A long art weekend
in Buffalo

by Emily Tucker

Gallery owner Emily Tucker has some suggestions for art lovers visiting Buffalo. Of course, everybody will be beating a path to the new Buffalo AKG Art Museum this year. A stop at that world class collection is a given. But once you get off the beaten path, you’ll find Buffalo has a rich and deep collection of small galleries and arty clubs.


Start in the sweet neighborhood where my business partner Elisabeth Samuels and I run our gallery Raft of Sanity at 1255 Niagara St. Consider coming by for our gallery’s latest show of local and out-of-town artists.

Once you’re in the neighborhood, go across the street and try the amazing brews at Mortalis Brewing Company at 1250 Niagara St. Well known for fruit smoothie sours, big stouts and a rotating draft list on 24 taps, Mortalis features award-winning craft brews and beer-influenced food on their taproom menu. 

Next up: You have GOT to get to Mint Mojito Bar at 1225 Niagara St. for dinner. Two words: Lobster Empanadas. This bar-restaurant has the most radical empanadas and killer mojitos and more food and cocktails. If you’re looking for additional options, stop by the new West Side Bazaar at 1432 Niagara St. Their food court features cuisine from around the world.



Start the morning with delicious coffee and toast at Five Points Bakery at 44 Brayton St., then walk across the street for the best croissants you will eat outside of France at Butter Block pastry shop at 426 Rhode Island.

Shop for a date night outfit at French Girl Boutique, 44 Brayton St. Get artisan wine or a good amaro at Paradise Wine at 435 Rhode Island, my favorite wine store in the city. Owners Paula Paradise and Lauren Kostek focus on additive-free, thoughtfully produced spirits.

From there, it’s a two-minute walk to the Buffalo Institute for Contemporary Art, or BICA, at 30 Essex St in a historic art complex. A new school for artists is producing exhibitions and other events. Not to be missed: A BICA School party. Ask if there’s one when you’re in town.

On the first Friday of the month all the Allentown galleries are open late. Don’t miss Rivalry Projects, 106 College St., which celebrates emerging and mid-career and underrepresented artists.  El Museo, at 91 Allen, is a 40-year-old gallery founded by Latino artists with a modern focus on representing artists from diverse backgrounds of all kinds. PineApple Company, at 65 Allen, is a gallery and shop with locally made art, prints and gifts. It’s a four-minute walk to Pausa Art House, wine, tapas and jazz bar at 19 Wadsworth St., where musicians and audiences gather for intimate concert in a homey, art-filled space.

Hungry? Billy Club at 228 Allen St. in the artsy district has a great burgers and a well curated menu, wine and cocktail list.



The furniture/art/decor showroom and warehouse Coo Coo U at 111 Tonawanda St. is a mid-century design mecca, curated by proprietor Michael Merisola who is glad to chat about his wonderful collection of finds. His place is a four-minute drive away from an old factory full of food entrepreneurs at 27 Chandler Street, another one of Buffalo’s up and coming business districts!

The amazing options include Southern Junction BBQ with brisket that is out of this world! The same goes for their baked beans and “burnt ends” cauliflower. I could put his pickled onions on everything. Also on site, killer sandwiches and knishes at Blum & Poe. At Flat 12 Mushrooms find excellent dried mushrooms, black garlic, and other tinctures. Just up the stairs, the Sweet Whisk chocolatier makes exceptional bonbons, cookies, and cakes.

On the ground floor, the Waxlight Bar a Vin restaurant, with a great between-two-buildings brick patio, is the place for an elevated brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Nearby on the block, Barrel and Brine pickles and Thin Man Brewery! 

The last stop has to be at Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center, which almost 50 years old and was founded by international art world stars Cindy Sherman and Robert Longo.  Located inside a repurposed church the concert and event space known as Babeville/Asbury Hall. Check the calendar and catch a concert, film, poetry slam, or comedy show.

After Hallwalls, peek into other downtown Galleries like CEPA, or the Contemporary Photography & Visual Arts Center at 617 Main St., Western New York Book Arts Center, at 468 Washington St., and Box Gallery at 667 Main. 

After so much gallery viewing, take an appetite to Bacchus Wine Bar & Restaurant at 56 W. Chippewa St.  Of course, the wine menu is insane. My personal food favorite is the roasted oysters and the short ribs. The menu will wow you every time.



Before heading home, make Sunday Brunch at Patina 250 inside the Westin Hotel at 250 Delaware Ave.  The Brunch is one of the best I have had ANYWHERE in the world and I like to travel and eat.  The best part for me about this space is that they chose to work with local gallery owners, like our Raft of Sanity, to outfit the restaurant in original pieces and custom installations created by regional artists.  The food and the décor will blow you away.