New: Explore Diverse Shops & Cuisines at WEDI’s Downtown Bazaar

Food & Drink, Food & Drink News, Shopping


Written by Brett Llenos Smith

Published on May 3, 2023
Downtown Bazaar / Photo courtesy of WEDI

At one point, before the pandemic, the West Side Bazaar on Grant Street in Buffalo and EXPO Market on Main Street were two food halls on different sides of the city, each offering a different range of food options. While the Bazaar had a lot of homestyle comfort food from Southeast Asia and Africa, EXPO offered slicker, more commercialized menus, tailored to lunch-going office workers and the theatre crowd.

A conspiracy of circumstances closed both food halls, but the space that held EXPO recently reopened as the Downtown Bazaar. Like the old West Side Bazaar, it’s a food and retail operation from the Westminster Economic Development Initiative (WEDI).


The West Side Bazaar was born out of the immigrant community around Niagara Street. Will that concept translate to the business casual crowd? It should. One of the most amazing things about the West Side Bazaar was seeing all the different kinds of people who enjoyed it. On top of that, downtown offices had been using delivery apps to order from West Side Bazaar for many years.

The new Downtown Bazaar features some classics from the old spot, including Abyssinia Ethiopian Cuisine, Nile River and Pattaya Street Food. But the new bazaar also features newcomer Pinoy Boi, a Filipino food stall that built a following with Broadway Market pop-ups. A bar, Lulu’s Pub, will be opening soon to serve beer, wine and cider, with strong representation from local producers.

Ok. So, there’s a lot to take in. Here’s a quick rundown of all the restaurants that are open, and our recommendations for what to get.

Downtown Bazaar / Photo courtesy of WEDI

Pinoy Boi

The Philippines endured waves of occupations over the centuries, and as a result, Filipino food is a blend of Asian, Chinese, Portuguese, American and other cuisines. Expect dishes that flex savory, sour and salty flavors. We recommend:

  • Lumpia. Deep-fried spring rolls with a satisfyingly crisp exterior and savory beef-vegetable filling. 
  • Bistek. Thinly-sliced sirloin with garlic and onions in a soy-citrus sauce.
  • Burnt Basque Ube Cheesecake. Cheesecake made with a sweet purple yam called ube. Looks as good as it tastes.


Abyssinia Ethiopian Cuisine / Photo courtesy of WEDI

Abyssinia Ethiopian Cuisine

Ethiopian food tends to incorporate a lot of spices and flavors from the nearby Mediterranean and MIddle East regions. If you’re a fan of Greek food or Middle Eastern food, you’ll find a lot to like here. We recommend:

  • Beef tibs. Pan-fried beef with onions, tomatoes and peppers. Served with fluffy injera flatbread.
  • Doro wat. Stewed chicken drumsticks with onions, garlic and spicy berbere sauce. Served with injera.
  • Miser wat. Stewed red lentils with spicy berbere sauce.
Nile River / Photo courtesy of WEDI

Nile River

Owned by Akec Aguer, a Sudanese immigrant, Nile River serves up popular sub-Saharan classics that go hard on earthy, savory dishes, which are amped up with a bit of spice. We recommend:

  • Kofta kebab. Spicy ground beef skewers served with salad and pita bread.
  • Ful. Vegetarian fava bean stew. Served with salad and pita bread.
  • Sambusa. Deep-fried meat pie with a crispy outside and spicy-savor inside.


Pattaya Street Food / Photo courtesy of WEDI

Pattaya Street Food

From Myanmar, to a refugee camp in Thailand, to Buffalo — owner Elizabeth Sher has already had several lifetimes worth of experience. Her street food stand focuses on spicy and deep-fried comfort foods, as well as bubble teas.

We recommend:

  • Chicken curry puff. Similar to an empanada, this flaky pastry is filled with spicy and savory chicken curry.
  • Laab kai. Fiery salad from Northern Thailand with ground chicken, shallots, cilantro, lime juice, fish sauce and roasted rice powder.
  • Papaya salad. Spicy salad made with shrimp, green papaya, chile peppers, tamarind juice, fish sauce and chopped peanuts.
Flavia’s Business / Photo courtesy of WEDI

Just as retail was a big part of the West Side Bazaar, it’s also a part of the Downtown Bazaar. Flavia’s Business offers traditional clothes from Africa, the Middle East and Asia. At The Asian Boutique, Sri Lankan owner Romala Ranjendran offers South Asian fashion accessories.

While the Downtown Bazaar will mostly be known for its food, it’s also a business incubator. WEDI helps recent immigrants and other less-advantaged people get funding so they can start a business. The bazaar is a platform for just a handful of WEDI’s hundreds of clients. In fact, 007 Chinese Food, Kiosko Latino and others have all graduated from the former West Side Bazaar to become standalone businesses.




The Asian Boutique / Photo courtesy of WEDI

So we should keep our eyes peeled for more bazaar graduates in the near future. On top of that, WEDI is also planning on opening another bazaar on Niagara Street this fall, which will probably once again expand the number of different cuisines you can find in Buffalo. 

Hours at time of publishing (Subject to change): Monday to Friday 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Fast Casual

Downtown Bazaar by WEDI

617 Main St, Buffalo Buffalo, NY 14203 • $$$$$


WEDI’s Downtown Bazaar is a small business incubator where aspiring entrepreneurs test retail concepts and learn the fundamentals of running a business. ...

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Written by <a href="" target="_self">Brett Llenos Smith</a>

Written by Brett Llenos Smith

Brett Llenos Smith is a freelance writer based in Buffalo’s Allentown neighborhood who has been covering local food and culture for Step Out Buffalo over the past six years. As someone with a multi-ethnic background, he has a passion for exploring and understand the many diverse corners of Western New York.


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