With all that’s happening around the waterfront (including a promising Sabres season on the horizon), it’s no secret that Buffalo is booming lately. But the new development isn’t just limited to downtown. In fact, some of the best new sites to see are actually tucked into residential neighborhoods.
On a breezy October day, I discovered what’s new along Parkside Avenue. The first stop was the Buffalo Zoo, namely to see Arctic Edge, a $14 million, one and a half acre exhibit that opened in September.
Arctic Edge is proof that the zoo is dedicated to improving both animal and visitor experiences. It features wolves and lynxes, two bald eagles and of course, the crowd favorite: two polar bears, Luna and her mom.
It’s an unbelievable improvement compared to the former bear habitat, which was built initially in the 1890s and last renovated in 1930s. The exhibit more closely mirrors the polar bears’ natural environment and includes an underwater viewing area. The entire Arctic Edge is designed to look and feel as though visitors are in a giant cave, while an accompanying interpretive center is full of interactive displays.
Just a block from the zoo’s entrance is another new addition to the Parkside neighborhood: Parkside Meadow. The restaurant stands at the corner of Russell and Parkside Avenue, tucked into a building that has housed several Buffalo favorites throughout the years, ranging from a fish fry destination to a college hangout.
The second I walked in the door, I started reading everything on the first wall I saw. Every inch of the place is decked out in Buffalo memorabilia, like a museum solely dedicated to our city. There are postcards, letters, menus, newspapers, flyers, posters, pins — any imaginable product to tell Buffalo’s story. These tokens of the city’s history cover the walls as well as the tables.
Even on a Wednesday, Parkside Meadow was fairly busy. The menu is full of American classics — fitting, of course, for the All America city. They have plenty of sandwiches, ranging from fried bologna to beef on weck and pulled pork. I ordered a cheeseburger and a Rusty Chain, and my friend asked for one of the vegetarian options: a lentil wrap and Shock Top.
The burger I ordered was massive and bursting with flavor. I’d highly recommend it with a Flying Bison Rusty chain; my friend raved about her lentil wrap, too, and even had to take half of it home for Thursday’s lunch. With a new spin on old history and a delectable menu, Parkside Meadow was definitely a place worth visiting more than once.
If you’re looking for something to do on a fall afternoon, check out the new Arctic Edge at the Buffalo Zoo, and finish the day off with a Beef on Weck from Parkside Meadow. Be sure to check out the zebra-striped crosswalk, too — it’s wild!