Shout out to all the WNY restaurants who risked it all to open a brand new establishment in the past 365. It’s no easy feat, and we applaud you for going for it and showing Buffalo what you’re made of.
While it’s a tough task, we decided to pull together a list of our top picks that have opened throughout 2018 – this is a compilation of Step Out Staff favorites, in no particular order. We urge you to check them out if you haven’t already, as well as the full list of new restaurants we’ve covered over the past year. Here’s to the hustle of these restauranteurs and business owners in 2018.
Update: Permanently closed, Owners reopened new restaurant Big Mood
423 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo
We had a good feeling about the new Root + Bloom vegan café on Elmwood after covering it back in May. Little did we know that husband-and-wife owners James Ernst and Sarah Sendlbeck would also make a great impression on the New York F’ing Times(!)
If you’re still skeptical about all-plant-based food, just think of it as another type of cuisine – like Italian or Chinese – and you’ll realize that good vegan food can be tasty, even fun. Read our articles on their (outside opening) here and (inside opening) here.
1197 Hertel Ave, Buffalo
There were a lot of good wine bars in WNY before 2018, and a lot of restaurants with choice wine lists (Looking at you, Oliver’s.) But we were severely lacking when it came to a hip wine bar that focused on small producers making organic and biodynamic wines. The Little Club filled that gap nicely, hitting all the right notes on our visit – from the wine, to the European tapas (escargot!), to the classic hip-hop soundtrack. Read our article on their opening here.
220 Grant St, Buffalo
The opening of The Tabernacle behind Sweet_ness 7 was probably our most Hallmark Channel story of the year: Get out your fat pants, a pint of Magnum and click here.
The massive murals on the walls of The Tabernacle were painted by employee Jeremy Twiss with the blessing of owner Prish Moran. When we talked to them, they seemed less like a boss and employee – more like a loving mother and her restless son. Go to The Tabernacle and witness that love in all its technicolor glory. Read our article on their opening here.
Update: Permanently closed
1422 Hertel Ave, Buffalo
There are bakeries in WNY that make decadent sweets. There are pastry chefs that make art on a plate. And then there’s Pastry by Camille.
Classically-trained, French-born Camille Le Caer and his staff make sweet-savory pastries and delicate crepes that split the difference between grandma’s cooking and fine dining. Don’t just take our word for it, ask The Washington Post.
If you’re looking for local food with a bit of je ne sais quoi, there are two Pastry by Camille locations to check out; one downtown and one on Hertel Avenue. Read our article on their Hertel opening here.
520 7th St, Buffalo
The beers and personalities of Community Beer Works were just too massive to be confined to a small garage on Lafayette Avenue. We were there when the brewery threw open the doors to its much bigger 7th Street digs back in August.
The new place has a great munchies menu, game room, dining area, outdoor beer garden, a proper bar and even a space for cornhole. All that and they’re still one of the most forward-thinking local breweries out there. It’s basically a Travel Channel destination in our own backyard. Read our article on their opening here.
50 Buffalo St, Hamburg
Nicolle Casell and Anne McIntosh, owners of Alchemy Wine Bar, showed you can do a New Orleans-inspired tavern without making a theme pub. Instead of beads, plastic gators and Mardi Gras masks, you’ll find a deeper Crescent City vibe – one based on passion for soulful food, good drink and live music.
500 Seneca St. Suite 119, Buffalo
Dobutsu by chef/owner James Roberts made a quick and seemingly easy ascent to the top of Buffalo’s premier eateries. Attention to detail stands out in both cuisine and decor. This is one of the areas best spots for fresh seafood, but the quality does not end there. The food is as creatine as it is scrumptious, and the service is always top notch. Read our article on their opening here.
40 E Niagara St, Tonawanda
Tonawanda got really lucky with the opening of this canal adjacent gem. Prescott’s fills a particular culinary niche in the area by leaning heavily on upscale Italian fare, featuring dishes like handmade black tagliolini with Maine lobster. There are also handcrafted burgers and wood-fired pizzas, for those who want simple pleasures with their views of the canal. Read our article on their opening here.
703 Seneca St, Buffalo
The people at Eckl’s carry on the tradition of satisfying Buffalo’s beef cravings at the Larkin location. Their new place is a bit more upscale – “old school supper club” than the original in OP. The focus is more on steaks than Beef on Weck, but it still oozes comfort and of course they bring the beef. Read our article on their opening here.