24 hours in buffalo
posted: May 9, 2014
Buffalo, New York has a continent-wide reputation for its chicken wings (don’t you dare call them Buffalo wings here), its quartet of Super Bowl embarrassments and, of course, its infamous winter weather. But at its core, the Queen City (so named some hundred years ago because it’s the second largest city in the state of New York) is galvanizing towards a common vision: to display Buffalo on the map as a contemporary metropolis instead of an artifact; as a thriving rust-belt city with deep roots, rich history and a rapidly blossoming culture.
We share a glimpse of the City of Good Neighbors (yep, another of Buffalo’s pet names!) through the eyes of Kate Rogers and Kathleen Engelhardt, two Buffalo born-and-bred re-pats, bloggers and yoga instructors (and lululemon employee and ambassador, respectively), whose Buffalove roots reach deep and continue to grow.
7:00am – Start Sweaty
Start your day at one of the two East Meets West Yoga studios. We love the Mysore-style class at The Foundry. This studio, set in an old warehouse with lots of exposed brick and muted tones, is a picture of the urban revival happening all over Buffalo, and the sweaty, breath-focused self-practice offered here every morning will set the tone for your day. Step into the south studio, lay your mat down in the sunshine that spills through the windows, and get your flow on.
Set the tone for your day in a sun-drenched salutation at East Meets West Yoga
9:00am – The Elmwood Village
Grab a post-practice coffee and homemade pastry (and drool over the piles of fresh fruits and veggies) from the award-winning Lexington Co-Op in the quirky Elmwood Village. This hippie-turned-hipster neighbourhood that has housed the Co-op for more than 40 years has become iconic in its own right. Take a stroll through any of the unique shops that line this eccentric street; it has everything from high-end boutique clothing stores to ecelctic collectibles and spice traders, and offers some excellent people watching.
Considered by many to be the cultural heart of Buffalo, Elmwood Village’s rich history shines through in its Queen Anne style of architecture, tree-lined streets, slate sidewalks and stone carriage steps
11:00am – Get Your Shop On
Head up to Hertel Avenue to visit vivacious retail partners Bri Klejdys-Long of Modern Nostalgia and David Brugh of Blue Collar Buffalo. Goofy, bubbly and insanely good at styling anyone in anything, they have branded their complementary, conjoined women’s and men’s boutiques as more of a lifestyle than a clothing company. In addition to gorgeous clothing and accessories, they offer monthly yoga classes, live music, whiskey tastings…you get the idea. Kids and puppies are the regular fixtures in this uniquely lovely place, and make sure you give yourself plenty of time; shopping here feels more like a Friday night out with your girlfriends than the usual jean-buying grind.
Modern Nostalgia and Blue Collar Buffalo are two sartorial experiences in one rollicking stop
1:30pm – Global Lunch
All that shopping will definitely spike your appetite, and there is absolutely no better place to satiate it than Buffalo’s West Side Bazaar. The west side of Buffalo has a huge refugee population who have brought their homelands to this neighbourhood in the form of some seriously delicious food. Delightfully unassuming (read: not quite aware of how fabulous it is) here stalls offer Peruvian, Burmese, Thai and Ethiopian foods, to name a few. Heads up: you’ll have some tough decisions to make. Often it’s best to just observe your fellow diners and go from there. The crowd here definitely knows what to order from every menu, and even a few dishes that aren’t on the menu, but are still worth a taste.
With zero pretense, the West Side Bazaar dishes up some of the city’s best eats
3:00pm – West Side Ramble
You’ll want to walk off that lunch, so take a stroll through the west side and get a feel for the true heartbeat of the city. Grant Street, the artery of the neighborhood, runs the gamut of ethnic groceries, charming bookstores and cosy coffee shops. It is growing rapidly, with new restaurants opening on every corner and renovation work taking over the giant sandstone buildings that line the street.
Refresh yourself as you walk by popping into Press Raw Food & Juice, a café with juice flavours in every colour of the rainbow and raw snacks like kale chips dusted in chocolate. Owner Esther has a brilliantly sustainable business model: the juices are bottled in returnable glass, the packaging is biodegradable and the juice pulp is picked up by local gardeners for compost. The resident pup, Chico, a charmingly curious pit bull, will leave you feeling like all is right with the world.
Esther Pica, founder of Press, started Buffalo’s East Village’s first juice bar some 20 years ago
4:45pm – View From the Water
The harbour is at the heart of Buffalo’s revival. Old grain elevators tower over the shoreline and outdoor music festivals take over once the nasty weather breaks. Buffalo Paddle Board Co. is the best way to take in the water though; paddle to your heart’s content down the Buffalo River, into the mouth of Lake Erie, and if you get the right night, you can listen to the summer concerts blasting from the shore.
Back on land, grab one of the funky-coloured Adirondack chairs and watch the sunset from Canalside. With the USS Little Rock docked to your right, it makes a stunning backdrop to a Lake Erie sunset.
Where there is water, there can be paddleboarding, and in this case your journey can lead you to one of the five Great Lakes (with no worries of going over Niagara Falls)
7:30pm – A Sushi Bar Like No Other
Definitely not your average sushi joint, Kuni’s is a gem tucked deep on Lexington Avenue between historic Allentown and the Elmwood Village. It has a distinctly urban feel and a menu that ranges from traditional sashimi to KFC (Kuni’s Fried Chicken). Odds are you’ll see the same people you ran into at the Co-Op this morning or who ate lunch with you at the Bazaar. (In this biggest-small-town, it’s bound to happen.) The Tofu Gyoza is a must-order, and the Tender Salad just might be the prettiest display of tuna and avocado that sushi has ever seen. If the fluke carpaccio is on special that night, consider yourself very lucky.
Kuni’s is a small space with a big reputation; since finding parking is a challenge here, might as well leave the car at home (more sake for you!)
10pm – Throw Back, Prohibition-Style
Wander next store for a nightcap at the most hipster bar in Buffalo, Vera Pizzeria. Known more for its libations than its fare, this Prohibition-era establishment boasts a creative cocktail list that changes seasonally. The bartenders look like they walked out of 1920s New York City, and watching them mix drinks is half the fun. So belly up to the bar, share some drinks and soak it all in.
Savoury cocktails and a warm ambience; every neighbourhood should have a place like Vera’s
At the end of the night, stroll home (we do all the time, and feel completely safe) through the sleepy streets of the Elmwood Village and feel a satisfied contentment at being a part of the quiet, unassuming hum of Buffalo, a city that is deeply rooted in its history, but not afraid to embrace the change that is breathing life into it once again.
Come visit us at our new store in Buffalo, which opens Friday May 16!
Kate and Kathleen are movement junkies who live, breath and teach yoga in Buffalo, NY. Kathleen is a part-time yoga teacher and full-time mom of two, while Kate is a jet-setting, on-the-go kind of gal. You can find more of Kate and Kathleen’s yoga tips, hilarious life hiccups and Buffalove on their blog, Love In Motion.