Buffalo’s Westsiders now find themselves surrounded by some of the city’s most desirable eateries. Here are some of the best spots to eat & drink in Buffalo’s Westside.

by Geoff Brown

You could say the chicken and waffles from Roost is emblematic of the changes happening on Buffalo’s Westside: hip, adventurous, bold and not afraid to to put new spins on old (and new) favorites

From Rags to Dishes

The revitalization of Buffalo’s westside is one of the city’s most promising success stories. The westside neighborhood is located just west of the Elmwood Village and stretches along the Niagara River from Forest to Porter Avenue. For far too long, high vacancy rates, crime, and pollution from diesel fumes expelled by trucks waiting in line to cross the peace bridge have plagued the area.

Now, Buffalo’s westside is one of the city’s most desirable neighborhoods. The recovery of the westside didn’t happen overnight. It took place over the past 15 years and is the result of a lot of hard work. Groups of volunteers have spent hundreds if not thousands of hours working to help transform the neighborhood. PUSH Buffalo, UB, Cornell, Massachusetts’s Avenue Project, Grassroots Gardens, and Buffalo Riverkeeper are just a few of the many organizations that have contributed and made Buffalo’s westside what it is today.

Many small businesses and restaurants have moved to the westside and established themselves over recent years. Homebuyers moving to the area, students from D’youville College, and natives of the westside now find themselves surrounded by some of the city’s most desirable eateries.

Here are some of the best spots to eat & drink in Buffalo’s flourishing westside.

Breakfast and Brunch

Places to visit for the most important meal of the day

For bread and sandwich lovers, BreadHive Bakery is a must-try

Breadhive Cafe

402 Connecticut St

Breadhive is a bakery that sells everything from baguettes, bagels, and loaves of bread to muffins, cinnamon rolls, and cookies. The bakery distributes to grocers, cafes, and restaurants throughout the city, but their cafe is the only place you can buy their sandwiches and coffee (they have their own special roast made by Public Espresso). Their sandwiches come on your choice of bread, bagel, or pretzel and everything gets made with love. A personal favorite of mine is the Aaliyah (homemade sausage + egg + cheese). Breadhive also has a variety of vegan and vegetarian options to choose from. If you’re aiming to satisfy a sweet tooth their salt and caramel cookies are more addicting than meth I think.

Croissants from Butter Block

Butter Block

426 Rhode Island St.

They bake orgasmic pastries. If you ever find yourself having a bad day or experiencing some seasonal (or pandemic-related) depression, go to Butter Block and try one of their pastries. Close your eyes as you take a bite of one of their chocolate or almond croissants and your sadness will instantly melt away. Flaky. Buttery. Goodness. They also serve espresso drinks, so you can get your caffeine fix while indulging in some decadent pastries.

Delicious breakfast at Betty’s

Betty’s

370 Virginia St.

Betty’s is a popular weekend brunch destination, so call ahead or get there early to avoid long wait times. They have a lot of great breakfast and lunch options to choose from and their specials are usually outstanding. My favorite meal from Betty’s would have to be a mouthwatering buffalo chicken sandwich with melted cheese made on french bread loaded with greens. Betty’s is also the only place I know you can order grilled shrimp at like 10 am.

Cinnamon Swirl toast with melted triple cremé brie, cranberries, golden raisins, toasted walnuts, and a candied orange peel compote from Five Points Bakery

Five Points Bakery

44 Brayton St.

Five Points Bakery has amazing toast and baked goods. They serve the toast with lots of accouterments, fancy cutlery, and glassware. The only problem I have with Five Points Bakery is that you’re paying a lot for the ambiance, glassware, but not a lot of food. If you don’t mind smaller portions and you’re into a sort of European experience check it out.

Five Points is great if you want to pay like $13 for two slices of toast, a side of butter & jam, served with a knife that has a Giraffe head as the handle.” – Anonymous Comedian

“Not Usually for Breakfast” Food

These are good dinner or lunch spots. Pho makes for a great breakfast some days

Fried chicken dinner from Niagara Cafe

Niagara Cafe

525 Niagara St.

Niagara Cafe is an authentic Puerto Rican restaurant located on Niagara Street. They’re cash only, so be sure to bring your dollar bills if you want to avoid their atm fee. The whole chicken dinner is a go-to of mine and comes with plenty of rice and a side of beans (they truly are the magical fruit). Other Puerto Rican dinner options include Bistec (Angus steak + onions), Chuletas (fried pork chops), and Pescado Frito (fish fry). Another great option is the Pastelillos which are premade and available on the go if you’re in a hurry. From plantains to papas fritas (french fries), Niagara Cafe is guaranteed to satisfy your hunger.

What you’ll be staring into at Pho Dollar

Pho Dollar

322 W. Ferry St.

There’s something about the beef bone broth and all the herbs and spices used in pho that always seems to cure me of my hangover or when I’m feeling sick. If I ever contract the Coronavirus, I’ll probably try a nice large bowl of pho from Pho Dollar, before I try injecting the broth directly into my veins to see if it helps. I’m also a loyal supporter of the Pho Dollar bánh mì.

Westside Bazaar’s M Asian Halal offers traditional Indian and like Chana Masala (above left); national dish of Ethiopia Injera is flatbread served with the popular Abyssinia Vegetable Combination (right)

Westside Bazaar

25 Grant St.

Westside Bazaar has collected numerous ethnic eateries and packed them into a food court on Grant St. You really can’t go wrong at Westside Bazaar. Everything you get is going to be super flavorful and authentic. Where else can you get Ramen and Puerto Rican Tapas under one roof?

Seafood pasta from Marco’s

Marco’s Italian Restaurant

1085 Niagara St.

The origin of what has come to be known as Marco’s Italian Deli was once a home-style eatery where you can get grandma’s sauce, bread, and other Italian classics such as Parmigiana, Marsala, Milanese, and much more. I’ve only been to Marco’s once, but I left feeling fat and happy.

Classic Buffalo pizza from La Nova

La Nova

371 W. Ferry St.

Surprise! The mob makes great pizza! La Nova is an organized crr-classic pizza spot and they have great BBQ wings that get finished on the grill for that extra char flavor. Critically aclaimmed Buffalo rapper, Benny the Butcher, has shot some of his most viewed music videos at La Nova.

Fancier Fare

Those who self-identify as “foodies” will enjoy these spots. These are also great places to take visitors from out-of-town that think all Buffalo has to eat and drink are chicken wings and the tears of Sabre’s fans. These are good dinner or lunch spots

Blue corn tacos from Las Puertas – just one of the dishes on the ever-rotating menu

Las Puertas

385 Rhode Island St.

Las Puertas has food so good, it’s intoxicating (could also be the wine). Victor Gonzalez is a french trained chef hailing from Mexico and he incorporates aspects of both cooking styles into each of his carefully thought out dishes. He’s also a semi-finalist for a James Beard Award. I did the seven-course tasting at Las Puertas with three other people and it only cost $200 ($50 per person excluding alcohol). It’s an insane deal that I think was probably only for a limited time. In the summer, they set up free-standing doors outside as makeshift barriers between tables (Las Puertas is Spanish for “the doors”).

Dessert at The Blacksheep: Citrus Upside Down Cake (Confit Blood Orange, Lemon Balm Ice Cream, and Candied Kumquat)

The Blacksheep

367 Connecticut St.

Another James Beard Semi-finalist chef, Steven Gedra, is the mastermind behind The Blacksheep. This is an intimate space that focuses on locally sourced and globally influenced cuisine. “They put the oysters on pink salt which is really nice.” – My friend Jake

Freshly made pasta from The Left Bank

The Left Bank

511 Rhode Island St.

“Ravioli Ravioli give me the formuoli” -Plankton (from SpongeBob Squarepants)
Remember the way Plankton spent all his time and effort on the show plotting to steal Krab’s secret formula for Krabby Patties, when his time would’ve been better spent improving his own restaurant (the chum bucket)? Well I’ve dedicated similar amounts of time and research plotting to steal the recipe for Left Bank’s homemade ravioli. Though I haven’t been successful yet, I don’t plan to stop trying anytime soon. They serve a single and massive raviolo (yes that’s a real word) that can definitely feed more than a single person. It’s made fresh every day at Left Bank and the fillings and sauces that go on top are constantly changing.

Kickin’ it up a notch: hot chicken n’ waffles at Roost

Roost

1502 Niagara St.

Martin Cooks is a legend. Not only because he cooks great food, but because he cares deeply about his patrons, and speaks his mind even if what he has to say isn’t popular at the time. I have to respect that, and even more so, I respect what he’s created at Roost. Every time I’ve been to Roost, I’ve had an outstanding experience. I leave super happy with the food and how it tasted and am full af. Tony the tiger sodomy aside, Roost is one of the best spots to eat in Buffalo, period.

Drinks & Bar Food

Happy hour and beyond

Besides a great beer & drink selection, Essex St. Pub has fantastic bar food like smoked BBQ wings

Essex St. Pub

530 Rhode Island St.

A Buffalo classic. Essex St. Pub has great bar food like chicken sandwiches, burgers, and wings. They also have great beer to choose from. Such as Genesee Cream Ale, the best beer in the world.

Want some Pan Seared Sea Scallops with summer squash, charred corn jus and basil aioli with that wine?

Providence Social

490 Rhode Island St.

Ahh, Providence Rhode Island, the capital city on Narragansett Bay. But hold on, where’s the bay?…and why is there a homeless man feeding a cat over there?…and why are there so many teenagers riding around on dirt bikes? It’s because we’re not in Rhode Island, we’re on Rhode Island Street at Providence Social. Socialize with other westies at this bar that’s just a block away from Essex. The fire department is right next door for when things get too out of hand. And the food is high tech.

Smoked cauliflower deep fried in Community Beer Work’s Whale Brown Ale beer batter, served with side of serrano mint and paprika sauce

Community Beer Works

520 7th St.

The Let’s Go Pils, the Whale, that IPA. You know them, you know their beer. Need we say more? Well, we will anyway. Community Beer Works are upgrading their taproom and I can’t wait to check it out when it’s done. In the meantime, they’re still offering beer pick-up.

Start Saturday off right at Free Street Tavern with Sausage Gravy Toast

Free Street Tavern

1469 Niagara St.

Free Street Tavern is a super fun dive bar that’s a great place to catch a Bills game. For food, they have hummus and a large selection of paninis. In the summer, Community Beer Works does pop-up sales outside under a tent. Free Street Tavern is right across the street from Roost, so if you ever forget to put a reservation in and have to wait it’s a great place to grab a drink beforehand.

Nom. West Side Cheese Steak at The Gypsy Parlor

The Gypsy Parlor

376 Grant St.

The Gypsy Parlor is an interesting spot. Expect to see lots of septum piercings. My favorite here is the Buffalo-style fried artichoke hearts. The Gypsy Parlor also has great beer choices and plenty of bike parking.

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