What is it about tacos that we can’t get enough of in Western New York?
Multiple taquerias have opened in the past few years. The Lloyd taco truck was such a success, there are now multiple brick and mortar locations. Even the copy of a copy of Tex-Mex-style food at Mighty Taco gets a cult following in Buffalo.
At the new Hombre y Lobo, co-owners Isaac Domingue and Ryan DiFranco are bringing something a bit more authentic than spicy hamburger meat, lettuce and tomato in a tortilla. The new taqueria on Swan Street in downtown Buffalo is slinging what Domingue calls authentic Mexican street tacos. He said the taco recipes are based on years of research in Mexico and close connections to the culture.
“We’re not two white guys coming here to bring our take on a taco,” he said. “We’re coming in with recipes and experiences from time spent in Mexico, from our Mexican friends and from our friends’ mothers. Recipes that have been passed down for generations.”
Actually. Hombre y Lobo isn’t just selling tacos filled with carnitas ($4.50) and braised beef ($4.50). The opening day menu also featured some Buffalo influences in the forms of a chicken finger taco ($4) and a Chiavetta’s-style chicken taco ($4.50). There are also Straight Outta Mexico snacks like fried shisito peppers ($6.50) and chapulines – fried grasshoppers ($6.50). Hombre y Lobo also has a full bar with a focus on tequila.
Regular customers should expect to order at the counter, take a seat and wait for their food to arrive. Domingue said the restaurant is also able to book rooftop dining for groups atop their Swan Street building, which overlooks Sahlen’s Field.
The concept of authentic street tacos with one or two nods to Buffalo is a bit complex. But it’s one that Domingue and DiFranco have been developing for years. The partners met in Denver and they currently run a fast casual Italian restaurant in that city.
Denver’s food scene is a bit more developed than our own. However, that advanced stage of evolution comes at a price. Domingue said the tight-knit restaurant industry and lower cost of doing business is what drew him and DiFranco to downtown Buffalo.
“Denver is at a point now where it’s saturated with restaurants,” he said. “It’s becoming very expensive to live and own a business. Buffalo is not only more affordable, but it also has room for new concepts.”
Part of that concept is offering warm, welcoming service and regular special nights. Monday night taco and drink specials will be dedicated to industry workers. There are also taco and drink specials for Taco Tuesdays.
Domingue said Mexican hospitality is a big reason why he keeps going back to the country, and that warm sense of welcoming is something he’s looking to bring to Hombre y Lobo.
“In Mexico, people are outgoing,” he said. “They talk to you. They want to know who you are. They want to remember your name. That’s the kind of service we want to provide.”
Domingue said he and DiFranco are looking to give back to the culture that has given them so much. The restaurant is selling branded merchandise and a portion of the sales will be going toward local Hispanic charities.
“We are just looking to help build up both the restaurant industry and the local community. We’re going to connect with diverse charities to help make the city a home for other people as it has become for us.”
Opening Hours (subject to change): Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 4.p.m. – 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 4 p.m. – 11 p.m., Wednesday and Sunday CLOSED
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