Walking into Street Cafe & Halal Foods at noon on a weekday, I was shocked (shocked!) to find it empty. I had the cafe’s food before, through Skip the Dishes, and decided to check it out IRL.
Rushing to get there around lunchtime, I was expecting to find a bustling restaurant filled with in-the-know diners like me, drooling in anticipation for savory international and Mediterranean treats. I was expecting to hear loud Middle Eastern music and shouts in multiple languages as people boxed each other out to try to get some food up in this piece.
Instead, I found a silent empty room.
After the initial shock wore off, I was thrilled at the prospect of sharing this apparent secret, the cafe’s amazing food, with you, Step Out Buffalo reader. Usually, the number of people in a small restaurant speaks volumes about the quality of the food. But not this time. This is the exception that proves the rule.
I was first drawn to the cafe’s menu by peri peri chicken, an African dish that has a massive cult following in the United Kingdom, but is almost impossible to find round these parts. Happily, the delicious dish turned out to be a gateway drug into a rave of flavor that would make Diplo blush.
Let’s start with the peri peri chicken. While I can’t claim to say Street Cafe’s tastes authentic (pretty sure Frank’s Hot Sauce is used), I can say it is f’ing delicious: the perfect combination of creamy, charry, spicy, fatty and salty. It’s basically the Buffalo chicken wing’s char-grilled African cousin.
You can get it as a meal ($11); served over a bed of rice with a colorful spicy coleslaw covered in a minty dill sauce, or you just get the chicken ($4). I suggest getting both since the meal includes just a drumstick and a thigh. Also, get a side of dill sauce for the chicken.
Pastelito isn’t a Mediterranean food, but it is available at here, with a Mediterranean twist. In the cafe’s take on the fried meat pouch ($2.50), the chicken filling is seasoned with kabob herbs and spices; this is something you really need in your life and probably didn’t even know it.
Speaking of kabobs, the shish kabob wrap ($8) is a mosh pit of flavors, in the best way possible. A fluffy pita was filled with lightly charred meats, crunchy veggies and more of that creamy dill sauce, resulting in a spicy soulful treat you grip with both hands and can’t seem to put down.
Samosas ($2, pictured) were the size of a small fist and packed an herbal punch. Falafel balls with spicy hummus ($5) hit the mark, but were not exactly wow-worthy, tbh. A side note: they were out of tandoori chicken on my recent visit.
There are also American fast food classics available here, all of which are halal. So if you demand that your chicken finger sub ($8) is prepared in accordance with Islamic law, Street Cafe has got you covered.
Located on Main Street in Buffalo, just south of Amherst Street, Street Cafe is a typical takeout joint: counter service with just a few tables and chairs. It’s not exactly cozy and it might be off the beaten path for some people, but at the end of the day, Street Cafe is a great place to get unique items and Middle Eastern takes on familiar dishes for good prices. It’s also available locally on both Skip The Dishes and Grubhub.
Check it out now, before the word gets out, and you just might find that it quickly goes from ‘let’s give it a try’, to your ‘change of pace’ option, to your regular rotation.
Street Cafe International and Mediterranean Food
2614 Main Street, Buffalo 14214
Hours: Everyday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Take out / Minimal Eat In