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 miserable 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 '60s 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 Arabs, Africans, and South and East 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 Delavan-Grider, Genesee-Moselle, Delavan-Bailey (you'll notice a trend of neighborhoods named after their primary intersection) and, increasingly, Fillmore-Leroy and 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 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 Ellicott District boasts more of the same plus a charming middle-class Puerto Rican enclave between Swan and Seneca Streets, and the tree-lined streets of historic Hamlin Park are home to friendly families with kids as well as 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 Cold Spring and Masten Park closest to Main Street — a newly gentrifying area real-estate types have dubbed Midtown — and are poised to do the same to the old red-brick Victorians of the 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; Kaisertown is a friendly off-the-beaten-path neighborhood that, despite its name, is far more Polish than German these days, and Lovejoy is populated by a mix of Italians, Poles, Russians and Ukrainians. Also, the vitality of the 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 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. Rubbing shoulders with the old-school Poles of Broadway-Fillmore is a growing contingent of Burmese and Vietnamese, while immigrants from Africa, South Asia and the Middle East (including the Yemenis who have taken a dominant place among the East Side small-business community in recent years) have settled around Fillmore Avenue in 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 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 located on the highest ground in the city; Delavan-Bailey, an Italian district gathered around St. Gerard Church; and 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 Village 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. Most recently, 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 located at:
- Eggert Road, whose exit is located 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 Fillmore-Leroy 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 Fillmore-Leroy 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 located 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 recently 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 Fillmore-Leroy, 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 — parking there 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, basically your only choice is the pay lot in front of the hospital, where the rate is $6/day.
- Budget, 1477 Main St. (Metro Bus 8, 12 or 13; Metro Rail: Utica), ☎ +1 716 882-7045.
- Enterprise, 1312 Main St. (Metro Bus 8, 12 or 13; Metro Rail: Utica), ☎ +1 716 854-0283.
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. 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.
The East Side is better served by public transit than any of Buffalo's other districts, doubtless due to the fact that 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. Beginning at the University Metro Rail Station, Bus #8 proceeds down Main Street through Fillmore-Leroy, 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. Beginning in Black Rock, 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 Fillmore-Leroy, Humboldt Park, and Broadway-Fillmore, with service to Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, before ending in South Buffalo.
NFTA Metro Bus #26 — Delavan. 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. 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. Beginning in Black Rock, Bus #32 proceeds along Amherst Street through Fillmore-Leroy, 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 $2.00 ($4.00 round-trip); the $5.00 all-day passes available on Metro buses are also valid for the Metro Rail.
There are five Metro Rail stations located on the East Side. From north to south, they are:
- Amherst Street Station — Main Street at East Amherst Street (Fillmore-Leroy).
- Humboldt-Hospital Station — Main Street at Humboldt Parkway (Hamlin Park).
- Delavan-Canisius College Station — Main Street at East Delavan Avenue (Hamlin Park).
- Utica Station — Main Street at East Utica Street (Cold Spring).
- Summer-Best Station — Main Street at Best Street (Masten Park).
North of the five listed above, the LaSalle Station is located a short distance from the East Side in University Heights, and provides easy access to the Kensington Heights and Kensington-Bailey areas.
Buffalo has been making great strides in recent years in accommodating bicycling as a mode of transportation, with recognition from the League of American Bicyclists as a Bronze-Level "Bicycle-Friendly Community" to show for its efforts. 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 west to Fillmore Avenue, 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. Also, most recently, in Kaisertown sharrows were added to South Ogden Street between Seward and Griswold Streets, continuing north of there as a dedicated bike lane on each side of the street as far north as Dingens Street.
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.
- Artfarms, ☎ +1 716 450-5888. A multifaceted public art project helmed by architect David Lagé, the idea behind Artfarms is to use unique, eye-catching installations created by members of the local art community to help establish a sense of place in the midst of some of Buffalo's most blighted environments, as well as to foster cultural awareness among the residents of marginal neighborhoods. Though Artfarms' temporary works might pop up pretty much anywhere on the East Side, their two main installations can be found at the Michigan Riley Farm in Cold Spring and the Wilson Street Urban Farm in Broadway-Fillmore (see the "Buy" section for more on those). Respectively, these are the site of Tree, a functional sculpture by Michael Beitz that consists of a picnic table designed in a curvilinear, branching form suggestive of a tree, and Fall and Rise, a delicate-looking, roughly dome-shaped sculpture of curving metal rods and wire mesh that serves as a hothouse for the farm's more delicate plants, with the walls also used as lattices for climbing vines.
- Artspace Buffalo Gallery, 1219 Main St. (Metro Bus 8, 11, 13, 22, and 25; Metro Rail: Summer-Best), ☎ +1 716 803-2605. 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 an 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 Artspace Buffalo 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), ☎ +1 716 894-3366. Opening hours vary by exhibition. Located on the top floor of The Guild @ 980 — 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 temorary 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.
- Locust Street Art, 138 Locust St. (Metro Bus 18 or 29), ☎ +1 716 852-4562. 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.
- Tri-Main Center, 2495 Main St. (Metro Bus 8, 23 or 32; Metro Rail: Amherst Street), ☎ +1 716 835-3366. The massive old factory building in Fillmore-Leroy 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), ☎ +1 716 833-4450. 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), ☎ +1 716 598-8850. 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.
- Buffalo Museum of Science, 1020 Humboldt Pkwy. (Metro Bus 12, 22, 23, 24 or 29), ☎ +1 716 896-5200, toll-free: +1 866 291-6660. M-Su 10AM-4PM. Located in Olmsted's Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, the Buffalo Museum of Science is located 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 700,000+ piece collection of 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.
- Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum, 263 Michigan Ave. (Metro Bus 14, 15, 16 or 36; Metro Rail: Seneca), ☎ +1 716 853-0084. 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.
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.
- Buffalo Fire Historical Society Museum, 1850 William St. (Metro Bus 1), ☎ +1 716 892-8400. Sa 10AM-4PM and by appointment. The Buffalo Fire Historical Society Museum is located in Lovejoy, a blue-collar neighborhood that is home to many Buffalo firefighters. This modest-sized building houses an amazingly extensive collection of antique fire trucks, apparatus and other artifacts, as well as 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, as well as firefighting as a career. Donation.
- Colored Musicians' Club Museum, 145 Broadway (Metro Bus 1, 2, 4, 6, 14, 16, 24 or 36; Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☎ +1 716 855-9383. 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.
- Iron Island Museum, 998 E. Lovejoy St. (Metro Bus 1 or 19), ☎ +1 716 892-3084. 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.
- Jefferson Street Heritage Gallery, 607 Jefferson Ave. (Metro Bus 4, 6, 18 or 24), ☎ +1 716 854-8392. Sa-Su 1PM-5PM. With a bevy of historic artifacts, photographs, and archival documents that retell the history of Buffalo's African-American community, the Jefferson Street Heritage Gallery is the home of the personal collection of Richard E. Daniels, a retired Buffalo firefighter with an encyclopedic knowledge of black Buffalo and deep roots in the neighborhood — his father, who lived to be 107 years old, ran a barbershop across the street from this 150-year-old house, which his son purchased in 1991 to keep from being demolished. Themed exhibits on subjects as diverse as African-American inventors and the history of the Canal District are displayed, as well as a number of more offbeat items like a working 1930s-era Pepsi vending machine. Free.
- Nash House Museum, 36 Nash St. (Metro Bus 1, 2, 4 or 6; Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☎ +1 716 856-4490. Th & Sa 11:30AM-4PM and by appointment. The Nash House Museum is located just east of downtown: one block from Michigan Avenue, the birthplace of Buffalo's African-American community in the mid-19th Century. This Nationally Registered Historic Place 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.
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 '50s, 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 recently 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 (2.5m) 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.
- 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 recently 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 McCarthy Park and Walden Park bustle with romping children and amateur sports teams in the warm months, while Schiller Park is little more than an overgrown lawn with an abandoned park shelter and derelict duck pond. As well, smaller parks like Hennepin Park in Lovejoy, Houghton Park in Kaisertown, and 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: Masten Park is located 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.
As well, out of the sixteen historic districts in Buffalo that are recognized by either the National Register of Historic Places or the Buffalo Preservation Board, one of them is located on the East Side:
- The United States' largest residential preservation district with a majority-black population, the Hamlin Park Historic District 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.
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 in mid-April in odd-numbered years, 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, ☎ +1 716 884-2103. 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.
- Canisius Golden Griffins, 2001 Main St. (Metro Bus 8, 18, 26 or 29; Metro Rail: Delavan-Canisius College), ☎ +1 716 888-2970. 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 Koessler Athletic Center on Main Street at East Delavan Avenue, while outdoor sports like soccer and lacrosse are held at the 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 All-High Stadium in Fillmore-Leroy. 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. 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; for ice conditions, call ☎ +1 716 838-1249, ext. 17. Best of all, skating and equipment rental (hockey or figure skates) are both free of charge.
- New Skateland Arena, 33 E. Ferry St. (Metro Bus 8 or 13; Metro Rail: Utica), ☎ +1 716 882-2104. Open skate Sa 1PM-4PM & 6PM-9PM, Su 2PM-5PM. $7, skate rental $1.
- Paul Robeson Theatre, 350 Masten Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13 or 18; Metro Rail: Utica), ☎ +1 716 884-2013. The Paul Robeson Theatre is the oldest African-American theatre in Buffalo, founded in 1968 and located at the African-American Cultural Center. The 130-seat theater is located inside the cultural center's headquarters on Masten Avenue in Buffalo's East Side, and features a handful of productions each year with an especial 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), ☎ +1 716 812-5733. 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 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.
- Central Park Grill, 2519 Main St. (Metro Bus 8, 23 or 32; Metro Rail: Amherst Street), ☎ +1 716 836-9466. 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.
- Colored Musicians' Club, 145 Broadway (Metro Bus 1, 2, 4, 6, 14, 16, 24 or 36; Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☎ +1 716 855-9383. 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 (q.v.) where you can learn all you've ever wanted to know about Buffalo's jazz scene of yesterday and today.
- The Foundry, 298 Northampton St. (Metro Bus 18 or 22), ☎ +1 716 220-8842. 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.
Buffalo's third-largest institution of postsecondary education and its largest private one, 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 located 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.
- Bailey Jewelry, 3100 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 13, 19 or 32), ☎ +1 716 832-0615. 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 urban and hip-hop styles: big, chunky hoop earrings, pendants, and diamond rings and watches abound on the shelves here. If you don't like what you see, Bailey Jewelry's owner will even custom-design a piece just for you. Prices are fair for what you get, but what you get is of surprisingly high quality, so come prepared to spend a little bit. If jewelry repair is what you're after, they do that too — again at fair prices.
- Beauty Plus, 3121 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 13, 19 or 32), ☎ +1 716 446-9292. 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.
- Carrie's High Fashions, 3329 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 19 or 32), ☎ +1 716 838-0389. 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 between Jackson Hewitt Tax Service and Lee's Oriental Foods, 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.
- City Fashion, 2987 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 13, 19 or 32), ☎ +1 716 833-4305. 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.
- Fashion City, 3112 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 13, 19 or 32), ☎ +1 716 835-2819. Daily 9AM-10PM. A huge store with a huge selection, Fashion City's inventory goes above and beyond the streetwise urban styles you see in other Bailey Avenue clothes shops: you'll find plenty of that, but also a healthy admixture of clothes in a more traditional, even preppy, aesthetic. The interior of the store is decorated in a brash and vibrant 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. You'll find sweats, hoodies, jeans, t-shirts, baseball caps, flannels, bubble jackets, shoes and boots (there's a huge wall given over to Timberlands), and much more. Fashion City is also an authorized dealer of Dickies work apparel.
- Lucky's Fashions, 1074 Kensington Ave. (Metro Bus 13, 19 or 32), ☎ +1 716 835-8259. 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" that the sign outside touts. 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. No matter what brings you here, though, you can be assured of friendly and helpful service. Lucky's also has a second location on Sycamore Street in Broadway-Fillmore that deals in cell phones only.
- One of a Kind Fashion, 3000 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 13, 19 or 32), ☎ +1 716 783-9796. Daily 11AM-11PM. "Don't be predictable", exhorts the motto emblazoned on the front of this humble storefront, and true to its word, One of a Kind Fashions offers up an inventory that's different from your average Bailey Avenue urban clothing boutique: the selection here is decidedly upscale, without sacrificing any of the streetwise style of its neighbors. The retail space here is split into two levels: in front there is streetwear and accessories like watches, belts, jewelry, handbags and shoes whose aesthetic tends toward the loud and outlandish; walk up a few steps in back to find a range of more conservative dresses, skirts, and tops perfect for a night on the town. Furthering the balancing act between elegance and sass is the interior, brightly lit and decorated with stylish minimalism yet with delightfully gaudy accents here and there like mirrored walls.
- Swag, 2883 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13 or 19), ☎ +1 716 491-6340. 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.
- United Men's Fashion, 3082 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 13, 19 or 32), ☎ +1 716 837-0100. M-W 10AM-6:45PM, Th-F 10AM-7:45PM, Sa 10AM-5:15PM. Established in 1929 by brothers Morris and Herman Cohen and still run by the same family, United Men's Fashions is by far the oldest operating business in the neighborhood. Over the years it's expanded its footprint into all three of the adjacent houses at the corner of Midway Avenue, cementing its place at the center of the Ken-Bailey retail universe. "The clothes make the man" is a maxim that's oft-repeated here, and United Men's Fashions lives those words out with their extensive selection of menswear: a high-quality array of suit jackets, dress shirts and pants, tuxedos and other formalwear, sweaters, hats, and men's accessories such as ties, cufflinks, lapel pins, and belts occupy the shelves here. Despite sporting a style that's sometimes flashy, with bright, offbeat colors to choose from, what's sold here is classy and sophisticated: these pieces would be much more at home in a high-end men's shop in New York or Los Angeles than on the East Side, as attested to by the thriving online mail-order business these folks do to homes all over the United States. Prices are not half bad, either, and the icing on the cake is superlatively friendly, attentive and helpful customer service of the kind that makes it easy to understand how the business has lasted this long.
- Young Fashion, 3096 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 13, 19 or 32), ☎ +1 716 838-1733. 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.
The north end of the Bailey Avenue strip boasts a pair of Asian groceries that serve UB students as well as a growing immigrant community.
- An Chau Asian Market, 3306 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 19 or 32), ☎ +1 716 837-2303. M-W 10AM-7:30PM, Th 10AM-9PM, F-Sa 10AM-8:30PM, Su 10AM-6PM. If you've been to its big sister on Niagara Street, you'll know what to expect from the East Side satellite location of An Chau: crowded aisles stacked floor-to-ceiling with a wide variety of African, Latin American, and (above all) East Asian specialty groceries. Compared to its West Side counterpart, this place is smaller but also cleaner and less chaotic and claustrophobic, with shelves crowded with all manner of sauces, oils, pickles, snacks, and packaged groceries. The far-side aisles are lined with coolers and freezers that contain frozen meats and fresh exotic produce from tamarind to mung beans to Korean pears to white beech mushrooms, and there's a small counter in the back for fresh meat cut to order. One difference at the Bailey Avenue location is there's also a small range of Caribbean foodstuffs there, including johnnycake mix. If you're on the lookout for that obscure Asian product you saw overseas but haven't been able to find Stateside, An Chau has you covered — and if you just got done tucking into a bowl of pho down the street at Pho 99 and have the itch to try making some at home, they have frozen meatballs and even packaged instant soup mix. A word of warning, though: check the sell-by dates, as An Chau is known to occasionally keep expired or near-expired items on the shelves.
- Lee's Oriental Gifts & Foods, 3325 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 19 or 32), ☎ +1 716 836-7100. M-Sa 10AAM-7:30PM, Su 1:30PM-5:30PM. This little Korean-owned shop has been in business on Bailey since 1991 and was accurately described by one reviewer as "resembl[ing] the Asian markets in San Francisco, except scaled down to [the size of] Buffalo's Asian population". As far as the food half of the equation is concerned, this place covers the basics well: huge sacks of rice, packaged groceries, a few freezer items — as well as a hit-or-miss selection of offbeat items like spices and dried cuttlefish. There's also a small selection of jewelry, Asian crafts and other knickknacks.
Furniture and home decor
- Bailey Furniture, 3191 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 13, 19 or 32), ☎ +1 716 835-6171. Tu-F 11AM-4PM, Sa 11AM-3PM. Owned and operated by Paul Diamond since 1980, Bailey Furniture is one of the longest-standing businesses in the area. The name of the game here is used and antique furniture, along with some new furniture. 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 used goods people sell to the shop, 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 at Bailey Furniture 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.
- Priceless Home Decor, 3139 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 13, 19 or 32), ☎ +1 716 551-0642. M-Sa noon-9PM. "Home decor" is really only the beginning at this home goods retailer, newly moved to the Bailey Avenue strip from the Vernon Triangle. Priceless Home Decor offers 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.
Liquor, beer and wine
- Out the Door Liquors & Wines, 2788 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12 or 19), ☎ +1 716 833-0760. M-Th 10AM-10PM, F-Sa 10AM-midnight, Su noon-9PM. Out the Door Liquors and Wines is a brand-new shop at the south end of the Kensington-Bailey strip (opened in 2013), but it's already earning rave reviews for its great prices and friendly staff who go above and beyond to help you find what you're looking for. As the store's name indicates, you can find wine there — but the specialty at Out the Door is a wide selection of spirits. As soon as you come inside, you're face-to-face with the back wall of the store, the entirety of which is stacked floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall with every kind of potent potable you can imagine. As well, the store is clean and brightly lit, without that seedy vibe that other area liquor stores suffer from.
- Shepherd's Liquor, 3177 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 13, 19 or 32), ☎ +1 716 837-5036. M-Sa 10AM-midnight. Shepherd's Liquor is a longstanding, family-owned and operated institution in Kensington-Bailey: founded in 1982 by Philip Shepherd, who realized his lifelong dream of owning his own business after retiring from a long career with the postal service, and his wife Juanita; the store is now in the capable hands of their son Darrell. Now as ever, a rabidly loyal customer base comes to Shepherd's to avail themselves of a great selection of domestic and international wines and spirits, available in a clean environment and at good prices. Monthly tastings are held too.
- New Style Records and Movies, 2995 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 13, 19 or 32), ☎ +1 716 834-0710. 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
- Big Basha Central, 844 Jefferson Ave. (Metro Bus 18, 22, 24 or 29), ☎ +1 716 856-4926. 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.
- Park Avenue Coat Company, 144 William St. (Metro Bus 1, 2, 4, 6, or 24; Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☎ +1 716 856-4209. M-Sa 10AM-6PM. Besides being a wholesale distributor of brand-name and designer leather coats, jackets, winter wear, caps, and t-shirts, Park Avenue Coat Company also has several retail locations, including one just outside downtown on the Near East Side. Here, in a no-frills warehouse environment, you can find some of the absolute cheapest outerwear in town: not only do you still pay wholesale prices for anything that's on the racks, but Park Avenue also sells "slightly irregular" merchandise direct from the manufacturers at an even steeper discount. If you want, say, a licensed Starter jacket of your favorite NFL, NBA, NHL, or NCAA sports team, but only have $15 to spend, this is the place for you. New merchandise arrives weekly, and prices tend to be especially good around February and March when they're clearing out their winter gear — but sadly, Park Avenue's massive retail floor is not very well staffed by salespeople, so you mostly have to fend for yourself to find what you're looking for.
- Utica Sneakertown, 1307 Jefferson Ave. (At the Jefferson-Utica Plaza; Metro Bus 12, 13, 18 or 29), ☎ +1 716 884-1717. M-W & Sa 11AM-7:15PM, Th-F 11AM-7:30PM. A lot bigger inside than what it looks like from the parking lot, this Korean-owned footwear destination at the Jefferson-Utica Plaza in Cold Spring carries a decent selection of shoes — they're a licensed dealer of Timberland boots as well as Converse products. Oddly enough, Sneakertown also carries a modest array of urban-styled jewelry.
- Michigan Riley Farm, 108 Riley St. (Metro Bus 8, 12, 13 or 18; Metro Rail: Utica), ☎ +1 716 262-8183. Farm stand open seasonally; 2015 hours to be announced soon. Located on 12 vacant lots in Cold Spring that were sold at a municipal foreclosure auction in 2011, Michigan Riley is a bit different than most area urban farms. Rather than being owned and operated by one person or family, this place is run cooperatively: individual participants sign up each year for one of two levels of membership, with "farmers" ($150/year) entitled to a share of both the produce from the farm itself and profits from sales in exchange for a commitment of four hours of farm work per week throughout the season, and "gardeners" ($25/year), who are not held to any hard-and-fast commitments but can take a proportional share of the produce based on how much work they put in. For short-term visitors and those who aren't interested in volunteering, the best way to get your hands on some of Buffalo's freshest locally-grown seasonal 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.
- Swings Specialty Wings, 2280 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 8 or 23; Metro Rail: Amherst Street), ☎ +1 716 247-9464. Daily 5PM-10PM. Buffalo's culinary history is a cautionary tale, littered with stories of folks who've tried and failed to reinvent the chicken wing. Kobie Lewis is different. Since 2002, this consummate wing lover has been on a quest to craft the perfect iteration of Buffalo's signature foodstuff, and along the way he's learned the important lesson of working within the limitations of his source material rather than trying to force chicken wings to fill roles they weren't designed for. The result is what he calls "specialty wings", or "swings" for short — and Lewis has five National Wing Fest trophies to attest to his success. Every evening at this part-food shop, part-takeout restaurant, you can choose from over 18 original flavors, comprising the standard Buffalo sauce with varying levels of heat, barbecue wings from classic to hickory-smoked and honey BBQ, and oddballs like taco-seasoned and lemon-pepper wings. Swings sells their house-recipe wing sauce and barbecue sauce in bottles as well, in-store or via mail order.
Chocolate, candies and sweets
- Choco-Logo Confectionery, 141 Broadway (Metro Bus 1, 2, 4, 6, or 24; Metro Rail: Lafayette Square), ☎ +1 716 855-3500. M-F 10AM-5PM. From his start in 1985 making custom promotional chocolate bars embossed with corporate logos (hence the name), "owner and chocolatier" Dan Johnson has guided Choco-Logo to its present-day status as perhaps the most highly-regarded chocolate manufacturer in Western New York (the accolades even extend to the pages of the New York Times, who lauded them as the official chocolate provider for Bloomingdale's department stores). Located on Broadway just outside downtown and right next door to the historic Colored Musicians' Club, Choco-Logo's small factory store has been open since 2005 to sate Buffalonians' sweet tooth with artisanal chocolates manufactured just a short walk away. Most of the time the selection here is fairly modest, comprising dark and milk chocolate truffles, chocolate-covered nuts, Choco-Logo's famous "Nutcorn" (caramel corn stuffed with roasted nuts and coated in chocolate), and a variety of sea-salted caramels that were sampled by President Obama during his visit to Buffalo in 2010. But the holidays is when you really want to come — his seasonal selections are where Johnson's creativity really comes out to shine, with unique truffle options such as Eggnog, Black & Tan, and Ice Wine. Small-group tours of the attached chocolate factory are also available on request.
- 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.
In Fillmore-Leroy you'll find a pair of Christian bookstores that are great places to pick up Bibles and other religious literature at low prices.
- Alive Christian Bookstore, 2275 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 8 or 23; Metro Rail: Amherst Street), ☎ +1 716 837-1118. 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.
- Bible Society of Western New York, 2562 Main St. (Metro Bus 8, 23 or 32; Metro Rail: Amherst Street), ☎ +1 716 833-3430. M-To 10AM-6PM, W-F 10AM-5PM. The Bible Society of Western New York has been active since 1847, a nondenominational and nonsectarian ministry that distributes to the local citizenry free copies of the Good Book written in a language that is plainspoken and accessible to the masses. That mission continues on today, but they also run a "Bible Book Store" on Main Street in Fillmore-Leroy that stocks a huge selection of different Bibles representing every edition you can think of as well as 40 foreign languages. Youth ministry guides, Bible study materials, and a small selection of other Christian and secular literature are also to be had, and the Bible Society has also teamed up with their next-door neighbor, Bender's Christian Store, to offer church supplies such as Communion wafers, offering envelopes, and hundreds of different Christian homeschooling goods too. The ambience here is strictly no-frills — the better to keep their charitable, not-for-profit raison d'être going — but the staff is knowledgeable with any questions you may have, and the prices are unbeatable.
Furniture and home decor
- Buffalo ReUse, 296 E. Ferry St. (Entrance on Dupont St., Metro Bus 13 or 18), ☎ +1 716 578-3782. Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. Headquartered appropriately enough in an old industrial building on the north edge of Cold Spring, Buffalo ReUse's game is "upcycling" authentic discarded architectural elements, plumbing fixtures, furniture, and other interior pieces from homes that are slated for demolition or undergoing renovation — thereby keeping trash out of landfills while reducing demand for new items and the raw materials necessary to produce them. At the weekend "sidewalk sales" they hold in front of the building's Dupont Street entrance, you can buy these one-of-a-kind items — stuff you won't find in a million years at Home Depot or Lowe's — at a small fraction of what you'd pay for comparable reproduction pieces. Even if you're not looking to redo your home, the folks at ReUse are full of ideas for repurposing these old antiques into furniture, picture frames, decorative items, and more.
Liquor, beer and wine
- East Ferry Liquors, 405 E. Ferry St. (Metro Bus 13, 18 or 29), ☎ +1 716 884-4066. Daily 8AM-11PM. Founded in 1956, the erstwhile Bellamy's Wine and Liquors was rebaptized with its current moniker in 2014, after the death of its longtime owner Herbert Bellamy. Other than the name, though, not much else has changed at this tidy storefront on the edge of Cold Spring: you'll still find a great selection of spirits including gin, rum, cognac, vodka and tequila (as well as a somewhat underwhelming selection of wine) in a well-lit attractive environment, with light-colored wood paneling covering the walls and the front of the counters. Service is the weak link at East Ferry Liquors, at least some of the time: it depends on who's behind the counter at any given time, ranging from friendly to surly.
- Pernell's Liquors, 1995 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 23), ☎ +1 716 833-4016. Daily 8AM-midnight. This friendly if somewhat rough-around-the-edges liquor shop has been in business in Fillmore-Leroy since 1978 under the watchful guidance of founder Percy Jones. Pernell's is a crowded, jumbled store that boasts a modest selection of both wines and hard liquor.
- Doris Records, 286 E. Ferry St. (Metro Bus 13 or 18), ☎ +1 716 883-2410. 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 anchoring the north end of the Cold Spring business district since 1962. At Doris Records you'll get friendly service with no pretense or condescension, but to describe the place as "old-school" would be true in some ways and not in others. For instance, it's getting more and more rare to come across this type of small, friendly mom-and-pop record shop anymore — but the hipster-driven resurgence of vinyl LPs has yet to find its way here, with CDs and DVDs dominating the inventory and 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.
- Bikeshop Buffalo, 145 Swan St. (Metro Bus 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 14, 15, 16, 20, 24, 25, 36 or 40; Metro Rail: Seneca), ☎ +1 716 259-9463. M-F 10AM-6PM, Sa 10AM-4PM. The original Bikeshop has been at the service of East Aurora bicycle enthusiasts since 2006, and it's only fitting that the shop's first introduction to the rapidly growing community of urban cyclists in Buffalo has come via a storefront in The Hub, the complex of bicycle culture-themed shops and loft apartments opened in 2014 in the old Sibley & Holmwood Candy Company, of which Bikeshop is one of the original tenants. At Bikeshop Buffalo you can expect the same expert service and friendly mom-and-pop atmosphere as at the original, but here the product lines trend sharply toward high-performance road bikes for urban use, to the almost complete exclusion of off-road and mountain bikes. Bianchi, Redline, and Scott are some of the popular brands carried here, and available exclusively at the Buffalo location is the Retül line of professional performance-enhancing bike fittings. Also on offer are a full range of parts and accessories, helmets, jerseys, shoes, and even bike-mountable GPS units. Prices are high, but so is the quality of what this place carries, so if you're a serious cyclist Bikeshop Buffalo merits a look.
Delavan-Bailey and Schiller Park
Clothing and accessories
- Get Your'z, 2047 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 24), ☎ +1 716 894-4252. 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.
- Legacy Apparel & Footwear, 2649 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 19 or 26), ☎ +1 716 893-0361. Daily 9AM-11PM. A newer addition to the roster of Bailey Avenue clothing boutiques, Legacy Apparel is a huge emporium located 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.
- Mr. Millennium II, 2297 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 19, 24 or 26), ☎ +1 716 897-3730. M-Sa 10AM-10PM. The East Side satellite location of the original Mr. Millennium in Grant-Amherst, Mr. Millennium II is located in Delavan-Bailey and mostly stocks the merchandise that has made the original so successful: a mixture of prepaid mobile phones and accessories on the one hand, and on the other hand a staggering range of clothing for men and women that runs the gamut from T-shirts and hoodies to designer jeans to ladies' formalwear to jewelry and accessories galore.
- Net's Place, 2259 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 24 or 26), ☎ +1 716 206-8605. M & W-F 10AM-4PM, Sa 10AM-4:30PM. For bold yet classy formalwear perfect for church on Sunday, Net's Place is the place to be in Schiller Park. In business on Genesee Street since 2012 under the ownership of Vanessa Moore, you'll find a great selection of secondhand clothing with a special emphasis on fashions for plus-size ladies.
- Sky's the Limit, 2619 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 19 or 26), ☎ +1 716 895-3520. 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.
- Styless Consignment Boutique, 1384 E. Delavan Ave. (Metro Bus 26), ☎ +1 716 816-5111. Styless Consignment Boutique (the name is not a typo) is the brainchild of Renaissance woman Shawn Loman, whose resolution to herself in 2011 to shop only at thrift stores evolved into what she calls "The Thrift Store Challenge" — which encourages inner-city women to combine high fashion and financial freedom by mixing and matching creative outfits from thrift store finds, with a budget of no more than $20 — as well as a book, Secrets of a Thriftinista. Another angle of Loman's "beauty on a budget" philosophy is this Delavan Avenue thrift and consignment shop, where you can find high-end, fashion-forward secondhand women's clothing, shoes, handbags, jewelry and other accessories at great prices. At Styless you'll find some of the most daring designs in Buffalo; loud colors, animal prints, and ripped jeans and tops abound on these shelves. Best of all, Loman gives back to her community as an eager supporter of local designers whose styles are featured frequently at special in-store events — as well as her own label, Lejei Tees.
- Steve's Meats, 1314 E. Delavan Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 19 or 26), ☎ +1 716 897-0272. 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, and you don't get that kind of longevity in a business without something special in the mix — and the one factor that makes this place stand out from the rest of Buffalo's purveyors of fresh meat is the topnotch customer service. Again and again, customers rave about the consistent friendliness of owner Mark Lesinski and his staff and how they truly go above and beyond in assisting their customers, whether it be in-store helping them navigate the counters and freezers or making home deliveries to regular customers who can't make it out for whatever reason. As well, Steve's stocks 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.
Liquor, beer and wine
- Ideal Liquors, 1341 E. Delavan Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 19 or 26), ☎ +1 716 893-0967. M-W 8AM-11PM, Th-Sa 8AM-midnight, Su noon-9PM. A Delavan-Bailey neighborhood stalwart that's been going strong since 1946, Ideal Liquors is a friendly, family-owned and operated business of the type you see less and less often these days. The store is set up like a warehouse store, with shelves stacked floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall with a nearly endless selection of wine and spirits that tends toward the high-end but comes at decent prices (sales and promotions are frequent, and there's always savings to be had on special "out the door" deals). Wine connoisseurs in particular will be pleasantly surprised at what's on offer at Ideal, and there are monthly wine tastings and other events to attend. Parking can sometimes be a problem in the small lot it shares with a convenience store and beauty shop — but on the plus side, the premises are patrolled by a friendly off-duty Buffalo policeman.
Tattoos and piercing
- Machine Mobb Graphix, 2245 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 24 or 26), ☎ +1 716 578-1060. By appointment. If the blurb on their Facebook page is to be believed, owner Ferris and his staff are "artistically well-rounded in many endeavors", including painting, custom artwork and jewelry, and body piercing — but the main stock in trade at Machine Mobb Graphix is tattoos, done skillfully and sanitarily. The style at this out-of-the-way tattoo parlor in Schiller Park melds tinges of urban and hip-hop influences to a classic aesthetic, and frequent Facebook and Twitter promotions give you an opportunity for further savings on the already fair prices.
- St. John's Flower Shop, 1227 E. Delavan Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 19 or 26), ☎ +1 716 896-5383. M-F 8:30AM-5PM, Sa 8:30AM-noon, Su 9AM-11AM. A hidden treasure in Delavan-Bailey, St. John's Flower Shop prides itself not only on excellent quality flower arrangements at great prices, but service that goes the extra mile. "Flowers for all occasions" is the credo here, and St. John's does indeed specialize in custom-crafted floral displays for weddings, funerals, and other special events. The flowers are fresh as can be and last practically forever, and the arrangements are packed full of beautiful blooms so you really get your money's worth. Roses are a particular specialty.
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 demolished in 1982 to make way for a Kmart that itself closed in short order. (It remains standing today, boarded up.) 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...
- Broadway Market, 999 Broadway (Metro Bus 4 or 23), ☎ +1 716 893-0705. M-Sa 8AM-5PM. These 90,000 square feet (8,250 square meters) of retail space boast dozens of stalls and eateries selling all manner of groceries, prepared foods, housewares, decorative baubles, and unique gifts all under one roof. Though its current building was erected in 1956, the Market dates to 1888, the very beginning of the area's rise as home of the city's Polish community; it was not only a place for neighborhood residents to stock up on daily essentials, but also a gathering place for Buffalo Poles to meet up with their friends, see and be seen, and enjoy a comforting reminder of their homeland. Today, Polish and other Eastern European foods and gifts still predominate, but the Market's offerings are slowly diversifying to better reflect the vibrant pastiche of the modern-day East Side, with soul food stands, halal groceries, and other eclectic goods on offer. The Market is most popular in the weeks leading up to Easter, when Buffalonians crowd through the doors in search of savory kielbasa and Polish hams, traditional pastries like chruściki and placek, and the butter lambs that are a tradition peculiar to Buffalo. But it's worthwhile to visit during other times of the year too, when it's quiet enough to get a real feel for the place — outside the Easter season, Saturday is the best day to go, as many if not most of the stalls close on weekdays.
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, ☎ +1 716 812-5672. 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, ☎ +1 716 713-0847. Tu-Sa 10:30AM-5PM. Perhaps be 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.
- Gridlock Lacquer. Sa 11AM-2PM, Oct-Mar. With Gridlock Lacquer, Lisa Menchetti offers a full line of specialty hand-mixed nail polishes in colors and designs that pay tribute to the mighty industrial history and rich culture of Buffalo — only here can you adorn your nails with the vibrant colors of "Loganberry", "The Blizzard of '77", and the Polish-themed "Smingus Dyngus". All products are cruelty-free and made with ingredients sourced from U.S.-based suppliers, and they contain no toxic formaldehyde. And if you're visiting from another Rust Belt city, they have Rochester-, Pittsburgh-, and Cleveland-themed collections as well.
- The Custom Hatter, 1318 Broadway (Metro Bus 4), ☎ +1 716 896-3722. M-Sa 8AM-5PM. The Custom Hatter is an institution that's been quietly prospering among the decline of the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood for over three decades: it's where owner Gary Witkowski practices the fast-disappearing craft of old-style hatmaking. A lifelong East Sider, Witkowski came up in the retail industry as a salesman and buyer in the hat department of upscale downtown clothier Peller & Mure — that's where he first came to an appreciation for fine men's hats, which he later honed as an apprentice to master milliner Henry Goldstein of Lynn, Massachusetts before striking out on his own in 1980. Today, in addition to the countless neighborhood residents he has helped to cap off (as it were) a formal ensemble in just the right way, Witkowski can boast of having outfitted big-budget Broadway shows like Guys & Dolls and Thoroughly Modern Millie, of his hats being worn on the big screen by stars like James Garner and Leonardo DiCaprio, and of his store being lauded in the pages of the New York Times and Fortune magazine. Orders are called in from around the country for fedoras, porkpies, homburgs, and other hats — all crafted on antique millinery tools — but if you're in the market for one yourself, this pleasant, well-lit store is stocked floor-to-ceiling with selections. Prices rank decisively in the high-end, but what you're paying for is quality that's second-to-none: Witkowski's workmanship hearkens back to the old school, using real beaver, chinchilla and muskrat fur with linings and leather sweatbands carefully sewn in place, rather than glued.
- Shoe Heaven, 1455 Broadway (Metro Bus 4 or 19), ☎ +1 716 818-6639. 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!
- Simply Plus Boutique, 943 Broadway (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☎ +1 716 605-6918. M-Tu & Th-Sa 10AM-5PM. Martha Pickett's consignment shop in the heart of the Broadway-Fillmore business district caters to plus-size ladies with a bevy of brightly-colored, vibrantly-patterned, and sassily stylish clothes, jewelry, outerwear (they specialize in North Face coats and fleeces), and accessories such as handbags and shoes.
- This & That, 959 Broadway (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☎ +1 716 895-5555. 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.
- Trendz, 1048 Broadway (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☎ +1 716 362-1557. 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.
- Vibes, 964 Broadway (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☎ +1 716 895-1620. Su-Th 9AM-9PM, F-Sa 9AM-10PM. Located in the former Payless ShoeSource right on the corner of Broadway and Fillmore, the two main claims to fame at Vibes are designer jeans and sneakers, the latter of which in an especially interesting selection comprising all the latest brands and lots of Day-Glo colors. As well, you'll find an eclectic mix of other apparel, accessories and beauty supplies for the urban set.
- 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.
- Al Baraka Halal Meat & Food. M-Sa 8AM-5PM. Serving a growing immigrant community on the East Side from a stall in the traditionally-Polish Broadway Market, Al Baraka's kitchen-sink list of merchandise consists of flours and grains, a huge selection of teas, dried fruits and legumes, fruit juices and other cold drinks, a small selection of halal meats, and more and more. Products from India and the Middle East are the main attraction, but there are also East Asian groceries to choose from as well. Staff is friendly as can be.
- Broadway Seafood & Meat, ☎ +1 716 893-1050. M-Th 8AM-4:30PM, F-Sa 8AM-5PM. Situated along the back wall of the Market with one large cooler for seafood and one for meat, Broadway Seafood & Meat is huge. The latter cooler has pretty much every kind of butcher meat you can think of, including unusual items like rabbit and soul-food staples like hamhocks, pigs' feet, turkey necks and chitlins; the former proudly displays fresh whole fish on ice (again, pretty much every kind you can think of; the selection of freshwater whitefish is especially good), as well as huge five-pound fish fillets, crab legs that come fresh or packaged, and homemade hush puppies for a side dish. Service is prompt and friendly, and prices have to be seen to be believed.
- Camellia Meats, ☎ +1 716 597-0281. 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 a full range of the same high-quality, low-price fresh meats you can get at the other place. Yes, that includes the award-winning house-brand Cichocki's Polish sausage.
- Deb's Delights, ☎ +1 716 652-8298. W 10AM-5PM. Drawing on her background in the catering business as well as her talents in the kitchen, Debra Dechert took up canning as a hobby in 1989. Little did she know that a quarter-century later it would turn into a lucrative business for her: Deb's Delights ships its inventory nationwide from their headquarters in East Aurora, and their products sit on the shelves at numerous supermarkets in the Western New York Area in addition 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, ☎ +1 716 893-9771. M-Sa 8AM-5PM. Sure, at this longtime Broadway Market vendor you can pick up a jar of the delicious, zesty namesake product which can otherwise be found in supermarkets all over the area, as well as harder-to-find beet horseradish. But Famous Horseradish also stocks a full range of horseradish-infused products like spicy mustard and cocktail sauce, as well as a variety of homemade pickles and sauerkraut. The remaining space on the shelves is filled out by a selection of fresh produce that's similar to the kind of stuff you'll find at Lewandowski's, but reduced in variety and quantity — though naturally, if you're in the market for fresh horseradish root you're in luck.
- Keeping Traditions, ☎ +1 716 698-2280. Sa 8AM-5PM, 2nd week of November through Easter. Keeping Traditions is the project of brother-and-sister team Greg and Julie Czochara, who keep alive their late mother's traditional pierogi recipe (hence the name) that their family enjoyed every Christmas: they handmake hundreds of these dumplings a day in their facility in Tonawanda, fresh-freeze them, and ship them to a growing roster of local stores and supermarkets as well as selling them directly to the public at the Broadway Market, on Saturdays from mid-November through Easter (unlike the majority of the vendors at the Market, Christmastime is Keeping Traditions' high season; they're here daily around the holidays). The pierogi these folks make are pretty hefty — around 5 inches (13cm) in size on average — and come with a variety of fillings including farmer cheese, cheddar cheese, onion, potato, sauerkraut, mushroom, and various combinations of the above, as well as special varieties that change from month to month.
- Kissed by the Sun Spice Company, ☎ +1 716 435-6011. Sa 10AM-4PM. Kissed by the Sun Spice Company was born in 1999, when owner Liz Fickhesen fell in love with the bold, zesty flavors of the Caribbean while on vacation in Tortola. True to form, these all-natural, all-kosher, pesticide- and MSG-free spice blends are the perfect accompaniment to island cuisine (their website even has an online cookbook for some ideas). Kissed by the Sun's biggest sellers are their seasoned sea salt blend with garlic, celery seed, parsley and a hint of ginger — a healthy alternative to table salt with one-third the sodium — as well as the sweet-hot pepper flakes made from the skins of red and jalapeño peppers, flavorful yet not too spicy.
- Lewandowski Produce, ☎ +1 716 896-7163. 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. Most of what you'll find at Lewandowski's is fairly standard produce-section stuff — onions, potatoes, lettuce, broccoli, peppers, and other stuff that will do you well if you plan to whip up a delicious Polish meal, as well as apples, oranges, bananas — 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, ☎ +1 716 892-4809. 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 an old-school operation — "as close as you can get to the original Broadway Market", in the words of one reviewer who grew up in Polonia during its golden years — and the constant hustle and bustle of customers testifies to the quality of what they sell. Lupas sells meats that are handcut daily, and the stars of the show are (of course) Polish delicacies such as fresh and smoked kielbasa, kiszka, kabanossy, and slab bacon. This is also a place to find workmanlike cuts like oxtails, neckbones, hog jowls, chicken feet and other stuff that you can't get at fancy-shmancy places elsewhere, as well as soul-food cuts that cater to an incresingly African-American customer base. In terms of deli meats, bologna, ham, and other pork products abound, as do local brands: Wardynski's and Sahlen's wieners, Russer ham and bologna, Yancey's Fancy deli cheeses, and Lupas' own house brand. To cut down on the already low prices, you might opt for one of the variety packs if you're buying a large quantity, or else show up late in the day, when prices are reduced to move as much inventory as possible.
- Malczewski's, ☎ +1 716 597-0281. M-Sa 8AM-5PM. In Buffalo, Malczewski's is synonymous with the local tradition of the baranek wielkanocny, or butter lamb — the centerpiece of the traditional Easter breakfast spread, it's a block of butter sculpted by hand into the shape of a lamb (symbolic of the "Lamb of God" of Catholic iconography), with a red ribbon tied around its neck (a symbol of the blood of Christ) and a red-and-white Alleluia flag stuck in its back. The butter lamb is a tradition native to several Eastern European lands, but on this side of the Atlantic it's unique to Buffalo. Since Mr. and Mrs. Malczewski retired in 2013, Camellia Meats has taken over the making of the butter lambs, as well as the rest of the operations at this old-school Broadway Market food stall: all your favorite Polish specialties are represented, from homemade pierogi and kluski noodles to kiszka, kapusta, czernina, farmers' cheese, and smoked hams.
- Pierogi by Paula, ☎ +1 716 285-8180. Sa 8AM-5PM. In her hometown of North Tonawanda, Paula Duge grew up with the tradition of helping her mother make traditional Polish pierogi for their Easter morning breakfast. Today, the savory dumplings she whips up at her facility in suburban Rochester are still made by hand using authentic ingredients and the secret Kurasiewicz family recipe — "just like Babci made", as the saying goes. Whether it be traditional savory fillings like potato, sauerkraut, or imported farmers' cheese or dessert pierogi stuffed with fruit preserves, they're all preservative-free and delicious. Paula's sister Judy handles the Buffalo-area operations of Pierogi by Paula, including its presence at the Broadway Market every Saturday. (If you're here on Tuesday or Friday, the folks at White Eagle Bakery have a key and can get you pierogi from the freezer case.)
- Spices by Milly, ☎ +1 716 310-2321. Sa 9AM-4PM, Nov-Mar; daily 9AM-4PM, Mar-Easter Sunday. Spices by Milly offers up a selection of spices and herbs that dwarfs what you can find on the shelves of your average supermarket, and whose chef-level quality comes from the hours of research the owner puts in on the ideal physical characteristics and preparation and storage methods for each of her individual products. That's just the beginning of the story, though: Milly also stocks a huge range of prepared goodies like cooking oils, salad dressings and dips, hot sauces and salsas, dehydrated vegetables, a range of premium quality herbal teas (including decaffeinated varieties), and powdered soup and gravy mixes based on her own family recipes.
- A.D. Asian Variety Mart, 977 Sycamore St. (Metro Bus 4, 6, 22, 23 or 24), ☎ +1 716 464-6993. In business on Sycamore Street since 2009, the Bengali-language sign that adorns the front of the building testifies to the origin of owner Muhammad Munshi, to the identity of the immigrant community it serves, and to the type of goods that you can find inside. Namely, the merchandise at A.D. consists of halal groceries from all over the Indian Subcontinent and the Middle East, with an emphasis on meats including chicken, beef, lamb, goat and more. As well, you can pick up a range of fresh produce and Asian spices.
- Al-Amin Halal Meat and Fish, 1064 Sycamore St. (Metro Bus 4, 6, 22 or 23), ☎ +1 716 893-4253. Daily 9AM-11PM. Now in a new location on Sycamore Street, Al-Amin 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.
- Al-Madina Grocery & Variety Store, 1044 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 6, 22, 23 or 24), ☎ +1 716 893-4012. 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.
- Foodland, 1105 Broadway (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☎ +1 716 248-1171. Daily 9AM-9PM. This Middle Eastern and South Asian food shop opened in late 2014 at the far east end of the new shopping plaza at the corner of Broadway and Sweet Avenue. At Foodland you'll find a mix of specialty groceries including halal meat and fish, fresh produce, spices and frozen foods. As well, they always have a pot of hot coffee on.
- Wilson Street Urban Farm, 330-386 Wilson St. (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☎ +1 716 853-7316. Farm stand open Sa 10AM-12:30PM in season. Wilson Street Urban Farm comprises 25 lots on the west side of Wilson Street between Broadway and Sycamore: about 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 such as turnips, arugula, cucumbers, peas, carrots, kohlrabi, onions, garlic, beans, leafy greens and herbs, both outdoors in the ground as well as inside their custom-built hothouse. While about half of the harvest goes to feed the nine-member Stevens family themselves, they offer the rest up for sale on Saturday mornings at their farm stand, which is one of the best places in the neighborhood to get fresh seasonal veggies — indeed, the mission statement of the farm is to "make fresh, local, naturally-grown produce readily available to Buffalo's East Side".
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.
- Chruściki Bakery, ☎ +1 716 893-1464. M-F 8AM-4PM, Sa 8AM-5PM. At the Broadway Market, countless Polish confectioners have come and gone over the years, 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 all year long, but especially in the weeks leading up to Easter, to satisfy their sweet tooth. The titular item that earned this place their stature is chruściki, otherwise known as "angel wings" — flat strips of dough twisted into ribbon shapes, deep-fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar; a light-as-air deliciousness — but you can also pick up pączki, placek, makowiec, and mazurek, as well as home-baked rye bread, pierogi, and full hot breakfasts. The Chruściki Bakery also has locations in Kenmore and Lancaster.
- Franklin's Kettle Korn. Sa 9AM-4PM, Thanksgiving-Easter. Kettle corn is the specialty that gave this longtime Broadway Market stall its name: it comes in three sizes and in regular, cinnamon, and extra-sweet flavors. But there's also fresh honey, beeswax, and handmade candies sourced directly from Lyle Franklin's expansive Chautauqua County farmstead, as well as novelty beer glasses, knit hand towels, and other miscellaneous stuff.
- Melanie's Sweets Unlimited, ☎ +1 716 895-1959. M-Sa 8AM-5PM. Scratch-made cakes, pastries and cookies come out of the oven all day at Melanie Krygier's sweet shop, which has been open here at 999 Broadway since 1978. Melanie's specialty is "lamb cakes": lamb-shaped slabs of pound cake drizzled in a sweet sugar glaze and frosted with a white coconut icing.
- Strawberry Island, ☎ +1 716 895-3279. Tu-Sa 10AM-4PM. "We'll dip anything in chocolate" is the saying around here, and at Strawberry Island 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: this old-time candy shop stocks all the sweets you remember from the halcyon days of your youth — jelly beans, saltwater taffy, crispy sugar waffles, fudge — as well as only-in-Buffalo specialties like sponge candy (available in regular, dark chocolate or orange chocolate) and Charlie Chaplins (a mix of marshmallows, roasted cashews, and coconut flakes covered in chocolate fudge and sprinkled with coarse salt).
- Sweet Temptations du Jour, ☎ +1 716 536-0567. Barbara Keating started out whipping up small batches of family-recipe Polish pastries like makowiec and selling them at craft shows and farmers' markets around the area, but today Sweet Temptations du Jour has expanded to an eclectic array of sweets representing culinary traditions from across Europe — German pfefferneusse spice cookies, Russian teacakes, Italian cugidati, and Croatian-style apple strudel are just a few of the concoctions available by special order from the website. As for the Broadway Market stand where you can find Keating every Saturday, it stocks a limited slate of changing selections from Sweet Temptations' oeuvre, always including the specialty of the house: light, crunchy sugar waffles dipped in chocolate and topped with candied nuts, dubbed "Sweet Nuthings". Chocolate-covered kettle corn is another big seller. And if you're planning a trip to Buffalo but can't make it to the Broadway Market on a Saturday, fear not — Sweet Temptations du Jour also has a brick-and-mortar location in Allentown!
- White Eagle Bakery, ☎ +1 716 896-3949. Tu 10AM-4PM, F-Sa 9AM-4PM. Owned since 1925 by four generations of the same family, White Eagle Bakery is 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. But these folks sell the whole lineup of Polish pastries: placek, strudel, cream horns, pastry hearts, cakes and pies, and the seasonal favorite pączki which flies off the shelves from Fat Tuesday all the way through to Easter Sunday. As well, a close second to chruściki on the list of customers' favorite White Eagle products is the wholesome, soft-crust seeded Polish rye bread baked fresh daily. If you're in town at the beginning of the week, come see these folks at their other location, D&L Bakery in Depew.
Furniture and home decor
- National Warehouse Furniture, 919 Broadway (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☎ +1 716 845-6610. 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 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.
- Prestige Furniture, 1403 Broadway (Metro Bus 4), ☎ +1 716 893-5311. Daily 10AM-4:30PM. "Louie the Furniture Man" is the guy you want to see at Prestige, which has been going strong in St. John Kanty since 1970. This place has been family-owned and operated since 1970, and its 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, ☎ +1 716 480-8277. 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 that's just the beginning of the story here: you 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 a kitschy gift, you can find coffee mugs, shot glasses, sweatshirts, decals, decorative items all emblazoned with the proud Polish flag.
- Ceramics By Design, ☎ +1 716 677-6564. 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, ☎ +1 716 894-1332. 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 — flags, scarves, aprons, t-shirts, hats, baby clothes, shot glasses, ad nauseam — 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 such as beer steins and wine glasses, and a selection of English- and Polish-language greeting cards.
- Theresa's Treasures for the Home. Sa 8AM-3PM. The name of this shop is a bit of a misnomer: the main stock in trade at Theresa's Treasures for the Home is a collection 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: there are lots of porcelain decorative figurines and kitchenware, cut glass dishes & goblets, and trinkets such as solar powered dancing animals. If you're among the Eastertime crowds at the Broadway Market, you'll also find painted wooden Easter eggs and other seasonal fare.
Liquor, beer and wine
- Broadway Liquors, 1589 Broadway (Metro Bus 4 or 19), ☎ +1 716 893-7464. Tu-Su noon-midnight. Inside this small, well-kept storefront in St. John Kanty is a surprisingly ample selection of wines and spirits, available for customers to peruse in a well-lit, friendly environment.
- Buffalo Metro Wine & Liquor, 881 William St. (Metro Bus 1 or 23). M-Sa 8AM-midnight, Su noon-9PM. Set back well off William Street behind the Citgo gas station at the corner of Fillmore Avenue, Buffalo Metro Wine & Liquor is easily mistakable for a garden-variety convenience store or bodega. Instead, inside this gleaming new building is an ample selection of wines and liquors including Western New York vintages from the likes of Fulkerson, Merritt Estate, and Schulze. "Out the door" specials are frequent and afford you decent savings.
- J&J Liquor, 910 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 4, 6, 22, 23 or 24), ☎ +1 716 597-0260. M-Tu noon-11PM, W-Sa noon-midnight, Su noon-9PM. This family-owned diamond in the rough at the corner of Fillmore and Sycamore, about midway between Polonia and Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, stocks a selection that focuses far more on spirits than wines. J&J is run by an owner that — when he's not providing them with topnotch service — indulges his customers warmly with jokes, small talk, and jovial good humor.
- Every Saturday at the Broadway Market, you'll find...
- Hands & Paws Cookies and Treats, ☎ +1 716 361-2801. Sa 10AM-4PM. At Hands & Paws you can find a variety of artisanal pet treats made of natural, wholesome, high-quality ingredients — a popular seller are bone-shaped peanut butter cookies drizzled in yogurt and dog-safe chocolate substitute — as well as chew toys, collars, mats, and other accessories all handmade in the USA. Custom embroidery is available. Most of the items here are for dogs, but Hands & Paws also carries a line of catnip toys and cat beds.
- St. Francis Thrift Store, 897 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 2 or 23), ☎ +1 716 855-1909. Tu 9AM-2PM, Th 1PM-6PM, second Sa of each month 10AM-2PM. Sponsored by the local Franciscan Friary in Larkinville and staffed with a dedicated team of volunteers, St. Francis Thrift Store carries a range of gently used clothing at affordable prices, with an especially good selection of children's clothing to choose from. You can also find a hodgepodge of other thrift store fare around the shop, from toys and games to books to memorabilia. Donations are gratefully accepted.
- Zajil's Islamic Imports, 900 William St. (Metro Bus 1 or 23), ☎ +1 716 322-0292. Su-Th noon-10PM, F-Sa noon-11PM, closed for half an hour each Friday afternoon for jum'a prayer. In a cozy little side room accessible through Naaim Halal Restaurant you'll find a surprisingly wide range of Islamic clothing and gifts. If you happen to be in the market for a new bakhoor, hijab, or thobe, Zajil's just might be the place you're looking for, but clothing is only the beginning of the story: you can also get some decent housewares and toiletries including prayer mats, complete tea seats, and imported perfumes and oils, and Zajil's also sells some of Buffalo's finest hookah tobacco.
Lovejoy and Kaisertown
- Cedars Bakery, 111 Dingens St. (Metro Bus 19), ☎ +1 716 551-0584. M-F 10AM-5PM, Sa 10AM-3PM. This combination Lebanese food market and lunch counter is housed in a nondescript, low-slung brick building in an industrial section of Lovejoy, so it's easy to miss. Don't, though — the tasty Mediterranean specialties manufactured, sold and served at Cedars bakery have earned every single one of the many raves that Buffalo foodies have tossed their way since the place opened in 1981. Originally located on Niagara Street in the West Side, co-owners James and Andrew Issa, a pair of brothers that represent the second generation in this family-owned enterprise, moved to Dingens Street in 2001 and also run a branch location in Orchard Park. These folks are known for their pita bread — baked onsite daily and among the freshest in the city — but Cedars is a place where you can get pretty much any ingredient you need to whip up your own tasty Mediterranean meal: imported olive oil, dolmades (grape leaves), labneh (strained yogurt), hummus, tahini, and a freezer section fully stocked with goodies like falafel mix, prepared spanakopita pies, and more. The lunch counter serves freshly prepared pita sandwiches, wraps, and savory meat pies.
- European Deli, 1972 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 2), ☎ +1 716 825-0186. 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. The European Deli's owner, Teresa Ignatowska, is a Warsaw native who met her husband when he was an American tourist, and she started the shop as a way of keeping in contact with her Polish roots after moving to Buffalo in 1971. This place keeps odd hours, only open during the end of the week, but if you're around at the right time you can take advantage of the huge selection of meats that's the European Deli's biggest draw. Front and center is the kielbasa, which comes fresh, smoked, double-smoked, and in a few flavored varieties such as garlic. You can also find kabanosy, kiszka, saucison, Krakus ham, and other delicacies. Polish pastry and baked goods are also popular — including makowiec (poppyseed cake), pączki (doughnut-like pastries stuffed with fruit preserves, especially popular around Fat Tuesday), and hearty rye bread — and you'll also find farmer cheese, herbal tea, and Polish-language books, greeting cards, and videos. Everything sold here is imported directly from Poland, and much of it can't be found anywhere else in Buffalo.
- Federal Bakers (Maple Leaf Foods), 1400 William St. (Metro Bus 1 or 19), ☎ +1 716 332-2066. 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 at this out-of-the-way outlet on William Street 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.
- Slavic Bazaar, 1550 William St. (Metro Bus 1 or 19), ☎ +1 716 895-1404. M-F 9AM-7PM, Sa 9AM-6PM, Su 11AM-3PM. Slavic Bazaar is the place for Eastern European groceries in Buffalo, but don't be fooled by the painting on the side of the building of a pig in a frying pan: while fresh meats are indeed sold here, the selection is more modest than, say, European Deli on Clinton Street. Where Slavic Bazaar excels is in canned and packaged groceries, as well as frozen foods. Unlike the aforementioned European Deli, the selection here goes far beyond Poland: foods from Kashuba's native Ukraine as well as Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Latvia, and elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe are well-represented on the shelves. Canned vegetables, snacks, chocolate, pickled products, jarred fruit preserves, and spice mixes abound, along with an ample wall of freezers stocked with pierogi homemade in the factory behind the store, frozen borscht and other soups, savory pelmeni, and more. As for that modest selection of meats, there's a deli counter where you can get salo, kiszka, kabanosy and other favorites, as well as a small walk-in cooler with things like smoked fish fillets and Bulgarian kashkaval cheese. And if you happen to work up an appetite shopping for your favorite Eastern European imports, 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.
- B West Studio, 1925 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 2), ☎ +1 786 335-4532. Sa 1PM-6PM, Su 1PM-4PM, or by appointment. Founded in Allentown in 2006 and moved to its current home in 2014, B West Studio is the project of local artist Peter Caruso. In addition to Caruso's own work — characterized most often by energetic yet anonymous crowd scenes, rendered in acrylic paint in a style indebted to 19th-century Impressionism and often including familiar Buffalo streetscapes as a setting — B West's gallery space in the heart of Kaisertown 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.
Liquor, beer and wine
- Bailey Discount Liquor & Wine, 1245 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 1 or 19), ☎ +1 716 896-2431. M-W 9AM-10:30PM, Th 9AM-11PM, F-Sa 9AM-midnight, Su noon-9PM. Some liquor stores offer great selection, others boast high quality, and still others charge low prices, but it's rare that you'll find one that excels in all three of those areas. But that's exactly what Bailey Discount Liquors does. This hidden gem in Lovejoy is family-owned and operated with all the friendly and folksy service that implies, but walk through the door and you'd think you're in a huge supermarket instead of a small neighborhood shop: the sales floor is huge — the better to accommodate that aforementioned wide-ranging inventory — and crammed with name-brand liquors and what may be the best selection of wine in Buffalo. Best of all, though state law prohibits Bailey Discount Liquors from selling beer, they collaborate closely with the folks who run Bailey Mini-Mart next door to serve those in search of multiple different types of adult beverages.
Tattoos and piercing
- Blue Dragon Tattoo, 1248 E. Lovejoy St. (Metro Bus 1), ☎ +1 716 894-8101. Daily 5:30PM-midnight. Founded in 1992, Blue Dragon Tattoo is Buffalo's oldest tattoo parlor in continuous operation. Why? It's been kept going strong by legions of loyal customers who have come to rely on owner Mark and his talented staff not only for their skill as artists (the large, bold, statement-making pieces they come up with stand out from the pack among other area tattooists) but also for their emphasis on flexibly collaborating with the customer every step of the way, crafting a design that ensures your maximum satisfaction rather than treating you like an inanimate canvas as some tattooists do. The newly remodeled studio boasts an airy, brightly decorated ambience that puts nervous newbies at ease — they even have a pool table to keep you occupied while you wait. Walk-ins are welcome, and sales and promotions are held frequently.
- Tattoo Don's Nickel City Tattoos, 1921 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 2), ☎ +1 716 826-3331. Tu-Sa noon-9PM. The namesake of this friendly studio in the heart of Kaisertown is a Buffalo native that's built up quite the name for himself since starting out in the business in 1980: Tattoo Don's virtuoso versatility in many different genres of body art has placed his name in a growing list of tattoo magazines and trade publications. Needless to say, it's not easy to get an appointment with the maestro himself — he books sessions six times a year only, and waiting times can stretch for months — but that's no matter, because the other tattoists on staff at Nickel City are consummate artists in their own right. What's more, the friendly, funny, and personable service they provide has earned them one of the most rabidly loyal customer bases in the entire roster of Buffalo tattoo studios. Prices are determined on a case-by-case basis taking into account the size of the piece and the time required to execute it, but are generally very reasonable given the astonishing skill these guys have.
- Arrigo's Flower Shop, 1180 E. Lovejoy St. (Metro Bus 1), ☎ +1 716 896-5900. M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa 9AM-2PM. Since 1982, Thomas Arrigo has run his friendly flower shop in the heart of Lovejoy that specializes in a personal touch — as opposed to other flower shops where you're limited to choosing from a range of pre-designed arrangements, the folks at Arrigo's work in close concert with their customers to provide customized floral displays that are tailored to individual tastes and budgets without compromising the quality that folks depend on. Obviously, this requires a great deal of versatility on the part of the florist, and Arrigo's staff is up to the task.
- Kaisertown Crafts and Gifts, 1899 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 2), ☎ +1 716 570-0668. Tu-F 12:30PM-6PM, Sa 10AM-5PM. With a background in garment production and an accomplished career as a seamstress behind her, Elisabeth von Hahn emigrated to Buffalo from Germany in 1999 and opened this cute little shop a few years later. In the words of the website, Hahn's mission to "for the younger generation to learn the crafts that are dying out in this modern era", so instead of focusing exclusively on popular or trendy pursuits such as knitting and cross-stitching, Kaisertown Crafts and Gifts carries supplies for a wide range of different crafts. If you're into spinning, weaving, quilting, lacemaking, or paper crafts such as stamping or Cricut, this is the place for you — they even cater to jewelry and stained-glass artisans! Even if you're not in the market to buy anything, Kaisertown Crafts and Gifts is a busy place: craft instructor Dawn Flammger comes by on a frequent basis to host classes in knitting, cardmaking, and scrapbooking, and the store even welcomes DIY types anytime during business hours for "open crafting", where you can pursue your craft in-store and even borrow Kaisertown Crafts' rubber and acrylic stamps, embossing folders and Cricut cartridges for a nominal price. They do alterations, too, and as for the "gifts" half of the equation, a range of porcelain figurines, plush toys, knitted items, books, handbags and accessories are stocked.
Delavan-Grider, Humboldt Park, and Genesee-Moselle
Clothing and accessories
- Exclusive Gear, 958 E. Ferry St. (Metro Bus 12 or 13), ☎ +1 716 939-2252. Daily 10AM-8PM. In an out-of-the-way location near the south end of Grider Street, Exclusive Gear stocks an impressive breadth of clothing: they carry stuff for men, women and children, in a wide range of sizes and every permutation you can imagine of urban fashion; jeans, t-shirts, pullovers, plaids, sportswear, and accessories such as belts, earrings, and gold chains. By way of trying to describe their inventory more specifically (not easy to do), it can be said that Exclusive stocks slightly more menswear than ladieswear, and if you're looking for name brands, you'll be especially pleased with the small but high-quality collection of athletic shoes and boots near the front of the store — names like Nike and Timberland abound. Ladies' shoes are carried as well, and Exclusive also does a brisk side business dealing in cell phones and accessories.
- Signature Apparel & Footwear, 592 Walden Ave. (Metro Bus 6, 19 or 22), ☎ +1 716 893-0818. 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.
- Al Madina, 59 Walden Ave. (Metro Bus 6, 22, 23 or 24), ☎ +1 716 240-0062. 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 Al Madina is much more than just another corner bodega. The sign outside the door boasts of an international selection of groceries that encompasses "Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian, Burmese, Vietnamese, Arabian, Nepali, African, Spanish, and American" goods, but in reality, the accent here is decidedly on Middle Eastern and South Asian foods — principally halal meats and fish, spices, and a modest selection of fresh produce. Al Madina is also a source for clothing, both including both Western and traditional Muslim garb.
- Appletree Halal Market, 898 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 6, 22, 23 or 24), ☎ +1 716 768-4818. Daily 9AM-7PM. Appletree Halal Market's main claim to fame is 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 are ladled out for you from steam trays for some jaw-droppingly low prices. But if you'd rather try your hand at making your own version of this delicious cuisine, have no fear: Appletree stocks 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. What really sets Appletree apart, though, is the warm and helpful service provided by owner Mohsin: 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.
- Bailey Avenue Café and Bake Shoppe, 2021 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 6, 12, 19, 22 or 24), ☎ +1 716 896-1813. W-Su 11AM-7PM. At Bailey Avenue Café and Bake Shoppe you can get a great variety of cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, and other sweet treats, as well as prepared sandwiches and wraps and even soul-food dinners such as catfish fillets and fried chicken, served and/or sold to you in a spotlessly clean environment by folks who are as courteous as can be. But that's not the real reason you should visit: instead, stop in to show support for the work of Saving Grace Ministries, who operates the shop as a job training service for their staff of formerly homeless individuals.
- Camellia Meats, 1333 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 6, 12, 22 or 24), ☎ +1 716 893-5355. M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa 9AM-3PM. Camellia Meats was born in 1935, when Edmund Cichocki, a longtime butcher for Slawinski Meats at the Broadway Market, struck out on his own, selling his own family-recipe Polish sausage and ham. Over eighty years later, the business is still run by the third generation of the same family — and while you can get all the same stuff today as you could back then (the merchandise still trends toward Polish specialties such as kiszka, kabanossy, and the aforementioned Polish sausage which has gone on to win many awards), and the Camellia of today carries a full line of over fifty fresh-cut meats both at their Broadway Market outlet and the stand-alone shop that opened on Genesee Street in 2013. This gargantuan meat market boasts a 40-foot (12m) refrigerated display case and a row of freezers on the back wall, selling multitudinous cuts of beef, pork, chicken, and fish, deli meats and cheeses, and a small selection of fresh produce and prepared foods. If you're planning to make a large purchase, take advantage of their discounted package specials.
- Jawani Market, 1426 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13 or 23), ☎ +1 716 891-1060. Located on Fillmore Avenue in Humboldt Park, Jawani is a halal grocery store and bakery that carries a modest selection of Middle Eastern specialty foods — with an accent on halal meats such as goat, lamb, chicken and fish — alongside an otherwise bodegalike selection of candy, snacks, cold pop, cigarettes, and the like. Fresh produce is also sold.
- Pickles & Peppers, south end of Gittere St. (Metro Bus 6 or 22). Farm stand open Sa noon-4PM in season. A family-operated urban farm operated under the auspices of the Farmer Pirates collective, Pickles & Peppers is situated on a six-acre (2.5 ha) plot near the border of Genesee-Moselle and Broadway-Fillmore that's shared with Farmer Pirates' central composting facility. Owners Alex and Dan grow a range of hot peppers and other vegetables that they sell fresh, dried, pickled and prepared into a wide range of artisanal hot sauces at a seasonally-operated farm stand on Gittere Street. You can also pick up fruits from the orchard located on the same site: several dozen heirloom apple, cherry, and pear trees as well as berry bushes do double duty as a haven for area wildlife.
- Walden Halal Groceries, 57 Walden Ave. (Metro Bus 6, 22, 23 or 24), ☎ +1 716 886-6989. W-M 11AM-8PM. At this clean, well-kept store a stone's throw from Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, you'll find a mix of ethnic specialty groceries from the Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent that prominently includes a range of hand-slaughtered halal meats of superior variety, quality, and freshness: lamb, chicken, beef, and more are 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. As well, Walden Halal Groceries also sells fresh produce, an impressive variety of spices, and bodega fare such as snacks, candy, and cold drinks. The store closes during Friday prayers, and customer service is limited by the staff's tenuous grasp of English, but this is still a good place to go for fans of Asian and Arabian cuisine.
Furniture and home decor
- The Guild @ 980, 980 Northampton St. (Metro Bus 12, 22 or 24), ☎ +1 716 894-3366. Tu, F & Sa 9AM-4PM. The Guild @ 980 is operated out of a 100-year-old factory building on the historic Belt Line Railroad by ReUse Action, a group that splintered off of Buffalo ReUse in 2011 but shares much the same raison d'être: salvaging construction materials, architectural elements, and furnishings from soon-to-be-demolished homes, refurbishing them, and offering them up for sale to the next generation of home builders, thereby preserving the old-fashioned craftsmanship of the original items while simultaneously conserving raw materials and preventing waste from building up in landfills. If you're in the middle of a home construction project, The Guild offers your pick of old doors, windows, wooden beams, bathtubs, sinks, floor tile, light fixtures, and the like — and if not, you can still peruse a pretty nifty selection of antique furniture and home decor. The Guild also boasts a small third-floor gallery space described above.
Liquor, beer and wine
- Pratt-More Liquor Store, 655 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 6, 18, 24 or 29), ☎ +1 716 854-1503. M-Sa 9AM-midnight, Su noon-9PM. Since 1979, Sidney Cotrell has manned the counter of this small, friendly liquor store next to what used to be Genesee Billiards. At Pratt-More, the accent is on high-end spirits such as Hennessey VSOP cognac, available for prices that are decidedly not high-end.
- Ansar Cellular Communication & Fragrance, 1371 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 23 or 29), ☎ +1 716 884-2373. M-F 9AM-7PM, Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 11AM-3PM. The main attraction at this crowded, jumbled Fillmore Avenue bodega is a range of prepaid cell phones and calling plans, but Ansar also carries a wide range of specialty fragrances, toiletries and household items for the Arabian and African community that has coalesced in Humboldt Park: here you can find incense, rose attar and other fragrant essential oils, oil burners, shea butter soaps, and the list goes on. The picture is completed by the optimistic go-getter personality of owner Duane Madyun, who is highly regarded among the Humboldt Park community as the epitome of a successful entrepreneur: whether expounding on his personal philosophy of "do for self" or just chitchatting with his customers, his spirited presence is a delight to visitors to Ansar.
- Hobby Boyz, 838 E. Delavan Ave. (Metro Bus 13 or 26), ☎ +1 716 818-2691. M-Sa 11AM-9PM. You would never imagine that such an interesting, eclectic and high-quality range of merchandise would be available in a ramshackle brownstone storefront in Delavan-Grider, but stop in to Hobby Boyz and your expectations will surely be exceeded. Browse the shelves and you'll notice that the accent here is on supplies for hobbyists: the selection of remote-control cars and airplanes, scale-model hobby kits, and supplies for collectors holds its own with any other outlet in Western New York. If what you're aiming for is something a bit more active, Hobby Boyz is also an authorized dealer and repairer of Razor brand scooters (both electric and nonmotorized); they stock a full line of accessories and safety equipment too, as well as skateboards, dirt bikes, Minimoto bikes, ATVs, and pretty much anything else you can think of on wheels. But it gets even more diverse than that: as if to really emphasize the "variety" in owner Richard Wagstaff's slogan, "a new-style variety store", you'll find a full line of car stereos and audio equipment, designer clothes, video games, DVDs, hair-care products, convenience-store snacks, and a ridiculously ample range of other goods.
- Leslie's "One Man's Junk Is Another Man's Treasure" Boutique, 1474 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 23 or 29), ☎ +1 716 891-3546. W-Sa 10AM-5PM. Simply put, Leslie Thomas' small, friendly Fillmore Avenue boutique is a gold mine for folks in search of high-quality vintage items: secondhand skirts, blouses, fancy dresses, shoes and even menswear are available for a song, as well as housewares and decorative items. Donations are graciously accepted, too — as the store's credo goes, "the value in a person is in what he gives, not what he receives".
- Our World, 863 E. Ferry St. (Metro Bus 12, 13 or 23), ☎ +1 716 903-0449. Daily 10AM-6PM. On and off since 1969 — when he's had the spare time to put into running it, on top of working his primary job — Our World Boutique has been Harry Stokes' own labor of love. Its latest iteration opened in 2009, in the same building the shop was in when it last closed its doors in 1987, but the inventory on the shelves remains the same as ever: Our World was described in a Buffalo Rising writeup as being "dedicated to a world of ethnic delights", but really that doesn't even begin to scratch the surface. Instead, the huge range of items stocked here are a magnificent reflection of the vitality of Buffalo's African-American community in all its facets. "Diaspora gifts" of all descriptions are the name of the game here: from African-inspired artwork, housewares, and decorative knickknacks, to toiletry items like black and shea butter soaps and a range of natural body oils and creams, to scarves, kaftans and other clothing. But if Our World's inventory has one singular strong point, it's literature — Bibles, Korans, and books touching on African-American themes abound; those interested in local African-American news and views can pick up copies of the Challenger, Criterion, or Final Call; and, above all, they stock Buffalo's largest selection of Afrocentric greeting cards, with over a dozen series represented. The vivacious personality of Our World's owner is matched by the vivacious colors on the outer walls of the building: proud, bright reds, oranges, greens and blues, inspired in equal measures by the attractive storefronts of Elmwood Avenue and other fashionable shopping districts, as well as the vibrant hues of Africa. This place is truly one of a kind.
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 Arabian and Pakistani 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.
- Auntie's Jamaican Restaurant, 3331 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 19 or 32), ☎ +1 716 603-2766. M-Sa 1PM-5:30PM. Auntie's has flaws, but they're worth overlooking. The place keeps odd hours and is helmed by an owner who's known to be cranky with customers from time to time, but the food is delicious and the menu is much wider-ranging than other area Jamaican restaurants. You'll certainly find what you're looking for at Auntie's if you're in the mood for one of the basic standards, like jerk chicken, curry goat, oxtail, or escoveitch fish, but if you're feeling more adventurous, they also have harder-to-find selections like curry shrimp, ackee and saltfish, and red snapper. Best of all, Auntie makes her own ginger beer; if you're not in the mood for that, other drinks include sorrel, Irish moss, and healthy carrot and cucumber juices. Dessert adds a strong Southern/Creole accent to the proceedings, courtesy of options like banana bread and homemade sweet potato pudding. $10-15.
- Baba's Place, 3319 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 19 or 32), ☎ +1 716 832-5252. M-F 9AM-6PM. Baba's Place opened in 1989 as Sam's Express and has been serving "ethnically influenced comfort food" (their words, and perhaps the best possible description of the fare served there) under their current name since 2001. This is a tiny little restaurant with only a few tables, but that just makes the selection of food available there all the more impressive: a mélange of Greek and American specialties that come in portions that are huge and prices that aren't, and are served quickly and efficiently by friendly staff. Buffalo Greek diner staples such as gyro and souvlaki are served the traditional way — with pita bread and a Greek salad on the side — or you can get them on sub rolls. They're equally good either way. Baba's Place serves a range of other pita-pocket sandwiches and "pita tacos" as well, plus shish kebabs and a truly delicious rice pudding; vegetarians will be pleasantly surprised by the range of meat-free options here, such as falafel and spanakopita (spinach pie layered in phyllo dough). Consensus says the American food served here isn't quite as good as the Greek, but you can get a selection of hot and cold subs and melt sandwiches, as well as Asian-influenced selections such as your choice of chicken, beef or shrimp stir-fried over rice. $10-20.
- Bailey Fish & Seafood, 3316 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 19 or 32), ☎ +1 716 833-1973. M-Th & Sa 11AM-8PM, F 9AM-9PM. Bailey Fish and Seafood is the only seafood restaurant on the East Side — and the only one it needs. There's no indoor seating here, so you'll have to take your food back to the hotel with you, often braving seemingly endless lines to do so (especially on Fridays, when their topnotch fish fry packs the house) — but it's worth it. Why? Simply put, the food here is really, really good: the freshest, tastiest seafood Buffalo has to offer, with shipments of high-quality product arriving daily from all over the United States. The marquee item at Bailey Seafood is the "Haddock Super Sandwich", a feast that truly lives up to its superlative name: a gargantuan fried filet on a locally baked Costanzo's bun, topped with tangy coleslaw and homemade French fries, big enough for two people to share yet at a price of only $5. This and other sandwiches are frequently ordered in combos (or, for larger parties, "family packs") where the already excellent value for your money is improved further. Dinnertime at Bailey Seafood sees mains like breaded shrimp, grilled shrimp skewers, crawfish, steamed clams, and various fish filets served à la carte or in combo packs, and they even sell fresh fish and one-, two-, and five-pound packs of shrimp, crab legs, and oysters if you're planning an event. Meanwhile, the slate of appetizers and sides is where the Southern and Creole influences that pervade Bailey Seafood's menu come out best: try the hush puppies, mac & cheese, fried okra, or homemade sweet potato pie if you want a sample. Service is quick and friendly especially considering the unrelenting crowds the staff has to deal with; if you want to make it easier on them and yourself, you can call ahead or order online and they'll have your food waiting for you when you arrive. $10-25.
- Caribbean Experience, 2897 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13 or 19), ☎ +1 716 838-5131. Tu-Th 12:15PM-10PM, F 12:30PM-4AM, Sa 1:30PM-4AM. With a multitude of Taste of Buffalo awards under its belt and a strong claim on the title of best Jamaican food in town, the "experience" here is astoundingly good, if a bit strange at first. The odd way the restaurant is set up is usually the first impression for first-time visitors to Caribbean Experience: the front room is a handsome if usually empty bar with a pool table, and the counter where you order your food is in the back (ring the buzzer in front to get the owner's attention). In between is a large dining room, sparsely but pleasantly decorated with Jamaican flags adorning the dark wood panelling of the walls. The food served here earns no points for innovation — 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 occasionally pops up at places like Curly's or the recently closed Mangoz, and the culinary excellence carries over to the other selections as well: curry goat, brown stew chicken, oxtail, escoveitch fish, and a few others. Authenticity is the rule, and portion sizes are huge especially considering the prices. All meals are served with fried plantains, red beans and rice (they'll cover it with delicious, spicy jerk gravy if you want — highly recommended), and steamed cabbage; all your favorite island beverages are offered as well, from ginger beer to Irish moss to rum punch. $10-20.
- Mike's Steak Joint, 3355 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 19 or 32), ☎ +1 716 835-5636. M-Sa 11AM-1AM, Su 11AM-10PM. First off: if you're coming here with Ethiopian food in mind, you're going to be disappointed. Though some sources state otherwise, it seems that Mike's brief experiment with shoehorning Ethiopian specialties into his menu is permanently finished. However, if you're looking to nurse a hangover after a night of bar-hopping in nearby University Heights, the menu here 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.
- Pho 99, 3398 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13 or 19), ☎ +1 716 836-6058. M-F 10:30AM-10PM, Sa 10AM-10PM, Su 10AM-8:30PM. Founded in 1999 (hence the name) and located since 2003 on Bailey Avenue within walking distance of the South Campus of the University at Buffalo, Pho 99 is Buffalo's first Vietnamese restaurant — and though it no longer can claim the title of the best place in town for this cuisine, it still does a brisk business especially with university students and faculty. Noodle bowls, fried rice plates, and meat-based entrees are all available, but this place's specialty is pho, a Vietnamese soup made with rice noodles and flavored with bean sprouts, green chili peppers, basil and mint leaves, and lime juice. Raw beef is added to the soup; the piping hot broth cooks the beef before the soup is served. Consensus says the formerly impeccable quality of Pho 99's food took a hit after the place came under new management, but the fare here is still passable, and the service is friendly, if often slow. $10-20.
- Taste of Soul, 3288 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 19 or 32), ☎ +1 716 832-1471. Daily 11AM-9:30PM. Recently moved to Ken-Bailey from its former home at the north end of Fillmore Avenue near the Amherst Street subway station, Taste of Soul features heaping portions of skillfully crafted soul food served with a smile by an old African-American grandma, the kind of person who most assuredly knows her way around this cuisine. For the uninitiated, soul food is not fine dining and it's most definitely not health food: this is the humble but hearty, stick-to-your ribs cuisine of the rural American South, starring the tenderest fall-off-the-bone meat you've ever put in your mouth. The pork ribs are glazed in a sweet and savory sauce that's been described as the midpoint between Kansas City barbecue sauce and what comes on Chinese spare ribs; the mac and cheese is the other marquee item, cheesy and bursting with flavor. Elsewhere on the menu you'll find hamhocks (huge), fried chicken with grits, and a range of combo platters for those with big appetites. Everything comes served with a side of corn, black-eyed peas and collard greens, and make sure to save room at the end of your meal for the delectable peach cobbler. $10-15.
- Kensington Avenue Pizzeria, 1463 Kensington Ave. (At Cleve-Hill Plaza; Metro Bus 12 or 32), ☎ +1 716 832-3322. M-Th 10AM-10:30PM, F-Sa 10AM-11PM. Kensington Avenue Pizzeria is a conundrum: locals' opinions on the place are among the most wildly mixed of any restaurant in Buffalo. They're equally likely to praise the deliciousness of the steak tacos and fettuccine Alfredo as to denounce the slow and inconsistent service, "rough around the edges" waitstaff, and high-ish prices. This place does earn points for their expansive menu, though — the sign outside the door reads "the largest variety of pizzeria foods around", which is too modest; this place's oeuvre spreads far beyond the realm of what you would usually find in a neighborhood pizza joint. Joining the usual stuff on the menu is a full range of hot and cold sandwiches, subs and burgers, Italian specialties like sausage cacciatore, shrimp scampi and various pasta dishes, Southern-style fried chicken, a selection of Greek souvlaki platters, steaks and porkchops, even Puerto Rican fare like pastelillos and pernil. If you do feel like going the traditional route, though, the "Kitchen Sink Pizza" — with pepperoni, sausage, bacon, ham, onions, mushrooms, green and black olives, and sweet and hot peppers — is a winner if you're especially hungry. Breakfast is served daily till 2PM, and the place opens up on Sundays during football season to accommodate Bills fans. $10-30.
- Dollar General, 3079 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 13, 19 or 32), ☎ +1 716 833-3127. Daily 8AM-8PM.
- Family Dollar, 3364 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13 or 19), ☎ +1 716 833-4093. Daily 8AM-10PM.
- Family Dollar, 1459 Kensington Ave. (At Cleve-Hill Plaza; Metro Bus 12 or 32), ☎ +1 716 836-2361. Daily 8AM-10PM.
The following pizzerias are located 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 of the city.
- Bailey Avenue Pizza, 2916 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13 or 19), ☎ +1 716 837-4444. M-Th noon-11PM, F-Su 1PM-11PM.
- Tomatoes, 1393 Kensington Ave. (Metro Bus 12 or 32), ☎ +1 716 855-3663. M-Th 10AM-11PM, F-Sa 10AM-midnight, Su 11AM-11PM.
- Via Veneto, 3337 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 19 or 32), ☎ +1 716 836-6999. M-Sa 11AM-7:30PM.
The following local chains have locations in Kensington-Bailey and Kensington Heights. Descriptions of these restaurants can be found on the main Buffalo page.
- Louie's Texas Red Hots, 2811 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12 or 19), ☎ +1 716 835-8200. Su-Th 8AM-1AM, F-Sa 8AM-3AM.
Midtown, Cold Spring, and other Near East Side areas
- Dnipro Café, 562 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 6, 18, 24 or 29), ☎ +1 716 856-4476. 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 — hot and cold sandwiches, main-course salads, chicken fingers and wings, heartier dinners centered more often than not on deep-fried seafood — 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.
- Mr. Bones BBQ, 893 Jefferson Ave. (Metro Bus 18, 22, 24 or 29), ☎ +1 716 464-6794. Tu-Sa 10AM-8PM. Downhome, Southern-style soul food that will stick to your ribs and leave you wanting more: since 2006, that's been the name of the game at this humble little dining room on the far east edge of the Fruit Belt. Mr. Bones is the real deal, as authentic as it gets: the setup is cribbed from the Southern "meat and three" template, with a succulent main course (baby-back ribs are the most popular, but there's also turkey ribs, Southern-style fish fry, and more) accompanied by a variety of sides (collard greens, mac & cheese, candied yams, potato salad, and a few others) for a flat price. Service is quick, friendly, and comes with a personal touch, prices are unbelievable, and if by some chance you still have room left over after dinner, stop by the attached ice cream shop, Mr. Kones. $10-25.
- So Delicious, 2383 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 8 or 23; Metro Rail: Amherst Street), ☎ +1 716 834-1546. M 8AM-5PM, Tu-Th 8AM-11PM, F-Sa 8AM-2AM. At any time of day, you can come to this little place in Fillmore-Leroy — the old location of Taste of Soul, which moved to Bailey Avenue in 2013 — for a full range of "quick and delicious" fast food, including burgers, chicken wings and fingers, pizza, tacos, hot and cold subs, and even Jamaican patties. But So Delicious also serves breakfast, and Saturday and Sunday evenings sees a heartier range of full-size soul-food dinners served up. The pleasant, well-lit dining room tops off the coziness of the So Delicious experience, decorated in warm hues of orange and brown. $5-20.
- Taste of the Caribbean, 200 William St. (Metro Bus 1, 2, 4 or 6), ☎ +1 716 424-2328. Tu-Sa 11AM-7PM, Su 1PM-7PM. Located in the former home of Garris BBQ on William Street just outside of downtown, Taste of the Caribbean immediately took its place alongside Island Taste and Caribbean Experience in the pantheon of Buffalo's best Jamaican restaurants when it opened in 2015. The menu doesn't stray too far from the standards — jerk chicken, escoveitch fish, oxtail, brown stew chicken, and various "combo specials" thereof, each of which come with peas and rice as well as your choice of two additional sides — and prices are a bit higher than the competition, but you get what you pay for. Everything is bursting with flavor: the jerk chicken is juicy, savory, and perfectly spiced (neither bland nor overpoweringly fiery); the peas and rice have an ineffably nutty aroma that is utterly tantalizing; even the steamed cabbage is delicious. Most of Taste of the Caribbean's business seems to be take-out, but there are about a dozen tables for seating in their dining room, which is brightly decorated with walls painted azure blue and colorful patterned tablecloths. Best of all, the grandmotherly Jamaican lady who works the counter is supremely friendly (she'll chat your ear off if you let her) and service is quick and efficient. $15-25.
- Tony's Ranch House, 2285 Main St. (Metro Bus 8 or 23; Metro Rail: Humboldt-Hospital), ☎ +1 716 835-4358. M-F 7AM-3:30PM, Sa 7AM-1PM. Open six days a week for breakfast and lunch, the somewhat misleadingly named Tony's Ranch House is a neighborhood institution where the Pitliangas family has served a full range of Greek and American diner fare since 1981 to a loyal clientele comprised of a mixture of neighborhood regulars, Sisters' Hospital employees, and Canisius College students. The menu sticks to the basic burgers and melt sandwiches, but throws in a few Greek specialties for good measure: chicken and beef souvlaki, gyro, spanakopita, baklava for dessert. Texas hots are on the menu too, the sauce sourced from a recipe that's been in the family since the 1950s. There's also a copious slate of breakfast options that includes homemade doughnuts and about a half-dozen specialty omelettes. The interior has been renovated and updated yet retains that classic homey ambience, but the quality of the food and service are merely average (and seem to be declining after the death of the longtime owner, George, a few years ago). $5-15.
- Trini's Tropical, 1632 Jefferson Sve. (Metro Bus 8, 13, 18, 26 or 29; Metro Rail: Delavan-Canisius College), ☎ +1 716 812-0554. M-F 11AM-5PM, Sa noon-6PM. Serving up delicious Caribbean fare in a small, modest Jefferson Avenue storefront, Trini's clientele draws equally from neighborhood locals and Canisius College's student body. The menu is on the small side and, for those familiar with island cuisine, doesn't contain any surprises: curry chicken, jerk chicken 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 portions of steamed cabbage and red beans and rice on the side, and uniquely among area Caribbean restaurants, you can have the staff adjust the level of spiciness to your personal 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. They cater, too.
- Twisted Pickle, 173 High St. (Metro Bus 7, 8, 22 or 29; Metro Rail: Allen-Medical Campus), ☎ +1 716 531-8085. M-F 10:30AM-7:30PM. Located on the inner edge of the Fruit Belt right next to the Medical Corridor, the unmissable Twisted Pickle (look for the neon-green plaster cow sculpture along Michigan Avenue; the effect is like nothing so much as a Chick-Fil-A advertisement) mostly does takeout and delivery for hospital employees and guests, though there are a few small, not-particularly-comfortable indoor tables. Jammed into an unassuming little building that used to be a doctor's office, the place is so named for the selection of "specialty pickles" they serve as appetizers: classic dill, garlic, hot and spicy, and Southern-style deep-fried pickles, all homemade. Other than that, though, the Twisted Pickle's oeuvre is pretty much your standard takeout fare — subs, burgers, wraps, main-course salads, tacos and fajitas, and pizza (whole or by the slice). Try the bacon dog, which is just what it sounds like: a hot dog bun filled with a locally-manufactured Sahlen's frankfurter and several slices of bacon. The food is passable but no great shakes, but the quick, friendly service and good prices make up for that. And, while you're waiting for your order to come up, you can play at one of the last remaining original Pac-Man arcade consoles in the Buffalo area. $5-20.
The Near East Side is the only part of the district that has anything approaching an upscale dining scene: there's a pair of beloved homestyle Italian eateries just outside downtown, and a swanky nightspot in Midtown that serves a classed-up take on Southern American comfort food.
- Chef's, 291 Seneca St. (Metro Bus 15 or 16), ☎ +1 716 856-9187. 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.
- DiTondo's, 370 Seneca St. (Metro Bus 15, 16, 18 or 36), ☎ +1 716 885-8838. Lunch: M-F 11AM-2PM, Dinner: F 5PM-9PM. Buffalo is a place that's well-known for having great Italian food, but DiTondo's never seems to get its due as part of the cream of the crop. Maybe it's their odd hours; maybe it's because of Chef's, its better-known neighbor on Seneca Street, drawing folks in a block before they get here. Whatever it is, lots of locals are missing out, so don't make the same mistake they do. There's a tiny little regular menu with maybe a half-dozen options on it, mostly homestyle, unpretentious red-sauce fare — everyone loves the chicken and spaghetti parm, covered with the thickest shell of melted mozzarella you've ever seen — but the daily specials are the real heart and soul of DiTondo's, which might consist of anything from hot sandwiches, to yummy main-course salads, to pasta in a marinara sauce that lacks the overt sweetness you'll find elsewhere in Buffalo. Whatever you order, expect hefty portions for blue-collar prices — and save room for the homemade custard pies, if they have any left (they're popular!) Best of all, DiTondo's friendly, no-nonsense, super-efficient service is a godsend for first-time visitors who aren't sure what to order. It bears emphasizing that they don't accept credit cards, and Friday is the only day they open for dinner — otherwise it's lunch only, but then again, that's probably when you want to come anyway (popular with Buffalo politicos and other heavy-hitters, lunch at DiTondo's is prime time for local celebrity-spotting!) $10-30.
- Oakk Room, 1435 Main St. (Metro Bus 8, 11, 12, 13 or 25; Metro Rail: Utica), ☎ +1 716 771-2773. W-Th 4PM-midnight, F-Sa 4PM-1AM. Located in the heart of Midtown, The Oakk Room boasts an environment that's sophisticated yet relaxed, and serves an upscale and Jamaican-influenced take on classic soul food — or, as one reviewer put it, "comfort food jazzed with exotic spices". The menu places a definite emphasis on seafood — there's crab cakes, fish and grits, and a beer-battered fish fry on Fridays — and the Caribbean influences come out to shine in options such as jerk chicken and curry fish. The Oakk Room's cocktail list also boasts around two dozen specialty martinis to choose from. Though the range of selections on the menu is small, the food is well-executed for the most part; service is attentive and friendly, and prices are good for what you get. The ambience can best be described as that of a classic old pub, "lived-in" yet well-kept and refined, and the clientèle is diverse. $15-35.
- Dollar General, 230 Holden St. (Metro Bus 8, 23 or 32; Metro Rail: Amherst Street), ☎ +1 716 833-0878. Daily 8AM-8PM.
- Family Dollar, 1307 Jefferson Ave. (At the Jefferson-Utica Plaza; Metro Bus 12, 13, 18 or 29), ☎ +1 716 882-5133. Daily 8AM-10PM.
- Family Dollar, 459 William St. (At Towne Gardens Plaza; Metro Bus 1, 2, 4 or 18), ☎ +1 716 852-0730. M-Sa 8AM-9PM, Su 9AM-9PM.
- Tops, 1275 Jefferson Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 18 or 29), ☎ +1 716 816-0038. Daily 7AM-10PM.
The following pizzerias are located on the Near East Side. 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.
- Avenue Pizza, 261 E. Ferry St. (Metro Bus 13 or 18), ☎ +1 716 885-8466. Sa-Tu 10AM-1AM, W-F 10AM-3AM.
- Buffalo Pizza Company, 1769 Main St. (Metro Bus 8, 18, 26 or 29; Metro Rail: Delavan-Canisius College), ☎ +1 716 881-1111. M-Th 11AM-11PM, F-Sa 11AM-midnight, Su 11AM-10PM.
Delavan-Bailey and Schiller Park
- Bailey's Homestyle Cooking, 2682 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 19 or 26), ☎ +1 716 896-9661. Tu-Sa noon-midnight. The menu at Bailey's Homestyle Cooking is an odd but delicious hodgepodge: simple hot-off-the-grill fare like burgers, hot sub sandwiches, hot dogs and French fries rub elbows on the menu with succulent Southern specialties like barbecue ribs and mac & cheese, and they even serve Jamaican-style curry chicken. All this is dished out to you in a homey, unpretentious environment for budget-friendly prices. $10-15.
- Family Dollar, 2565 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 19 or 26), ☎ +1 716 597-0258. Daily 8AM-10PM.
- Farm Fresh Market, 2724 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12 or 19), ☎ +1 716 838-6082. Daily 7AM-11PM.
- Save-a-Lot, 2160 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 24), ☎ +1 716 896-6178. M-Sa 9AM-8PM, Su 9AM-5PM.
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 two stalls (the first and third entries on this list) 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 at the back end of the market building. As well, there's a Pakistani restaurant located in the market building but accessed directly from Broadway via a separate entrance.
- East-West Café, ☎ +1 716 895-1929. 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. Simple sandwich-shop fare like burgers, fries, subs, and melt sandwiches round out the menu, along with breakfast fare in the morning and sides such as chili mac and collard greens that add a soul food element to the mix. Service is quick and friendly. $5-15.
- Jafran Halal Restaurant, ☎ +1 716 392-9497. M-W 10AM-5PM, Th-Sa 10AM-8PM. Since January 2015, Mahmuda Chowdhury and Sitara Arshad have been serving up "Halal Income Halal Food" (no exaggeration, prices are very good!) at this humble restaurant located in the Broadway Market. South Asian specialties are the rule of thumb at Jafran — an ample selection of biryani, Pakistani-style kebabs and kofta, and tandoori chicken is featured — but you can also get familiar American fare like burgers, chicken and beef hoagies, pizza (plain cheese only), and even fish fry. All the food served at Jafran is jabeha halal, and on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, the restaurant's separate entrance leading directly to Broadway enables it to stay open much later into the evening than the market itself. $10-15.
- McKenzie's Soul Food Shack, ☎ +1 716 897-4052. M-Sa 8AM-5PM. This place is worth going out of your way for — despite the fact that it's just a humble little Broadway Market stand, local foodies in the know agree that the Southern-fried soul food dished out (in, it must be emphasized, huge portions) at McKenzie's are among the best in Buffalo, and can hold its own with what you get south of the Mason-Dixon Line. If you've ever been down South to a "meat and three" joint, the setup will be instantly familiar to you, but at McKenzie's it's "meat and two" — that is, you choose from a meat-based main course and two side dishes for a flat price of $8. There's a range of selections on offer, but really you can't go wrong no matter what you choose — the ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender, the meatloaf is to die for, and the fried chicken is crispy on the outside; moist and juicy on the inside (and comes in smaller portions than the other mains), while mac & cheese is rich and flavorful and the collard greens have a spicy kick. $10-15.
- Potts Deli & Grille, ☎ +1 716 826-6575. M-F 8AM-5PM, Sa 9AM-4PM. As the signs indicate, Potts Deli serves a combination of Polish and American fare. If you've been to the main location on Rossler Avenue in Cheektowaga, you'll notice that the menu at the Broadway Market satellite is abbreviated and tilts more heavily toward standard American comfort food — but you'll also be pleased to know that the award-winning quality of the huge pierogies remains unscathed (don't be put off by the price; you get what you pay for in terms of both size and quality). If you're in the mood to eat Polish, you can also opt for gołąbki, smoked kielbasa (no fresh, sadly), or a "Polish platter" that combines all three with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes on the side. As for Potts' American selections, you've got a workmanlike slate of standard diner options punctuated by local favorites like fried bologna and Wardynski's hot dogs. Whatever you order, it's served up with businesslike efficiency in a friendly, folksy environment pleasantly secluded from the rest of the market. $5-20.
- Island Taste, 690 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☎ +1 716 853-3663. M-Th noon-9PM, F-Sa noon-midnight. Who would have thought that, in a charming but unassuming little Art Deco building on Fillmore Avenue that once housed a bank, you'd find Buffalo's best Jamaican food? It's true. The aptly named Island Taste serves a menu that's limited in scope but authentic as it gets: whether it's the curry chicken or goat, jerk chicken, oxtail, or brown stew chicken, everything explodes with flavor and just the right amount of spice. The jerk chicken in particular is the perfect balance of spiciness and sweetness, the latter thanks to the hint of pineapple they add to the gravy — the extremely friendly owner will offer to spoon a little extra from the steam tray to go on the rice and beans that are served with each meal, and you'd be a fool to turn him down. After you're served, you can have a seat in the dining room: much more spacious than it appears from the street, with walls done up in pleasant yellows and greens and the sweet strains of old-school reggae classics on the stereo; there's nothing better. Portions are huge, and the already low prices drop down further at lunchtime, with $5 specials on offer Monday through Thursday. Cash only. $10-20.
- Naaim Halal Restaurant, 900 William St. (Metro Bus 1 or 23), ☎ +1 716 322-0292. Su-Th noon-10PM, F-Sa noon-11PM, closed for half an hour each Friday afternoon for jum'a prayer. A friendly, sparsely-decorated little place located at the sharp corner of William Street and Memorial Drive a five-minute walk from the Central Terminal, Naaim serves a mix of simple American grill-and-fryer fare (burgers, French fries, hot and cold subs, chicken wings and fingers), as well as 100% halal Middle Eastern specialties. The former is perfectly adequate, but the real draw is the latter, which is among the best food of its kind in Buffalo, served up by a Yemeni-born owner who's as chatty as can be. A particular favorite here is the chicken shawarma wrap, which is no less than a work of culinary art: perfectly seasoned meat dressed in a blend of creamy tahini and spicy harissa, rolled up in a thick, fluffy, buttery pita with sliced onions and pickles. As well, the falafel — tater tot-shaped nuggets here, not flat patties — have a perfect nutty flavor, with a hint of herbs. For those who've come especially hungry, combo meals make for a further improvement over Naaim's already unbelievably low prices: your choice of a hamburger, steak hoagie, gyro, shish kabab, or the aforementioned chicken shawarma wrap come with fries and your choice of drink (including delicious Arabian tea) for no more than $8. Naaim also serves breakfast — a surprisingly ample selection of bagel sandwiches, quesadillas, and heartier egg-and-breakfast meat platters — and also does double duty as home of Zajil's Islamic Imports, located in a small side room off the main dining area (q.v.) $5-20.
- R&L Lounge, 23 Mills St. (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☎ +1 716 896-5982. M-Th 11AM-7PM, F 11AM-9PM. Going strong for over 80 years, R&L Lounge is an honest-to-goodness throwback to old Polonia, courtesy of inimitable owners Ronnie and Lottie Pikuzinski, who took over for the previous proprietors in 1969. Perhaps the best description of dinner at R&L was given by the reviewer who compared it to "sitting around the kitchen table with relatives", and grandmotherly barkeep Lottie is nothing if not fully engaged with her customers — the philosophy she expounded on in a May 2010 writeup in the Buffalo News ("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") means that 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. The ambience — original tin ceiling, homey wood-paneled walls where old Genesee Beer ads share space with tacked-up pictures of the Virgin Mary — completes the old-school picture. As for the food, R&L's menu is limited in size but impeccable in quality: Lottie'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, are the Friday fish fries — it's standing room only during Lent as folks from all over Western New York stream back into the old neighborhood to feast on these delicately tasty haddock filets, and R&L stays open well into the evening to accommodate them. 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.
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.
- Aldi, 998 Broadway (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23). M-F 9AM-8PM, Sa-Su 9AM-7PM.
- Brite Market, 905 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 2 or 23), ☎ +1 716 856-1122. M-F 9AM-9PM, Sa 9AM-8PM, Su 10AM-6PM.
- Family Dollar, 928 Broadway (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☎ +1 716 852-1451. M-Sa 8AM-9PM, Su 9AM-9PM.
- Family Dollar, 1370 Broadway (Metro Bus 4), ☎ +1 716 892-5079. M-Sa 9AM-10PM, Su 9AM-9PM.
- Family Dollar, 1770 Broadway (Metro Bus 4 or 19), ☎ +1 716 895-0289. M-Sa 9AM-10PM, Su 9AM-9PM.
- Save-a-Lot, 999 Broadway (At the Broadway Market; Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☎ +1 716 897-0788. M-Sa 8AM-7PM, Su 9AM-6PM.
- Tops, 1770 Broadway (Metro Bus 4 or 19), ☎ +1 716 515-3330. Daily 6AM-midnight.
- Will Foods Cash & Carry, 1075 William St. (Metro Bus 1), ☎ +1 716 853-2000. M-F 7:30AM-4PM, Sa 7:30AM-1PM.
The following pizzerias are located 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.
- Avenue Pizza, 1575 Broadway (Metro Bus 4 or 19), ☎ +1 716 896-8466. Daily 10AM-1AM.
- The Hot Spot, 959 Broadway (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☎ +1 716 897-9465. M-Sa 11AM-8PM.
- Metro Pizza, 920 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 2 or 23), ☎ +1 716 852-0377. Daily 10:30AM-10:30PM.
- Subatino's, 797 Broadway (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☎ +1 716 855-2121. M-Th 10AM-11PM, F 10AM-midnight, Sa 11AM-midnight, Su noon-8PM.
Lovejoy and Kaisertown
- Lucky's Texas Red Hots, 1903 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 2), ☎ +1 716 826-6873. 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.
- Neapolis Family Restaurant, 1389 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 1, 4 or 19), ☎ +1 716 895-8467. M-Th & Sa 6AM-4PM, F 6AM-8PM, Su 7AM-3PM. They stay "stick to what you know", and Neapolis Family Restaurant follows that credo to a tee: leaving the cutting-edge haute cuisine to the other guys, the name of the game here is familiar homestyle diner fare, served with a smile in a spacious dining room that's humble but clean and well-kept — "the prototypical family restaurant", in the words of one reviewer. To describe Neapolis as a Buffalo-style Greek diner would be technically true but a bit misleading; the souvlaki, Greek salad, and so forth that's on the menu actually pales in comparison to their classic all-American offerings, such as a range of burgers and melt sandwiches, corned-beef hash, and mind-blowing milkshakes made the old-fashioned way. Breakfast starts early and continues all day, with a workmanlike slate of pancakes, omelettes, and egg-meat-and-toast permutations augmented by delicious homemade pastry. Hearty dinner platters are added to the menu on Friday nights, when they stay open past lunchtime until 8PM. Service at this family-owned stalwart can sometimes be slow, but it's always extremely friendly, with a genuine personal touch — come in a few times and they'll remember your name for years — and the food is cheap. A real hidden gem, this place is. $10-15.
The following pizzerias are located in Lovejoy and Kaisertown. 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.
- Carbone's, 1126 E. Lovejoy St. (Metro Bus 1 or 19), ☎ +1 716 897-5098. Su-Th 11AM-11PM, F-Sa 11AM-midnight.
- Desi's, 1816 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 2), ☎ +1 716 825-6200. M 4PM-10PM, W-Sa 4PM-11PM, Su 4PM-9PM.
- Guzzo's Hot Spot, 1960 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 2), ☎ +1 716 823-7876. Tu-Th 3PM-midnight, F-Sa 3PM-2AM, Su 2PM-midnight.
- Lovejoy Pizzeria, 1244 E. Lovejoy St. (Metro Bus 1), ☎ +1 716 891-9233. M-Th 11AM-10:30PM, F-Sa 11AM-11PM, Su 3PM-10PM.
- Pizza By Molino's, 1974 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 2), ☎ +1 716 825-8074. Tu-Th 11AM-10PM, F-Sa 11AM-11PM, S 11AM-9PM.
- Pizza Express, 1993 Broadway (Metro Bus 4), ☎ +1 716 897-4870. 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.
- Doctor Bird's Caribbean Corner, 842 E. Delavan Ave. (Metro Bus 13 or 26), ☎ +1 716 892-7454. M-Sa 11AM-8PM. The satellite location of Doctor Bird's Caribbean Rasta-Rant presents a somewhat different scenario than at its big sister in University Heights. For one, the selection is quite a bit more narrow — there's a wide range of Jamaican patties on offer, including several choices for vegetarians, but the rest of the menu is made up of two different types of rotis as well as a few dinner platters; curry chicken or beef, oxtail, and haddock come with sides of steamed cabbage and red beans and rice. On the other hand, the Caribbean Corner also boasts a selection of packaged ingredients for those who'd like to try their own hand at island cookery, including jerk spice and an impressive array of other spice blends. There's also snacks, pop, cigarettes, and other bodega items. $10-25.
- Happy Swallow, 1349 Sycamore St. (Metro Bus 6 or 22), ☎ +1 716 894-4854. F 3PM-8PM. Six days of the week, the Happy Swallow enjoys a placid existence as an neighborhood gin mill that is (in the words of Forgotten Buffalo Tours) "a rare survivor of the 'family-owned tavern' era" on the East Side, with longtime owner Tommy Golinowski pouring tall cold ones for a dwindling population of regulars in a homey, wood-paneled interior that's as old-school as it gets. 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 — this is an experience that was once common in Buffalo but is getting harder and harder to find, so don't miss this place if you can help it. At dinnertime, fish fry is the main attraction, especially during Lent; it comes in either yellow pike or traditional haddock, breaded or battered, and it's really good. Also on the menu is fried shrimp and scallops, plus a grand seafood platter that includes both of those plus a half-serving of fish. Pierogies (with cheese, sauerkraut or potato), roast beef, and other specialties are served too, and all dinners come with heaping sides of fries, coleslaw, American or German potato salad, macaroni salad, and bread and butter. $10-20.
- Ike & BG's Ribs, 1646 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 12, 19 or 24), ☎ +1 716 892-4301. 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.
- Lee's Barbeque, 1269 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 22 or 23), ☎ +1 716 896-8887. M 11AM-7PM; Tu, W & Sa 11AM-midnight; Th-F 11AM-1AM, Su 2PM-7PM. Since 1969, Lee's has been dishing out what many people call the "best barbecue in Buffalo" out of a old converted clapboard house in the heart of Humboldt Park. As usual with this type of cuisine, the key is the sauce, and rather than the sticky-sweet, tomato-based Kansas City- and Memphis-style sauces typical to barbecue joints around here, Lee's stands alone in Buffalo with an East Carolina-style sauce: a thin sauce with a vinegar base, spicy and sharp in flavor with no tomato at all. You can get extra sauce with your meal for $1, and be assured: you will want some. The menu is simple and straightforward, with top billing given to pork ribs and shoulder available either as a sandwich or a dinner platter with coleslaw, potato salad, or French fries on the side. Portions are huge, and though the quality of the meat is somewhat inconsistent, most of the time it's topnotch: meaty, fall-off-the-bone tender, and — most importantly — always saucy. Lee's also serves barbecued half-chicken, chicken fingers and wings, and haddock dinners that are especially popular on Fridays. $15-25.
- Ms. Goodies, 1836 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 6, 19 or 22), ☎ +1 716 936-3690. 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. But it's delicious enough to have won multiple awards at the Taste of Buffalo. But the junkyard dog is only the beginning of the story at Ms. Goodies. Breakfast and lunch is the time to come to this Bailey Avenue dive; respectively, you can indulge in delicious Southern-style chicken and waffles or a create-your-own-breakfast option with eggs, breakfast meats, potatoes, grits and more as building blocks, or avail yourself of hot-off-the-grill hot dogs, burgers and fries. As well, if you're after a soul-food take on Buffalo fish fry, Ms. Goodies stays open for dinner on Friday nights with a menu that also includes fried chicken, mac & cheese, sweet potato pie, and other downhome treats. $10-20.
- Mattie's, 1412 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13 or 23), ☎ +1 716 597-0755. M & W 8AM-3PM; Tu & F 8AM-6PM; Th, Sa & Su 8AM-4PM. The two big selling points that owners Mattie and Butch Holt use to tout their Fillmore Avenue hole-in-the-wall are "the best breakfast in Buffalo" and "great soul food you'll have to taste to believe", and true to their word, those are the two things Mattie's does best. In the morning you can get eggs served with your choice of breakfast meat plus grits and home fries on the side, as well as breakfast sandwiches, pancakes and waffles, corned beef hash, and more — all whipped up skillfully and with aplomb. At lunchtime the focus shifts to hearty Southern-fried specialties like mac & cheese, fried catfish, collard greens, and some of the most delectable fried chicken you've ever tasted: the perfect combination of crispy exterior and moist, tender interior. The downside of Mattie's is the other foods on their menu — standard lunchtime fare like burgers, subs and hot dogs are just okay — as well as the prices, which are way higher than the competition. Also, while the neighborhood old-timers that congregate here are as friendly as can be, the same can't be said of the service. Folks have been known to get overcharged here, too, so beware. $15-30.
- Community Food & Meat Market, 535 Walden Ave. (Metro Bus 6, 19 or 22), ☎ +1 716 892-4490. M-Sa 8AM-9PM, Su 8AM-8PM.
- Dollar General, 663 E. Ferry St. (Metro Bus 12, 13 or 23), ☎ +1 716 507-4837. Daily 8AM-8PM.
- Dollar General, 1055 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 6, 22, 23 or 24), ☎ +1 716 895-1014. Daily 8AM-8PM.
- Family Dollar, 738 E. Delavan Ave. (Metro Bus 13 or 26), ☎ +1 716 892-2705. Daily 8AM-10PM.
- Family Dollar, 1185 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 6, 22, 23 or 24), ☎ +1 716 892-1358. Daily 8AM-10PM.
- Super Price Choppers, 1580 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 12, 22 or 24), ☎ +1 716 893-3323. M-Sa 8AM-11PM, Su 8AM-10:30PM.
- ECMC Farmers' Market at Grider, 351 Grider St. (In the parking lot across from Erie County Medical Center just south of Litchfield Avenue; Metro Bus 13 or 26), ☎ +1 716 898-3509. F 10AM-3PM, Jun-Oct. In the midst of the "food desert" of the East Side, where the nearest full-service supermarket is often miles away and the poor often subsist on what they can get from the local corner bodega, fresh fruits and vegetables are, understandably, often hard to come by. From a health-care perspective, that's bad news — and that's why, in 2010, the Erie County Medical Center launched this neighborhood farmer's market aimed at helping the residents of one of Buffalo's most economically deprived neighborhoods to improve their dietary habits. Much more than just a half-dozen or so vendors of fresh produce, prepared foods, and artisanal goods, the ECMC Farmers' Market is also a place for fun and educational events with an overarching theme of promoting a healthy lifestyle — there's everything from tai chi demonstrations, to dance and cooking classes, to seed and plant giveaways for those who want to try their hand at gardening. Food trucks are on hand for those who work up an appetite browsing through the greenery.
The following pizzerias are located in Delavan-Grider, Humboldt Park, and Genesee-Moselle. 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.
- Bonetti's, 697 Walden Ave. (Metro Bus 6, 19 or 22), ☎ +1 716 892-6653. M-Sa 3PM-11PM.
- Bailey-N-Doat Pizza, 2028 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 6, 12, 19, 22 or 24), ☎ +1 716 892-4111. M-Sa 4PM-midnight.
- Jeoni's, 1085 E. Ferry St. (Metro Bus 12 or 13), ☎ +1 716 578-1463. 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.
Midtown, Cold Spring, and other Near East Side areas
- Arthur's Pub, 596 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 6, 18, 24 or 29), ☎ +1 716 854-3640.
- The Bird Cage, 475 Northampton St. (Metro Bus 12, 18, 22 or 29), ☎ +1 716 886-8701.
- Central Park Grill, 2519 Main St. (Metro Bus 8, 23 or 32; Metro Rail: Amherst Street), ☎ +1 716 836-9466.
- Dinny's Place, 372 William St. (Metro Bus 1, 2, 4 or 18), ☎ +1 716 842-6413.
- Dnipro Ukrainian Cultural Center, 562 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 6, 18, 24 or 29), ☎ +1 716 856-4476.
- Famous Corner, 16 S. Cedar St. (Metro Bus 15, 16 or 18), ☎ +1 716 868-8004.
- Golden Nuggett Inn, 2046 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 23), ☎ +1 716 834-3967.
- HandleBar, 149 Swan St. (Metro Bus 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 14, 15, 16, 20, 24, 25, 36 or 40; Metro Rail: Seneca), ☎ +1 716 259-9632.
- Mike's Lounge, 1343 Jefferson Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 18 or 29), ☎ +1 716 883-1344.
- Musicians Big "6", 600 E. North St. (Metro Bus 22, 24 or 29), ☎ +1 716 896-6660.
- The New Humboldt Inn, 347 E. Delavan Ave. (Metro Bus 23, 26 or 29), ☎ +1 716 884-6430.
- Oakk Room, 1435 Main St. (Metro Bus 8, 11, 12, 13 or 25; Metro Rail: Utica), ☎ +1 716 771-2773.
- Pandora's Sports Bar, 2261 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 8 or 23; Metro Rail: Amherst Street), ☎ +1 716 803-1335.
There's a nascent coffeeshop scene on the Near East Side.
- E. M. Tea Coffee Cup Café, 80 Oakgrove Ave. (Metro Bus 8, 26 or 29; Metro Rail: Humboldt-Hospital), ☎ +1 716 884-1444. M-W & F-Su 7AM-5PM, Th 7AM-9PM.
- Golden Cup, 883 Jefferson Ave. (Metro Bus 18, 22, 24 or 29), ☎ +1 716 883-7770. M-Sa 7AM-7PM, Su 7AM-3PM.
Delavan-Bailey and Schiller Park
- Big Fella's, 1202 E. Delavan Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 19 or 26), ☎ +1 716 894-8949.
- Jazzy's, 2227 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 24 or 26), ☎ +1 716 895-4471.
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.
- Arty's Grill, 508 Peckham St. (Metro Bus 1 or 23), ☎ +1 716 856-6027.
- Club 77, 1614 Broadway (Metro Bus 4 or 19), ☎ +1 716 897-2564.
- Daren's Tavern, 514 Howard St. (Metro Bus 1, 2 or 23), ☎ +1 716 855-8866.
- Dick's East Side Inn, 221 Lombard St. (Metro Bus 4 or 23), ☎ +1 716 896-9760.
- G&T Inn, 68 Memorial Dr. (Metro Bus 1 or 23), ☎ +1 716 855-1039.
- Groove Lounge, 1210 Broadway (Entrance on Lathrop St., Metro Bus 4), ☎ +1 716 939-3149.
- Laurel & Hardy Café, 1388 Broadway (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☎ +1 716 896-6350.
- Lazy R, 1603 Broadway (Metro Bus 4 or 19), ☎ +1 716 894-4878.
- Malik's Twilight Grill, 494 Howard St. (Metro Bus 1, 2 or 23), ☎ +1 716 855-8778.
- Mr. P's, 1038 Smith St. (Metro Bus 1, 4 or 23), ☎ +1 716 855-9390.
- R&L Lounge, 23 Mills St. (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☎ +1 716 896-5982.
- Tiffany's Cabaret, 1048 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 2 or 23), ☎ +1 716 842-0968. Bar and gentlemen's club.
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.
- Bottom's Up, 1106 E. Lovejoy St. (Metro Bus 1 or 19), ☎ +1 716 897-0962.
- Fachko's, 1738 William St. (Metro Bus 1 or 19), ☎ +1 716 896-9157.
- Full House, 1221 E. Lovejoy St. (Metro Bus 1), ☎ +1 716 893-4805.
- Park Lounge, 1761 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 2).
- P&K's, 71 Weiss St. (Metro Bus 2), ☎ +1 716 827-8246.
- Porky's, 2028 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 2), ☎ +1 716 825-9875.
- Roy's Place, 875 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 2 or 19), ☎ +1 716 550-0945.
- Sanita's, 1194 E. Lovejoy St. (Metro Bus 1), ☎ +1 716 893-6816.
- Wiechec's, 1748 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 2), ☎ +1 716 823-2828.
- Willie's, 247 Ludington St. (Metro Bus 1), ☎ +1 716 892-3452.
- Donut Kraze, 406 Dingens St., ☎ +1 716 824-4527. Daily 24 hours.
Delavan-Grider, Humboldt Park, and Genesee-Moselle
- Earl's Bar & Grill, 39 Walden Ave. (Metro Bus 6, 22, 23 or 24), ☎ +1 716 892-2543.
- 4th Quarter Sports Bar & Grill, 1077 E. Ferry St. (Metro Bus 12 or 13).
- Ginny's Place, 1149 E. Ferry St. (Metro Bus 12, 13 or 19), ☎ +1 716 896-0741.
- Happy Swallow, 1349 Sycamore St. (Metro Bus 6 or 22), ☎ +1 716 894-4854.
- LaPearlaboo's, 862 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 6, 22, 23 or 24), ☎ +1 716 895-6505.
- Lee's Lounge, 1261 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 22 or 23), ☎ +1 716 893-9077.
- Nibletts Corner Bar, 553 High St. (Metro Bus 6, 18, 22, 24 or 29), ☎ +1 716 896-0980.
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.
- Moreland Guest House, 110 Moreland St. (Metro Bus 1 or 19), ☎ +1 716 893-1419. 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 travelers. 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 Central Post Office is located 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 number of other post offices:
- The Broadway-Fillmore Post Office at 1021 Broadway
- The Central Park Post Office at 170 Manhattan Ave.
- The East Side Post Office at 55 Msgr. Valente Drive
- The Mid-City Post Office at 1245 Main St.
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 Frank E. Merriweather, Jr. Library in Cold Spring, with 47 public computers, while the East Delavan Branch Library in Delavan-Bailey has 35 computers. Finally, the East Clinton Branch Library in Kaisertown has ten fixed computer terminals as well as two portable laptops that are available for in-library use.
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. As we've already gone over in the first part of this article, 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. As in any urban area, 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's important to remember 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 Buffalo Criterion and the Challenger Community News are the newspapers of record for Buffalo's African-American community. As such, they double as sources for news and other happenings on the East Side.
- Erie County Medical Center, 462 Grider St. (Metro Bus 13 or 26), ☎ +1 716 898-3000. The Erie County Medical Center has a history that stretches back to 1902, when the city government founded it under the name Buffalo Municipal Hospital to treat victims of a smallpox epidemic. It moved from East Ferry Street to its current location ten years later, kicking off a vigorous campaign of expansion under the leadership of Dr. Edward Meyer, and took on its present name after its operations were taken over by Erie County in the 1970s. Today, ECMC is the largest single hospital in Buffalo, with 602 inpatient beds, and is 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.
- Sisters of Charity Hospital, 2157 Main St. (Metro Bus 8; Metro Rail: Humboldt-Hospital), ☎ +1 716 862-1000. 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, which at the time consisted mostly of the desperately poor Irish immigrants of the First Ward. The hospital was run at first by a staff of nuns from the Sisters of Charity (hence its name) and moved to its current location in Fillmore-Leroy in 1876. In the present day, Sisters 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
- Laundry Time, 1451 Kensington Ave. (At Cleve-Hill Plaza; Metro Bus 12 or 32). Daily 6AM-9PM.
- Vega's Exclusive Dry Cleaners, 2947 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 19 or 32), ☎ +1 716 836-9385. M-F 7:30AM-6PM, Sa 8:30AM-5PM.
Midtown, Cold Spring, and other Near East Side areas
- Jim Bell Cleaners, 1379 Jefferson Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 18 or 29), ☎ +1 716 886-1888. M-Sa 7AM-6PM. Dry cleaning and shirt laundering.
- Lake Effect Laundromat, 2311 Main St. (Metro Bus 8 or 23; Metro Rail: Humboldt-Hospital), ☎ +1 716 832-5200. Daily 9AM-10:30PM. They also do dry cleaning.
- Ruffin Bros. Cleaners, 270 William St. (Metro Bus 1, 2, 4 or 6), ☎ +1 716 854-3641. M-Sa 6:30AM-6PM.
- Towne Gardens Laundromat, 465 William St. (At Towne Gardens Plaza; Metro Bus 1, 2, 4 or 18), ☎ +1 716 245-5996. Daily 8AM-8PM.
Delavan-Bailey and Schiller Park
- Delavan Village Laundry, 1440 E. Delavan Ave. (Metro Bus 26), ☎ +1 716 894-6966. Daily 24 hours. They also do dry cleaning.
- Self-Service Laundry of Buffalo, 1494 Broadway (Metro Bus 4 or 19), ☎ +1 716 894-1156.
- Tip-Top Express, 441 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 1 or 23), ☎ +1 716 866-6171. Daily 24 hours.
- WNY Laundromat, 1049 Broadway (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☎ +1 716 480-5333. Daily 7AM-11PM.
Lovejoy and Kaisertown
- Clinton Street Laundry (Kathy's Speedy Wash), 1905 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 2), ☎ +1 716 822-6642. Daily 8AM-11PM.
- Partners Laundromat, 1140 E. Lovejoy St. (Metro Bus 1). Daily 24 hours.
Delavan-Grider, Humboldt Park, and Genesee-Moselle
- Hobson's Drive-In Cleaners, 874 E. Delavan Ave. (Metro Bus 13 or 26), ☎ +1 716 891-8298. M-Sa 8AM-8PM.
- Nino's Cleaners, 1345 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 23 or 29), ☎ +1 716 894-5408. 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. Listed below are a few of the most important ones.
Of course, no discussion of Buffalo's black churches would be complete without mentioning the Michigan Street Baptist Church. 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.
- Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, 1327 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13 or 23), ☎ +1 716 895-0198. 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.
- Bethel AME Church, 1525 Michigan Ave. (Metro Bus 8, 11, 12, 13 or 25; Metro Rail: Utica), ☎ +1 716 886-1650. 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 Springs, 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.
- Bethesda World Harvest International Church, 1365 Main St. (Metro Bus 8, 11, 12, 13 or 25; Metro Rail: Utica), ☎ +1 716 884-3607. 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.
- Durham Memorial AME Zion Church, 174 E. Eagle St. (Metro Bus 1, 2, 4 or 15; Metro Rail: Church), ☎ +1 716 856-4943. 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 George Woodruff preach.
- Emmanuel Temple Seventh-Day Adventist Church, 300 Adams St. (Metro Bus 1, 4 or 18), ☎ +1 716 853-9055. 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.
- Elim Christian Fellowship, 70 Chalmers Ave. (Metro Bus 8, 23 or 32; Metro Rail: Amherst Street), ☎ +1 716 832-7698. 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 Fillmore-Leroy, 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.
- Faith Missionary Baptist Church, 626 Humboldt Pkwy. (Metro Bus 13, 23, 26 or 29), ☎ +1 716 832-7698. Services Su 9AM. 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.
- Fellowship World Church, 878 Humboldt Pkwy. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 23 or 29), ☎ +1 716 578-0183. 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.
- Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, 402 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 1, 2 or 18), ☎ +1 716 847-1020. 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 located 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.
- Macedonia Baptist Church, 237 E. North St. (Metro Bus 18, 22 or 29), ☎ +1 716 886-3489. 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.
- Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, 400 Northampton St. (Metro Bus 12, 18, 22 or 29), ☎ +1 716 885-8778. 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 welcomes 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.
- Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church, 226 Cedar St. (Metro Bus 1, 2, 4 or 6), ☎ +1 716 856-6321. 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.
- St. John Baptist Church, 184 Goodell St. (Metro Bus 6, 8 or 24), ☎ +1 716 852-4504. 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.
- True Bethel Baptist Church, 907 E. Ferry St. (Metro Bus 12, 13 or 23), ☎ +1 716 895-0391. Services Su 7:45AM, 9:30AM & 11AM. Without question, True Bethel Baptist Church is the preeminent African-American religious congregation in Buffalo — and without question, 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 recently-completed restoration of the old Michigan Street Baptist Church), forceful mouthpiece for the African-American community in Buffalo, 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 huge megachurch the size of a Walmart, with an attached Subway sandwich shop and 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 Time Warner 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.
- Blessed Trinity RC Church, 317 Leroy Ave. (Metro Bus 13 or 23), ☎ +1 716 833-0301. Mass Su 10AM, Sa 4:30PM, Tu-F 11AM. Located in the heart of Fillmore-Leroy 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.
- Corpus Christi RC Church, 199 Clark St. (Metro Bus 4 or 23), ☎ +1 716 896-1050. 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.
- St. Bernard RC Church, 1988 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 2), ☎ +1 716 822-8057. 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. More recently, 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.
- St. Casimir Oratory, 160 Cable St. (Metro Bus 2), ☎ +1 716 824-9589. 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.
- SS. Columba & Brigid RC Church, 75 Hickory St. (Metro Bus 1, 2, 15 or 18), ☎ +1 716 852-3331. 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.
- St. John Kanty RC Church, 101 Swinburne St. (Metro Bus 4 or 19), ☎ +1 716 893-0412. Mass Su 10:30AM, Sa 4PM, M-W & Th-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. Despite the fact that 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. It continues to grow, too, accepting the former members of St. Adalbert's Basilica into the fold when the two churches merged in 2011.
- St. Katharine Drexel RC Church, 135 N. Ogden St. (Metro Bus 1), ☎ +1 716 895-6813. 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.
- St. Lawrence RC Church, 1520 E. Delavan Ave. (Metro Bus 24 or 26), ☎ +1 716 892-2471. Mass Su noon, Sa 4:30PM & 10PM, M-F 8:30AM. St. Lawrence Church is located 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, located 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 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.
- St. Martin de Porres RC Church, 555 Northampton St. (Metro Bus 12, 18, 22 or 29), ☎ +1 716 883-7729. 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.
- St. Stanislaus, Bishop and Martyr RC Church, 123 Townsend St. (Metro Bus 1, 4 or 23), ☎ +1 716 854-5510. 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.
- St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church, 308 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 1, 2 or 23), ☎ +1 716 852-7566. 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 located 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. St. Nicholas is also the sponsor of the "Good Samaritan" radio show broadcast Sunday afternoons on WJJL 1440 AM, broadcasting inspirational religious programming in both Ukrainian and English.
- SS. Peter & Paul Orthodox Church, 45 Ideal St. (Metro Bus 1), ☎ +1 716 893-0044. 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 located 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.
- Cleveland Hill United Methodist Church, 546 Eggert Rd. (Metro Bus 12 or 32), ☎ +1 716 833-8225. 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.
- Grace United Church of Christ, 875 E. Delavan Ave. (Metro Bus 13 or 26), ☎ +1 716 892-4167. 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.
- Hananiah Lutheran Church, 900 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 6, 22, 23 or 24), ☎ +1 716 240-9476. 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.
- Hermon Karen Baptist Church, 3021 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 13, 19 or 32), ☎ +1 716 495-4018. 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.
- Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1084 E. Lovejoy St. (Metro Bus 1 or 19), ☎ +1 716 896-8035. 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.
- Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church, 641 Masten Ave. (Metro Bus 8, 13, 18, 26 or 29; Metro Rail: Delavan-Canisius College), ☎ +1 716 884-7664. 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.
- MacAlpine Presbyterian Church, 2700 Bailey Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 19 or 26), ☎ +1 716 893-0208. 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.
- New Covenant United Church of Christ, 459 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 1, 2 or 18), ☎ +1 716 856-3392. 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.
- St. Philip's Episcopal Church, 18 Sussex St. (Metro Bus 13 or 26), ☎ +1 716 833-0442. 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.
- University United Methodist Church, 410 Minnesota Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 19 or 32), ☎ +1 716 833-7562. 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.
- CityReach Church, 260 Eggert Rd. (Metro Bus 12), ☎ +1 716 893-8112. 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 located throughout the eastern United States whose mission is to bring the Christian message to "unlikely people in overlooked place". 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.
- Evangelical Baptist Church, 141 Ludington St. (Metro Bus 1 or 19), ☎ +1 716 895-9652. 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.
- First Universal Christian Church, 1940 Clinton St. (Metro Bus 2), ☎ +1 716 822-7263. 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.
- Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, 1250 E. Delavan Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 19 or 26), ☎ +1 716 895-4653. Services Su 10AM & 1PM.
- Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, 351 Emslie St. (Metro Bus 1, 4 or 18), ☎ +1 716 854-5294. Services Su 9:30AM, 12:30PM & 3:30PM.
- Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, 185 Kensington Ave. (Metro Bus 8 or 23; Metro Rail: Humboldt-Hospital), ☎ +1 716 881-1229. 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.
- Buffalo Markaz Masjid (Crescent Village Muslim Community Center), 115 Woltz Ave. (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 23), ☎ +1 716 893-4100. 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.
- Islamic Da'Wah Center of Buffalo, 1522 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 6, 12, 22 or 24), ☎ +1 716 533-2137. A Salafi mosque and community center located 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.
- Jami Masjid, 1957 Genesee St. (Metro Bus 12, 19 or 24), ☎ +1 716 597-0280. Jami Masjid is located 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.
- Masjid Darus-Salaam, 75 E. Parade Ave. (Metro Bus 22, 23 or 24). Masjid Darus-Salaam is located in Humboldt Park, in a converted house on a quiet side street next to 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.
- Masjid Nu'Man, 1373 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 12, 13, 23 or 29), ☎ +1 716 892-1332. 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.
- Masjid Zakariya, 182 Sobieski St. (Metro Bus 4, 6 or 22), ☎ +1 716 892-2606. 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, located in Broadway-Fillmore and Lovejoy respectively.
- Chùa Từ Hiếu Buddhist Cultural Center of Buffalo, 647 Fillmore Ave. (Metro Bus 4 or 23), ☎ +1 716 892-6839. 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.
- Tu Viện Đại Bảo Trang Nghiêm Vietnamese Buddhist Cultural Center (International Sangha Bhiksu Buddhist Association), 194 Ludington St. (Metro Bus 1 or 19), ☎ +1 716 279-6371. 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 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.