For years, Hertel Avenue’s culinary scene was filled with a combination of Italian restaurants and low-key beer centric taverns. While those places definitely still exist, things have changed in the last five years. An influx of ethnic cuisines, hipster hangouts and big construction projects have really shaken up the scene. Here are some of my favorite places to hang out in this North Buffalo neighborhood.
CRAVing (1472 Hertel Avenue)
Chef Adam Goetz is one of the original members of the locavore movement in WNY and his influence can be seen in restaurants across the city that are following his lead. Everything is made in house and a majority of the produce and meat used comes from local farms. On top of that, his housemade pasta is some of the best in the area and their bar program has really stepped its game up over the last year. If you love supporting local businesses and farms, this is the place to be.
Lloyd Taco Factory (1503 Hertel Avenue)
After nearly a year of waiting, the boys from Lloyd Taco Trucks finally opened up their restaurant and tortilla factory last winter. Since day one, the place has been packed with customers excited to chow down on tacos and enjoy a glass or two of top notch tequila. On the menu, you’ll be able to find all of the Lloyd classics along with fan-favorite specials and creative cocktails.
Shish Kabob Express (1207 Hertel Avenue)
This is one of my favorite places for a cheap bite in Buffalo. This unassuming Iraqi restaurant features “shaved off the spit” chicken and beef shawarma. Served on samoon rolls (basically a football shaped baguette and combined with garlic sauce, pickles and other veggies), it’s one of the best $5 sandwiches you can buy.
Joe’s Deli (1322 Hertel Ave)
Joe’s Hertel Avenue location has been a favorite lunch spot of mine for years. Not only do they kill it with their fresh to order sandwich lineup, but the daily specials that come out of that kitchen are impressive as well.
Ristorante Lombardo (1198 Hertel Ave)
If you are on Hertel and are considering sitting down for a special meal, Ristorante Lombardo should be your first choice. In my opinion (and that of many others as well), this is one of the best restaurants in all of WNY. The service staff will treat you like royalty, Chef Mike Obarka’s Italian fare is excellent and their wine selection would satisfy everyone from your grandma to even the pickiest wine nerd.
Mes Que (1420 Hertel Ave)
Mes Que has quietly become one of the best cocktail bars in Western New York. Yes, everyone knows it as the go to place to watch a soccer game, but their bar program has been putting together impressive cocktails and their whiskey selection is excellent.
Other spots: Bertha’s Diner (1430 Hertel Ave) is a great breakfast spot for anyone who needs a good start to their day. Wellington Pub (1541 Hertel Ave) is a good place to hang out with a couple beers and grab a fish fry or a bucket of wings. Romeo & Juliet’s Bakery (1292 Hertel Ave) is known for traditional pizza and excellent Italian desserts.