You’ve come a long way, Buffalo.
Every few years since 2000, thousands of visiting college hoops fans have descended on downtown Buffalo for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The last time the tournament came here in 2014, large tracts of land near our downtown basketball arena were fenced off and either under construction or waiting to be redeveloped.
How times have changed.
Next to that is One Canalside, a redeveloped office building featuring a Courtyard by Marriott hotel. And across from there is a considerably expanded Canalside waterfront district to walk around and explore.
The blocks immediately adjacent to KeyBank Center only scratch the surface of the incredible rejuvenation downtown Buffalo has experienced since 2014; over two dozen new restaurants, breweries and distilleries now call the area from the Buffalo River to Tupper Street home. Here is a rundown of all the new spots downtown to explore while you discover our resurgent city this week:
Ballyhoo Links and Drinks, 211 South Park Ave.: Only a 7-minute walk from the arena, Ballyhoo offers housemade sausages, craft cocktails and a killer chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich.
Big Ditch Brewing Co., 55 E. Huron St.: Raise a glass to this popular downtown brewery and its two-story taproom; Big Ditch also offers a full pub menu and was awarded best brewery in the state at the 2016 TapNY festival.
Casa Di Pizza, 11 E. Mohawk St.: One of Buffalo’s most popular pizzerias recently moved downtown since the last tournament; grab a quick slice of “Buffalo-style” pie or sit down for a meal.
Casa Azul, 128 Genesee St.: Acapulco, Mexico native Victor Parra Gonzalez offers a fresh take on tacos, tortas and poblanos at this cozy cantina.
D’Avoilio Kitchen, 535 Main St.: Try a pizza or sandwich that utilizes D’Avoilio’s 50 hand-crafted extra virgin olive oils and locally sourced ingredients.
Deep South Taco, 291 Ellicott St.: This taqueria along Buffalo’s new restaurant row, Ellicott Street, was an instant hit upon opening in late 2015.
Expo, 617 Main St.: This new food hall inside Buffalo’s historic Market Arcade complex features gourmet hot dogs, black rice sushi, made-to-order pasta and much more.
(716) Food & Sport, 7 Scott St.: The epicenter of Buffalo fandemonium, featuring over 70 televisions, including a 38-foot tall big screen showcasing the big games, three bars spread out over two floors and a host of menu options.
Frankie Primo’s +39, 51 West Chippewa St.: West Chippewa Street, long the hub of downtown’s nightlife scene, gained its own Italian restaurant in 2015; its fresh quality ingredients and “modern rustic” atmosphere will take you back to Italy.
The Garden Grille, 10 Lafayette Square. This restaurant inside Buffalo’s Hilton Garden Inn is a great spot in the heart of downtown to grab a quick sandwich.
The Healthy Scratch, 75 Main St.: Smoothies, acai bowls and other healthy options just steps from KeyBank Center in the Shops at HarborCenter.
Hearth + Press, 665 Main St.: Wood-fired pizzas, pastries and more in the heart of Buffalo’s Theater District.
Jake’s Café, 250 Delaware Ave.: Smoothies, sandwiches and more located inside downtown’s new Westin hotel.
Jaz and Jack’s, 36 Broadway: Paninis, po boys, and other Southern-inspired creations abound at this cozy café that opened in 2016.
Lockhouse Distillery, 41 Columbia St.: Buffalo’s first distillery in decades relocated just a few blocks away from KeyBank Center in 2015.
The Mahony, 199 Scott St.: Chef Brian Mahony opened this restaurant serving contemporary American fare in the restored Fairmount Creamery in 2016.
Marco’s Italian Deli, 111 Genesee St.: One of Buffalo’s best sandwich shops has added a downtown location; try the “Forget About It” sandwich and thank us later.
Marble & Rye, 112 Genesee St.: This popular bistro quickly carved out a reputation for top-notch cocktails and one of Buffalo’s best hamburgers following its 2015 opening.
Natalie’s Mediterranean, 111 Genesee St.: Quick souvlaki, gyros and other Greek specialties to-go.
Niagara Distilling Co., 459 Ellicott St.: Home to 1812 vodka and gin, Niagara also has a fun, vintage tasting room worth stopping in while you wait for your reservation at Ellicott Street’s nearby restaurant.
Oshun, 5 E. Huron St.: One of downtown’s go-to seafood restaurants, set in a posh, Art Deco dining room.
Panorama on Seven, 95 Main St.: A dining room with a view. Contemporary fare served adjacent to the seventh floor lobby of Marriott HarborCenter hotel.
Pizza al Taglio at Buffalo Iron Works, 49 Illinois St. One of Buffalo’s most popular live music venues just opened an accompanying pizzeria earlier this year.
Pizza Plant, 125 Main St.: Home of the pizza pod, this longtime Williamsville pizzeria opened a waterfront location in 2015.
Public Espresso, 391 Washington St.: The purveyors of what Alton Brown called the best pour-over he ever had added a café in the lobby of the Hotel at the Lafayette in 2015.
Raclettes, 537 Main St.: This casual French bistro opened at the corner of Main and Genesee Streets in 2015.
Sear, 200 Delaware Ave.: Buffalo’s newest steakhouse is located on the ground floor of the Avant Building, which is also home to Embassy Suites.
The Ward at RiverWorks, 359 Ganson St.: The sprawling Riverworks entertainment complex, featuring a roller derby rink, concert venue and soon-to-be brewery along the Buffalo River also includes this waterside eatery featuring popular pub favorites.
Ted’s Hot Dogs, 124 West Chippewa St.: Home of char-grilled goodness since 1927, Ted’s opened its first downtown location a couple of years ago.
Tewksbury Lodge, 249 Ohio St.: This new spot at RiverFest Park overlooks all the new development along the Buffalo River.
Tim Hortons HarborCenter, 1 Scott St.: This particular Tim Hortons became a shrine for fans of the doughnut chain when it opened in 2015, featuring wall displays dedicated to Horton and the history of hockey in Buffalo.
Toutant, 437 Ellicott St.: Chef James Roberts introduced downtown Buffalo to some Louisiana hospitality with this Southern-inspired restaurant in 2015.
William K’s, 329 Erie St. Located at the Erie Basin Marina, William K’s offers delicious eats with some of the best views in town of the city’s waterfront.