sorts of sauces, oils, pickles, nonperishables, fresh produce, and fresh and frozen meats — as well as an expanded selection of non-Asian items, such as Jamaican johnnycake mix. For best results, check sell-by dates: An Chau is known for keeping expired items on the shelves.
- 14 Fair Price Halal Meat, Grocery & Food, 3327 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 19 or 32), ☏ . M-F 9:30AM-9:30PM, Sa Su 9AM-9:30PM. "Bangladeshi, Nepalese, Indian, Pakistani and American grocery items" are what the bilingual English-Bengali sign outside the door advertises, and indeed, what you'll find on the shelves of this refreshingly uncluttered shop is all the usual ethnic-grocery standards: huge sacks of rice and other staple grains stacked in the front window; dried legumes, cooking oils, spices and condiments on the shelves; frozen samosas and the like in the coolers. But what sets Fair Price apart from the competition is an impressively diverse and impeccably fresh selection of Asian and Western produce.
Furniture and home decor
- 15 Bailey Furniture, 3191 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 13, 19 or 32), ☏ . Tu-F 11AM-4PM, Sa 11AM-3PM. The furniture at issue here is mostly used and antique, with a few new items mixed in. There's a wide selection to browse through at this crowded little shop, especially of dining room furniture, which seems to be a particular specialty. As the inventory is sourced mostly from consignment, quality (and value for your money) varies widely from item to item, and the shopping experience is akin to a giant estate sale. Still, like any estate sale, there are bargains to be had for those who are willing to hunt for them. It might be worthwhile to call ahead if you're thinking of stopping in: the staff has a habit of adhering rather loosely to their posted opening hours.
- 16 Priceless Home Decor, 3139 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 13, 19 or 32), ☏ . M-Sa noon-9PM. "Home decor" is really only the beginning at Priceless, where you'll find a truly gargantuan selection of furniture, appliances and home electronics whose sophisticated class, durability and all-around high quality may come as a surprise to visitors initially put off by the downmarket look of its exterior. This place has stuff you wouldn't find in a store twice its size. A full range of living room, dining room and bedroom furniture, mattresses, stoves, washers and dryers, refrigerators and other appliances, and TVs and other electronics are all sold at Priceless, with service that's second to none in friendliness and efficiency.
- 17 New Style Records and Movies, 2995 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 13, 19 or 32), ☏ . A 20-year veteran of the local music industry, Civic Davis has been selling the latest in R&B, hip-hop, reggae, gospel, jazz, and blues albums in this small shop since 1996. Browse through the selection of CDs and cassettes in the stylishly decorated sales floor overlooked by a huge fishbowl. DVDs of blockbuster Hollywood movies are available, as well as — interestingly — a range of spa and beauty care products.
Midtown, Cold Spring, and other Near East Side areas
For now, the East Side's western flank is the least amenable area of the district for those in search of a neighborhood shopping experience. But with new investment breathing life back into Main Street and the old Cold Spring business district along Jefferson Avenue, look for this scenario to be turned on its head over the next few years.
Clothing and accessories
- 18 Big Basha Central, 844 Jefferson Ave. (Metro Bus 18, 22, 24 or 29), ☏ . Daily 9AM-10PM. Located just off the Jefferson Avenue exit of the Kensington Expressway at the edge of the Fruit Belt, Big Basha Central has been "your one-stop shop" since 1995 for clothing and gear in a wide variety of urban styles: T-shirts, hoodies and jeans from brands like Rocawear, Black Label, and Coogi, designer sneakers and Timberland boots, jackets, and ladieswear too. There's also a bodega-cum-beauty supply shop, Big Basha Market, across the street.
- 19 44 Fashion and Footwear, 1233 Main St. (Metro Bus 8, 11, 13, 22, or 25; Metro Rail: Summer-Best), ☏ . Su-Th 9AM-9PM, F Sa 9AM-10PM. Buffalo Rising compares this place to "Canal Street in NYC, back in the days when Canal Street was actually cool", but don't take that too literally: 44 Fashion represents the "über-trendy hipster duds with a side of streetwise flair" side of Chinatown, not "second-rate designer-knockoff schlock". Jeans, graphic tees, and button-down collar shirts straight out of a hip-hop video line the racks, high-quality products all, but the real draw is a mind-bendingly diverse range of designer sneakers in styles and colors that are utterly whimsical.
- 20 Miss Betty's Dirt Cheap Thrift Store, 974 Jefferson Ave. (Metro Bus 18, 22 or 29), ☏ . Th-Sa 10AM-5:30PM. If you're in the market for gently used women's clothing and accessories, hit up Ruth Kennedy's humble but handsome secondhand sop on the edge of the Fruit Belt where all that and more comes — wait for it — dirt cheap. And if you take an extra long look through the racks and bins, you might chance upon some brand-new items in the mix, or some mens- and kidswear.
- 21 Park Avenue Coat Company, 144 William St. (Metro Bus 1, 2, 4, 6, 14, 16, 24 or 42; Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☏ . M-Sa 10AM-6PM. Besides being a wholesale distributor of brand-name and designer leather jackets, winter wear, caps, and t-shirts, Park Avenue Coat Company also has several retail locations, including this one, where the same merchandise at the same prices are sold in a no-frills warehouse environment — along with "slightly irregular" merchandise direct from the manufacturers at an even steeper discount. Prices tend to be especially good around February and March when they're clearing out their winter gear. Sadly, a weak spot is the service: chronic understaffing leaves customers fending for themselves more often than not.
- 22 Bangla Bazaar, 2290 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 8 or 23; Metro Rail: Amherst Street), ☏ . Daily 9AM-12:30AM. Picture this. It's 11 at night. You haven't eaten yet, and you're hungry for Indian food. All the restaurants are closed. What to do? Well, assuming you know how to cook and don't mind braving a moderately sketchy neighborhood in the dark, Bangla Bazaar in Highland Park is your answer. Step inside and you'll find shelves well-stocked with everything you'd expect from an ethnic food market: nonperishable packaged groceries, spices, dried beans and legumes, frozen fish and meats (100% halal), even vegetables. Prices are high and the organizational scheme of the store's layout isn't what you'd call intuitive, but of course that comes with the territory.
- 23 Buffalo Brewing Company, 314 Myrtle Ave. (Metro Bus 2, 15 or 18), ☏ . F 4PM-8PM, Sa 2PM-8PM. Contrary to popular misconception, the Buffalo Brewing Company is not Buffalo's first nanobrewery (that title goes to Community Beer Works) — but with a capacity of two barrels a day, their pint-sized facility is certainly more in line with what most folks think of when they hear that term. The core of Buffalo Brewing's repertoire consists of four permanent beers, all produced 100% by hand and named for years significant to Buffalo's history, along with a slate of seasonal brews. Opening hours are brief, but if you're in town on a Friday or Saturday, they'll fill your growler for the unbelievable price of $15.
- 24 Michigan Riley Farm, 108 Riley St. (Metro Bus 8, 12, 13 or 18; Metro Rail: Utica), ☏ . Farm stand open seasonally. Located on 12 vacant lots in Cold Spring sold at a city foreclosure auction in 2011, Michigan Riley is a bit different than most area urban farms in that it's cooperatively owned: individual participants sign up each year for one of two levels of membership, with both work and harvests shared among the members proportionally. For short-term visitors and those who aren't interested in volunteering, the best way to get your hands on some of these delicious vegetables and herbs is at the seasonally-open farm stand on Riley Street — as well as a few blocks away at The Foundry on Northampton Street, on the second Saturday of each month.
Chocolate, candies and sweets
- 25 Choco-Logo Confectionery, 141 Broadway (Metro Bus 1, 2, 4, 6, 14, 16, 24 or 42; Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☏ . M-F 10AM-5PM. Buffalo's oldest artisanal chocolatier (and the official chocolate provider for Bloomingdale's department stores) maintains a small factory store whose selection most of the time is fairly modest: dark and milk chocolate truffles, chocolate-covered nuts, the famous "Nutcorn" (caramel corn stuffed with roasted nuts and coated in chocolate), and a variety of sea-salted caramels. But it's in the seasonal selections available around the holidays where Choco-Logo's creativity really comes out to shine, with unique truffle options such as Eggnog, Black & Tan, and Ice Wine.
- Landies Candies, 2495 Main St., Suite 350 (At the Tri-Main Building; Metro Bus 8, 23 or 32; Metro Rail: Amherst Street), ☏ . M-F 9AM-4PM. If you're a home shopping aficionado, you may have seen Landies Candies offered up for sale "exclusively" on the QVC network. You might have searched fruitlessly in stores only to be told that the only way you can get them is through the television. Is that true? Yes indeed — unless you head up to the third floor of the Tri-Main Center in Highland Park, where Landies has a retail shop selling a wide range of treats: chocolate truffles, peanut butter cups, caramel confections, and a delectable take on sponge candy that's fresh and flavorful without the cloying sweetness you'll find elsewhere.
- 26 The Peddler, 298 Northampton St (at The Foundry; Metro Bus 18 or 22). Sa 8:30AM-4PM, late Oct through mid-Apr. During winter, Newell Nussbaumer's upscale flea market — which spends the milder months at Parish Commons in the Elmwood Village — moves indoors to The Foundry on Northampton Street. As always, the Peddler features a dizzying variety of antique knickknacks and upscale vintage clothes sold by a growing roster of vendors.
Furniture and home decor
- 27 Maasai Consignment Boutique, 208 E. Delavan Ave. (Metro Bus 18, 26 or 29; Metro Rail: Delavan-Canisius College), ☏ . Tu-F noon-7PM, Sa 10AM-5PM. Despite its name, the gently used furniture and home goods on offer here are sourced not only from consignment but also from estate sales, making for a diverse mix of very unusual and high-quality items. More than that, though, what's notable about Maasai is the community focus of co-owners Michelle Matthews and Janaine Gates, which comes out in myriad ways: from their decision to take a chance on their own neighborhood of Hamlin Park which many small business owners avoid, to their donation of a portion of their profits to St. Luke's Mission of Mercy, to good old-fashioned friendly service.
- 28 Doris Records, 286 E. Ferry St. (Metro Bus 13 or 18), ☏ . M-Sa 10AM-10PM. If you're a fan of modern R&B and hip-hop music or the sweet strains of classic soul and Motown, you'll want to make a stop at this institution that's been going strong in Cold Spring since 1962. Nowadays small independent record shops like this are almost invariably partonized by hipster vinyl fetishists, but Doris is the exception to that rule: here CDs and DVDs dominate the inventory and there's only a modest selection of record albums. You can also browse a modest variety of baseball caps, T-shirts, and other streetwear, as well as racks of urban-oriented lifestyle magazines such as XXL.
- 29 Alive Christian Bookstore, 2275 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 8 or 23; Metro Rail: Amherst Street), ☏ . M-F 11AM-5PM. Operated since 1995 by the Greater Refuge Temple of Christ's Reverend Gordon Sweat and his wife Larcenia, Alive Christian Bookstore carries copies of the Bible in a variety of different translations, as well as Bible study materials, Sunday School readers from the Union Gospel Press, and sundry other Christian literature. The purview of this place doesn't end with books, though; Alive is also a source for church supplies including robes, clergy shirts and other specialty clothing.
- 30 Bikeshop Buffalo, 145 Swan St. (Metro Bus 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 14, 15, 16, 20, 24, 25, 40, or 42; Metro Rail: Seneca), ☏ . M-F 10AM-6PM, Sa 10AM-4PM. The original Bikeshop has been at the service of East Aurora cyclists since 2006, and at their branch location at The Hub you can expect the same expert service and friendly mom-and-pop atmosphere as at the original, but an inventory that trends more toward high-performance road bikes for urban use. Bianchi, Redline, and Scott are some of the popular brands carried here, and available exclusively at the Buffalo location is the Retül line of performance-enhancing fittings. A full range of parts and accessories completes the picture. Prices are a splurge, but they're justified by the quality of what you get.
Delavan-Bailey and Schiller Park
Clothing and accessories
- 31 City Swagg, 2240 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 24 or 26), ☏ . M-Sa 9AM-9PM. Opened in 2012 on the West Side, City Swagg moved to its current location in Schiller Park in 2017. The inventory is the same as ever, though: these guys offer the best in urban fashions straight from the streets of New York, L.A. and Miami. From everyday wear like jeans, dresses, and jackets, to shoes and accessories, to swimwear and body suits, the designs here are sexy, sassy and make a bold statement. As well as clothing, City Swagg also sells mobile phones and related accessories, with calling plans from providers such as H2O Wireless, T-Mobile, and Net10.
- 32 Gear Up, 1281 E. Delavan Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 19 or 26), ☏ . Daily 9AM-9PM. This brightly-decorated storefront in Delavan-Bailey is a destination for those in search of urban-oriented sportswear, outerwear, jeans and sneakers from popular brands like Nike, Timberland, and New Era. Gear Up is a crowded and not particularly well-organized place, but there are some nice finds if you're willing to hunt them down a little bit. That's especially true of the sneaker selection: if you're looking for something that really stands out, with bright colors and unusual designs, stop by. New arrivals come in every week, and Gear Up also boasts a modest range of ladies' fashions, handbags and other accessories.
- 33 Get Your'z, 2047 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 24), ☏ . M-F 11AM-9PM, Sa 11AM-10PM. Owned since 2006 by James Barclay and situated on Genesee Street an easy walk from Schiller Park, Get Your'z is a source for trendy, statement-making designer ladies' apparel (and some menswear too). Dresses, blouses, stylish jeans, leggings and hosiery come in bold colors and daring styles, and sales and promotions happen frequently. Interestingly, Get Your'z also stocks a range of car accessories.
- 34 KeeKee's, 1384 E. Delavan Ave. (Metro Bus 26), ☏ . M-F 10AM-6PM, Sa 10AM-5PM. Owner Lakeisha Williams proudly sells her line of new and secondhand women's "Fashions on a Budget" in this sparsely decorated storefront in the heart of the Delavan-Bailey business district. If your tastes tend toward the Afrocentric, KeeKee's is the place for you, with lots of colorful wooden jewelry and flowing dresses in tribal-style prints, but aside from that the styles here tend to be a bit more understated than what you'll find on a your typical East Side urban fashion boutique. But there are some really upscale finds here among the dresses, blouses, shawls, shoes, handbags, and other accessories.
- 35 Legacy Apparel & Footwear, 2649 Bailey Ave (Metro Bus 12, 19 or 26), ☏ . Daily 9AM-11PM. A newer addition to the roster of Bailey Avenue clothing boutiques, Legacy Apparel is a huge emporium at the far southern end of the strip stocked with a huge range of streetwear for both men and women — hoodies, jackets, baseball caps, and some of the best-priced jeans you'll find anywhere on the East Side. Bright colors and hip-hop styles abound. And if Bailey Avenue is particularly busy on the day you visit, never fear about parking — Legacy Apparel boasts an ample off-street lot.
- 36 Sky's the Limit, 2619 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 19 or 26), ☏ . Daily 9AM-11PM. Sky's the Limit is run by local entrepreneur Ahmed Ahmed, a second-generation Yemeni-American immigrant who also owns Farm Fresh Market across the street. The main attraction here is a dizzying range of beauty supplies as well as wigs and weaves, but there's also a similarly impressive selection of urban-style women's apparel and footwear, with excellent bargains to be had on bold, sassy tops, leggings, dresses and other formalwear, work uniforms, and even kids' clothing. The downside at Sky's the Limit is the customer service, which tends toward the inattentive.
- 37 Indo-Pak Bangla Bazar, 525 Doat St. (Metro Bus 6 or 22), ☏ . Daily 10AM-9PM. As the name indicates, Indo-Pak Bangla Bazar is a small grocery store in Schiller Park that serves the needs of the area's teeming South Asian immigrant community with a small selection of ethnic foods. Here you'll find a variety of spices, staple foods such as rice and dried grains, as well as more standard bodega fare such as soda pop, snack foods, and canned goods. Friendly customer service is a specialty at Indo-Pak Bangla Bazar: the credo is "Quality comes first, profit is its logical sequence".
- 38 Steve's Meats, 1314 E. Delavan Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 19 or 26), ☏ . M-Sa 9AM-5PM, first Su of each month 9AM-1PM. Steve's Meats has been serving the Delavan-Bailey community and beyond since 1978 with some of the freshest meats around: stuffed pork chops, steak rollups, chuck roasts, chicken breasts, and even custom-made combo packs fly off the shelves, and in the freezers you'll find a selection of chicken fingers, pizza logs, and other snacks, Jamaican-style beef patties, and breakfast treats like waffles, French toast and hash browns. If you're visiting near the beginning of the month, you'll likely have to brave crowds, but customers nearly always leave happy.
- 39 M&J Wholesale, 1287 E. Delavan Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 19 or 26), ☏ . M-Sa 9AM-10PM. This Delavan-Bailey destination stocks everything for the tobacco enthusiast on your list: M&J's has hookah pipes, loose tobacco, rolling papers, and other accessories for sale at rock-bottom prices (cash only, though).
In the first half of the 20th century, the corner of Broadway and Fillmore Avenue was the epicenter of Buffalo's second-busiest retail district after downtown — and the second-busiest single intersection in the whole state, surpassed only by Times Square in Manhattan. Today it's a shadow of its former self — ask a local about the iconic local discounter of years past, Sattler's, and you'll likely hear a lengthy diatribe about how its iconic flagship store at "Nine-Nine-Eight" Broadway was closed in 1982 and demished in 1988 to make way for a Kmart that closed in 2002. (Part of it houses an Aldi grocery store.) Still, there are more than a few hardy holdouts in old Polonia, though urban clothing stores now outnumber five-and-dimes by a great deal. At the center of it all is the struggling but still vibrant....
- 40 Broadway Market, 999 Broadway (Metro Bus 4 or 23), ☏ . M-Sa 8AM-5PM. The Broadway Market traces its history to 1888, not long after the birth of the city's Polish community. Back then, this was not only a place for the newly minted community to stock up on daily essentials, but also to meet friends, see and be seen, and enjoy a comforting reminder of their homeland. Today, Polish and other Eastern European foods and gifts share space on the sales floor with soul food stands, halal groceries, and other items that reflect the diverse pastiche of the modern-day East Side. For most of the year, the Market is a fairly quiet place, with about a dozen stalls and eateries open for business (more on Saturdays, which is generally the busiest day of the week) — but come in the weeks leading up to Easter and you'll find yourself amid the throngs of Buffalo Poles who flock back to the old neighborhood each year to pick up specialties for the traditional breakfast spread. At those times, seasonal vendors swell the ranks to perhaps three times as many as listed here.
Clothing and accessories
- The Broadway Market is not nearly as well-known for fashion as for other types of merchandise. Still, if you're visiting there and you're in the market for some new clothes, you won't necessarily leave emptyhanded:
- Dexter's Hats, Caps and Things, ☏ . Sa 9AM-4PM. At the Broadway Market on Saturday mornings and afternoons and pretty much anywhere else in the city at other times, Dexter Shaw sells quality men's hats — fedoras, porkpies, newsboy caps, and more — to neighborhood types looking for a snazzy addition to their style. Satisfaction is 100% guaranteed.
- Everything's Very African, ☏ . Tu-Sa 10:30AM-5PM. Perhaps a more accurate name for this place would be "Everything's Very African-American" — while they stock a token selection of tribal-themed decorative items as well as shea butter shampoo and body lotion, you won't find any dashiki, kaftans, or other such items here. Instead, this Broadway Market fashion boutique features a range of smart urban styles that walk the line between upscale elegance and street-level sass, with fancy dresses and ladies' hats as well as some really nice gold jewelry.
- Queen Esther Boutique, ☏ . The always-gregarious Tara Crenshaw McCann's goal is "to enhance the beauty within", and she does that for her customers with a reasonably-priced yet delightful range of handmade earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and other jewelry sold daily at her Broadway Market stand. Queen Esther Boutique even custom-designs pieces for customers who arrive with a specific vision in mind.
- 41 The Custom Hatter, 1318 Broadway (Metro Bus 4), ☏ . M-Sa 8AM-5PM. Wherein Gary Witkowski practices the fast-disappearing craft of old-style hatmaking: fedoras, porkpies, homburgs, and other hats all crafted on antique millinery tools with real beaver, chinchilla and muskrat fur; linings and leather sweatbands carefully sewn rather than glued in place. In addition to the many ordinary folks he's helped to cap off (as it were) a formal ensemble in just the right way, Witkowski can boast of having outfitted the Broadway productions of Guys & Dolls and Thoroughly Modern Millie and of his hats being worn on the big screen by stars like James Garner and Leonardo DiCaprio. Prices rank decisively in the high end, but you're paying for quality that's second-to-none.
- 42 Peace & Co., 1105 Broadway (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☏ . Su-Th 10AM-7PM, F 10AM-midnight, Sa noon-7PM. Eschewing the conservative, somewhat dowdy styles (not to mention the dusty clutter and surly customer service) that you'll find in other Buffalo-area Islamic clothing boutiques, Peace & Co. is instead the place to be for couture-minded observant Muslims to, as the sign outside the door indicates, "unveil style and modesty" in equal measures. Here you'll find high-quality abayas, hijabs, and kaftans in all colors and at great prices, with vibrant yet elegant styles for on-the-go women of today, along with a selection of men's thobes and kaftans that's somewhat more conventional in style without skimping on the quality.
- 43 Plush Boutique, 973 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 4, 6, 22, 23 or 24), ☏ . Tu-Sa noon-7PM. "We give our customers something you can't find at the mall or in [other] stores", says owner Alexis Boykin. She's exaggerating, but only a little. If you've visited some of the other fashion boutiques on the East Side or even just read through this section of the article, you know the drill already — streetwise styles, loud colors, lots of bling — but if you're looking to put your Buffalove on display loud and proud, many of the house-exclusive designs follow that theme (how about a gold and lavender tracksuit with a silhouette of the downtown skyline across the front?)
- 44 Shoe Heaven, 1455 Broadway (Metro Bus 4 or 19), ☏ . M-F 11AM-6PM, Sa 11AM-5PM. Tucked away in plain sight in a low-hung, unassuming building next to St. John Kanty Catholic Church, Shoe Heaven is a one-stop shop for sassy ladies' footwear in bright colors and daring designs. Dominating the inventory inside this bright, airy, well-kept shop are platform heels and wedges, but you can find lots of pumps, sandals, flats, and other styles too. Shoe Heaven's staff engages their customers with service that is always warm and gracious, and the merchandise is suitable for all budgets: nothing is priced higher than $60!
- 45 This & That, 959 Broadway (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☏ . M-Sa 9AM-7PM. On the ground floor of the Mitchell Square Building at the corner of Broadway and Fillmore is where Mohammed Abubakar sells a wide variety of clothing and accessories for men and women, in a mix of styles that runs the gamut from elegant upscale fashions to urban street gear. This & That is also a place to pick up prepaid phones and accessories.
- 46 Trendz, 1048 Broadway (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☏ . Su-Th 9AM-9PM, F Sa 9AM-11PM. The name of this place is no joke: established in 2005, Sadi Mohamed's Broadway fashion outlet is on the cutting edge of the latest urban fashions, with name brands like Akoo, Nike, Rocawear, Polo, and even Prada on the shelves. At Trendz, you'll find tight acid-washed jeans, graphic tees, hoodies, jackets and more.
- Kielbasa, handmade pierogi, and other mouth-watering Polish specialties have been the Broadway Market's bread and butter pretty much since they opened. However, the range of offerings has diversified lately to reflect the changing face of the neighborhood — nowadays you can find halal meats, succulent soul food, and lots of other goodies as well.
- Babcia's Pierogi Company, ☏ . M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa 9AM-4PM. Cheryl Ziolkowski-Krygier and Linda Lund learned the fine art of pierogi-making as kids helping out their babcias (grandmothers, hence this place's name) in the kitchen, but nowadays they also put their own spin on this old culinary standby: Babcia's menu splits the difference between the traditional — various permutations of sauerkraut, mushroom, potato, and cheese — and specialty pierogi such as taco, reuben, and beef on weck. Their Broadway Market stand is also the home of Sweet Tallulah's pastry shop, with fresh-baked Polish and American goodies.
- Broadway Seafood & Meat, ☏ . M-Th 8AM-4:30PM, F Sa 8AM-5PM. Boasting one large cooler for seafood and one for meat, Broadway Seafood & Meat is huge. The latter has pretty much every kind of butcher meat you can think of, with a noticeable abundance of soul-food staples like hamhocks, trotters, turkey necks and chitlins; the former features fresh whole fish on ice (again, pretty much every kind you can think of; the selection of freshwater whitefish is especially good). Service is prompt and friendly, and prices have to be seen to be believed.
- Camellia Meats, ☏ . M-Sa 8AM-5PM. Aside from the stand-alone location in Humboldt Park they expanded to in 2013, Camellia Meats' Broadway Market stall is still alive and kicking, with the same high-quality, low-price meats as at the other place. Yes, that includes the award-winning house-brand Cichocki's Polish sausage. Also, since the original owners retired, the folks at Camellia have done double duty at Eastertime working the old Malczewski's stall, home of the famous Broadway Market butter lamb: symbolic of the Lamb of God of Catholic iconography, this centerpiece of the traditional Easter breakfast spread is native to several Eastern European lands, but on this side of the Atlantic is unique to Buffalo.
- Deb's Delights, ☏ . W 10AM-5PM. Deb's Delights ships its inventory nationwide from their headquarters in East Aurora not only to the shelves of numerous Western New York supermarkets, but also to its flagship retail outlet that opens for business each Wednesday at the Broadway Market. What products make up that inventory? No less than 70 different varieties of jellies, relishes, salsas, hot sauces, condiments, and — above all — pretty much any kind of vegetable that can be pickled; a high-quality range of stuff that ably demonstrates the truth of her slogan, "If you can't, I can".
- Famous Horseradish, ☏ . M-Sa 8AM-5PM. Sure, at this longtime Broadway Market vendor you can pick up a jar of the same namesake product that's proudly stocked in many a local supermarket, plus harder-to-find beet horseradish. But Famous Horseradish also stocks a full range of horseradish-infused products like spicy mustard and cocktail sauce, a variety of homemade pickles and sauerkraut, and a similar but somewhat smaller range of fresh produce as at Lewandowski's (though naturally, if you're in the market for fresh horseradish root you're in luck).
- Kissed by the Sun Spice Company, ☏ . Sa 10AM-4PM. Inspired by owner Liz Fickhezen's 1999 vacation to Tortola, Kissed by the Sun's all-natural, all-kosher, pesticide- and MSG-free spice blends are the perfect accompaniment to Caribbean cuisine (their website even has an online cookbook for some ideas). The biggest sellers are a seasoned sea salt blend with garlic, celery seed, parsley and a hint of ginger — a healthy, lower-sodium alternative to table salt — as well as sweet-hot pepper flakes made from the skins of red and jalapeño peppers, flavorful yet not too spicy.
- Lewandowski Produce, ☏ . M-Sa 8AM-5PM. Open six days a week, this longtime Broadway Market vendor is the place to come if you want fresh fruits and vegetables. For the most part, Lewandowski's selection is not much different from what you'd find at the average supermarket produce section — but there are some more interesting finds as well, especially when it comes to root vegetables (rutabaga and yams are ubiquitous) and a surprising selection of unroasted nuts and fresh herbs. Lewandowski's also stocks a small variety of honey, jams, and preserves.
- Lupas Meats, ☏ . M-Sa 8AM-5PM. When it comes to Broadway Market butcher shops, Broadway Seafood and Meats may have size and variety on their side, but these guys have the crowds. The venerable stand operated by family patriarch Petru Lupas and his son David is, in the words of one reviewer who grew up in Polonia during its golden years, "as close as you can get to the original Broadway Market". The stars of the show are (of course) Polish delicacies such as fresh and smoked kielbasa, kiszka, kabanossy, and slab bacon, but as with its aforementioned competitor, you'll also find soul-food delights catering to an increasingly African-American customer base. In terms of deli meats, bologna, ham, and other pork products abound, as do local brands like Wardynski's, Sahlen's, Yancey's Fancy cheese, and Lupas' own house brand. The already low prices come down further toward the end of the day, the better to move as much inventory as possible.
- Najah Sauces. M-Sa 8AM-5PM. Somali immigrant Bisharo Ali is the culinary mastermind behind this line of all-natural sauces, condiments and fruit juice drinks crafted right here in the Broadway Market's own kitchen facilities. The signature ingredient shared among many of the options is fenugreek, an indelibly sweet-ish herb with a myriad of health benefits to its name, which Ali will be only too happy to tell you about. Also prominent among the options is tamarind sauce, available in mild and hot varieties and inspired by the shidni of her native cuisine.
- Pierogi by Paula, ☏ . Sa 8AM-5PM. The pierogi Paula Duge whips up at her factory in suburban Rochester are crafted by hand using the secret Kurasiewicz family recipe, the same as the ones she made growing up in North Tonawanda. Both traditional savory fillings (potato, sauerkraut, imported farmers' cheese) and dessert pierogi (stuffed with fruit preserves) are delicious and preservative-free. Pierogi by Paula's Broadway Market stand is open every Saturday, but if you're here on Tuesday or Friday, the folks at White Eagle Bakery can unlock the freezer case for you.
- Victorianbourg Wine Estate, ☏ . Sa 9AM-5PM. Much different from what you usually see among Western New York wines, Victoria and Dan Hogue have recreated a classic Northern German winery on the 50 acres (20 ha) they cultivate in rural Niagara County, for delightfully unusual results. If you can't make it to their tasting room out in Wilson, the Broadway Market on Saturday is the place to sample the wares (especially the pechette, the best-loved of their two dozen or so offerings).
- Weber's Maple Products, ☏ . Sa 9AM-5PM, Nov-Easter. Its neighbors to the north (Canada) and northeast (Vermont) may be more famous, but the maple syrup harvested by New York State producers each spring can hold its own. If you're by the Broadway Market on a weekend, you can sample the local version courtesy of this tree-to-table operation out of West Falls: both the syrup in its pure, raw form as well as maple-infused products such as barbecue sauce, mustard, popcorn, glazed nuts, coffee and tea, even hot sauce.
- We R Nuts, ☏ . M-F 8AM-5PM, Sa 9AM-5PM. The "R" stands for "roast": the folks at We R Nuts have been in business since 2006 (and at the Broadway Market since '09) roasting almonds, pecans, and cashews in fourteen different flavors, from sweet (maple, coconut, Bavarian-style cinnamon) to savory (garlic and herb, honey mustard). A wide range of homemade nut butters and tasty snacks are on offer as well.
- 47 Al-Madina Grocery & Variety Store, 1044 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 6, 22, 23 or 24), ☏ . Halal meats such as chicken, beef and fish are proudly touted on the sign in front of this little Bengali-owned store, as well as fresh produce that's locally sourced in many cases. But the true essence of Al-Madina is that it's very much a regular grocery store, only scaled down in size, with all products certified halal and a small variety of ethnic goods too. As well, you can find housewares and toiletries here including pots and pans, dish soap, baby powder, shampoo, and the like.
- 48 Amana Plaza Halal Food & Variety, 1054 Broadway (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☏ . Daily 9:30AM-10PM. Far from the glorified bodegas that many of his competitors in the ethnic grocery business run, Amana Plaza offers more than just shelf-stable packaged goods, soda pop, candy and snacks. Indeed, more than half of the sales floor here is given over to fresh produce (both exotic imports and the usual supermarket standards), huge sacks of rice and other staple grains, and refrigerator and freezer cases replete with fresh and frozen fish, meat, and dairy products (all halal, of course). And to top it all off, the shop is clean and well-organized, and service comes with a smile.
- 49 BBS Wholesale, 1076 Sycamore St. (Metro Bus 4, 6, 22 or 23), ☏ . Daily 10AM-10PM. It's easy to be misled by this place's name: not only is BBS not a wholesaler (it's just another ethnic grocery market), but the acronym, short for "Buffalo Burmese Store", only tells a minor part of the story of what's inside. Instead, as implied by the Bengali-language text on the signage in front of the shop, the merchandise inside trends far more heavily toward South Asian foods than Southeast: the usual range of staple grains, spice mixes, dry groceries, and modest selections of halal meats and produce.
- 50 Sycamore Halal Meat and Fish, 1064 Sycamore St. (Metro Bus 4, 6, 22 or 23), ☏ . Daily 9AM-11PM. As the name implies, Sycamore Halal Meat and Fish is a small ethnic grocery with a full slate of certified-halal meats and fish, as well as housewares, Islamic clothing, and bodega-style merchandise like candy and cold soft drinks. They even do home deliveries.
- 51 Wilson Street Urban Farm, 330-386 Wilson St. (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☏ . Farm stand open Sa 10AM-12:30PM in season. Wilson Street Urban Farm comprises two acres (a little less than a hectare) of land tilled by the Stevens family, who, as transplants to Buffalo from the rural areas outside the city, use their agricultural know-how to serve as mentors and role models to a growing movement of like-minded homesteaders. The farm grows a wide range of produce both outdoors in the ground as well as inside their custom-built hothouse, and what the Stevenses don't eat themselves is offered up for sale to hungry East Siders on Saturday mornings at their farm stand.
Chocolate, candies and sweets
- At the Broadway Market you'll find plenty of delectable Polish pastry, but that's just the beginning of the story. Also on offer is a great selection of old-fashioned carnival-style sweets such as fresh fudge, sugar waffles, saltwater taffy, and the like.
- Blue Eyed Baker. Sa 8AM-5PM. Alexandra Robinson is the woman who gave her name to this place, bringing to bear her tutelage under some of the top pastry chefs in France and the U.S. with a full line of baked goods, scratch-made with real ingredients the old-fashioned way. Macarons are the specialty of the house. You can catch the Blue Eyed Baker and her team doing their thing at the Market on Saturdays; if not, poke around area farmers' markets and restaurants (or, if all else fails, Whole Foods in Amherst) to savor the goodness.
- E.M. Chruściki Bakery, ☏ . M-F 8AM-4PM, Sa 8AM-5PM. At the Broadway Market, countless Polish confectioners have come and gone, but the Chruściki Bakery is the stalwart original that (despite a marked decline in service and quality over the years) still keeps folks lining up to satisfy their sweet tooth. The namesake product — flat strips of dough twisted into ribbon shapes, deep-fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar — is joined on the shelves by other Polish specialties like pączki, placek, makowiec, and mazurek, plus home-baked rye bread, pierogi, and light prepared lunches.
- Strawberry Island, ☏ . Tu-Sa 10AM-4PM. "We'll dip anything in chocolate" is the saying around here, and that can mean anything from marshmallow Peeps, to roasted nuts, to Twinkies, to the fresh strawberries that gave this place its name. But that's just the beginning of the story: Strawberry Island is also a place to go for only-in-Buffalo specialties like sponge candy (available in regular, dark chocolate or orange chocolate) and Charlie Chaplins.
- Sweet Temptations du Jour, ☏ . Barbara Keating is on hand every Saturday (and daily during Christmas week and Easter season) to satisfy folks' sweet tooth with a pan-European mix of baked goodies — everything from German pfefferneusse cookies to Russian teacakes to Croatian-style apple strudel, and above all, the house specialty, "Sweet Nuthings": crispy sugar waffles dipped in chocolate and topped with candied nuts.
- The Sweet Whisk, ☏ . Tu-Sa 9AM-5PM. Joining the growing ranks of Buffalo-area artisanal chcolatiers is Amanda Page, who invites you to "come to the dark side" where you'll find not only cookies but also "the creamiest crème brûlée around", not to mention the item that she's truly built her reputation with: handcrafted bonbons made with imported Valrhona chocolate that, according to one happy customer, "look like small pieces of art". Prices start on the high side but come down quickly when you buy in bulk; it's worth it in any event for the quality of what you get.
- White Eagle Bakery, ☏ . Tu 10AM-4PM, F Sa 9AM-4PM. Though most famous for their chruściki, the familiar red-and-white boxes of which adorn the shelves at Wegmans and other area supermarkets in the runup to Easter, White Eagle sells the whole lineup of Polish pastries: placek, strudel, cream horns, pastry hearts, and the seasonal favorite pączki which flies off the shelves from Fat Tuesday all the way through to Easter Sunday. As well, wholesome, soft-crust seeded Polish rye bread baked fresh daily makes customers flock in.
- 52 Sloan's Antiques and Modern Furniture, 730 William St. (Metro Bus 1, 2 or 23), ☏ . Th-Sa noon-3PM. A visit to Sloan's is like rummaging through the jumbled treasures in your grandma's attic or basement. What will you find in the jumble? Their Facebook page claims "you will see giant fish, bear skins, disco balls, neon signs, lamps, paintings of all sorts, and of course antiques", but it's actually not quite as diverse and offbeat as all that: the cornerstone of the inventory is fine furniture and home decor of a chronological purview ranging roughly from Late Victorian through Mid-century Modern. Best to call ahead before you show up, as the owners seem to regard their opening hours more as a general rule of thumb.
Furniture and home decor
- 53 National Warehouse Furniture, 919 Broadway (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☏ . M-Sa 10:30AM-5PM, Su by appointment. Since 1995, the name of the game here has been an overwhelming selection of furniture for ever room of the house, in a no-frills warehouse settling just waiting to be browsed through. If the sheer amount of dinette sets, bunk beds, recliners, lamps, mattresses, desks, entertainment centers, bedroom sets, bookcases, ad nauseam is too much for you to wrap your head around, National Warehouse Furniture's helpful and knowledgeable staff are always on hand to help you find the piece that's right for you, and even to give advice on how to arrange it withing your home.
- 54 Prestige Furniture, 1403 Broadway (Metro Bus 4), ☏ . Daily 10AM-4:30PM. "Louie the Furniture Man" is the guy you want to see at Prestige: his place has been family-owned and operated since 1970. And his loyal legions of customers are members of that family too: honest service at some of the best prices in Buffalo is something the folks at Prestige take real pride in (they'll even customize pieces to your specification!) As for the merchandise, it comprises sofas, chairs, bedding, dinette sets, sectionals, lamps, and decorative items, ranges from classic conservative styles to statement-making pieces in bold colors and prints, and invludes brands such as Hughes, Liberty, and Coaster.
- If your visit to old Polonia just won't be complete without some red-and-white Polish souvenir swag, the Broadway Market is the place you want to be. There, you'll find...
- Amber Gems, ☏ . Sa 9:30AM-3PM. The warm-colored, yellowish little gems that gave this place its name are sourced directly from Poland's Baltic Sea shoreline, and adorn a huge range of jewelry including earrings, rings, necklaces and pendants, bracelets, brooches and more. But can also choose from a range of Polish porcelainware, all handpainted the old-fashioned way with lead-free glaze and safe for use in the freezer, dishwasher, oven, or microwave. And if you're in the market for Polish-flag coffee mugs, shot glasses, T-shirts, et cetera, they have you covered.
- Ceramics By Design, ☏ . Sa 8AM-5PM. This is where West Seneca native Audrey Lehr sells a wide variety of brightly colored ceramic figurines, garden gnomes, kitchenware, and seasonal decorative baubles, all handmade by the artist herself. A small selection of jewelry rounds out the offerings at Ceramics By Design.
- Enchanted Market Gifts & Cards, ☏ . Tu-F 10AM-3PM. If you're looking for the perfect kitschy souvenir to remember your visit to the Broadway Market by, Monika Poslinski's gift emporium is the place you want to be: pretty much everything on the shelves is colored red and white and comes emblazoned with the proud Polish falcon. Enchanted Market also sells charming blue and white pottery imported directly from Bolesławiec, Poland's ceramics capital, as well as imported glassware and a selection of English- and Polish-language greeting cards.
- Theresa's Treasures for the Home. Sa 8AM-3PM. "Treasures for the Home" is a bit of a misnomer: the main stock in trade here is a selection of jewelry that runs toward the loud and gaudy (sometimes hilariously so) — large, brightly-colored, and obviously fake gemstones that wouldn't look out of place at a Mardi Gras parade. Kitsch abounds in the housewares selection too: porcelain decorative figurines and kitchenware, cut-glass dishes and goblets, and trinkets such as solar powered dancing animals. High-season visitors will also find painted wooden Easter eggs and other seasonal fare.
- Every Saturday at the Broadway Market, you'll find...
- Fetch! Gourmet Dog Treats, ☏ . The question this place asks its customers is simple but thought-provoking: "if it's not healthy for humans, why feed it to your dog?" True to that philosophy, all of Fetch's all-natural, locally-baked cookies, biscuits, and bones are made with human-grade ingredients, lacking fillers or other chemical preservatives. And Fetch has you and Fido covered for playtime, too: they're a licensed dealer of the West Paw brand of made-in-the-USA dog toys. Stop by the Broadway Market on Saturdays to stock up.
- Grape Country Soaps, ☏ . Sa 9AM-3PM. Grape Country Soaps' name evokes the owners' longtime family business and their hometown of Silver Creek, in the heart of Lake Erie wine country, much more than the ingredients of any of their homemade bath products. Check out their "Aromatherapy Line" of several dozen fragrant soaps with a kaleidoscopic variety of scents and textures (the exfoliating cinnamon oatmeal, cherry almond, and coffee soaps rank among their bestsellers), as well as bath lotions and fizzies, body butters, and accessories such as wooden soap dishes.
Lovejoy and Kaisertown
- 55 European Deli, 1972 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 2), ☏ . Th-F 10AM-5PM, Sa 10AM-2PM, Su 10AM-1PM. With proud red and white flags decorating the front window and ads for Żywiec beer posted all over the walls, it's not hard to guess what's stocked at this small, charming Kaisertown shop: all things Polish and edible. Not surprisingly given its name, front and center among the inventory here are meats — fresh, smoked, and double-smoked kielbasa; kabanosy, kiszka, saucison, Krakus ham, and other delicacies — but you'll also find a range of pastry and baked goods, farmer cheese, herbal tea, and Polish-language books, greeting cards, and videos. Everything is imported directly from Poland, and much of it can't be found elsewhere in Buffalo.
- 56 Federal Bakers (Maple Leaf Foods), 1400 William St. (Metro Bus 1 or 19), ☏ . M-F 8:30AM-5PM, Sa 8:30AM-noon. True to its name, Federal Bakers stocks a variety of provisions for amateur bakers and expert pastry chefs alike. From basics like flour, sugar and buttercream, to hard-to-find specialty items like gum paste and pearl dust, to a variety of utensils and kitchenwares oriented to bakers, the warehouse-style setup is ample enough to house a huge selection of goods, and the excellent helpful service you get from its friendly employees will help you find what you're looking for and answer any questions you may have. Federal Bakers also carries a selection of ready-to-eat prepared desserts in its modest-sized freezer section.
- 57 Slavic Bazaar, 1550 William St. (Metro Bus 1 or 19), ☏ . M-F 9AM-7PM, Sa 9AM-6PM, Su 11AM-3PM. Don't be fooled by the "pig in a frying pan" mural on the side of the building: the selection in the meat case here is dwarfed by what you can get at, say, European Deli on Clinton Street. Where Slavic Bazaar excels is in canned and packaged groceries, as well as frozen foods: there's a pan-Central and Eastern European inventory including spice mixes, chocolates, and a wide range of canned, pickled, and otherwise preserved fruits and vegetables on the shelves, plus delicious house-made pierogi, savory pelmeni, and chilled soups in the cooler cases. And if you just can't wait till you get home to sample the goodness, stop off at the attached lunch counter.
- 58 B West Studio, 1925 Clinton St (Metro Bus 2), ☏ . Sa 1PM-6PM, Su 1PM-4PM, or by appointment. The project of local artist Peter Caruso, who, in addition to his own work (characterized most often by energetic yet anonymous, Impressionist-inspired crowd scenes, often with familiar Buffalo streetscapes as a setting), also displays an eclectic range of works by other artists from Buffalo and around the region, with an emphasis on student works. Many of the high-quality pieces displayed in the gallery are available for sale, generally at $400 or less. Special exhibits are held on a monthly basis.
Delavan-Grider, Humboldt Park, and Genesee-Moselle
Clothing and accessories
- 59 Signature Apparel & Footwear, 592 Walden Ave. (Metro Bus 6, 19 or 22), ☏ . Daily 9AM-11PM. Since 2009, this large Bailey Avenue clothing emporium has been a destination for urban athletic wear and street-level styles that are often preppier than other fashion boutiques on the East Side. At Signature you'll find a wide selection of shoes, as well as lots of name brands: Polo, Timberland, Champion, New Era, and Levi's are only some of them.
With a vibrant Muslim community clustered along Fillmore Avenue north of Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, Humboldt Park is a great place to stock up on fresh halal meats and other ethnic fare.
- 60 Camellia Meats, 1333 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 6, 12, 22 or 24), ☏ . M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa 9AM-3PM. Camellia Meats was born in 1935, and it's still run by the third generation of the Cichocki family, who sell a full line of over fifty fresh-cut meats both here and at their Broadway Market outlet — not only the kiszka, kabanossy, and award-winning Polish sausage with which they've made their name, but multitudinous mouth-watering cuts of beef, pork, chicken, and fish, deli meats and cheeses, and a small selection of fresh produce and prepared foods.
- Desi Khabba, 898 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 6, 22, 23 or 24), ☏ . Daily 9AM-7PM. Desi Khabba is best known as home of some truly out-of-this-world halal takeout, but if you'd rather try your hand at making your own version of this delicious cuisine, have no fear: they stock everything you need, from fresh meats to vegetables to an amazing selection of spices, plus hummus and tahini, fresh pita bread, delicious fruit juices, frozen foods, and more. You can even find traditional Muslim clothing such as hijabs and abayat here.
- 61 Walden Halal Groceries, 57 Walden Ave. (Metro Bus 6, 22, 23 or 24), ☏ . W-M 11AM-8PM. Featuring a mix of ethnic specialty groceries from the Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent that prominently includes a range of superior-quality hand-slaughtered halal meats available directly to customers or sold wholesale to area restaurants. If you have a specific order in mind, you can even deliver it to the store via text and they'll have it waiting for you when you arrive. Walden Halal also sells fresh produce, an impressive variety of spices, and bodega fare such as snacks, candy, and cold drinks. Keep in mind, though, that the store closes during Friday prayers, and customer service is limited by the staff's tenuous grasp of English.
- 62 Zubaidah Halal Meat & Grocery, 59 Walden Ave. (Metro Bus 6, 22, 23 or 24), ☏ . Daily 10AM-10PM. From the outside, this little place in Humboldt Park looks like the perfect spot to pick up a cold pop, candy bar or salty snack — and indeed, if you're in the market for something like that, you won't be disappointed. But Zubaidah is much more than just another corner bodega. The accent among the international selection of groceries touted on the sign out front is on halal Middle Eastern and South Asian meats and fish, spices, and a modest selection of fresh produce. Zubaidah is also a source for clothing, including both Western and traditional Muslim garb.
Furniture and home decor
- 63 The Guild @ 980, 980 Northampton St. (Metro Bus 12, 22 or 24), ☏ . Tu, F & Sa 9AM-4PM. The Guild @ 980 is operated by ReUse Action, whose raison d'être is salvaging construction materials, architectural elements, and furnishings from soon-to-be-demolished homes, refurbishing them, and offering them up for resale, thus preserving the old-school craftsmanship of the original items while simultaneously conserving raw materials and preventing waste from building up in landfills. If you're not in the middle of a home construction project, you can still peruse a pretty nifty selection of antique furniture and home decor — or check out the small art gallery on the third floor.
The East Side is not the part of Buffalo you head for when you want a ritzy haute cuisine experience, but that's not to say the restaurant scene there isn't interesting. It's a heady brew that includes elements from all facets of the area's identity and history: in Broadway-Fillmore old neighborhood gin mills double as homestyle Polish eateries, north of there you have your pick of take-out joints specializing in halal South Asian cuisine, and all over the district you can find some of the best off-the-beaten-path barbecue and soul food restaurants in the region. The one thread that unites them all is the price point — the East Side is where you'll find some of Buffalo's best and cheapest food.
|This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:|
The Bailey Avenue strip has the most diverse and interesting range of eateries on the East Side. If you like Jamaican, you'll be especially pleased with your options.
- 1 Baba's Place, 3319 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 19 or 32), ☏ . M-F 9AM-6PM. "Ethnically influenced comfort food" (their words, and perhaps the best possible description of said food) is the name of the game at this tiny, spartan Greek diner: gyro, souvlaki, and other favorites served the traditional way — with pita bread and a Greek salad on the side — or on sub rolls. Either way, expect huge portions and second-to-none quality that both belie the low prices you pay. If that doesn't tickle your fancy, there's a range of other pita-pocket sandwiches and "pita tacos" to choose from, shish kebabs and a truly delicious rice pudding, and American diner staples as well. $10-20.
- 2 Bailey Seafood, 3316 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 19 or 32), ☏ . M-Th Sa 11AM-8PM, F 9AM-9PM. Part seafood market selling shrimp and crab legs by the pound to cook at home, part take-out spot specializing in tasty treats from the briny deep: there's a good reason why East Siders brave ubiquitous crowds and endless lines to enjoy what Bailey Seafood has to offer. Simply put, the food here is really, really good, with shipments of high-quality product arriving daily. The marquee item is the "Haddock Super Sandwich", a feast that truly lives up to its superlative name, but frankly it would be useless to try to summarize the gargantuan menu in any succinct way: just know that pretty much anything you can think of that's aquatic and edible is on the menu, along with plenty of non-seafood items, and if you like Southern cuisine, you'll especially want to give Bailey Seafood a try. $10-25.
- 3 Captain of the Sea Fish & Chicken, 3038 Bailey Ave. (Entrance facing Kensington Ave.; Metro Bus 13, 19 or 32), ☏ . M-Sa 10AM-8PM. Sad to say, Captain of the Sea will probably always stand in the shadow of its big brother up the street, Bailey Seafood: in terms of consistency, local renown, and size and diversity of the menu, the latter is simply in a league of its own. That's a shame, because at its best, the delicacies served up here can ably hold their own with the competition. And there's something to be said for a menu that's easy to wrap your head around: it's no more complex than various species of fish and seafood breaded and deep-fried to a crisp, served with French fries or, if you like, massive unsplit chicken wings prepared basically the same way. Service is friendly and lightning-fast, and the dessert case (something Bailey Seafood doesn't have) is full of scrumptious treats. Take-out only. $10-25.
- 4 Caribbean Experience, 2897 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13 or 19), ☏ . Tu-Th 12:15PM-10PM, F 12:30PM-4AM, Sa 1:30PM-4AM. The "experience" here is astoundingly good, if a bit strange at first: ring the buzzer out front, whereupon you'll be met at the door led to the counter in the back of the building to order your food, then double back to a large, sparsely but pleasantly decorated dining room to await your meal. Caribbean Experience's menu sticks to the standards, but does so with aplomb: the jerk chicken is flavored perfectly, not overpowering in its spiciness but with a meaty, somewhat smoky aroma and none of the sweetness that you occasionally find in other Jamaican eateries, and the delicious authenticity carries over to the rest of the menu as well. All meals are served with fried plantains, red beans and rice, and they'll smother it with spicy jerk gravy if you want — highly recommended. $10-20.
- 5 Mike's Steak Joint, 3355 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 19 or 32), ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-1AM, Su 11AM-10PM. If you're looking to nurse a hangover after a night of bar-hopping in nearby University Heights, Mike's menu is frequently described as a tastier and cheaper version of Jim's Steakout. As you might have inferred from the full name of the place, steak is the marquee ingredient: Mike's claim to have invented the steak taco is dubious at best, but that doesn't make it any less delicious, and the "Steak in the Hood" hoagie comes with pork sausage in addition to the titular filling. Aside from steak, Mike's serves a full range of hot and cold subs, burgers, sausage sandwiches, chicken wings and fingers, and tacos. They deliver, too. $10-20.
- 6 Pho 99 (99 Fast Food Restaurant), 3398 Bailey Ave (Metro Bus 12, 13 or 19), ☏ . M-F 10:30AM-10PM, Sa 10AM-10PM, Su 10AM-8:30PM. Though Buffalo's first Vietnamese restaurant can no longer claim the title of Buffalo's best Vietnamese restaurant — consensus says the experience here has suffered since new management took over, and that's not to mention all the competitors that have sprung up since the place opened in 1999 (hence its name) — this place still gets crowded at lunchtime, especially with students and faculty of the nearby South Campus of the University at Buffalo. The Vietnamese soup that gives the restaurant its name is joined on the menu by a wide range of vermicelli bowls, fried rice plates, and meat-based entrees, all passable in quality if not quite as spectacular as what you can find at Pho Dollar on the West Side. Service is friendly if sometimes slow. $10-20.
- 7 Kensington Avenue Pizzeria, 1463 Kensington Ave (At Cleve-Hill Plaza; Metro Bus 12 or 32), ☏ . M-Th 10AM-10:30PM, F Sa 10AM-11PM. A true conundrum: locals are equally likely to praise the deliciousness of the food here as to denounce the slow service, "rough around the edges" waitstaff, and high-ish prices. Kensington Pizza does earn points for its expansive menu, though: the sign outside touts "the largest variety of pizzeria foods around", which is too modest; this place's oeuvre spreads far beyond mere "pizzeria foods", with a full range of sandwiches and burgers, pasta and other Italian specialties, Southern-style fried chicken, some Greek diner fare, even Puerto Rican food like pastelillos and pernil. If you do want pizza, come hungry: the "Kitchen Sink Pizza" — with pepperoni, sausage, bacon, ham, onions, mushrooms, green and black olives, and sweet and hot peppers — is the odds-on favorite. $10-30.
The following pizzerias are in Kensington-Bailey and Kensington Heights. 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.
- 9 Bailey Avenue Pizza, 2916 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13 or 19), ☏ . M-Th noon-11PM, F-Su 1PM-11PM.
- 10 Lovebirds Halal Pizza & Fried Chicken, 1393 Kensington Ave. (Metro Bus 12 or 32), ☏ . Th-Tu Noon-11PM. Halal pizza, so there ya go.
The following local chains have locations in Kensington-Bailey and Kensington Heights. Descriptions of these restaurants can be found on the main Buffalo page.
Midtown, Cold Spring, and other Near East Side areas
- 12 Dnipro Café, 562 Genesee St (Metro Bus 6, 18, 24 or 29), ☏ . F 4PM-9PM. Every Friday evening at the Dnipro Center — an ethnic club and gathering place for Buffalo's Ukrainian community for over eighty years — the spacious rathskeller is converted to a restaurant serving a mix of Ukrainian and American specialties. While they're decently executed, the American foods on the menu are mostly simple, uninspired fare that you could find in any roadside diner. But you're at the Dnipro Center, so it'd be a crime anyway not to go ethnic: start off with an appetizer of borscht, then choose from a slate of options that includes holubtsi (cabbage rolls), varenyky (Ukrainian-style pierogi), and more. Or, if you're really hungry, opt for the "UKE Combo" which combines both of the above plus savory kovbasa sausage, tangy sauerkraut, and dark rye bread. $10-25.
- 13 Myracle's Soul Food and More, 200 William St. (Metro Bus 1, 2, 4 or 6), ☏ . M-Th noon-7PM, F Sa noon-9PM, Su noon-5PM. With a menu jam-packed with Southern-fried deliciousness, the hearty homestyle soul food served up at Myracle's is truly worthy of such a moniker. Shrimp 'n grits never disappoint, downhome sides include candied yams liberally seasoned with cinnamon, and you can even choose among a slate of harder-to-find options such as savory oxtail stew. But as the "And More" in the name implies, the story doesn't end there: if your tastes lie elsewhere, choose from a selection of 8- and 12-inch grilled hoagies, loaded fries, chicken wings in a variety of sauces, and heartier mains such as pork chops and ribeye steak. Prices trend high, but the ampleness of the portions goes a long way toward justifying them, and service is of the kind that turns lookie-loos into loyal repeat customers. $10-25.
- 14 Solo Eats, 261 E. Ferry St. (Metro Bus 13 or 18), ☏ . M-W 6AM-11PM, Th-Sa 6AM-2:30AM, Su 9AM-8PM. The claim that the Buffalo chicken wing was invented not at the Anchor Bar but here, by John Young in the late '50s when the place was called Wings & Things, is spurious but oft-repeated among East Siders. Despite that, wings still make up a cornerstone of the menu at Solo Eats — either classic Buffalo-style with varying levels of spice or a small but tantalizing range of specialty sauces — and you'll also find a wide selection of other simple, affordable lunch fare such as sandwiches, burgers, fries, tacos, and pizza, as well as a full breakfast menu. Best of all, every meal eaten here is a good deed done: Solo Eats is staffed entirely by members of the Re-Entry Mentoring Program, whereby formerly incarcerated folks are offered jobs as a way to transition back into law-abiding society. $10-25.
- 15 The Soul Place, 479 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 6, 18 or 24), ☏ . Tu-Su 10AM-8PM. Despite the name of this place — and despite the lofty reputation its downhome favorites have earned among locals — The Soul Place's menu does not hew strictly to the soul food template. Alongside classics like barbecue ribs, cornbread, fried chicken, collard greens, and mac & cheese you'll find on the menu familiar but well-done fast food-style fare like chicken fingers (served wrapped in newspaper, fish and chips-style), burgers, wings, steak hoagies, even tacos on Tuesday. Your food comes served in Styrofoam containers with plastic silverware — fine dining this isn't, but if anything, that speaks to the authenticity of the food — or else take your food to go. $10-20.
- 16 Swings, 2280 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 8 or 23; Metro Rail: Amherst Street), ☏ . Daily noon-3PM & 5PM-midnight. Buffalo's culinary history is a cautionary tale littered with failed attempts to reinvent the chicken wing. Swings is one of the rare success stories in that department. Short for "specialty wings", the iterations sold at Kobie Lewis' Fillmore Avenue walk-up window have won five National Buffalo Wing Festival trophies, so clearly the strategy of working within the limitations of the source material has paid off. The variety of flavors is ample, if not quite as much so as at Wing Kings, Buffalo's reigning champion of creative wings: choose from standards like barbecue, lemon pepper, garlic parm, and of course classic Buffalo style with varying levels of heat, plus a well-curated selection of oddballs such as taco-seasoned wings. $15-25.
- 17 Trini's Tropical, 1632 Jefferson Ave. (Metro Bus 8, 13, 18, 26 or 29; Metro Rail: Delavan-Canisius College), ☏ . M-F 11AM-5PM, Sa noon-6PM. For those familiar with island cuisine, Trini's small menu doesn't contain any surprises: curry chicken, jerk wings, and oxtail are the best-loved options, but you can also get brown stew chicken, a variety of different roti, and Jamaican patties with beef or chicken. Everything comes with heaping sides of steamed cabbage and red beans and rice, and uniquely among area Caribbean restaurants, the staff can adjust the level of spiciness to your taste. Trini's ambience is strictly no-frills — food is served in Styrofoam trays and eaten with plastic silverware — but the staff is as friendly as can be, and the sweet strains of classic soca and calypso music complete the picture.
The Near East Side is the only part of the district that has anything approaching an upscale dining scene.
- 18 Chef's, 291 Seneca St. (Metro Bus 15 or 16), ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-9PM. Since 1923, Chef's has been serving hearty Italian cuisine that is comparatively adventurous for neighborhood family-style establishments of its kind. Entrees range from familiar fare such as veal and chicken parmigiana, chicken cacciatore, lasagna, and spaghetti to more elegant selections such as dandelion salad. Reasonable prices and generous portions. Buffalonians love this place. $15-40.
- 19 Oakk Room, 1435 Main St (Metro Bus 8, 11, 12, 13 or 25; Metro Rail: Utica), ☏ . W Th 4PM-midnight, F Sa 4PM-1AM. The Oakk Room presents an upscale and Jamaican-influenced take on classic soul food, or, as one reviewer put it, "comfort food jazzed with exotic spices". The small menu places a definite emphasis on seafood — crab cakes, fish and grits, and a Friday-night beer-battered fish fry are popular — but if you'd prefer to indulge in some of those island flavors, opt instead for jerk chicken and curry fish. Martinis at the bar hit the spot, too. $15-35.
- 20 Tops, 1275 Jefferson Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 18 or 29), ☏ . Daily 7AM-10PM. It is hard to forget what happened here on one tragic day that made national headlines.
Delavan-Bailey and Schiller Park
- 21 Park Vue Bar & Restaurant, 34 S. Crossman St. (Metro Bus 24), ☏ . Th 5PM-10PM, F Sa 3PM-10PM, Su noon-6PM. Nestled in a verdant setting on a side street at the edge of Schiller Park (hence the name), this address is best known among Buffalonians as the original location of Scharf's, which dished out hearty German-American pub grub to a steadily dwindling crowd of neighborhood old-timers for nearly half a century before finally closing up shop in 2014. Nowadays, though, soul food is the name of the game at the Park Vue. The hours of operation are not what you'd call extensive, but if you can catch the place open, you're in for a feast of barbecue ribs, fried chicken, mac & cheese, and other finger-lickin'-good favorites, an ambience that's as down-to-earth as the old place but also a lot less gritty, and service that's the definition of old-fashioned Southern hospitality. $10-30.
- 22 Farm Fresh Market, 2724 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12 or 19), ☏ . Daily 7AM-11PM.
If Polish cuisine is your thing, Broadway-Fillmore is where you want to be.
- If browsing through the meat counters and produce stands at the Broadway Market has made you work up an appetite, you have several options (Polish and otherwise) to choose from. In the market itself there are several stalls where you're served from steam trays, cafeteria-style; there are a few picnic tables nearby where you can stop and eat. At Potts Deli, you sit at bar stools set up along an old-fashioned diner counter in a pleasantly secluded location toward the back of the market building, next to Save-a-Lot and the meat counters.
- East-West Café, ☏ . M-Sa 9AM-4PM. Take the respective halves of this place's name to mean "Eastern Europe" and "Western New York", and you'll have a pretty accurate idea of the menu here. At East-West Café, you're just as apt to nosh on Polish specialties like gołąbki (cabbage rolls), tangy czernina (duck blood soup), and huge, mouth-watering Polish sausage dogs that dwarf the buns they're served on (condiments are around the corner from the cash register) as you are to enjoy local favorites like beef on weck, fried bologna sandwiches or fish fry. As a bonus, sides such as chili mac and collard greens add a soul food element to the mix. $5-15.
- E.M. Chruściki Bakery, ☏ . M-F 8AM-4PM, Sa 8AM-5PM. Chruściki and other pastries are the main stock in trade of this longtime Broadway Market vendor, but if you're hungry for something a bit more substantial, take a seat at their lunch counter and nosh on one of a limited range of Polish-American specialties: pierogi platters; tasty kielbasa sandwiches with sauerkraut and horseradish; a selection of wraps; bagels and sliced placek in the morning. $10-15.
- Margie's Soul Food, ☏ . M-Sa 8AM-5PM. Wherein Margie Hawkins cooks up the most authentic takes on fried chicken, mac & cheese, barbecue ribs (with a delightful tinge of raspberry in the glaze), and peach cobbler that you can find anywhere in the area. But that's not all: the menu also includes some more esoteric regional specialties like pigs' trotters and oxtail that are worth a try if you're in an adventurous mood. If you've ever been down South to a "meat and three" joint, the setup will be instantly familiar to you, but at Margie's it's "meat and two" — that is, you choose from a meat-based main course and two side dishes, plus cornbread and a biscuit, served to you cafeteria-style in Styrofoam takeout containers. $10-15.
- Potts Deli & Grille, ☏ . M-F 8AM-5PM, Sa 9AM-4PM. If you're in the mood for Polish food, don't be put off by the fact that the menu Potts' Broadway Market location tilts more heavily toward standard American comfort food by comparison to the original one in Cheektowaga: the high-ish price of the pierogi is justified by both quality and portion size, there's gołąbki and kielbasa (smoked only, no fresh) to savor, and the "Polish platter" combines all three of the foregoing plus sauerkraut and mashed potatoes on the side. As for the American selections, standard diner fare is the order of the day, along with a small selection of local favorites like fried bologna and Wardynski's hot dogs. $5-20.
- 23 Aladdin Grill House, 754 Sycamore St. (Metro Bus 4, 6, 23 or 24), ☏ . Daily 10AM-11PM. Aladdin's menu of North Indian and Pakistani cuisine is well-executed, even if you won't find many surprises among the fairly standard-issue range of curries, biryani (the chicken tikka biryani comes especially highly recommended, though you can also get it with beef, goat, and even shrimp), kebabs, samosas, and the like. The ambience is oddly disjointed, too, with sleek Scandinavian Modern-style overhead sconces seeming out of place among a spartan (though impeccably clean) interior without so much as a picture hanging on the wall. $10-25.
- 24 Alibaba Kebab, 900 William St. (Metro Bus 1 or 23), ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-midnight, Closed Su. It's got no ambience or even any seating to speak of, but if you've got a hankering for 100% halal North Indian and Pakistani cuisine, head to the corner of William Street and Memorial Drive for the East Side's consensus-favorite purveyor. Tandoori chicken is the specialty of the house at Alibaba Kebab — 'over rice' boxes, perfectly seasoned and bursting with flavor, flies off the shelves — but they've also got a variety of curries, seekh and boti kebabs, and even Levantine specialties such as shawarma and gyro on offer. Best of all, if you're used to the sticker shock that comes at the end of many a meal at Buffalo-area Indian restaurants, prepare for a pleasant surprise — especially given the generous portions! $10-25.
- 25 Bay Leaf, 864 Broadway (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☏ . Daily 10AM-10PM. Indian restaurants are not altogether rare in the Buffalo area, but for those locals who've been overseas and sampled the real deal on its own turf, finding anything approaching that level of authenticity has been a fool's errand. No more! Enter Bay Leaf, where the chicken, beef, goat, and even shrimp curries come fragrantly spiced and bursting with flavor, a wide range of delicious boti and seekh kebabs await those in search of a cheap light meal, and the specialty of the house is aromatic Bengali-style morag polao, a dish available nowhere else in Buffalo. And if your palate is a bit more timid, never fear: you can choose instead from a diner-style menu of hot and cold sandwiches, burgers, fried chicken, and pizza. $10-25.
- 26 Madina Halal Restaurant, 125 Mills St. (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☏ . Daily 10:30AM-8:30PM. Catering to the entire spectrum of the East Side's Islamic community, the menu at this spartan hole-in-the-wall is split between Middle Eastern and South Asian specialties: among the former are tasty "New York City-style" gyros made with lamb, chicken or a combination of the two, while folks from the latter communities line up for delicious platters of curry or biryani (available with chicken, beef or goat in both cases), tandoori chicken (flame-broiled, smoky but not too smoky), and a range of ethnic sweets that are the specialty of the house. Whichever you opt for, prepare for an experience that's as authentic and delicious as you'll find anywhere in town — and mind your manners; this is the kind of place where an as-salaam alaykum when you walk in the door goes a long way. $5-15.
- R&L Lounge, 23 Mills St. (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☏ . M-Th 11AM-7PM, F 11AM-9PM. An honest-to-goodness throwback to old Polonia that's been going strong for the better part of a century, where old Genesee Beer ads share space on the wood-panelled barroom walls with tacked-up pictures of the Virgin Mary. R&L's food menu is limited in size but impeccable in quality: owner Lottie Pikuzinski's take on gołąbki is light as air and delicious, and her handmade pierogi are elegant in their simplicity, standing up well on their own merits without any of the traditional accompaniments like sautéed onions and sour cream. Most popular of all, though, is the Friday fish fry: it's standing room only during Lent. Keep in mind that this is a small, family-run operation, so the place sometimes closes without notice and can run out of food on a particularly busy day. It's always best to call ahead. $10-20.
- 27 Shy's Original Steak House, 690 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-midnight. Consensus from those who make it this far off the usual restaurant circuit is that Shy's serves the best steak hoagies in Buffalo — enormous concoctions (one serves at least two) piled high with melted cheese, onions, peppers, mushrooms and other fixins, plus a gargantuan helping of meat that's finely chopped, perfectly seasoned with an ineffable secret sauce, and so juicy it drips from the bread. Jim's Steakout, Mike's on Bailey Avenue, even the Wegmans sub shop all pale in comparison. Drawbacks include the postage stamp-sized dining room (takeout is understandably a popular option) and service that, while unfailingly friendly, is sometimes slow. $10-15.
- 28 Al Mandy Restaurant, 797 Broadway (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☏ . M-W F 9AM-6PM, Th 9AM-8PM, Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 11AM-4PM. Appropriately enough from a geographic perspective, Yemeni food is an infatuating and truly unique hybrid of Middle Eastern, Ethiopian, and Indian culinary elements — and no matter whether you're tucking into a heaping plate of deliciously tender and delectably spiced chicken mandi, a steaming bowl of ogdat stew made with lamb and vegetables, a serving of the national dish, haneeth, with your choice of either of the foregoing meats, or a full range of Yemeni breakfast specialties, at Al Mandy you're getting the real deal. Everything served here is certified zabiha halal and of topnotch quality; prices are high by East Side standards, though that's not saying much, and the food is worth it in any case. $15-25.
Much more than just the Broadway Market, the East Side's densest concentration of supermarkets and food shops can be found on the stretch of Broadway between Fillmore and Bailey Avenues.
- 29 Buffalo Fresh, 1018 Broadway (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☏ . Daily 9AM-9PM. Buffalo Fresh is to the East Side what Vineeta International Foods is to the West Side: a destination for ethnic groceries that's no mere specialty store, but a full-fledged supermarket. Awaiting you are aisle after aisle of shelf-stable packaged groceries such as staple grains, cooking oils, and snacks, a huge selection of reasonably-priced bulk spices, well-stocked freezer cases, and best of all, copious fresh produce and a butcher section full of 100% halal meats. If you plan to self-cater during your visit to Buffalo and you're a fan of Middle Eastern or South Asian cuisines, look no further.
The following pizzerias are in Broadway-Fillmore. 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.
- 30 The Hot Spot, 959 Broadway (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-8PM.
- 31 Metro Pizza, 920 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 2 or 23), ☏ . Daily 10:30AM-10:30PM.
Lovejoy and Kaisertown
- 32 Lucky's Texas Red Hots, 1903 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 2), ☏ . M-Th 6AM-1PM, F Sa 7AM-noon, Su 7AM-3PM. Lucky's Texas Hots is a neighborhood institution in Kaisertown, serving up "slime dogs" and other fresh-off-the-grill goodies seemingly forever at their humble Clinton Street storefront. The local specialty that makes up 75% of the restaurant's name is Lucky's main claim to fame, but its variation of the Texas hot doesn't quite stack up: local consensus says the sauce has a bland, somewhat off-putting flavor. You're better off sticking to the other offerings, which consist of summery fare like grilled chicken sandwiches, sausage dogs, burgers, and Philly-style cheesesteak sandwiches. An upside is that service is friendly and efficient, and breakfast is served all day. $5-15.
- Slavic Bazaar, 1550 William St. (Metro Bus 1 or 19), ☏ . M-F 9AM-7PM, Sa 9AM-6PM, Su 11AM-3PM. If you happen to work up an appetite shopping for your favorite Eastern European imports in the attached grocery store, Slavic Bazaar also has a lunch counter where you can sink your teeth into mouth-watering pierogi (cooked in the Ukrainian style, smaller and denser than their Polish cousins), hot, sizzling sausage, and more. $5-10.
- 33 La Verdad Cafe, 1132 E. Lovejoy St. (Metro Bus 1 or 19), ☏ . Tu W 11:30AM-6PM, Th 11:30AM-7PM, F 11:30AM-8PM, Sa 11AM-5PM. The name is Spanish, but the menu is all-American: this former barbershop in Lovejoy serves some of the best barbecue in Buffalo, and that's "the truth". The catch is that it usually comes in sandwich form only — try "The Stretch Mark", wherein slow-roasted smoked brisket is piled high on a Kaiser roll with mac & cheese and kale-apple slaw on the side, or better yet the burnt-ends sandwich which is arguably their bestseller — the exception being Friday nights, where combo platters prominently feature falling-off-the-bone-good ribs. The decor splits the difference between rustic roadhouse and charming country café, and the friendly service is as downhome as the food. $10-30.
- 34 Carbone's, 1126 E. Lovejoy St. (Metro Bus 1 or 19), ☏ . Su-Th 11AM-11PM, F Sa 11AM-midnight.
- 35 Desi's, 1816 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 2), ☏ . M 4PM-10PM, W-Sa 4PM-11PM, Su 4PM-9PM.
- 36 Guzzo's Hot Spot, 1960 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 2), ☏ . Tu-Th 3PM-midnight, F Sa 3PM-2AM, Su 2PM-midnight.
- 37 Lovejoy Pizzeria, 1244 E. Lovejoy St. (Metro Bus 1), ☏ . M-Th 11AM-10:30PM, F Sa 11AM-11PM, Su 3PM-10PM.
- 38 Pizza By Molino's, 1974 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 2), ☏ . Tu-Th 11AM-10PM, F Sa 11AM-11PM, Su 11AM-9PM.
- 39 Pizza Express, 1993 Broadway (Metro Bus 4), ☏ . M-Th 10AM-10:30PM, F Sa 10AM-11:30PM, Su 10AM-10PM.
Delavan-Grider, Humboldt Park, and Genesee-Moselle
Soul food and barbecue, barbecue and soul food — if downhome Southern cuisine is what you crave, you'll find it here in the heart of the East Side.
- 40 Desi Khabba Halal Restaurant, 898 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 6, 22, 23 or 24), ☏ . Daily 9AM-7PM. Featuring some of the best takeout halal food you'll find in Western New York: a range of Middle Eastern and South Asian dishes including chicken, goat and lamb curries, biryani, and even halal pizza ladled out for you from steam trays for some jaw-droppingly low prices. Mohsin, the owner, is a friendly, larger-than-life character who imbues the place with a boisterous spirit that's light-years from the taciturn surliness of other halal food store personnel. And if you'd rather stock up on ingredients for your own halal cooking, that's an option as well. $10-15.
- 41 G&B Fish, Shrimp and Chicken, 1532 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 6, 12, 22 or 24), ☏ . M-W 11AM-10:30PM, Th-Sa 11AM-12:30AM. Hearty, homestyle comfort food is what the titular fish, shrimp, and chicken get fashioned into at this neighborhood-favorite takeout joint. On the short but sweet menu at G&B chicken wings and fingers, burgers, and huge sloppy steak hoagies all have their place, but what customers really flock here for is the fish fry: a big ol' slab of your choice of haddock, catfish, or ocean perch breaded, fried up golden brown, and served alongside mounds of fresh-cut French fries and coleslaw; a steal at $11. Customer service is a bit spotty, but the food itself never disappoints. $10-25.
- Happy Swallow, 1349 Sycamore St. (Metro Bus 6 or 22), ☏ . F 3PM-8PM. Six days of the week, the Happy Swallow enjoys a placid existence as an old-school neighborhood gin mill. But on Friday evenings only, the kitchen opens up and visitors flock in to enjoy hearty, homestyle Polish dinners at prices that take you back almost as many years as the Happy Swallow itself. Fish fry is the main attraction — either yellow pike or traditional haddock, either breaded or battered — and it's really good. If that's not your thing, try fried shrimp or scallops, or a grand seafood platter that includes both of those plus a half-serving of fish, or pierogies with cheese, sauerkraut or potato. $10-20.
- 42 Ike & BG's Ribs, 1646 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 12, 19 or 24), ☏ . Tu Sa 11AM-8PM, F 11AM-11PM. Ike's is just a tiny little takeout joint on a desolate stretch of Genesee Street that's only open three days a week, but the Southern-style barbecue fare they dish out is so good that it'd be unthinkable to leave them out of this article. In case you couldn't figure it out from the name of this place, at Ike & BG's the name of the game is ribs — meaty, mouthwatering half- and full racks of pork ribs come slathered with a super-spicy hot barbecue sauce that "will burn your soul", in the words of one especially feisty reviewer. There's also dinner specials of fried or barbecued chicken, barbecue fish, steak hoagies, and more. And don't forget the mac and cheese, coleslaw, and other stick-to-your-ribs (no pun intended!) sides. $10-25.
- 43 Ms. Goodies, 1836 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 6, 19 or 22), ☏ . M-W Sa 7AM-2:30PM, Th F Su 8AM-7PM. The specialty that put Ms. Goodies on the map is something they call the "junkyard dog", which is a hard concept to wrap your head around at first — sort of a cross between a hot dog, a taco, and a fish fry, this odd concoction consists of a fried haddock filet, French fries, and coleslaw slathered with hot sauce and stuffed into a flour tortilla — yet delicious enough to have won multiple awards at the Taste of Buffalo. Aside from that, the menu sports a Southern bent: breakfast features delicious Southern-style chicken and waffles, while on Friday nights you can indulge in a after a soul-food take on Buffalo fish fry. $10-20.
- 44 Community Food & Meat Market, 535 Walden Ave. (Metro Bus 6, 19 or 22), ☏ . M-Sa 8AM-9PM, Su 8AM-8PM.
- 45 Super Price Choppers, 1580 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 12, 22 or 24), ☏ . M-Sa 8AM-11PM, Su 8AM-10:30PM.
- 46 Bonetti's, 697 Walden Ave. (Metro Bus 6, 19 or 22), ☏ . M-Sa 3PM-11PM.
- 47 Bailey-N-Doat Pizza, 2028 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 6, 12, 19, 22 or 24), ☏ . M-Sa 4PM-midnight.
- 48 Jeoni's, 1085 E. Ferry St. (Metro Bus 12 or 13), ☏ . M-Th 11AM-11PM, F Sa 11AM-3AM.
The East Side's bar scene is definitely off the beaten path for local drinkers, but it's got plenty to offer those hungry (or, rather, thirsty) for a taste of the rapidly disappearing, rough-and-tumble, blue-collar Buffalo of old. Again, locals will advise against you crossing to the other side of Main Street, but as long as you use common sense and keep your wits about you in the rougher areas, you should be fine.
- 1 Phat Catz, 965 Kensington Ave. (Metro Bus 13, 19 or 32), ☏ .
Midtown, Cold Spring, and other Near East Side areas
- 2 The Bird Cage, 475 Northampton St. (Metro Bus 12, 18, 22 or 29), ☏ .
- 3 Buffalo Brewing Company, 314 Myrtle Ave (Metro Bus 2, 15 or 18), ☏ . Come to this artisanal nanobrewery in the Ellicott District to enjoy any of their four flagship beers on draft (easily the favorite among which is "1842", a toasty Vienna lager made with imported hops whose name commemorates the invention of the grain elevator by Buffalo milling magnate Joseph Dart) plus a changing selection of seasonal offerings; stay for a pretty impressive collection of artifacts from Buffalo's long and storied brewing history.
- 4 Central Park Grill, 2519 Main St. (Metro Bus 8, 23 or 32; Metro Rail: Amherst Street), ☏ .
- 5 The Four One Six, 416 William St. (Metro Bus 1, 2, 4 or 18), ☏ .
- 6 Golden Nuggett Inn, 2046 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 23), ☏ .
- 7 Mike's Lounge, 1343 Jefferson Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 18 or 29), ☏ .
- 8 Pandora's Sports Bar, 2261 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 8 or 23; Metro Rail: Amherst Street), ☏ .
- 9 E. M. Tea Coffee Cup Café, 80 Oakgrove Ave. (Metro Bus 8, 26 or 29; Metro Rail: Humboldt-Hospital), ☏ . M-W 7:30AM-6PM, Th F 7:30AM-7PM, Sa 8AM-4PM, Su 9AM-2PM. It's tucked away on a quiet side street in Hamlin Park and has been described as a "neighborhood corner cafe of some amorphic past decade", so naturally if you're looking for a relaxed and low-key ambience, E. M. Tea does the trick. The coffee selection is not the widest in the world, but it's reliably delicious, specialty brews are featured from time to time, and the price is more than fair; the more extensive food menu includes breakfast sandwiches on house-baked croissants plus hearty diner-style fare at lunchtime (and don't miss the jerk chicken soup). But E. M. Tea is probably best known as the cradle of Buffalo's tight-knit poetry scene, a tradition carried on at monthly open-mic nights every third Saturday.
- 10 Golden Cup, 1323 Jefferson Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 18 or 29), ☏ . M-F 7AM-7PM, Sa 7AM-3PM. First and foremost, this anonymous-looking storefront on Jefferson Avenue is a roastery, distributing its own fresh-roasted coffee and high-grade tea to restaurants, offices, and other sites around the region — which is probably why it's not on the radar of most Buffalo caffeine aficionados. That's a shame, because the flipside of that is that you know the coffee served at their cozy, homey onsite café is fresh as can be: a myriad of varieties each bursting with flavor, with the common thread being that they all go down smooth and easy (even the decaf varieties!) Plus they'll also sell you beans by the pound, sourced from a variety of countries worldwide. They've got quite the extensive food menu too, with both breakfast and lunch options.
Delavan-Bailey and Schiller Park
- 11 Sweets Lounge, 2 Schreck Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 19 or 26), ☏ .
Alongside Lovejoy and Kaisertown, old Polonia is the hub of the East Side's bar scene. The bars in this neighborhood split the difference between African-American hangouts and blue-collar watering holes that are holdovers from bygone days.
- 12 Arty's Grill, 508 Peckham St. (Metro Bus 1 or 23), ☏ .
- 13 Club 77, 1614 Broadway (Metro Bus 4 or 19), ☏ .
- 14 Laurel & Hardy Café, 1388 Broadway (Metro Bus 4 or 6), ☏ .
- 15 Macky's Shamrock Room, 1634 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 19), ☏ .
- 16 Nate's Place, 1038 Smith St. (Metro Bus 1, 4 or 23), ☏ .
- 17 R&L Lounge, 23 Mills St. (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☏ . Perhaps the best description of R&L was given by the reviewer who compared it to "sitting around the kitchen table with relatives". Grandmotherly barkeep Lottie Pikuzinski is nothing if not fully engaged with her customers — the philosophy she expounds ("A bartender is like a psychiatrist... a lot of bars don't make it because they're not trained to be people's people; they're only trained to pour drinks", as quoted in the Buffalo News) means she's liable to come over to your table and talk your ear off, dishing on the latest neighborhood gossip or showing off old family photos. And if you're hungry, handmade pierogi or Friday fish fry make for the perfect accompaniments.
Lovejoy and Kaisertown
At the gin mills of Lovejoy and Kaisertown, you'll find all of the blue-collar grit and off-the-tourist-track feel of the bar scene in Broadway-Fillmore, but not quite as much of the old-Buffalo charm. It's definitely a safer part of town, though, especially at night.
- 18 Daren's Tavern, 514 Howard St. (Metro Bus 1, 2 or 23), ☏ .
- 19 Malik's Twilight Grill, 494 Howard St. (Metro Bus 1, 2 or 23), ☏ .
- 20 Park Lounge, 1761 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 2).
- 21 Porky's, 2028 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 2), ☏ .
- 22 Wiechec's, 1748 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 2), ☏ .
- 23 Willie's, 247 Ludington St. (Metro Bus 1), ☏ .
Delavan-Grider, Humboldt Park, and Genesee-Moselle
- 24 Earl's Bar & Grill, 39 Walden Ave. (Metro Bus 6, 22, 23 or 24), ☏ .
- 25 Happy Swallow, 1349 Sycamore St. (Metro Bus 6 or 22), ☏ . The experience at the Happy Swallow was once a common one in Buffalo but is getting harder and harder to find nowadays: in the words of Forgotten Buffalo Tours, it's "a rare survivor of the 'family-owned tavern' era" on the East Side where longtime owner Tommy Golinowski pours tall cold ones for a dwindling population of regulars in a homey, wood-paneled interior that's as old-school as it gets. And on Friday night, you can use those ice-cold brewskis to wash down an equally old-school food menu of Polish-American specialties.
On the East Side, you'll see signs posted in windows here and there advertising rooms for rent. However, the neighborhood being what it is, there's a good chance the building you're passing might simply be an abandoned boardinghouse whose sign no one bothered to take down. Even if not, a lodging situation like that is probably not the kind of thing a traveller wants to get involved in.
The East Side's lone recommendable accommodation is a charming former convent-turned-guest house in Lovejoy. If that kind of thing doesn't suit you, your next closest options are either the upscale properties downtown or the cluster of low- to mid-priced chain hotels around exit 1 of Interstate 190, just over the city line in Cheektowaga.
- 1 Moreland Guest House, 110 Moreland St. (Metro Bus 1 or 19), ☏ . Check-in: anytime between 1PM and 11PM (schedule a time with the innkeeper), check-out: same time you checked in. Located on a quiet residential side street in Lovejoy, the Moreland Guest House boasts inexpensive yet secure and high-quality accommodation for budget travellers. Single or double rooms are available, with complimentary satellite television and high-speed wireless Internet. The bathrooms are shared, dormitory-style, and a kitchen and common room is available. On-site parking can be had for a nominal fee, but on-street parking is free and nearly always easy to find. The Moreland Guest House enforces a minimum stay of 3 nights, and a maximum of two guests per room. Single rooms start at $28/nt or $175/week, double rooms start at $33/nt or $205/week.
Buffalo's large 4 Central Post Office is on the East Side, at 1200 William St. In addition to being the primary mail-processing center for the Niagara Frontier region, it's also a functioning post office in its own right. Letters, postcards, etc. that are dropped off here generally arrive at their destination at least a day earlier as opposed to those sent from a roadside mailbox or another post office, so if fast shipping is important to you, you might want to head here.
The East Side also has a couple of other post offices:
- The 5 Broadway-Fillmore Post Office at 1021 Broadway
- The 6 Central Park Post Office at 170 Manhattan Ave.
If you need to access the Internet, your best bet is to head to a public library — all branches of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library provide not only free public WiFi, but also computer terminals with wired Internet access that are available for a nominal fee even to those who don't have a library card. The East Side has three libraries: by far the largest is the 7 Frank E. Merriweather, Jr. Library in Cold Spring, with 47 public computers, while the 8 East Delavan Branch Library in Delavan-Bailey has 35 computers. Finally, the 9 East Clinton Branch Library in Kaisertown has ten fixed computer terminals as well as two portable laptops that are available for in-library use.
Another Internet option is the JEFFREE WI-FI network. Since 2018, the City of Buffalo has partnered with Blue Wireless to provide free public WiFi to the one-mile (1.6 km) stretch of Jefferson Avenue between Northampton Street and East Delavan Avenue, hopefully only the first of many such corridors in the city. It's similar to downtown's BuffaloConnect wireless network in that signal strength drops off rapidly the further you get from Jefferson — basically, stray more than a block in either direction and connectivity is lost — and in that the WiFi works outdoors only, rather than inside the buildings along the street. However, connection speeds are quite a bit faster than the paltry 2 Mb/s you get downtown.
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. The East Side has a notorious reputation among Buffalonians for its high crime rate — a reputation that, while largely accurate, is a good deal more nuanced than local conventional wisdom says.
First off, while tales of murder, assault and other mayhem may make for splashy newspaper headlines, it's important to understand that most of the violent crime on the East Side is committed against locals. There's nothing random about these incidents: as long as you don't suddenly decide to join a street gang or deal drugs, as a visitor to the East Side you are not a target for violent crime, so don't worry too much about that. Theft, vehicle break-ins and property crimes are another matter, but even in those cases a little bit of common sense goes a long way. It pays to lock your car doors, keep valuables out of sight, avoid flashy displays of wealth, and make yourself scarce after dark.
Secondly, it bears remembering that while poverty and urban blight are endemic districtwide, in terms of crime not all East Side neighborhoods are created equal. Just because you're in a neighborhood that's visibly rundown doesn't necessarily mean you're in danger. A lot of it has to do with density: the more businesses in a particular neighborhood or cars parked on a particular stretch of road, the more potential targets there are for the robber. Sadly, this means that the Bailey Avenue corridor north of Broadway — the main drag of the district, and the site of many of its best shops and restaurants — is the highest-crime area in the East Side and indeed the whole city. Other particularly crime-prone areas include Delavan-Bailey, the stretch of Genesee Street along the northern edge of Schiller Park, the Cold Spring business district, Delavan-Grider, and St. John Kanty. By contrast, Kaisertown, the Near East Side, Masten Park, and the western half of Broadway-Fillmore (including the area around St. Stanislaus) have little crime to speak of. The crime rates in other East Side neighborhoods vary, but tend to be in the middle of the pack by Buffalo standards.
Panhandlers generally avoid the East Side, with the exception of Midtown where you'll encounter some particularly persistent ones. "Persistent" doesn't mean "aggressive", though, and as elsewhere in Buffalo, a firm "no" almost always does the trick if you don't want to give.
The East Clinton Shopper is a small, eight-page monthly newspaper that covers Lovejoy and Kaisertown as well as adjacent areas of Sloan, Cheektowaga and West Seneca. You'll mostly find local business and event listings, but also of interest is a column written by Lovejoy's District Councilman, Richard Fontana, as well as the minutes of the Kaisertown Coalition's monthly meetings.
The Challenger Community News[dead link] is the newspaper of record for Buffalo's African-American community. As such, it doubles as a source for news and other happenings on the East Side.
- 10 Erie County Medical Center, 462 Grider St. (Metro Bus 13 or 26), ☏ . The largest single hospital in Buffalo, with 602 inpatient beds, and an important teaching facility for UB Medical School, with many faculty members doubling as doctors and other caregivers. ECMC is Western New York's designated treatment center for trauma care and HIV/AIDS treatment, and is also renowned for its specialization in transplantation, burn care, mental health services, and rehabilitation.
- 11 Sisters of Charity Hospital, 2157 Main St. (Metro Bus 8; Metro Rail: Humboldt-Hospital), ☏ . Buffalo's first hospital, Sisters of Charity was founded in 1848 by Bishop John Timon: one of many charitable institutions he put in place for the benefit of Buffalo's Catholic community. In the present day, it is the flagship facility of Catholic Health System of Buffalo, with 586 beds between its main location and its branch hospital in Cheektowaga. It provides a wide range of medical and surgical care but is particularly well-known as an excellent maternity hospital.
Laundry and dry cleaning
- 12 Laundry Time, 1451 Kensington Ave. (At Cleve-Hill Plaza; Metro Bus 12 or 32). Daily 6AM-9PM.
- 13 Vega's Exclusive Dry Cleaners, 2947 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 19 or 32), ☏ . M-F 7:30AM-6PM, Sa 8:30AM-5PM.
Midtown, Cold Spring, and other Near East Side areas
- 14 Jim Bell Cleaners, 1379 Jefferson Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 18 or 29), ☏ . M-Sa 7AM-6PM. Dry cleaning and shirt laundering.
- 15 Lake Effect Laundromat, 2311 Main St. (Metro Bus 8 or 23; Metro Rail: Humboldt-Hospital), ☏ . Daily 9AM-10:30PM. They also do dry cleaning.
- 16 Towne Gardens Laundromat, 465 William St. (At Towne Gardens Plaza; Metro Bus 1, 2, 4 or 18), ☏ . Daily 8AM-8PM.
Delavan-Bailey and Schiller Park
- 17 Delavan Village Laundry, 1440 E. Delavan Ave. (Metro Bus 26), ☏ . Daily 24 hours. They also do dry cleaning.
- 18 Self-Service Laundry of Buffalo, 1494 Broadway (Metro Bus 4 or 19), ☏ .
- 19 WNY Laundromat, 1049 Broadway (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☏ . Daily 7AM-11PM.
Lovejoy and Kaisertown
- 20 Clinton Street Laundry (Kathy's Speedy Wash), 1905 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 2), ☏ . Daily 8AM-11PM.
- 21 Partners Laundromat, 1140 E. Lovejoy St. (Metro Bus 1). Daily 24 hours.
Delavan-Grider, Humboldt Park, and Genesee-Moselle
- 22 East Ferry Coin Laundry, 1057 E. Ferry St. (Metro Bus 12 or 13), ☏ . Daily 8AM-8PM.
- 23 Hobson's Drive-In Cleaners, 874 E. Delavan Ave. (Metro Bus 13 or 26), ☏ . M-Sa 8AM-8PM.
- 24 Nino's Cleaners, 1345 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 23 or 29), ☏ . M-Tu & Th-Sa 9AM-5:30PM.
Places of worship
The East Side is filled with a cornucopia of diverse religious congregations that represent its past, present and future: respectively, there are beautiful old Catholic churches left over from its days as a German and Polish stronghold, a multitude of black churches that reflect its status as the heart of African-American Buffalo, and a number of mosques and Buddhist temples in Humboldt Park and Broadway-Fillmore to serve mushrooming communities of new immigrants.
There are dozens upon dozens of African-American churches on the East Side, ranging from small congregations that meet in converted houses or storefronts to huge megachurches whose pastors are among the most prominent figures in the Buffalo black community. It would be impossible to list all of them in this article. Here are a few of the most important ones.
- 25 Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, 1327 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13 or 23), ☏ . Services Su 10:45AM. Pastor William Bunton is the minister of this congregation whose rousing services provide a warm, loving, and welcoming environment for all. Services are held in the huge, copper-topped former home of St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church on Fillmore Avenue in Humboldt Park, which you can read more about in Wikivoyage's Historic Churches of Buffalo's East Side itinerary.
- 26 Bethel AME Church, 1525 Michigan Ave (Metro Bus 8, 11, 12, 13 or 25; Metro Rail: Utica), ☏ . Services Su 9:30AM. Founded in 1831, Bethel AME Church is the oldest black religious congregation in Buffalo, predating Michigan Street Baptist Church by six years. Like its counterpart, Bethel's original home on Vine Alley once served as a station on the Underground Railroad. Since 1953, they've worshiped in the former Presbyterian Church of the Covenant in Cold Spring, a Gothic-style building erected in 1903. Bethel's pastor, the Rev. Richard Stenhouse, not only leads electrifying services but is also a powerful force in the improvement of the lives of his flock and the community at large — through the church, Bethel Head Start provides quality preschool education to disadvantaged Buffalo children, Bethel Community Development Corporation has built several dozen new single-family homes around Cold Spring for struggling families, and there's even a community credit union.
- 27 Bethesda World Harvest International Church, 1365 Main St. (Metro Bus 8, 11, 12, 13 or 25; Metro Rail: Utica), ☏ . Services Su 9:30AM. An unmistakable beacon in Midtown with its metallic modernist facade and huge animated LED sign flashing onto Main Street, Bethesda World Harvest International Church's history is anything but recent: its roots stretch back to the 1930s, when Elva and Richard White, a husband-and-wife team of traveling revivalist preachers, settled down in Buffalo and founded what was at first known as the Bethesda Revival Center. These days, it's not only a church in its own right where Bishop Michael Badger leads services every Sunday morning, but also the headquarters of the Bethesda Fellowship of Churches, a nationwide network of religious communities specializing in humanitarian and missionary work in Africa.
- 28 Durham Memorial AME Zion Church, 174 E. Eagle St (Metro Bus 1, 2, 4, 14, 15, 16 or 42; Metro Rail: Church), ☏ . Services Su 9AM. The dispute facing Bethel AME Church at the turn of the century — whether they should continue meeting in the traditional heart of Buffalo's black community, or move away from what had since become a seedy red-light district — was so controversial that it ended up splitting the congregation in half, giving birth in 1901 to what was first called St. Luke's AME Zion Church and later renamed in honor of their longtime Pastor, Rev. Henry Durham, after his death. Their current church building, a charming little brick Gothic church in the Ellicott District, was erected in 1920 and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places — and it still packs them in every Sunday morning to hear Pastor Kevin Coakley preach.
- 29 Emmanuel Temple Seventh-Day Adventist Church, 300 Adams St. (Metro Bus 1, 4 or 18), ☏ . Services Sa 11AM. Emmanuel Temple Seventh Day Adventist Church is a vibrant congregation that welcomes newcomers and visitors with open arms to their beautiful Saturday-morning services with a positive and inspirational message that carries them through their week. They've been doing their thing since 1958 in the former home of St. Stephen's Evangelical Church in the western reaches of Broadway-Fillmore — a medium-sized, red-brick Gothic building erected in 1911 whose steeple still contains its original Howard clock and three bells cast by the Kimberly & Meneelee Company of Troy, New York.
- 30 Elim Christian Fellowship, 70 Chalmers Ave. (Metro Bus 8, 23 or 32; Metro Rail: Amherst Street), ☏ . Services Su 10AM. The Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Bronner is a Philadelphia native who first cut his teeth in the local faith community as pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Humboldt Park. In 1999, he struck out on his own to found this huge, vibrant congregation, expanding to Rochester with its identically-named sister church three years later. Elim is truly a church for the 21st century — it meets in a huge, warehouse-like building tucked away on a side street in Highland Park, engaging a tech-savvy audience with modern-style services live-streamed over the Internet that feature sermons reposted weekly on social media. As well, this is a congregation that truly goes the extra mile in making folks feel welcomed and like a member of the family, whether they're regular attendees or first-timers.
- 31 Faith Missionary Baptist Church, 626 Humboldt Pkwy (Metro Bus 13, 23, 26 or 29), ☏ . Services Su 10:45AM. The friendly community of Faith Missionary Baptist Church has been led since 1981 by Pastor James R. Banks, who is much more than just a minister: this pillar of the local community has not only ably stewarded his congregation, expanding and modernizing his church campus, but has also partnered with local not-for-profits and the city and county governments to establish educational, housing, and community service programs to benefit all residents of the East Side. His church on Humboldt Parkway is the site of frequent fellowship meetings, potluck dinners, and other events to engage his flock and others far beyond Sunday mornings. The red neon cross that lights up Humboldt Parkway from the entrance may be unmistakably Christian, but the building that houses Faith Baptist started out as the nucleus of the early-20th-century Hamlin Park Jewish community: this was where Temple Beth David met until 1955. It's a handsome, beige brick building erected in 1924 in a style that mixes the Neoclassical with the Georgian Revival: the baskethandle arches atop the stained glass windows on the sides testify to the former, while the latter is represented by a huge Palladian stained-glass window above the entrance that still boasts a proud Star of David in white and blue.
- 32 Fellowship World Church, 878 Humboldt Pkwy. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 23 or 29), ☏ . Services Su 10:30AM. This dynamic congregation is led by Pastor John Young, a veteran leader of a number of black churches who styles himself "The Comeback Kid". After selling their building in Midtown — a facility most famous for housing the WKBW television studios for the first couple of decades of the station's existence — Fellowship World found its new home in Humboldt Park, at the handsome brick Gothic edifice built in 1895 for the Emmanuel Evangelical Reformed Church. However, the same as before, in addition to church services and a myriad of community programs Fellowship Christian Center also operates the Totally Gospel Radio Network, which broadcasts locally on WFWO 89.7 FM.
- 33 Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, 402 Clinton St (Metro Bus 1, 2 or 18), ☏ , email@example.com. Services Su 9:45AM. Friendship Missionary Baptist Church is a neighborhood institution that's been going strong for over a century: it has been housed in three separate buildings since its establishment in 1913, but true to the neighborhood that nurtured it, all of those buildings have been on or near Clinton Street in the Ellicott District. Almost as storied as the history of the church itself is the history of the welfare institutions it's sponsored for the local area: from the community grocery store, it ran in the Depression years to its status as the first black church in Buffalo to evangelize over the radio airwaves beginning in the 1940s, and right through today with the community educational initiatives, food banks, and other programs maintained by Reverend Edward Jackson. But of course, the Sunday morning services, where longtime members, as well as visitors, are welcome to a seat at the table, remain the heart and soul of Friendship Baptist — they take place in a brick building dating from 1954 that, like the congregation itself, blends tradition with modernity.
- 34 Macedonia Baptist Church, 237 E. North St. (Metro Bus 18, 22 or 29), ☏ . Services Su 11AM. Macedonia Baptist Church's twin emphases are inclusivity and evangelism. Here, visitors and new members are not so much welcomed with open arms as infused with a sensation of suddenly finding one's long-lost family, which dovetails nicely with their goal of spreading the good news of their faith by engaging with the community in myriad different ways, at services as well as with scholarship programs, food drives, and other community betterment efforts. Pastor Herman Alston is the one who carries on the church's long tradition: founded in 1921, it bounced around various locations around the area (including most notably a spell in the 1970s, '80s and '90s at the historic Michigan Street Baptist Church) before landing in the old Masten Park Baptist Church on East North Street in the Fruit Belt: a simple yet striking English Gothic building erected in 1932 using local limestone.
- 35 Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, 400 Northampton St. (Metro Bus 12, 18, 22 or 29), ☏ . Services Su 11AM. Mount Moriah's new pastor, Jeffrey Chambers, may have only been at the pulpit since 2015, but already he's making his mark — a true man of the people, he's the living embodiment of its identity as a "Bible-believing, Bible-teaching, Bible-preaching Baptist church where all are welcomed and embraced in Godly love" — engaged, outgoing, and on friendly terms with the regulars in his congregation. The place to be on Sunday mornings is the former Concordia Lutheran Church on Northampton Street in Cold Spring, an ample-sized, red-brick Gothic church built in 1903 to a design by local architect Jacob Oberkircher.
- 36 Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church, 226 Cedar St. (Metro Bus 1, 2, 4 or 6), ☏ . Services Su 11AM. Pastor Joe Fisher is the man of the hour ever Sunday morning at this pleasant, homey church in the Ellicott District. Pleasant Grove Baptist Church's history can be traced back to 1918, but its present building is relatively newer: erected in 1977 from a design by Wallace Moll, one of the biggest names in the unsung late-20th-century Buffalo architectural community, Pleasant Grove's interior is brightly lit and centered on a modern-style, cross-shaped stained glass window above the altar.
- 37 St. John Baptist Church, 184 Goodell St. (Metro Bus 6, 8, 14, 16 or 24), ☏ . Services Su 10AM. Affiliated with the American Baptist Convention, St. John's is a congregation whose humble roots — the first service was helmed by Rev. Burnie McCarley in a tiny storefront in Broadway-Fillmore and attended by a congregation that numbered four — belie its modern-day status as a true mover and shaker among Buffalo's African-American faith community. As much a community service organization as a religious community, St. John's 45-acre (18 ha) campus on the west edge of the Fruit Belt comprises not only the church itself — a colorful, brightly-lit, modern structure that's a well-known landmark in the blocks east of downtown — but also McCarley Gardens, a development of 150 affordable townhouses that's about as well-kept and safe as public housing in Buffalo gets, St. John Tower, a nine-story senior citizens' apartment complex, and the Rev. Dr. Bennett W. Smith Family Life Center, a large facility that hosts recreational and educational events open to the community.
- 38 True Bethel Baptist Church, 907 E. Ferry St. (Metro Bus 12, 13 or 23), ☏ . Services Su 7:45AM, 9:30AM & 11AM. The preeminent African-American religious congregation in Buffalo — and its pastor, the Rev. Darius Pridgen, is the city's most powerful black preacher, serving also as a philanthropist (the church operates numerous charities including a food pantry, thrift shop, emergency housing service, and vocational rehabilitation for the homeless), preservationist (his financial backing was instrumental in the restoration of the old Michigan Street Baptist Church), and, since 2011, in the city government as president of the Buffalo Common Council. True Bethel is actually three churches in one, with two locations in Buffalo and one in Niagara Falls, but it's the East Ferry Street location that's the biggest — a megachurch the size of a Walmart with room for almost five thousand worshippers, the massive scale of this place is a perfect reflection of the outsize stature of its head honcho. The three services held here every Sunday are energetic, empowering, and speak to the contemporary concerns of modern-day African-Americans and Christians in general. And don't worry if you can't make it down for one of them — you can also listen to services live on the radio on WUFO 1080 AM, or watch them on Spectrum Cable channel 20 or streaming on the Web.
For generations, the East Side teemed with legions of immigrants from Poland and southern regions of Germany, and a big part of the legacy they left are a plethora of magnificent Catholic churches that dot the district today: an architectural treasure trove of proud stone and brick palaces whose majesty echoes — and can go toe-to-toe with — the ancient cathedrals and basilicas back in Europe. Check out the Historic Churches of Buffalo's East Side itinerary for a driving tour of the most impressive of these old churches. In the ensuing years, the economic decline and demographic shifts in the East Side have caused many Catholic churches to be abandoned or sold off to other owners, but a surprising number of congregations in the district remain active today — especially in Broadway-Fillmore, where you can still attend Mass in the Polish language at St. Stanislaus and Corpus Christi.
- 39 Blessed Trinity RC Church, 317 Leroy Ave. (Metro Bus 13 or 23), ☏ . Mass Su 10AM, Sa 4:30PM, Tu-F 11AM. Located in the heart of Highland Park since 1907, Blessed Trinity's congregation worships in an exquisite brown-brick building: its architecture an imitation of the Cathédrale Saint-Trophine in Arles adapted to the style of a 12th-century Lombard cathedral, it's said to have the most plentiful terra cotta ornamentation of any church in the U.S.
- 40 Corpus Christi RC Church, 199 Clark St. (Metro Bus 4 or 23), ☏ . Mass Su 8:15AM, 10AM (Polish) & 11:30AM; Sa 11:30AM & 5PM, M-F 11:30AM (Th in Polish). Second only to St. Stanislaus on the roster of Polonia's most prominent Catholic churches, Corpus Christi boasts a vibrant faith community, a full schedule of English- and Polish-language church services, and cultural events for the surrounding neighborhood including the annual Dożynki harvest festival held in August.
- 41 St. Bernard RC Church, 1988 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 2), ☏ . Mass Su 9AM & 11:30AM, Sa 4PM, M-F 7AM. The traditional church of Kaisertown's German community, St. Bernard's history dates back to 1907, before which time the newcomers had to either worship with their Polish rivals at St. Casimir's or make the long trek across the railroad tracks to St. Agnes in Lovejoy. The church successfully fought off an attempt by the Diocese to merge it with Our Lady of Czestochowa in Cheektowaga, and this understated English Gothic-style building erected in 1953 remains today the home of a congregation that's on the small side, but vital and welcoming to all.
- 42 St. Casimir Oratory, 160 Cable St. (Metro Bus 2), ☏ . Mass Su 10AM, 3rd Sa of each month 7PM (Latin Tridentine), 1st F of each month 8AM. St. Casimir is no longer a full-fledged parish: in 2011, its congregation was merged with Our Lady of Czestochowa in Cheektowaga and the building became an oratory, or a secondary worship space used by its parent church for special-event Masses, weddings, funerals, and other functions. However, as oratories go, St. Casimir's is an unusually active one: this exquisite Byzantine Revival building in polychromatic terra cotta hosts six Masses a week as well as a full slate of community events and services (including a raucous Dyngus Day shindig) that preserve its status as the nexus of Kaisertown's Polish community.
- 43 SS. Columba & Brigid RC Church, 75 Hickory St. (Metro Bus 1, 2, 15 or 18), ☏ . Mass Su 9AM (Spanish) & 11AM (English), last Su of each month 10AM (bilingual), Sa 4PM (English). The story of this proud congregation is the story of the historic linchpin churches of two adjacent but very different neighborhoods: St. Brigid's, founded in 1853 as the "mother church" of the Irish immigrant community of South Buffalo and located for years on Louisiana Street in the Old First Ward, and St. Columba, which served the Italians of the Ellicott District beginning in 1888 and was famous for years as the site of the Printers' Mass, an extra-late service at 1:30AM on Sunday nights held especially for the newspaper printers whose shifts ended just before that hour. The two churches merged in 1968 after St. Brigid's was destroyed by fire, and today SS. Columba and Brigid is a friendly and welcoming Near East Side church with a congregation that draws heavily from the newly minted Hispanic quarter of the Ellicott District, and which strives to use its "contagious Christianity" as a positive force in the lives of all who enter.
- 44 St. John Kanty RC Church, 101 Swinburne St. (Metro Bus 4 or 19), ☏ . Mass Su 10:30AM, Sa 4PM, M-F 8:30AM. St. John Kanty has been anchoring the eastern part of Broadway-Fillmore since 1890, when Bishop Stephen Ryan had had enough of hearing about parishioners of St. Stanislaus killed on their walk to church while crossing the dangerous New York Central Railroad tracks that divided the neighborhood. Though its building lacks the architectural majesty of many of Polonia's older churches, St. John Kanty counts a congregation that's among the East Side's most vibrant — aside from the half-dozen Masses held here each week, the church remains a powerful force in Buffalo's Polish community through its sponsorship of a bevy of community services for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
- 45 St. Katharine Drexel RC Church, 135 N. Ogden St. (Metro Bus 1), ☏ . Mass Su 10AM, Sa 4PM, Tu-F 8:30AM. St. Katharine Drexel is a new parish, formed in 2007 from the merger of Lovejoy's three Catholic churches: St. Agnes, Visitation, and St. Francis of Assisi. The new congregation meets in the former home of the latter church, a newish building in a modernized and simplified interpretation of the English Gothic style that's stood on North Ogden Street since 1959. As well, the new name of the parish is a sort of homage to its former namesake: canonized in 2000, Katharine Drexel is a new-school saint who, in turn-of-the-century Philadelphia, worked tirelessly in the spirit of St. Francis for the benefit of the urban poor and against the racial segregation and prejudice that ruled the day.
- 46 St. Lawrence RC Church, 1520 E. Delavan Ave (Metro Bus 24 or 26), ☏ . Mass Su noon, Sa 4:30PM & 10PM, M-F 8:30AM. St. Lawrence Church is just inside the city line in Delavan-Bailey, which at the turn of the century stood out among East Side neighborhoods as an island of Italian immigrants in a sea of Germans and Poles. St. Gerard, at the intersection that gave the neighborhood its name, was their church, but as Delavan-Bailey grew in population it became too small to accommodate all the congregants. Thus St. Lawrence was founded as a mission church in 1914, graduating to the status of a full-fledged parish in its own right in 1929. Today it is a small but diverse and friendly congregation that's welcoming to visitors and active in the community.
- 47 St. Martin de Porres RC Church, 555 Northampton St. (Metro Bus 12, 18, 22 or 29), ☏ . Mass Su 8AM & 9:30AM, Tu-Th noon. From the 1990s through today, the story of the Catholic churches on the inner East Side was one of shrinking congregations and of churches closing and merging with each other. St. Martin de Porres is one of the East Side's first "blended churches" — a merger of St. Matthew in Genesee-Moselle, Our Lady of Lourdes in Midtown, St. Boniface in the Fruit Belt, and St. Benedict the Moor in Cold Spring — and it's unique among them in that the merger came at the request of the parishes, rather than being imposed on them by the Diocese. When the building they call home today was dedicated by Bishop Henry Mansell in 2000, it was the first new Catholic church in 50 years to be built within the city limits. Another way St. Martin de Porres is unique is as Buffalo's only majority-black Catholic church, and among the ways it tailors its ministry to the worship culture it serves is with a rousing gospel choir headed since the parish's inception by the inimitable Ella Robinson, as well as an African-American Catholic Gospel Music Resource and Recording Center slated for the Parish Center they plan to build on their Humboldt Park campus.
- 48 St. Stanislaus, Bishop and Martyr RC Church, 123 Townsend St. (Metro Bus 1, 4 or 23), ☏ . Mass Su 9AM (English) & noon (Polish), Sa 4PM, Tu-F 7:45AM. The most well-known and vibrant Catholic church on the East Side, this "Mother Church of Polonia" has stubbornly retained its status as central hub of the community in Broadway-Fillmore. St. Stan's is best known among locals as a place to celebrate Dyngus Day or trek with your old Polish grandma on Easter, Christmas and other holidays — but it's an equally magnificent experience other times of the year, when it's just you and the neighborhood regulars. For an extra dose of old-school neighborhood authenticity, go to St. Stan's Polish-language service, held at noon every Sunday.
Lovejoy is an epicenter of Orthodox Christianity in Buffalo, with a pair of churches serving Ukrainian and Russian congregations respectively.
- 49 St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church, 308 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 1, 2 or 23), ☏ . Liturgy Su 10AM & noon, Sa 4:30PM. The seat of the Buffalo Deanery of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, St. Nicholas serves a cluster of Ukrainians in Lovejoy whose history dates back to the early 1880s. It was Reverend Iwan Zaklynskyj who was the church's founding father — in 1905, he and a group that broke away from the congregation of SS. Peter & Paul on Ideal Street after its ethnic composition shifted began meeting in a small wood-frame structure on Central Avenue. The present building, a Romanesque-style beauty in Broadway-Fillmore designed by prominent East Side architect Wladyslaw Zawadzki, dates to 1919. Today, St. Nicholas — along with the Dnipro Center on Genesee Street — is one of the twin nuclei of Buffalo's under-the-radar but vibrant Ukrainian-American community: the church plays host not only to weekly services but also fun-filled community events and, on Friday afternoons, to the St. Nicholas Friday Kitchen, where varenyky, borscht, and other lip-smacking Ukrainian specialties are dished out for a song.
- 50 SS. Peter & Paul Orthodox Church, 45 Ideal St. (Metro Bus 1), ☏ . Divine Liturgy Su 10AM, Vespers Sa 6PM. Though it was founded in 1884 as a Ukrainian congregation, SS. Peter & Paul became dominated in short order by Russians, who began immigrating to Buffalo in the 1880s and were attracted to Lovejoy due to easily available jobs on the railroads. The departure of the Ukrainians for a separate congregation in 1905 cemented SS. Peter & Paul's status as the first Russian Orthodox church on the Niagara Frontier (these days it's affiliated with the Orthodox Church in America). The congregation continued to grow throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, accommodating an influx of refugees from the former Soviet Union, and the richly decorated Russian Byzantine-style building in which it meets today, with its unmistakable onion dome, dates to 1933. Visitors to SS. Peter & Paul today will encounter a congregation that is close-knit yet welcoming to newcomers, with uplifting services held in a mix of English and Old Slavonic.
The East Side's roster of mainline Protestant churches is multifaceted: many of them are in blue-collar white ethnic areas near the city line and are attended by the same type of folks as always, but there are also a number of churches in inner neighborhoods that were able to weather the mid-20th-century demographic changes and now feature majority-black congregations — and even some like St. Philip's Episcopal that have been African-American since they were founded.
- 51 Cleveland Hill United Methodist Church, 546 Eggert Rd. (Metro Bus 12 or 32), ☏ . Services Su 11:15AM. A small and close-knit faith community whose ethnic diversity mirrors that of the neighborhood it calls home, this church was founded in 1925 as the Cleveland Hill Evangelical United Brethren Church and has worshiped in its present building, a simple, modern-style brick and stone church in Kensington-Bailey, since 1949. Today, Pastor Holly Dale-Coty leads a congregation that is active in the community and enthusiastically welcoming of visitors and newcomers.
- 52 Grace United Church of Christ, 875 E. Delavan Ave. (Metro Bus 13 or 26), ☏ . Services Su 10AM. The church formerly known as Grace Reformed Church has been a mainstay in Delavan-Grider for over a century: the congregation still worships in its original brick Carpenter Gothic building erected in 1915. Today, Pastor Larry Jackson leads Sunday services that are friendly and imbued with a positive and uplifting message, and continues the tradition of community engagement that's been one of Grace's trademarks from the start: potluck dinners, lively choir concerts, and other events are frequent and well-attended.
- 53 Hananiah Lutheran Church, 900 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 6, 22, 23 or 24), ☏ . Services Su 1PM. Affiiliated with the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod, Hananiah is a new congregation that's led by Reverend Kenyatta Cobb, who doubles as a chaplain for the Buffalo Police Department and the Erie County Medical Center. Since 2007, they've been based in the former A. L. Weber Furniture Store on Genesee Street in Humboldt Park, with services whose style blends respect for tradition with innovations that speak to modern Christians. Hananiah Lutheran Church is a small congregation, but it boasts an outsize commitment to community service — their food pantry serves the neighborhood Monday through Thursday — and an ethnically diverse makeup.
- 54 Hermon Karen Baptist Church, 10 Hastings Ave. (Metro Bus 13, 19 or 32), ☏ . Services Su 10AM. Affiliated with the Karen Baptist Convention, it was in 2015 when pastor Myo Kyow moved his flock from their former home on the West Side to the erstwhile St. James Catholic Church in Kensington-Bailey: a hulking English Gothic structure designed by Karl Schmill and built in 1926 for a mixed German and Irish congregation on what was then the outskirts of Buffalo's urbanized area. As before, Hermon Karen Baptist serves as spiritual home to a growing contingent of Buffalo's Burmese immigrant community, whom Pastor Kyow and company actively engage with friendly services, a host of worthwhile events, and group meetings sponsored by a wide range of community groups.
- 55 Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1084 E. Lovejoy St. (Metro Bus 1 or 19), ☏ . Services Su 9AM. Immanuel is a pint-sized congregation — over the course of its history, it's never had much more than the two or three dozen members it boasts now — so it's pretty impressive that the church has been able to hang tough in Lovejoy for over 120 years. The congregation was founded in 1894 with services held in German for the first twenty years of its history, and it moved to its current location — the former St. Peter's Episcopal Church — in 1951. Headed up today by pastor Glen Richardson, Immanuel may be a small church, but the community is friendly and welcoming to visitors. It's affiliated with the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church.
- 56 Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church, 641 Masten Ave. (Metro Bus 8, 13, 18, 26 or 29; Metro Rail: Delavan-Canisius College), ☏ . Services Su 9AM & 11AM. Lincoln Memorial UMC is a handsome stone church in the English Gothic style, built in 1921 for the Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church and situated in a verdant milieu in Hamlin Park. At Lincoln, not only does the congregation bend over backwards to welcome and accommodate newcomers, but Pastor George Nicholas is uncommonly talented at crafting sermons whose messages cut across all types of people and walks of life to touch all hearts. There's even a coffee hour after services.
- 57 MacAlpine Presbyterian Church, 2700 Bailey Ave (Metro Bus 12, 19 or 26), ☏ . Services Su 10AM. Founded in 1920 as the Bailey Avenue Presbyterian Church and renamed six years later after the death of their founding pastor, MacAlpine has been a tried-and-true stalwart in Kensington-Bailey all throughout the changes the neighborhood has undergone over the years. Reverend Lowell Avery is a true dynamo, leading his church not only in rousing Sunday-morning services but in a full range of community programs and ministries.
- 58 Metropolitan United Methodist Church, 657 Best St. (Metro Bus 22, 23, 24 or 29), ☏ . Services Su 10:30AM. Much the same as St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church just on the other side of Humboldt Parkway, the story of Metropolitan UMC is one of five struggling, shrinking inner-city congregations — St. Andrew's, Bithynia, Good Shepherd, Masten Community, and Otterbein — pooling their resources and merging together to keep the flame of their faith alive in the midst of a changing neighborhood. The building, erected in 1981 on the site of the demolished Humboldt Square Evangelical Church (later temporary home to predecessor congregation Good Shepherd), is a handsome building in a modernist style; the congregation is small and tight-knit yet friendly and welcoming; the services are helmed weekly by Pastor Angela Stewart.
- 59 New Covenant United Church of Christ, 459 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 1, 2 or 18), ☏ . Services Su 11:30AM. Like Durham Memorial AME Zion Church, New Covenant UCC's history can be traced back to the controversy among members of Bethel AME Church over the undesirable location of their place of worship in what was then Buffalo's red-light district. Desiring to go one step beyond Durham's solution and dispense with Methodism entirely, this church was founded in 1904 and met in a converted house on Potter Street (now Nash Street) donated by one Mr. William Lloyd, hence its original name Lloyd's Memorial Congregational Church. The congregation moved to its present building in the Ellicott District in 1964 and took on its current name ten years later after merging with St. Peter's Evangelical Church. New Covenant remains a very active congregation both at Sunday services and in the community at large, with a neighborhood food pantry, an active music ministry, and frequent guest speakers and other events. The congregation is very welcoming to visitors and new members, too.
- 60 St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, 81 Burke Dr. (Metro Bus 12 or 32), ☏ . Services Su 9:30AM. With a tight-knit yet friendly and welcoming congregation, this "little church with a big heart" has been serving the spiritual needs of Episcopalians on the Buffalo/Cheektowaga border since 1948 (and for over a half-century before that in their former home on the Near East Side). Father Isaac Ihiasota — otherwise known as head of Father Isaac's Foundation, a not-for-profit that finds medical care and supplies to poor people in Nigeria — is at the helm today, and as he promises on the church's website, "there is always good conversation, friendly people, and warm hearts".
- 61 St. Philip's Episcopal Church, 18 Sussex St. (Metro Bus 13 or 26), ☏ . Services Su 9:30AM & W 12:05PM. Though you'd never know it from its low-key reputation, St. Philip's is one of the East Side's most historic churches: founded in 1861, it is one of the district's oldest extant congregations, and was the first (and is still the only) majority-black congregation in the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York. They worshiped for years on Goodell Street in the Fruit Belt before their building fell victim to urban renewal in 1974, and their current home is the former St. Clement's Episcopal Church in Delavan-Grider. Services at St. Philip's blend the traditionally Episcopalian with twists that speak to the African-American identity of its members — for example, there's both a traditional and a gospel choir — and St. Philip's is also the home church of the local chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians. There are two services a week led by the dynamic Rev. Gloria Payne-Carter.
- 62 University United Methodist Church, 410 Minnesota Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 19 or 32), ☏ . Services Su 10AM. With a history that stretches back to 1918, the University Methodist Church has been a linchpin presence at the north end of Kensington-Bailey for far longer than most anything else in the neighborhood. Though services are still held in its original, imposing red-brick Gothic building, the church is now linked together with the nearby Cleveland Hill United Methodist Church — the two congregations share the same pastor, the Rev. Holly Dale-Coty, as well as the same outsize vitality and spirit of community engagement that belie the small size of the flock, and the same warm welcome for visitors.
- 63 CityReach Church, 260 Eggert Rd. (Metro Bus 12), ☏ . Services Su 11AM. In 2014, the erstwhile Expressway Assembly of God — located in Kensington-Bailey, in an old factory building just off the Eggert Road exit of the Kensington Expressway, hence its name — became part of the CityReach Network, a group of several dozen churches throughout the eastern United States whose mission is to bring the Christian message to "unlikely people in overlooked places". Accordingly, Pastor Lou Krutz and his cohorts foster an accepting, low-key, come-as-you-are environment in their services, with a special focus on ministering to youth and young adults: a nursery and Children's Church are available during regular Sunday services, and teens and young adults are catered to during Tuesday and Wednesday night programs, respectively. In order to represent their faith to the community in the best possible way, CityReach goes far beyond simply welcoming new members: they actively and enthusiastically encourage visitors to check out what they're all about.
- 64 Evangelical Baptist Church, 141 Ludington St. (Metro Bus 1 or 19), ☏ . In the beginning, this was the First Russian-Ukrainian Baptist Church, where a few dozen people met each week to conduct services in the Russian language. As Lovejoy changed and diversified, the church began accepting folks of other ethnicities into the fold and holding services in English; finally, in 1951, the much larger congregation moved into the striking modern building the worship in today. Despite that, the core message has remained the same: the Evangelical Baptist Church is a friendly, fundamentalist Christian congregation that's extraordinarily committed to their faith. Pastor John Carpenter leads weekly services at which all are welcome.
- 65 First Universal Christian Church, 1940 Clinton St (Metro Bus 2), ☏ . Services Su 10:30AM. An interdenominational, full-Gospel Christian congregation that is welcoming and open to all, at the First Universal Christian Church husband-and-wife pastor team Rob and Sue Bradbury preach services with a positive, empowering message, with a contemporary-style delivery that's not bogged down in intimidating pomp and ceremony but is laid-back, accessible, and relevant to modern-day life. The building is the former Magyar Reformed Church, a charming red-brick Gothic church built in 1915 where the small Hungarian community of eastern Kaisertown worshiped for many years.
- 66 Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, 1250 E. Delavan Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 19 or 26), ☏ . Services Su 10AM & 1PM.
- 67 Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, 351 Emslie St. (Metro Bus 1, 4 or 18), ☏ . Services Su 9:30AM, 12:30PM & 3:30PM.
- 68 Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, 185 Kensington Ave. (Metro Bus 8 or 23; Metro Rail: Humboldt-Hospital), ☏ . Services Su 10AM & 1PM.
The East Side boasts a sizable collection of mosques, which are concentrated around Humboldt Park and the northern parts of Broadway-Fillmore where communities of Muslim immigrants have coalesced.
- 69 Baitul Mukarram Jame Masjid, 3296 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 19 or 32). Though it's in the heart of the Ken-Bailey business district, this place is not the easiest in the world to find: Baitul Mukarram is an old wood-framed house set off a good distance from the street, converted into a humble but friendly and welcoming place of worship for the East Side's Bangladeshi Muslim community.
- 70 Buffalo Markaz Masjid (Crescent Village Muslim Community Center), 115 Woltz Ave. (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☏ . Situated in the former John Ulinski Senior Center at the corner of Stanislaus Street and Woltz Avenue in Broadway-Fillmore, the Buffalo Markaz Masjid is not only as a mosque where taleem (and, on Friday, jum'a) is held each evenings after isha, but also serves as the local headquarters and community center of Tablighi Jamaat, a conservative Sunni tradition that emphasizes missionary work within the larger Muslim community.
- 71 Islamic Da'Wah Center of Buffalo, 1522 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 6, 12, 22 or 24), ☏ . A Salafi mosque and community center in a storefront in the heart of Genesee-Moselle, the Islamic Da'Wah Center of Buffalo hosts all prayers except formal jum'a for a multicultural congregation.
- 72 Jami Masjid, 1957 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 12, 19 or 24), ☏ . Jami Masjid is in the building that was for eighty years the home of Queen of Peace Catholic Church, founded in 1920 to serve a small Polish enclave that had migrated northeastward from Broadway-Fillmore. The building dates to seven years after the congregation was established, a sandstone and limestone edifice in a pleasant English Gothic style whose design was unique among all the city's Catholic churches: church, school and rectory were combined in one large cross-shaped structure. Today the church portion is where Sheikh Ibrahim Memon leads one of Buffalo's largest Muslim congregations in Friday prayers, while the school portion of the building is now home to the Universal School, which provides a private Islamic education in the Sunni tradition to elementary- and middle school-aged students.
- 73 Masjid Darus-Salaam, 75 E. Parade Ave. (Metro Bus 22, 23 or 24). Masjid Darus-Salaam is in Humboldt Park, in a converted house on a quiet side street next to Martin Luther King, Jr. Park — look for the smallish sign hanging from the porch on the second floor. The building may look small at first, but it's got enough space for about 75 people for jum'a as well as an extensive library of Qu'ran translations, hadith collections, and other Islamic literature available for study. In addition to Friday services, Darus-Salaam also hosts a wide variety of other prayer meetings, religious education courses, and activities on a seven-day-a-week basis.
- 74 Masjid Nu'Man, 1373 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 23 or 29), ☏ . Among the oldest mosques in Buffalo, Nu'Man is a primarily African-American congregation that meets in a space on the second floor of a brown-brick commercial building in the heart of Humboldt Park. Friday jum'a (in the Sunni tradition) is attended by a vibrant, loving congregation that's well-known for its engagement in community betterment in a myriad of different ways, while on Sunday mornings Islamic studies classes are offered for both children and adults.
- 75 Masjid Zakariya, 182 Sobieski St. (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 22), ☏ . Like Jami Masjid, this is another example of a former Christian church converted into a combination mosque and Muslim school: in 1993, the former Holy Mother of the Rosary Polish National Cathedral in Broadway-Fillmore became the home of Masjid Zakariya and its associated school, the Darul-Uloom Al-Madania Institute of Higher Islamic Education. At the former, jum'a and other services are held for a congregation composed of about a hundred families, mostly immigrants from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia; in the latter, students from pre-kindergarten through grade 10 are educated in a combination of the standard New York State curriculum and rigorous study of the principles of the Sunni Islamic faith.
Buffalo's Vietnamese Buddhist community is represented by a pair of temples, in Broadway-Fillmore and Lovejoy respectively.
- 76 Chùa Từ Hiếu Buddhist Cultural Center of Buffalo, 647 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 4 or 23), ☏ . Located in the Buffalo Police Department's former Eighth Precinct Headquarters, Chùa Từ Hiếu has served the local Vietnamese Buddhist community since 1998, but it was not until 2014 — when the breathtaking outdoor courtyard and garden were put in place next door — when it truly came to the attention of the Broadway-Fillmore community. Decorated with a set of stone pillars imported from Vietnam and centered on a statue of Quan Âm, the bodhisattva of mercy to whom many refugees prayed for safe travel to their new homeland, this normally serene place periodically becomes the scene of cultural events and gatherings such as group meditation sessions and an annual Vietnamese New Year celebration featuring traditional music and dance. Otherwise, the temple is open for worship daily.
- 77 Tu Viện Đại Bảo Trang Nghiêm Vietnamese Buddhist Cultural Center (International Sangha Bhiksu Buddhist Association), 194 Ludington St. (Metro Bus 1 or 19), ☏ . Tu Viện Đại Bảo Trang Nghiêm sees the former St. Agnes Catholic Church in Lovejoy reborn as a complex that combines a thriving Buddhist monastery, worship space and cultural center with the head offices of the International Sangha Bhiksu Buddhist Association. The temple is open to the public daily for silent prayer and on Sundays and Mondays for group chanting and meditation, and also hosts Vietnamese language classes for children and various cultural events.
- When the East Side's Germans and Poles left for greener pastures in the middle 20th century, many of them ended up in Cheektowaga, one of the oldest, largest, and in many ways the prototypical inner-ring Buffalo suburb. Contrary to what most visitors believe, Cheektowaga is much more than just the site of the Buffalo Niagara International Airport and the Walden Galleria — it's also a place to experience the modern-day version of the blue-collar, unpretentious "old Buffalo" that ruled the day on the East Side in earlier times. Polish culture is especially strong here: Polish-Americans make up almost 30% of the town's population (the largest proportion of any municipality in the United States) and utterly dominate its political and cultural life, earning it the affectionate nickname of "Cheektowarsaw".
- The East Side's history as an haven for newcomers to America continues to play out in the present day, but Ground Zero for the modern-day immigrant experience in Buffalo is the West Side. Along the main drag of Grant Street, a multicultural mix of Asians, Africans, Arabs, and Latinos weave a vibrant tapestry — at the heart of which stands the West Side Bazaar, where you can browse through traditional handicrafts and sample ethnic foods from around the world. There's also a burgeoning artist community to rival Midtown's, and on sweltering summer days in Buffalo the perfect way to beat the heat is in the cool breezes of one of the West Side's many waterfront parks and green spaces.
- If the East Side's grand old churches left you agape, head south of the city line to Lackawanna to see the most magnificent one Western New York has to offer: Our Lady of Victory Basilica, a Baroque Revival masterpiece completed in 1926 that's a testament to the charitable works of Father Nelson Baker. When you're done ooh-ing and aah-ing, stay a while in this old company town long dominated by the Lackawanna Steel Plant to drink in the city's rough-and-tumble blue-collar character, now tempered by a vibrant Yemeni immigrant community.