Buffalo's Neighborhoods


Larkinville

Buffalo, Reinvented

The area known as Larkinville – a collection of businesses and public spaces centered along Seneca Street southeast of downtown Buffalo– is one of the city’s most impressive transformations. Formerly empty warehouses and vacant parcels are now home to weekly concerts, food truck rodeos, beer gardens, breweries and distilleries.

Buffalo, Reinvented

Buffalo, Reinvented

Seven Days of Larkinville

 MONDAY

Begin immersing yourself in the neighborhood renaissance by grabbing lunch at the Filling Station, a converted 1930s gas station that emphasizes local ingredients and fresh flavors. It’s a hotspot for the Buffalo lunchtime crowd.

TUESDAY

A spring-to-fall staple of life in Buffalo is Food Truck Tuesday. Nearly 30 trucks from Buffalo and beyond convene on Larkin Square to serve their burritos, falafel, sliders, grilled cheese, gourmet hot dogs, falafel and other creations. Relax in an Adirondack chair and hula hoop while you’re there, too.

WEDNESDAY

Burn off those calories gained on Tuesday by dancing and jamming at the Live at Larkin concert series, which features popular local bands through the summer. There are wintertime components to this series too, like the “Holiday Live at Larkin” in December and “Live at O’Larkin” in March.

THURSDAY

Start your day with by shopping at Uncle Sam’s Army Navy Outfitters. This sprawling store housed in a warehouse sells authentic military apparel from over 26 countries. Then play a game of Pickleball or a round of golf in the Nano golf course and then check out (716) GAL-LERY, Buffalo’s smallest art gallery inside the Hydraulic Hearth. If you’re sticking around Larkin for dinner, try the Eckl’s at Larkin for their signature roast beef on weck.

FRIDAY

Brick oven pizza, anyone? Head to Hydraulic Hearth for some inventive pies served in a funky atmosphere, washed down by beer brewed in-house by Community Beer Works. Make sure to stop by Buffalo’s smallest art gallery while you’re there, housed in a former telephone booth. If brunch is more your thing, Hydraulic Hearth partners with Breadhive Cooperative Bakery for a “Bagels and Brooze” event every Saturday. In the warmer months, enjoy shuffleboard and giant Jenga at the Hearth’s beer garden.

SATURDAY

Have breakfast at Larkin’s newest addition, Swan Street Diner. Then head to Flying Bison Brewing Company for a tour and tasting.  Flying Bison was a pioneer in the modern era of Buffalo brewing and opened a new Larkinville facility in 2014. Make sure to sample the Aviator Red, Rusty Chain and, in the winter, Blizzard Bock.

SUNDAY

Rest.  You’ll need the energy to return to Larkinville and try all the food and beer you couldn’t fit in the previous week!

— Brian Hayden

10 New Trucks Debuting at Food Truck Tuesdays

|

The return of Food Truck Tuesdays in Larkinville could be called the unofficial start of summer. It’s hard to imagine that just a decade ago, there were zero food trucks roaming the streets of Buffalo. Today, the local food truck scene is a diverse lot of flavors and styles. So head down to this Tuesday tradition for live music, great company and fare from dozens of regional food trucks, including these 10 trucks making their debut for Larkin’s 2019 season:

Photo by Rhea Anna

1. Craft Crepes

From the creators of Rochester’s Tuscan Wood Fired Pizza truck, Craft Crepes is bringing sweet and savory delights to the land of Larkin. As this truck is just getting its wheels on the ground, keep an eye on their page for a full menu of offerings.

Photo courtesy of Big Ed’s Ba-Ba-BBQ – That’s Big Ed!

2. Big Ed’s Ba-Ba-BBQ

Slinging full racks of ribs, pulled pork, BBQ-roasted chicken, grilled fish and burgers, with all the sides you could ask for, Big Ed’s is big-time BBQ, right here in Buffalo. Get ready to get your money’s worth, as there’s no skimping on portions here!

3. Wraps on Wheels

Coming straight from Rochester, Wraps on Wheels is bundling up your favorite flavors in a warm tortilla and serving them up speedy quick. Try their cranberry blue chicken wrap, Philly cheesesteak wrap, and an ode to the mighty wing – a Buffalo chicken wrap.

Photo courtesy of Souped Up

4. Souped Up

Soup’s not just for the cold weather months! Sure, Souped Up ladles out bowlfuls of traditional soups and stews, but they’ve been known to get a little out-there, too –  with soup versions of your favorite foods like cheeseburger, stuffed banana pepper, and dill pickle.

5. Caribbean Flava

From the islands of the Caribbean to your mouth, Caribbean Flava offers specialty dishes like jerk chicken, curry chicken, fried plantains and traditional rice and beans.

Photo courtesy of Fat Lady’s Cakes and Pies

6. Fat Lady’s Cakes & Pies

Cupcakes. Lots of cupcakes. Indulge your sweet tooth by chomping into these bite-sized pastries with decadent flavors like german chocolate, sweet potato pie and chocolate maple bacon.

7. Mad Sauces

Saucing everything in sight from wings, to burgers and fries, Mad Sauces has over 20 sauces stashed on their truck. Try some “normal” options like cajun, honey garlic and lemon pepper or go wild with flavors like pineapple glaze, peach mango stinger or ghost pepper ranch.

Photo courtesy of Rollin’ Deep

8. Rollin’ Deep

Rollin’ into the BUF from the ROC, Rollin’ Deep might be the first bubble tea truck at Food Truck Tuesdays. Get your fix with over a dozen fresh fruit flavors ready to sip.

9. Lugia’s Ice Cream on Wheels

A Rochester legend for ice cream, Lugia’s has an army of trucks roaming the streets serving cold cones with hot fudge. Now, one of those trucks is finally coming to Larkin Square. Two scoops? Make it three.

10. Falafel Bar

This brick-and-mortar Mediterranean hotspot is taking to the streets in 2019. Souvlaki, shawarma and cous cous are on the menu when this truck rolls into Larkin Square.

For the entire lineup of your favorite trucks and the musical acts through the 2019 season, visit larkinsquare.com

The Ultimate Larkinville Brewery and Distillery Crawl

|

Buffalo’s brewery and distillery scene is booming. The region now has 30 craft breweries, several distilleries and more on the way– nearly as many as in its pre-Prohibition days.

Five of these breweries and distilleries are located in Buffalo’s Larkinville neighborhood, an area enjoying its own revival.  With new restaurants, apartments, businesses and entertainment choices housed in a revitalized warehouse district, Larkinville is fast becoming an attractive spot for brewers and distillers to set up shop.

A tour of these fine establishments was on my Buffalo to-do list, and each place is in close proximity to one another, making it perfectly walkable.  And on a warm Saturday afternoon, I had no trouble at all recruiting fellow tour-goers.

Tommyrotter

Tommyrotter Distillery, 500 Seneca St.
We went big and started our tour by sampling some spirits. If you’re not in the habit of tasting hard alcohol without a mixer or chaser, you’re in for quite an education.  Fred, assistant distiller and our tour guide showed us how to smell, sip and roll 122-proof gin around our mouths, savoring its unique and proprietary blend of botanicals.

Tommyrotter’s Cask Strength Bourbon-Barrel Gin won Double Gold and Best in Show in a New York World Wine & Spirits Competition. Their American Gin is one of the top-selling craft gins in New York State, and they’ve been featured in several nationally regarded publications – a pretty impressive resume for being only two years old.

Buffalo Brewing Company, 314 Myrtle Ave.
The folks at Buffalo Brewing Company have a deep love for what they do and the place in which they do it.  A true passion for their craft is what makes their beer so memorable. Choose from five “core” brews that are always on tap, or from a selection of “seasonal” beer.  Each is assigned a 4-digit number that (we quickly learned) commemorates a major event or milestone in Buffalo’s history.  They’re considered a “nano-brewery” and produce 2 barrels at a time or about 62 gallons per batch, by hand.  Try them a pint at a time ($5) or a flight of four ($10) or five ($12).  My personal favorite is the 1842 Vienna Lager, which also happens to be the year that the Dart Grain Elevator was invented and built.

buffalodistilling_2

Buffalo Distilling Co., 860 Seneca St.
Buffalo Distilling’s start goes back to 1893; it was operational until 1918, before the beginning of Prohibition. A century later, this distillery had made a comeback in Larkinville; their menu has expanded and their spirits have matured into their signature brand, “One Foot Cock.” Now you can choose from a nice selection of craft cocktails or a flight of bourbon whiskey and apple brandy, followed by an in-depth tour of their distillery and historic space – the former home of a carriage manufacturer.

Flying Bison Brewing Co., 840 Seneca St.
The veteran Buffalo brewery on the block, Flying Bison originally opened its doors on Niagara Street in 2000. They outgrew that space and joined the Larkinville neighborhood in 2014.  We stepped out of our comfort zones and tried a few from their “Private ‘Stache” like “Down By the River,” a Belgian-style IPA and “Herc Strong Ale,” a really unique and delicious barlywine with an ABV coming in at 9.5%. The “Buffalo Kölsch 716” is a German style, incredibly refreshing and drinkable beer, only available in the summer – so you should probably stop whatever you’re doing and head to FBBC now. And the spacious tasting room, complete with complimentary board games, is the perfect space to spend an afternoon.

14522699_1746103335607403_8618214504032920681_n

Hydraulic Hearth, 716 Swan St.
We hit up Hydraulic Hearth last for obvious reasons – delicious beer and wood-fire pizzas. The restaurant is home to Community Beer Works’ satellite brewery, so you’re certain to get plenty of fresh CBW favorites like “The Whale,” “Frank” and “That IPA.”  They serve about 10 other non-CBW beers as well as well as shandies and boilermakers.  Those along with some unique house cocktails made an appearance at our table, as well as 5 pizzas and a bunch of starters – the cheese fondue was an unexpected delight. Hydraulic Hearth also has one of Buffalo’s best beer gardens, complete with a shuffleboard court in the back.

Put on your summer bucket list a self-guided walking tour of Larkinville’s breweries and distilleries. You’ll have a new appreciation for the craft that helped shape Buffalo’s past and is breathing spirit into the city’s comeback.

The Quirks of Larkin Square

|
larkin square

Larkin Square

Larkin Square, anchor of the newly dubbed “Larkinville” and leader of one of the city’s best revitalization stories, is loaded with unique sights, sounds, activities, and eats. All of which are based solely on one premise: FUN!

I’m sure you’ve heard of the “marquee” events such as Food Truck Tuesdays and Live at Larkin Wednesdays. There’s also an Author Speaker Series and boxed lunches on the boardwalk. But go deeper. Explore. Investigate. You’re going to uncover some wicked coolness.

Revisit your childhood and wiggle around one of the Larkin Hula Hoops. Burn off some calories and laugh at yourself in the process (or the others trying if you’re too shy).

the larkin links

One of the holes at the Larkin Links.

Play nine holes of nano golf (plus two bonus holes) on the Larkin Links. Open from spring until September, use a vintage putter to putt your way around the course filled with artist designed, local landmark obstacles. Let me tell you, this is tough! But if you succeed here you’re sure to shave a few strokes of your game.

Everyone has fun at Larkin Square!

Hula-Hoops are part of the fun at Larkin Square.

Next to the course are the pickleball courts. Yes pickleball. I don’t know how the game came to be pickled, but think of a mix of tennis and badminton, not shriveled cucumbers.

Just across the the square is the Hydraulic Hearth, Larkinville’s newest restaurant. It has some must-try food and drinks, but also offers its own mix of uniqueness. The (716) GAL-LERY – a converted phone booth – functions as the world’s smallest art gallery. A new exhibit is displayed every three months, and the telephone itself is always part of the art.

And then of course, my favorite, the beer garden. Beer gardens are all the rage and this one is top notch (see friend and fellow blogger, Jay Josker’s words on beer gardening). Enjoy beer, music, atmosphere and old fashioned, retirement community style shuffleboard!

I’d venture to say more things like this will continue to appear on Larkin’s playlist. Just remember one additional thing. There’s an underlying theme that gets lost in all the shenanigans: It’s all free!

Swan St. Diner: A Vintage Diner Given New Life at Larkin

|

With the combined talents, vision and resources of the Zemsky family and beloved Buffalo diner chef Amanda Amico (Amy’s Place, Amy’s Truck), a vintage diner has been lovingly, faithfully restored—and just like that, with a lot of talent and a bit of magic, the Swan St. Diner is open for business.

One of the city’s most popular and busy spots—it seats about 50 guests at a time—hungry breakfast and lunch goers are filling their cravings for the new-twist-on-old-school diner fare. There are big breakfasts (try the house biscuits) and rib-sticking, tummy-pleasing mains like their rotating pot pies (seek out the creamy mushroom chicken) with stuffing replacing the top crust.

SwanSt1

Co-owners Harry Zemsky and Amico have partnered with the rest of the creative team—dad Howard Zemsky saw the vintage 1937 Sterling Diner while near Newark, NY and cooked up the idea to purchase it and bring it “home” to Larkinville; among other contributions, mom and artist Leslie Zemsky designed the wall paper, featuring classic medallions painted by local artists.

Harry Zemsky is glad to be along for this ride in particular. “The diner is a perfect piece of the puzzle in our plan to add reasons for people to come to Larkin Square,” said Zemsky. “It adds a weekend option. It’s going to be a really solid breakfast and lunch space, with great food and great service.”

SwanSt2

The diner was built by J. B. Judkins Co. of Merrimac, MA. Like all Sterling diners, it was originally made in four-foot sections and bolted together on location. At 50 feet, it’s one of the company’s longer models. The original diner was trucked the 100 miles from Newark to Buffalo, and has undergone a complete renovation, as well as had a kitchen added on.

Amico is excited about the menu. “We’re bringing back scratch diner cooking—we’re not popping hash out of a can,” she said. “The menu will responsive to seasonal and available ingredients. We can make something a little new, like Harry’s idea for pumpkin waffles.”

SwanSt3

Versus the process to design and select every element of his other business’s interiors (Hydraulic Hearth, Angelica Tea Room), Zemsky said he’s enjoyed the requirements of sticking to the property’s historic décor.

“It’s been fun working on the rehab project in a historic space,” he said. “It’s cool to imagine what it used to be, and see it come back to its former glory. I can’t get enough of being in this place.”

Pies by local company Fairy Cakes add to the nostalgic air. “They probably sold pies in this diner in 1937,” posited Amico.

“Diner breakfast food is the ultimate comfort food,” added Zemsky. “Your body is still waking up, you get some coffee, and I like the classic: bacon or sausage, two eggs over easy, and home fries.”

Swan St. Diner
700 Swan Street, Buffalo
www.swanstreetdiner.com
(716) 768-1823

Map TK