Situated alongside the Niagara River and what was once the Erie Canal, Niagara Street in its heyday was a significant hub for transportation and industry. Today, many of the industrial warehouses on Niagara Street have been reimagined into shops, restaurants and more. These new businesses paired with a major streetscape re-design have brought substantial change to the Niagara Street neighborhood. This effort has contributed to the rise of Niagara Street once again.
“The changes to Niagara Street have been pretty huge. The reconstruction has created a safer, more enjoyable experience for families, cyclists and visitors alike. People are noticing more and more things because they can actually safely see and enjoy everything there is to explore here” said Barbara Rowe of Vision Niagara, an organization made up of residents, businesses, investors and human services organizations to encourage revitalization of the Niagara Street Corridor.
Throughout the twentieth century, Niagara Street’s location on the Niagara River was ideal for ferrying goods to and from Canada. Job opportunities were plentiful and the neighborhood attracted waves of immigrants.
In the early 1950s, Niagara Street became a haven for an influx of Puerto Rican Americans. Since then, the area has been a longtime center of Buffalo’s Hispanic and Latino community. Many traditions, such as the Puerto Rican & Hispanic Day Parade, continue to take place in and around Niagara Street alongside businesses such as the Niagara Café, which has served homemade Puerto Rican cuisine since 1992.
In recent years, Niagara Street underwent a major re-design that enhanced the changes taking place in the neighborhood. This project included making improvements to the walkability of the area, adding a two-way protected bike lane to the street and murals on a number of neighborhood buildings. This transformation is the most ambitious streetscape re-design the City of Buffalo has ever tackled.
Niagara Street has rapidly become home to some of Buffalo’s most interesting new businesses. From a seltzer-based brewery to a small business marketplace employing aspiring entrepreneurs, Niagara Street continues to put its unmistakable character on full display. Whether you’re looking to eat, shop, relax or explore, here’s a handful of spots you need to check out in this reinvigorated neighborhood:
Grab a Bite
This eclectic restaurant serves a variety of upscale comfort food, making it a standout destination for brunch, lunch, or dinner. At Roost’s bar, treat yourself to adventurous cocktails, local craft beers and other delicious drinks. Roost’s rustic yet urban feel is something you don’t want to miss. 1502 Niagara Street
West Side Bazaar
The West Side Bazaar is a small business marketplace that allows aspiring owners and newcomers to Buffalo to test their retail concepts. The Bazaar includes various food kiosks that currently offer Vietnamese, Egyptian, Central African & Congolese, Japanese, Italian, Malaysian, Burmese and Korean cuisine. In addition to these restaurants, the Bazaar also features multiple retail options, including a food-oriented bookstore that sells cookbooks and artisan food items and a bakery kiosk with gourmet cookies and other sweet treats. 1432 Niagara Street
Taqueria Ranchos La Delicias
Taqueria Ranchos La Delicias prepares fresh enchiladas, pollos locos, parrilladas, tacos mexicanos, quesadillas and plenty more with their own delectable Venezuelan flair. Ranchos is the perfect spot to enjoy an impressive lineup of authentic Mexican fare, including a flavorful array of margaritas, mojitos and aguas frescas! 1516 Niagara Street
Raft of Sanity Gallery
The Raft of Sanity is a contemporary gallery project located in the heart of the Niagara Street district. With rotating exhibitions and an emphasis on creating new opportunities for regional artists, The Raft welcomes artists, collectors, critics and the community to a gallery space that supports artistic excellence, creativity and innovation. 1255 Niagara Street
Daddy’s Plants is a floral-focused oasis filled with greenery of all species and sizes. Featuring a rotating mix of indoor tropical and desert plants, Daddy’s Plants also carries various plant accessories, including locally made pots and other gift items. With occasional small events such as plant-focused educational talks and creative/maker evenings, Daddy’s Plants welcomes plant lovers of all types. 1250 Niagara Street
For over 40 years, cyclists throughout Buffalo have trusted Campus Wheelworks with all their biking needs. At this specialty shop, you’ll find a wide selection of bikes, parts, cycling accessories and more. If you’re visiting from out of town, Campus Wheelworks is also stocked with rental bikes. Be sure to take one for a spin on Niagara Street’s protected two-way bike track, and the nearby Shoreline Trail. 1330 Niagara Street
Sip Back and Relax
Mortalis Brewing Company
Well known for fruit smoothie sours and big stouts, Mortalis Brewing Company features award-winning craft brews and beer-influenced food at their Niagara Street taproom. With a rotating draft list on 24 taps, Mortalis also offers an impressive lineup of IPAs, stouts and lagers that have gained a following among beer enthusiasts nationwide. When you visit the Niagara Street neighborhood, be sure to give this celebrated brewery a try. 1250 Niagara Street
Mint Cocktails and Kitchen
Mint Cocktails and Kitchen pays homage to their signature drink, the mojito. Featuring various small plates, including empanadas and vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options, Mint is the perfect place to sit back and enjoy the ambiance of Niagara Street. Pro-Tip: Enjoy Mint’s delicious mojitos and empanadas on their serene outdoor patio. 1225 Niagara Street
Free Street Tavern
Just up the block from Mortalis and Mint, you’ll find Free Street Tavern. This spunky neighborhood bar prides itself on offering a little bit of everything for anyone who walks in the door. Their menu includes adventurous mac and cheese flavors, local brews, tasty cocktails and plenty more to discover. 1469 Niagara Street
Explore the Outdoors
Freedom Park, formerly Broderick Park
Located over the West Ferry Street Bridge off Niagara Street, Freedom Park is recognized as a designated Network to Freedom site by the U.S. National Parks Service. This historic park is known as a terminus of the Underground Railroad between the United States and Canada. Broderick Park features walking paths along the scenic Niagara River and pays tribute to the men and women who crossed the water into the freedom of Canada. 1170 Niagara Street
Bird Island Pier
Connected to Broderick Park, Bird Island Pier’s picturesque walkway stretches for nearly two miles along the Black Rock Canal. Here, you’ll enjoy vast views of the Niagara River, Lake Erie and the Buffalo skyline. As you take in the scene, you’ll pass right underneath the Peace Bridge, which connects Buffalo to Canada. 1170 Niagara Street
Ralph Wilson Park (Coming Soon)
This 100+-acre park is currently undergoing a $110 million transformation. Ralph Wilson Park sits on the shoreline of Lake Erie just south of the Niagara Street district. Upon its completion, the park will include a variety of new, inclusive play spaces, improved baseball diamonds, soccer and football fields and sprawling lawn areas for other outdoor activities. The park will also feature a fishing lagoon and a new kayak launch, making the waterfront more accessible than ever before. D A R Drive