In recent years, Buffalo has been experiencing a multifaceted renaissance. Population has boomed, people are moving back into the city’s center, small businesses are dominating the cultural landscape, and, at the risk of sounding cliche, Buffalonians are “bringing Main Street back” all on their own.
Buffalo is rich with history spanning back to the late 1700s. It ran as a powerhouse city through the later half of the 1800s until around the 1960s. After decades of hard times, sprawl, and job loss, and the recession, Buffalo began its resurgence with the help of investors, committed independent business owners, and an involved community ready to grow.
Now, Buffalo’s renaissance has attracted press from across the country. Buffalo has become a magnet for urbanites looking for a change of pace and young families ready to settle down. The changes in Buffalo have encouraged current residents to stay, and drawn former Buffalonians back to the Nickel City.. While it’s easy to focus on the city’s most bustling areas (i.e. the Elmwood Village), other cultural pockets have come to truly define what Buffalo is, and what it plans to be.
Neighborhood Guide: The West Side of Buffalo
The sprawling West Side of Buffalo borders the downtown area, Allentown, the Elmwood Village, and Riverside. It has a diverse population of refugees, immigrants, young families, college students, young professionals, and long-time residents. It’s known for its inexpensive cost of living, however it is quickly becoming a destination for many homebuyers looking for Victorian homes in the area. Many families are attracted to the area because of its affordable and eclectic neighborhoods. The winding one-ways, striking architecture, and modern development make for one of Buffalo’s fastest growing districts and a must-see for anyone visiting the Queen City.
Where to Eat:
The West Side has a seemingly unlimited number of options to choose from when it comes to food. With one of Buffalo’s largest immigrant populations, the West Side is a hot spot for eclectic world fare. Sun Cuisines at 1989 Niagara Street began as an Asian market with a small cafe and limited menu. Now, the space has been converted into a full restaurant with Burmese, Thai, Asian Fusion, a Black Rice Bar, and other offerings. Sun Cuisines is perfect for the seasoned food explorer, or for someone looking to try something outside of their go-to burgers and fries. The spot lets you choose between hot, medium, or mild on most of their dishes to cater to all tastes. There are plenty of vegan and vegetarian options available, and many of the dishes don’t contain gluten at all (rice, for the win!)
If breakfast is more your speed, the West Side has an increasingly large number of breakfast and coffee options. Tipico Coffee at 128 Fargo Avenue offers pour-over coffee and espresso drinks, plus light European-style food options. Tipico is a bright, airy, and modern space with high-speed wifi, large windows, and an urban feel. Alternatively, Sweet_ness 7 Cafe provides cozier rustic vibes with their coffee shop at 220 Grant Street. The space features dark wood, soaring ceilings, and thrifted furniture. Their menu includes breakfast and brunch offerings with classic pastries, substantial egg dishes, and gourmet comfort food. Sweet_ness 7 boasts cozy nooks and communal work spaces for a homey, warm vibe.
What would a good vacation (or staycation) be without dinner? Nestled within the National Historic Landmark Richardson Olmsted Campus, 100 Acres is a contemporary, ingredient-focused restaurant, bakery, coffeehouse, bar, and gathering space for the surrounding neighborhoods. Each dish elevates fresh and simple ingredients showcasing the best of the season, based on sustainable relationships with local suppliers and farmers.
The Black Sheep at 367 Connecticut Street masters the farm-to-table menu. Tucked into an intimate space in one of the West Side’s busiest areas, The Black Sheep’s knowledgeable staff and methodically crafted meals make it a go-to for any foodie.
Where to Drink:
There is no shortage of bars on the West Side. The neighborhood houses some of the city’s best options, whether you’re looking for a reliable haunt, or in search of creative mixology. On an unsuspecting corner on one of the West Side’s busiest streets sits The Gypsy Parlor. Hailing to its namesake, The Gypsy Parlor sports dim lighting, eclectic decor, warm hues, and unlimited oddities. The spot often hosts a variety of events like karaoke, guest DJs, tarot card readings, an in-house psychic, and other quirky attractions. The Gypsy Parlor flaunts a creative, but simple cocktail menu, draught beers, and select wines alongside their traditional bar. Visit The Gypsy Parlor at 362 Grant Street.
If small plates and craft cocktails are more your style, check out Providence Social at 490 Rhode Island Street. Their creative, shareable plates, extensive draught list, and cocktail list ranging from classic to daring is the perfect spot for an intimate drinking experience, or for a larger group looking to catch up over a communal meal.
Directly down the street from Providence Social is Macky’s Essex Street Pub, simply known to Buffalonians as Essex. Essex is a quaint and welcoming spot for casual beers, burgers, and Tuesday night karaoke. In particular, Essex excels as a relaxed weeknight hangout with games of pool, local beers, and simple pub fare.
Where to Shop:
The West Side fairs a good number of off-the-beaten-path shopping destinations. As opposed to its shopping-hub neighbor, The Elmwood Village, the West Side allows avid shoppers to explore more of the oddities Buffalo has to offer.
Beyond its used bookstore beginnings, Rust Belt Books also doubles as performance and events space offering programs such as group meditation, performance art, music, and poetry readings. Rust Belt Books also has an ever-growing collection of new and vintage used books and is located at 415 Grant Street. Just a few blocks away at 205 Grant Street, West Side Stories houses an abundance of used books, board games, children’s books and novels, and other literary-related gift items. West Side Stories graciously provides children with the option to take home two free books from their children’s book bin, and encourages shoppers to donate gently used dictionaries to donate to the refugee community in the area.
While it may not be the typical shopping destination, Urban Roots Community Garden Center offers a variety of small to medium-sized house and garden plants available for purchase. Their whimsical shop is filled with small succulents, flowers, colorful pots, terrarium accessories, and gardening tools. Directly next to the space, Urban Roots also provides community gardening opportunities and offers sustainable fruits, vegetables, and agricultural education to the neighborhood.
Perhaps the most diverse and sought out shopping center on the West Side is the West Side Bazaar, located at 25 Grant Street. The West Side Bazaar has an incredible selection of food vendors, small immigrant and refugee artisan shops, eclectic clothing, home goods, prepackaged and prepared food, and more. The bazaar works to give low-income, refugee, and immigrant entrepreneurs a chance to become self-employed small business owners. The West Side Bazaar is a centrally located hub of different cultures, styles, tastes, and people and truly defines the pulse of Buffalo’s West Side neighborhood.
How to Get Around:
Within the last two years, Buffalo has introduced bike-sharing to its list of public transportation options. Reddy Bikeshare hubs can be found throughout the city and allow visitors or staycationers to rent bikes for a few hours and then return them to a different hub. On the West Side where most destinations are within close proximity to each other, bikesharing becomes an inexpensive and practical option for many urban explorers.
Ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft are available in the City of Buffalo as well as the greater Buffalo area and can help guests easily travel the city. Public transportation is also available, but can be limited outside the city limits, and potentially confusing for out of town visitors.
Where to Stay:
Buffalo has a variety of Airbnbs in walking distance to many of the West Side’s offerings. While most of Buffalo’s predominate hotels are located downtown, Hotel Henry offers a centrally located urban escape, nestled between the West Side, Elmwood Village, and Cultural Corridor. Henry’s surrounding neighborhoods makes it a convenient spot for travelers looking to explore Buffalo’s non-traditional spots and top attractions.
Located within Hotel Henry lives 100 Acres: The Kitchens at Hotel Henry. 100 Acres’ selectively sourced farm-to-table menu focuses on hyper-local ingredients to create exciting culinary experiences with regional products. From early morning coffee to late night cocktails, 100 Acres’ provides multiple dining options for breakfast, brunch, dinner, small plates, and more.
Visit our booking page to secure your stay at Hotel Henry. Book directly with Hotel Henry for the lowest rate online.