6 Ways Buffalo Has Transformed Since Last Thanksgiving

It’s easy for those of us living in Buffalo to treat the radical changes that have recently taken place here as common place. Murals covering whole sides of buildings? Sure. Grain silo zip lines and an asylum-turned hotel? Of course.  A proliferation of new restaurants, breweries and distilleries? You bet.

We see these new developments every day, but for anyone returning back home after a period away, even a year’s worth of changes can be a lot to keep up with. So for those of you coming back home for Thanksgiving, we’ve compiled a guide to everywhere that’s new and different since this time last year to check out. Welcome back, and enjoy exploring this ever-changing city we all love.

The Barton House at The Martin House Complex – Photo by Biff Henrich

The Wright Stuff
There’s never been a better time to explore Frank Lloyd Wright’s Buffalo, as two restoration projects decades in the making– The Martin House Complex and the Graycliff Estate – each reached significant milestones in 2018. The Martin House Complex finished working on the main house designed by Wright on the over 1-acre campus earlier this year, while the neighboring Barton House reopened to visitors after an extensive restoration this summer. Further down the Lake Erie shoreline, The Graycliff Estate completed its own interior restoration work this past fall.

Photo by Root & Bloom

New Restaurants
This spring, Buffalo welcomed its first all-vegan café, Root and Bloom, which soon caught the attention of the New York Times. Other newcomers include Dobutsu, the seafood themed restaurant inside a converted warehouse on Seneca Street, and Eckl’s @ Larkin, an upscale, urban version of the Orchard Park staple known for beef on weck. Hertel Avenue in North Buffalo has seen a boom in new openings, including patisserie Pastry by Camille; soul food themed Je Ne Sais Quoi; and Good Fortunes Asian Restaurant. Yey’s Café opened around the corner on Main Street, offering Buffalo some of its first tastes of Cambodian food, while Gourmet Lao Foods moved into its own brick and mortar on Grant Street after starting in the West Side Bazaar incubator space.

New Breweries (And a cider hall)
Buffalo’s beer boom showed no signs of slowing in 2018. The newest kid on the block, the Labatt Brew House, offers craft brews by the Buffalo headquartered Labatt USA and an adjacent brewpub, The Draft Room, in a rehabbed warehouse directly across from Key Bank Center. The Labatt Brew House joins the new, expanded location of Community Beer Works, which moved to Jersey Street after several years on Lafayette Avenue, and the Buffalo Cider Hall, which opened in a rehabbed warehouse on Chandler Street in Black Rock and serves Blackbird Cider Works cider sourced from orchards in neighboring Niagara County.

Other New Spots to Sip
A number of new coffeehouses and bars also joined the city’s ranks in 2018. Many of these spots are incorporating the city’s historic character and charm, like Duende, which is in the shadow of Buffalo’s industrial architecture at Silo City, and The Tabernacle at Sweet_Ness 7, which converted a century-old worship space on the city’s West Side into a bar. Overwinter Coffee on Genesee Street downtown (in front of the Electric Tower) and Roots Café on Hertel Avenue are two of the city’s newest coffeehouses, while Hertel also welcomed The Little Club, a wine bar operated by the same family who runs Ristorante Lombardo, earlier this month.  Misuta Chow’s is Buffalo’s first “barcade,” a two-story Japanese themed bar and restaurant with an 80s-themed arcade on the second floor, while a couple blocks away on Main Street downtown, the new AMC Market Arcade is Buffalo’s first movie theater to have a liquor license.

Wildflowers for Buffalo by Louise Jones

New Public Art
Large, colorful murals covering building walls are becoming the rule instead of the exception in Buffalo’s neighborhoods thanks to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s Public Art Initiative and other private investment. Some of the new additions to the city’s public art stable in 2018 include the expansive “Wildflowers for Buffalo” at 465 Washington Street;  “Our Colors Make us Beautiful” at 1131 Broadway and the whimsical “Weego” at 1503 Hertel Ave.

Grain Silo Zip Line
No trip to the waterfront would be complete without marveling at the new grain silo zip line at RiverWorks. Shooting from the top of a 100-foot-tall grain silo and with four zips in all, it’s the first of its kind in the world and one of only a handful of urban zip lines. Thrill-seekers need to mark their calendars for the spring of 2019 when the zip line will ramp up operations once again for the season – it’s just the latest in a series of new waterfront attractions that led the Sunday Times of London to call Buffalo “America’s Coolest Summer City.”