12. La Puertas
The foodie scene is blossoming in Buffalo thanks to innovative dining venues like Las Puertas and the driving forces behind them, in this case, founder and 2018 James Beard-nominated chef Victor Parra Gonzalez. Born in Acapulco and trained in Quebec, Gonzalez mixes the vibrant flavors and ingredients of Mexico with French culinary techniques at this upscale Mexican restaurant in Buffalo’s diverse West Side. His mission is to bring adventure to your plate.
The menu features a rotating list of courses, usually seven to nine, that changes about every thirty five days. The finely crafted dishes are inspired by Gonzalez’s frequent trips through Mexico and are made with fresh, locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. Each multi-course, small plate menu is based on a specific region in Mexico that Gonzalez travels to. There he curates the best of the region’s cuisine and brings what he finds back to Buffalo. Untapped Cities got to go on a culinary adventure with Gonzalez, who serves and explains each course, where we tasted dishes inspired by Tulum in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula (There is another Las Puertas there!). Highlights of our journey included a slow roasted pork, cricket mole and a cold summer squash soup. At Las Puertas being adventurous pays off as each course is satisfying in a different way, and even if you don’t love one, there is another coming right up.
13. West Side Bazaar
After Queens, the West Side neighborhood of Buffalo is the most diverse in all of New York State and the benefits of that diversity are exemplified at the West Side Bazaar. The West Side Bazaar is a great place to grab a quick lunch and while you do so, you’ll be helping local entrepreneurs launch their businesses. This indoor international market is filled with both retail and food vendors run by immigrants, refugees, and low-income individuals. The Bazaar is a Westminster Economic Development Initiative which acts as a small business incubator that provides a safe, supportive, and inexpensive place for entrepreneurs to gain their footing. It also serves as a special place for visitors to be exposed to new international foods and goods. More than ten different countries, from Myanmar to East Africa, are represented by the businesses inside. You can chow down on authentic dishes ranging from over thirty different kinds of sushi, to Ethiopian meals served on injera, a sour dough flat bread used as a dish. Every business owner has their own story of how they came to Buffalo and their own dreams and goals for their business. Since its founding in 2012, the West Side Bazaar has seen fifteen businesses graduate and continue to flourish.
14. Gabriel’s Gate
If you go to Buffalo, you have to get buffalo wings. The restaurant which claims to have been the first to invent the eponymous wing in 1964 is the Anchor Bar. What makes a buffalo wing a buffalo wing is that it is fried but not breaded and then covered in buffalo sauce. Since the debut of the wings in the 1960s, establishments all over the city have come up with a variety of sauce flavors and preparation techniques. You can see the best of Buffalo’s wing offerings all in one place at the upcoming annual National Buffalo Wing contest at the end of August or hop along Wing Trail, a curated list of twelve pubs serving up the best wings.
One of the pubs you’ll find along the Wing Trail is Gabriel’s Gate. Located in the charming neighborhood of Allentown, one of Buffalo’s oldest and most historic neighborhoods, the restaurant is housed inside a Tifft rowhouse, one of several brick houses on the street built by businessman George Washington Tifft in 1864. The atmosphere inside is that of a cozy tavern, complete with two brick fireplaces, a tin ceiling, wooden booths and deer heads mounted on the walls. In the warmer months you can eat outside on the back patio. The wings you’ll find at Gabriel’s Gate are crispy and classic. It’s a spot locals rely on for consistently delicious wings. After you’ve checked wings off the to-do list, you’ll step out into one Buffalo’s most charming and hip neighborhoods, so it’s worth a walk around to admire the architecture of the surrounding homes.