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 summer.
1. A Taste of Soul
423 Elmwood Ave Buffalo NY 14222
Given a shot of adrenaline by the pandemic, Buffalo’s underground food scene is booming and occasionally, an underground kitchen is so successful — it has to get legit.
Khilialah Reese — aka Ms. Country — made a name for herself selling food on a Facebook group for local cooks. While food being sold on social media might look and taste good, if it’s not prepared in a licensed commercial kitchen, selling it goes against local health codes.
A combination of business being good and group moderators looking to shut down her illicit operation drove Ms. Country out of the underground.
2. Munch Buffalo
700 Military Road Buffalo NY 14207
Since opening on the fringes of Black Rock in early 2019, Froth Brewing has become known for its over-the-top fruited sours. You may have thought beer made with raspberry, key lime and sherbet ice cream is a bad idea — but Froth has proven the doubters wrong.
And so it’s only fitting that an over-the-top restaurant has taken over the kitchen space at Froth. Operator A.J. Giordano says Diner, Drive-Ins and Dives is a big influence, especially the way that show shows off the kaleidoscope of foods found here in ‘Merica.
“I really enjoy all cuisines,” he says. “With that show, it’s nice to see Greek, Middle Eastern, Californian, Italian… a little bit of everything. That’s how I like to eat and cook.”
3. Toasted – Larkinville
799 Seneca St Buffalo NY 14210
You’d expect the pandemic to have made it difficult for Toasted to get up and running, but COVID-19 may have actually helped the café find success and expand to a second location in Larkinville.
“I would say it was a little bit of a nightmare, in the beginning,” says owner Adria Campana. “Obviously not an ideal situation. But we had no choice other than to keep our doors open and cross our fingers.”
Opening just a couple weeks before the New York State lockdowns, the original Toasted started extremely busy and staff were overwhelmed. When the lockdowns hit, they acted as a sort of slow-motion effect – decelerating business for Toasted to a more manageable level.
“At some point, we realized, ok, this is kind of working for us,” Campana says. “We were way too busy in the beginning to formulate a system. So the pandemic helped us slow down and achieve our goals on the business side of things. I like to talk about the ‘Toasted Way’ and that system we developed during the pandemic really helped us to operate better.”
4. Uncle Jumbo’s Tasting Room
470 Elmwood Avenue Buffalo NY 14222
You may have seen vodka or — during the pandemic — hand sanitizer from a distillery called Uncle Jumbo’s and thought, “Where does that come from?”
From Clarence, is the answer. Despite founder Nick Kotrides having deep roots in the Buffalo business community, his very successful distillery has struggled to gain traction as a local brand. But hopefully, that’s about to change with the opening of a tasting room on Elmwood Avenue, between Hodge and Utica streets.
5. Ginger Snap Patisserie
6572 E Quaker St. Orchard Park NY 14127
When you think of the Village of Orchard Park, you probably think of affluence: well-heeled folks intermingling with millionaire football players.
But for all of the affluence associated with OP, you probably don’t think of it as a destination for great food. Well, that’s changing. To wit, Ginger Snap Patisserie is one new business bringing elevated food steeping in classic French techniques to the sleepy village.
Owner Sara Reynolds received her education at the Culinary Institute of America and spent time in esteemed New York City and European kitchens. With that background, Reynolds is motivated by the idea that Orchard Park and its surroundings could use more modern, upscale food options.
6. Steel Leaf Brewing
4545 Transit Rd Buffalo NY 14221
Opening any business is a long, difficult journey, but the ordeal to open Steel Leaf Brewing reached epic, Ancient Greek levels.
Before settling on the old Dave & Buster’s site in the Eastern Hills Mall, owner Jeff Pitts went on a journey that makes The Odyssey look like a walk in the park. When the doors to the brewery finally opened on April 29, it marked the end of a seven-year journey that included looking at four different locations around Western New York, including a shut retail site in Allentown and a former Funk Lawn Care site in West Seneca.
All throughout that journey, Pitts and his team have built up a following on social media, hoping to one day serve these prospective customers.
“People who know about Steel Leaf have learned about us through either social media challenges or our public adventures in trying to find a location for the brewery,” Pitts admits in a recent conversation with us.
7. Spotted Octopus Brewing
41 Edward Street Buffalo NY 14202
Sometimes whimsical, sometimes deadly serious — the artistic soul that haunts Allentown seems driven by the love of craft and a new neighborhood brewery on Edward Street fully embodies this creative spirit.
In a neighborhood that’s been home to everyone from Mark Twain to The Bubble Guy (RIP), Spotted Octopus Brewing is fully symbiotic with its surroundings, stretching experimental brews and esoteric tentacles into the surrounding ether. Co-owner Ken Shaw says Spotted Octopus is meant to celebrate the spirit of DIY homebrewing. While big local breweries might be able to put out great products, they’re just not able to take the creative risks that lured so many of us to love craft beer.
“When you get into a big commercial operation and distribution, you have to make a product consistently,” he says. “So, we’re in an interesting position. We have a one-barrel brewhouse, which means every time we make a batch, we’re making two kegs of beer. We feel that scale really frees us up to just try stuff. If something turns out to be a disaster, it’s only two kegs worth of disaster, not 50 or 100 kegs of beer disaster.”
“Our business is just different. It’s not better. It’s not worse. It’s just different,” he adds.
8. High Violet Cocktail Lounge
710 Elmwood Ave Buffalo NY 14222
Every once in a while, a new bar or restaurant comes along that is clearly a passion project, and for us local food writers, these places are easy to write about.
To be fair, not all passion projects are created equal. You cover new restaurants for Step Out Buffalo long enough and you’re bound to see some wacky concepts. While it’s still early days, it’s safe to say the new High Violet cocktail lounge is not a wacky concept.
Located down a blind alley in the Elmwood Village, High Violet is a bang-on, big city cocktail bar that transports guests to another place, maybe another time. Filled with bespoke design touches and mid-century furniture, High Violet conjures up luxury from far-flung, bygone places.
9. Pressure Drop Brewing Tasting Room
1672 Elmwood Avenue Buffalo New York 14213
Located on Elmwood Avenue in North Buffalo in the old Nye Park Tavern, the new Pressure Drop taproom features both core beers the brewery is known for, and seasonal offerings like its Space Monkey IPA series. The taproom also features a small food menu of shareable plates and elevated bar snacks.
From featuring local artists on their cans to naming their beers after icons like Joe Strummer and Frank Sinatra – Pressure Drop Brewing is one of those businesses that just gets it. Celebrating a craft, supporting those around you and having fun is what life is all about. But trying to do things the “right way” isn’t always what’s best for business.
10. Woodlawn Diner
3200 Lake Shore Rd Blasdell NY 14219
Sitting in the shadows of the old Bethlehem Steel complex and massive sky-slicing wind turbines, the Woodlawn Diner has been around in one form or another since the 1950s and a recent change of ownership brought with it a retro upgrade.
New owners (and siblings) Keith Hooper and Diane Hassett have taken the old diner back to the future, replete with a 50s-style makeover. If you like 45s on the wall, mini jukeboxes on your table and large HDTVs above the counter seating, this is your place.
Thankfully, the revamp is purely cosmetic. The seats are reupholstered but the counters, booths, stools, stainless steel backsplash and even the milkshake makers are all from the original diner.
11. Lloyal’s Famous Lasagna… With a Touch of Soul
1122 Elmwood Avenue Buffalo NY 14222
Whether it’s 2 a.m. and you’ve been drinking all night, or it’s the morning after – you need a friend in the form of a hangover buster. In the Elmwood Village, that friend should be a heaping pile of lasagna from Lloyal’s Famous Lasagna… With a Touch of Soul.
Located near the corner of Forest and Elmwood avenues, Lloyal’s is the brainchild of co-owner Shawntorrian Travis who gained a reputation among family and friends for his killer lasagna. Travis gained professional cooking experience while working for his mother’s restaurant – Park Vue Soul Food Bar and Restaurant, located on the East Side of Buffalo.
Eventually, Travis decided to strike out on his own with his partner, Jazzman Truett.