Take a Stroll Around Elmwood Village

by Max Fisher

The Elmwood Village strip is always alive

When you think of the word downtown, what comes to mind? Is it Petula Clark’s 1964 international hit? Is it the neon signs of bars that instantly conjure up fond memories with friends? Or the juxtaposition of people in business suits rushing past you during the day to make their next appointment, and the homeless at night waddling by you as they wander about to their next destination? When I think of the word “Downtown,” what comes to mind almost instinctively is The Elmwood Village.

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I grew up in the Village, so I’m admittedly a bit biased. However, I’m confident that anyone, whether they be a tourist or a homegrown Buffalonian that walks around for more than ten minutes, will instantly realize that this place has an energy that isn’t present in any other part of the city. It’s alive, in a sense it’s utterly integral to the town, as well as entirely on its own. If you would allow me, I’d like to take some of your time to tell you some of the things I think make the Village great!

SPoT Coffee on Elmwood has great treats.


Just like anyone lacking the energy of an Olympian, I need coffee to start my day, so of course, I go to the locally owned Spot Coffee. To be honest, I think of Spot Coffee less like a coffee shop and more like a meeting place/creative hub. Once you get your desired drink of choice ranging from all types of coffee blends to fruit juices and beyond, you’ll see there are always conversations going on. Someone’s continuously tapping away at a keyboard or talking with a friend. Now I know what your thinking (that’s great and all but it just sounds like any other dozen of coffee shops). And on the surface it is, but if you look outside Spot’s window, you’ll notice the majority of stores are locally owned. So beyond getting a double frappuccino with skim milk hold the whipped cream, you get a sense of motivation. A feeling that you can do it, you can open your store and fill it with whatever passion drives you, whether that be clothes, shoes, organic foods, etc. People that walk out of Spot do so with a bit more pep in their step than when they came in. (Yes partly due to the caffeine surging through their system) but I’d like to think that it’s more than the caffeine. It’s that infectious do-it-yourself attitude that the Village fosters and that people apply that feeling to whatever they’re doing during their day.


Further down, there are other village mainstays like Elmwood Taco (quite possibly my favorite eatery in the city), and here’s a bit of trivia. Its current location was previously a Burger King. The original restaurant was on Elmwood and West Delavan, but they moved to the current location for the larger space as well as the drive-thru. Now it’s a hotspot for friends to hangout or for anyone that craves some late-night Waffle Fries.


A smidge further is Buffalo’s oldest independent bookstore, Talking Leaves…Books. All kinds of literary works can be found from The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley, to Peter Milligan’s run on Animal Man. Talking Leaves is the definition of a welcoming bookstore. As soon as you come in, there’s usually a good-sized cutout of a classic literary author running the gamut from Shakespeare to Dickens, and the table at the entrance always has the newest hardcovers out at the moment. There are books everywhere, and all though that might be absurdly obvious, there’s an ever so slight unorganized charm to it. Strange buttons and fridge magnets showcasing a cover of an old 50 romance comic drawn by Jack The King Kirby, next to a section of Charles Bukowski books featuring Love Is A Dog From Hell (but don’t quote me on this, they may have changed the display by now). And the people at the checkout corner are always friendly and incredibly knowledgeable. It’s an extra special place with the sad fact that even though physical media such as books, in this case, aren’t going to disappear, they certainly aren’t in the spotlight like they once were. So, it’s nice to have a place to support that actively serves as a hub.

Check in to Talking Leaves…Books


Sometimes I walk the Village at night when everything’s closed and no ones around, besides those spilling out from bars. I get kind of a kick looking into the windows of the closed stores. I often think to myself, “Someone put every ounce of energy into making this store their own and they are making a living out of it. What can be more fulfilling than that?” And that’s why I love The Elmwood Village.