To gain a global perspective, you could spend thousands traveling to the far reaches of the planet. Or, you can walk a few blocks of Grant Street on your next visit to Buffalo.
Before traveling the world, you’ll need to fuel up. Start your day with a cup of coffee and breakfast from Sweet_ness 7 Café. Since opening several years ago, the café has served as a linchpin for the revitalization of the Grant Street neighborhood and is typically abuzz with creative types and students from nearby Buffalo State College on any given morning. Try the Grant Slam – two scrambled eggs with melted cheddar and tomato on a homemade English muffin – or the huevos rancheros.
Then, head a block north and step into a classic Italian market and slice of old Buffalo – Guercio & Sons. The Guercio family has been serving the neighborhood for over 50 years; customers come from all over to shop for imported olive oils, cheese and other Italian products that are tough to find anywhere else. Rows of fresh fruits and vegetables sit under awnings out front in warmer weather.
Guercio’s opened when the West Side was still an enclave for Italian families. But in recent years, the neighborhood has become home to Buffalo’s growing Southeast Asian and African immigrant communities.
Perhaps the best place to experience this growing diversity is at the West Side Bazaar, which opened several years ago to provide recent immigrants with an incubator space to sell their wares and culinary creations. Nearly a dozen food vendors and clothing retailers call the bazaar home; eat lunch at its food court, which includes Peruvian, Ethiopian and Burmese options.
Continue to satisfy your global curiosity at a pair of independently owned used bookstores, West Side Stories and Rust Belt Books (opening February 2015). Before the day is out, grab a juice at Press Raw Food and Juice and dinner takeout from Freddy J’s BBQ, run by a native of Liberia who settled in Buffalo.
— Karen Fashana