Buffalo's Neighborhoods


Grant Street

International Flair

To gain a global perspective, travel to the far reaches of the planet. Or, walk a few blocks of Grant Street on your next visit to Buffalo. In recent years, an influx of immigrants from around the world has transformed the district from its historically Italian roots to a melting pot of cultural and culinary influences. Grant has also become a magnet for entrepreneurs who have opened cafes, bookstores and more.

Grant Street

Grant Street

International Flair


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. Before the day is out, stop in for a drink at The Tabernacle and dinner takeout from Freddy J’s BBQ, run by a native of Liberia who settled in Buffalo.

— Brian Hayden

Around the World at the West Side Bazaar

|
photo 1

Nadeen Yousef, Owner of Macrame by Nadeen.

A rainy April day seemed like a perfect time to enjoy lunch and a little shopping with girlfriends at Buffalo’s West Side Bazaar. It has everything from macrame key chains to dim sum dumplings without any need for an umbrella!

The Bazaar is a small business incubator on Grant Street for Buffalo’s immigrant community, offering an opportunity for newly arrived residents to start their own shops or restaurants. With offerings of goods and services from all around the world in one small corner of Buffalo’s West Side, the bustling little marketplace is a fun place to both shop and enjoy a varied array of delicious offerings from the many food stalls that share the communal kitchen.

Small shops run by immigrants from places as far flung as Iraq and Rwanda offer both handmade crafts as well as imports from the owners’ home countries. Browsing the colorful stalls for gifts for ourselves (and others!) kept us happily busy until it was time to eat. And how to decide? Burmese? Pakistani? Bubble tea? We tried three kinds of dim sum dumplings, shared Ethiopian chicken and rice and Thai pork noodles and finished up with coconut filled sesame balls from Laos and beautifully served Ethiopian coffee.

photo 3

Dim Sum

Everything was fresh and delicious, remarkably plentiful and insanely inexpensive. We could have fed twice our number with leftovers and nothing topped $10. With our bellies happily filled and toting a few treasures and a tall glass of bubble tea, we headed out again, discussing whether our next visit would include goat curry or samosas or Burmese mohinga soup.

Buffalo is a city built by immigrants, and our newest arrivals are making their own vibrant mark on our culture and our tastebuds. A visit to the West Side Bazaar is a great way to see this in action while eating just an enormous amount of really yummy food.

(Katie Couric visited the bazaar as part of her Buffalo feature for Yahoo News; see Visit Buffalo Niagara’s video on the bazaar below.)

 

Classic Buffalo Spotlight: Guercio’s

|

Guercio-exterior

When you open the refrigerator and realize it’s time to replenish the supplies, most of us think of heading to one of the big-box grocery chains. I mean where else can you pick up your weekly necessities of Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch, rainbow sherbet and a pound of frozen sweet potato fries? But in Buffalo, there are plenty of reasons to combine a trip to Wegmans with a visit to one of Buffalo’s classic neighborhood grocery stores – Guercio & Son’s.

When the Guercio family first opened this location in 1961, they were situated in a largely Italian neighborhood on the west side of Buffalo making it THE place to stock up on fresh produce and Italian essentials like olive oil, cheese, deli meat and more.  Not much has changed in 55 years, it’s still the go-to place for many long-time residents and intrigued next-gen newcomers who are looking for that classic Buffalo vibe, to buy local and dive face-first into a killer capicola, roasted red pepper and provolone sandwich for $4.50 at the deli.

Guercio-2

For visitors, it’s the type of place that will make you feel like a longtime member of the community – a place where you’ll see Buffalo’s west side in its truest form, proud, friendly and diverse. Once you spot Guercio’s signature blue awning you know you’re in the right place. Stroll past the fresh, fragrant produce that lines the storefront sidewalk, peruse the wide selection of hard-to-find goods that only Guercio’s provides and witness the organized chaos of the deli counter at peak hours. These folks are here for that same list of reasons to visit Guercio’s: salami, mortadella, capicola, prosciutto, sopressata, provolone, parmesan, pecorino, mozzarella and asiago, among other delicacies.

You wander through the store, look at what fills the shelves, overhear the neighborhood conversations and it takes you back. Takes you back to a simpler time, a time when you weren’t inundated with 43 different kinds of one product, a time when you knew the name of the person behind the counter and a time when buying local was a given.

Guercio-3

Map TK