New: F BITES Brings Tex-Mex & Soul Food to Cantina Falls & the Historic Cataract House

Food & Drink, Food & Drink News


Written by Brett Llenos Smith

Published on April 12, 2023
F BITES Restaurants / Photo courtesy of F BITES Restaurants

When people from around the world come to Western New York, they go to Niagara Falls and so what better place to put our region on display?

Doing just that, the recently opened Cataract House and Cantina Falls restaurants are the results of a partnership between the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area and local chef Bobby Anderson, who earned national recognition on the television show “Hell’s Kitchen”.

You might think that the restaurants are simply a showcase for Anderson’s culinary talents. However, they are operated through his not-for-profit organization, F BITES (Food Based Interventions with Technology, Energy & Science) which is dedicated to giving people professional skills and exposure to possible culinary careers. F BITES began as an after school program, but it now includes all kinds of public institutions, including schools, community centers and detention centers. The mission of F BITES is to increase the employability of vulnerable people in our local population, and decreasing the poverty rate as a result.


F BITES Restaurants / Photo courtesy of F BITES Restaurants
F BITES Restaurants / Photo courtesy of F BITES Restaurants

On our recent visit to Cantina Falls, we were struck by how well it fits into the surrounding tourist area of Niagara Falls, with a Tex-Mex-meets-soul-food menu, which comes directly from Anderson’s influences. The forearm-sized queso burrito we had was rich and filling but balanced with a bit of spice and some fresh pico de gallo. Natural light poured in through the windows and blues music was on the sound system while we slowly devoured the behemoth burrito.

While Cantina Falls is there to serve comfort food to hungry tourists, the Cataract House Restaurant and Academy next door has a more important mission. 


F BITES Restaurants / Photo courtesy of F BITES Restaurants
F BITES Restaurants / Photo courtesy of F BITES Restaurants

Before burning down in 1945, the Cataract House was a grand luxury hotel built in 1825 that took up the entire block across the street from Red Coach Inn. But more importantly, it was a former stop on the Underground Railroad. Countless former slaves passed through the old Cataract House on their way to freedom. Some crossed the Niagara River into Canada and some remained as staff at the hotel. Today, the new Cataract House is connected to the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, where you can learn a lot more about one of the most important nodes in the underground network.

The new Cataract House also pays tribute to its namesake by offering a menu of Southern and soul food classics, including oxtail gumbo ($6), a Southern fried chicken basket ($14) and smoked barbecue ribs ($14). The walls of the restaurant are decorated with images of the former Cataract House’s mostly-Black staff.

All in all, it’s a loving tribute to the brave people of the past and a reminder that there’s still work to be done. The restaurants, located in the heart of Niagara Falls’ tourist district, are also a powerful form of representation for local Black restaurateurs and entrepreneurs.

Cantina Falls Hours at time of publishing (Subject to change): Monday to Friday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Cataract House Hours at time of publishing (Subject to change): Weekends 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Fast Casual

Cantina Falls

310 Rainbow Blvd Niagara Falls, New York 14303 • $$$$$

Niagara County

Casual Mexican style restaurant in downtown Niagara Falls. Create your own burritos, bowls, tacos and more! ...

Full Service

Cataract House Restaurant

310 Rainbow Blvd Niagara Falls, NY 14303 • $$$$$

Niagara County

Established in 1825 along the banks of the Niagara River, the historic Cataract House was a world-renowned luxury hotel that became one of the most important ...

  • Take-out
  • Family Friendly

Want to share info or news with us? Send us a note!

Food & Drink News

We launched a new look!

Our new design features a better browsing experience, modern mobile navigation, more visual displays of key info, better filtering options on the search page, and much more.

We hope you love our new look! That said, we’re #ForeverTweaking and would greatly appreciate your feedback so we can make *all* you want and need as your go-to resource for the best of Western New York!

Send feedback >

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.


Forgotten Password?

To save to your favorites you must login first.
Login Here
You must be logged in to use this feature.