12 Essential Restaurants to Try This Spring 2021

City Guide, Food & Drink, Food & Drink Guides


Written by Step Out Staff

Published on March 31, 2021
Photo courtesy of Long Weekend Bakery + Cafe
Photo courtesy of Long Weekend Bakery + Cafe

Every season we round up the most noteworthy new restaurants that have opened in the past few months. Our pants are tight, our wallets slim, but there’s food to be devoured and so we trek on. Here’s a list of recently opened restaurants/bars/breweries/bakeries/cafes/you name it to add to your must-try list this spring.


Photo courtesy of Long Weekend Bakery + Cafe
Photo courtesy of Long Weekend Bakery + Cafe

1. Long Weekend Bakery + Cafe

Plant-based eaters, rejoice! 100% plant-based baked goods (and lot’s of them) are now on the menu.

Long Weekend Bake Shop, located in Lancaster, is one of a very short list of plant-based eateries in WNY and Buffalo’s only 100% plant-based bakery. All of Long Weekend’s baked goods are made without dairy, eggs, or honey — without sacrificing taste.

Owner Lex Frandina decided to open the vegan-friendly bake shop over the summer of 2020, looking to fill the gap and create a plant-based bakery that would cater to all diets. Though contributing to Buffalo’s food scene had occurred to her before, the shop came to fruition after Frandina’s career in the music and film festival industry came to a screeching halt due to the pandemic. 

Keep Reading: New: WNY’s Only Plant-Based Bakery Long Weekend Bakery + Cafe Opens in Lancaster >

Poppa Pete's A Lebanese Joint
Photo courtesy of Poppa Pete’s A Lebanese Joint

2. Poppa Pete’s

265 Kenmore Ave, Kenmore, NY 14223 (on the side of J.J.’s “House of Breakfast” Cafe)

Some restaurants rest on a foundation of silver spoons, financed by those with privilege and means, and some restaurants are built on the shifting sands of desperation and an uncontrollable urge to do something that feels personally important.

With its modest takeout-only model tucked just off Kenmore Avenue in Tonawanda, Poppa Pete’s – A Lebanese Joint, is the latter.

Talk to owner Pete Deeb for 30 seconds and you’ll realize he’s an open book. He’ll probably tell you that a painful odyssey through the restaurant industry ultimately dragged him, kicking and screaming, into restaurant ownership.

Deeb wears his heart on his sleeve. In most industries, being an open book can hold you back, and in Deeb’s case, it did. He succumbed to the creation of Poppa Pete’s because he needed to work for himself, not for other people, and embrace who he thinks he is meant to be.

Keep Reading: New: Poppa Pete’s Combines Flavor & Comfort Food for the Perfect Take Out Storm >

Photo courtesy of OSB Ciderworks

3. OSB Ciderworks Taproom

517 Main Street, Buffalo 14203

With the rise of craft alcohol, has come a lot of self-seriousness, creative mustaches, soft-focus Instagram shots, old timey hats, tincture-filled eye droppers, and driving for hours to stand in line for an hour just to get the latest hyped-up hazy IPA that tastes exactly like this other room-temperature IPA you can buy at 7-Eleven. 

That’s all well and good, but maybe it’s high time that we all remember: Alcohol is supposed to be fun. 

At OSB Ciderworks, they apparently don’t need to remember that because they never forgot. With cider names like Cherry Cherry Why Ya Buggin? and Matcha Man Apple Savage, it’s easy to see that fun comes first here, and the Rochester-area cidery recently brought that irreverent playfulness to a new taproom location on Main Street in Buffalo.

Keep Reading: New: Rochester’s OSB Ciderworks Opens a Taproom in Downtown Buffalo Offering Outrageous Cider Creations >


The Unbridled Cafe
Photo courtesy of The Unbridled Cafe

4. The Unbridled Cafe

9380 Transit Rd, East Amherst, NY 14051

The Unbridled Cafe opened its doors on Transit Road in East Amherst in late April 2020. With sights set on a personal experience for guests, The Unbridled Cafe makes homemade items like sauces, potato chips, and whipped cream with hopes that it takes their food to the next level while offering a family friendly environment.

Inside you’ll find unique western décor based off of an experience owner Heidi Conschafter had while interning on a private guest ranch in Rifle, Colorado in college. During this experience she gained an interest in horses and found her passion in food and hospitality. After 25 years in the hospitality industry, she took the leap and opened her own restaurant.

Keep Reading: New: The Unbridled Cafe Serves Breakfast & Lunch in a Rustic Setting >

Bella's Parkside Tavern
Photo courtesy of Bella’s Parkside Tavern

5. Bella’s Parkside Tavern

1125 Tonawanda St., Buffalo, NY 14207

At a time when it’s important for all of us to pull together, it’s hard to imagine anyone engaging in the cold, sinister act of arson. But back in July, somebody or somebodies apparently vandalized and set alight the Pizza Bella and More restaurant in Riverside, ultimately forcing it to close.

That suspected arson is still under investigation but that hasn’t stopped Pizza Bella’s owners from moving forward and reopening – not the pizzeria, but a neighboring tavern called Bella’s Parkside Tavern. With a modern global pandemic as its backdrop, this literal Rise From the Ashes story is made even more brilliant by the fact that the pizzeria, and now the tavern, have been making food you just can’t get anywhere else in Western New York.

Open for four decades, the original Pizza Bella was a beloved Riverside joint until it closed in 2018. An ownership group bought the old pizzeria and co-owner Mo Alhijazi had wanted to open a Mediterranean restaurant, in keeping with his Palestinian background. However, that didn’t happen. A spokesperson speaking on behalf of Alhijazi said, “When we were taking down the old sign (and still planning a concept), people kept stopping by and saying, ‘You can’t take down the sign! You can’t take down the sign! It’s an icon!!’”

Keep Reading: New: Bella’s Parkside Tavern Rises From The Ashes With New Location in Riverside >

6. The Flaming Fish Restaurant

535 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14203

A hugely successful food truck has put down roots at 535 Main Street, right in Downtown Buffalo. The Flaming Fish will be serving up their famous fresh seafood dishes at this new dine in location, which opened up in early December 2020. 

The Flaming Fish started out as a food truck in 2014. Since then, they’ve seen tons of success, traveling all around Buffalo to serve up their tasty seafood dishes. They decided to open up a brick and mortar restaurant to give customers a chance to experience their food in an entirely new setting. The inside of The Flaming Fish has an urban feel, with graffiti style artwork, brick walls, and their Flaming Fish logo throughout the space.

Keep Reading: New: The Flaming Fish Food Truck Settles Into A Restaurant Location In Downtown Buffalo >

Photo courtesy of Tortuga Sandwich Shop
Photo courtesy of Tortuga Sandwich Shop

7. Tortuga Sandwich Shop

5835 Buffalo Street Sanborn, NY 14132

A new sandwich shop in Sanborn, NY is serving up Latin street food sandwiches featuring elements of Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Peru, and Bolivia. Tortuga Sandwich Shop, located at 5835 Buffalo Street, adds a new option for diners who crave food with a Central American influence. 

Owner Andrew Smiedala is no stranger to the kitchen. He graduated from culinary school in 2008 and went on to work in three restaurants owned by famous Spanish Chef, Jose Andres. Smiedala eventually quit these jobs to open up his own food truck in Alexandria, Virginia called Tortuga, and attracted hundreds of people from all over Virginia and Washington DC. After deciding to sell the truck and move home to raise a family with his wife, Smiedala set grounds for Tortuga Sandwich Shop which opened its doors in November 2020. 

Keep Reading: New: Tortuga Sandwich Shop Will FulFill Your Latin Street Food Cravings >


8. Ellicottville Brewing Tap+Bottle & Taqueria

20 Washington Street Ellicottville, NY 14731

New restaurants and shops popping up in the middle of a pandemic? We love to see it. Which is why it’s exciting to hear that Ellicottville Brewing Company just announced the opening of their newest location, EBC Tap+Bottle & Taqueria. Located in downtown Ellicottville NY, just a short walk from their Monroe St. Brewery, it features authentically inspired Mexican fare, a brewpub, and bottle shop.

How did such an unexpected brewery/restaurant combo come about? With support from the Brewer’s Association ‘Together We Brew’ initiative, Ellicottville Brewing created a collaboration and partnership with Falling Piano Brewery in the heart of Mexico City. During several trips, EBC owner, Peter Kreinheder and head brewer, Dan Minner discovered street tacos and inspiration for a new project began. “Mexico was the missing culinary component in Ellicottville” says Kreinheder. “Ironically, taquerias make up one of the fastest growing restaurant segments in the U.S.”

Keep Reading: New: Ellicottville Brewing Tap+Bottle & Taqueria Is More Than Just a Restaurant >

Photo courtesy of Fat Bob’s at 42 North

9. Fat Bob’s @ 42 North

42 North Brewing Co – 25 Pine St, East Aurora, New York 14052

A tried and true Buffalo BBQ spot has landed in the Southtowns at 42 North Brewing Company in East Aurora.
Fat Bob’s opened a new location at the brewery in November 2020. The collaboration features a Fat Bob’s takeover of authentic, delicious BBQ combined with the service and innovative brews by 42 North.

Fat Bob’s will be serving BBQ favorites at 42 North every Tuesday through Sunday – currently for takeout only due to Covid restrictions on indoor dining. Smokehouse favorites, Pulled Pork, Smoked Beef Brisket and award-winning Mac N’ Cheese will be combined with 42 North’s diverse beer line-up to provide the best of both experiences; BBQ + Beer specials, rotating specials in their tap-room as well as, online ordering and curbside pickup. 

Keep Reading: New: Fat Bobs @ 42 North Just Opened in East Aurora >

10. Coco Crepe Chalet

888 Main St. Buffalo New York 14202

With indoor dining at bars and restaurants shuttered across Western New York, locally-owned Coco Bar & Bistro on Main Street in Downtown Buffalo has pivoted by opening an outdoor Crepe Chalet.

The food stand is what outdoor dining dreams are made of, especially during a Buffalo winter. Channeling major French/Canadian vibes, the chalet offers a menu of Paris street crepes – both sweet and savory, baguettes, desserts, and specialty drinks along with outdoor heaters, bistro tables, blankets, and strung Christmas lights.

Keep Reading: New: This Pop-up Crepe Chalet is The Stuff Outdoor Dining Dreams Are Made Of >


Photo courtesy of Cafe Godot

11. Cafe Godot

388 Porter Avenue, Buffalo 14201

A pandemic. A city road. An empty café and the desperate communal need for takeout, any takeout. Enter Kevin Thurston and Roy Bakos.

Waiting for Godot is a simple play by Samuel Beckett in which not much happens. Eight months into a pandemic, that theme might sound a bit familiar.

So then, the new Café Godot, with its simple menu and emphasis on takeout, is the concept for the moment. Located on a triangular corner formed by Porter Avenue and York Street in Buffalo’s West Side, Café Godot is a venture between two hospitality veterans, the aforementioned Thurston and Bakos.

Keep Reading: New: Café Godot is a Simple, Approachable, Takeout Spot in Buffalo’s West Side >

12. Campfire Grill’s Second Location

9980 Main St., Clarence, NY

One of our most popular posts over the past couple years has undoubtably been about Campfire Grill, a one-of-a-kind breakfast spot with some of the best pancakes in town and then some. Now, fans of this locally owned all-day breakfast restaurant have a second location to visit.

If you haven’t heard about Campfire Grill, allow us to introduce you. It’s a camping inspired restaurant with a rustic ambiance and camping inspired menu offering a list of homemade, specialty hotcakes, griddle toast (aka french toast) and griddle toast logs, omelets, and and a bunch of breakfast combos and specialties.

Keep Reading: New: Beloved Breakfast Spot Campfire Grill Just Opened a Second Location >

Written by <a href="" target="_self">Step Out Staff</a>

Written by Step Out Staff

A group of Step Out Buffalo team members worked together to create this post from research and writing to editing and imagery. Thanks for reading!

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