One Day In Buffalo
March 23, 2019 6:55 AM   Subscribe

Tuesday, I'll be at the Buffalo NY passport office just before 8am to get an expedited passport, which I'll pick up same day at 3pm. In between? That's up to you, my Buffalo-area friends.

Note: I do not need advice on the passport process, as Senator Sherrod Brown's office has arranged this for me.

I've been advised to arrive at 7:45 as the office at 111 Genessee Street opens at 8am. I'm coming from the Cleveland area, to the west. Will I likely encounter a lot of rush hour traffic or have trouble finding parking?

I'd like to go shopping at a Wegman's. Which one do you recommend? I do not mind driving to the best Buffalo-area Wegman's, if there is such a thing. I'll bring a cooler with ice blocks for the journey home.

What about Niagara Falls? Obviously, I can't travel to the Canadian side (no passport, ha ha!). Is it close to downtown Buffalo? Is it the kind of thing I can go to and walk around for an hour or so?

I like independent bookstores and candy stores. Anything outstanding along those lines in Buffalo?

I could be persuaded to visit a museum if you have a particular favorite and it has a good gift shop.

Any other Buffalo-specific suggestions? I've looked at previous threads and might visit the pinball place. Thanks, Buffaloans!
posted by Kangaroo to Travel & Transportation around Buffalo, NY (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I live in Buffalo and have no idea what the Pinball place is (maybe Misuta Chow's)?
So, the best Wegmans (in my opinion) is MY Wegmans, on Alberta Drive in Amherst (just north of the city). But the one in the city is on Amherst Street on the west side (yep, the one in the city is on Amherst street, and the one in Amherst is two miles north of the city).

You like modern Art? The Albright Knox art gallery is incredible. Warhols, Rothkos, Dalis, etc. etc. etc.
Across the street, on the campus of Buffalo State College, is he Burchfield Penney art gallery, which features the work of local artist Charles Burchfield (it's like 1930s psychedelic nature stuff, for lack of a better word).

More or less on the campus is Hotel Henry. A former psychiatric hospital turned into a hotel. It's amazing. you can go in and walk around. The restaurant (100 acres) is great.

Niagara Falls is a 30 minute drive from downtown Buffalo. I love it, but it'll be cold on Tuesday, and it would suck up a lot of time. Definitely worth it if you can get there in nicer weather (the cave of the winds and the maid of the mist are both super fun).

Feel free to email me about specifics!
posted by jonathanhughes at 7:36 AM on March 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

For independent bookstores, Talking Leaves on Elmwood Avenue is the biggest and closest to downtown.

There are tons of locally-owned shops on Elmwood (the museum and Buffalo state campus are at the end of the strip of stores and restaurant).

If you want candy, you should really get some sponge Candy, which is kind of a buffalo thing. Parkside Candy on Main Street is a classic candy store/soda shop (if you've ever seen the movie The Natural, it was in that). There's also Watson's Candy in Kenmore (just north of the city, very close to the Amherst Street Wegmans). Both have excellent sponge candy.

There's also the Western New York Book Arts Center on Washington at Mohawk, which has a selection of art books, and locally made printed things (as well as letterpresses in the basement and all sort of screen printing and letterpress stuff around).
posted by jonathanhughes at 7:44 AM on March 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

As far as traffic, I assume you'll be coming in on the 90. Your GPS will probably put you on the 190, which will take you right downtown. Traffic shouldn't;t be too bad, but things will definitely start to slow down when the 90 passes Route 400 (in the town of West Seneca). Shortly after that is the 190, and unless there's an accident, it should be smooth sailing downtown. There's on-street parking all around where you're going, so you should be okay. There are also two big lots diagonally across the street from that building: Link
posted by jonathanhughes at 7:50 AM on March 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

The best free thing in Buffalo is the City Hall tours that begin at noon weekdays in the lobby.

It's an Art Deco masterpiece. If the tour guide is too blabby for you, split off and go to the observation deck, 32rd floor, for the view of U.S., Peace Bridge, Canada and Niagara Falls. Then go to the 13th floor for the Council Chamber stained glass ceiling.

Then go over to Public Espresso in the remodeled Hotel @ the Lafayette, 391 Washington St., for a coffee and a pastry.
posted by Andrew Galarneau at 8:34 AM on March 23, 2019 [4 favorites]

Adding that Passport Office to Niagara Falls brinkside (driving, parking, walking to edge of Niagara Falls) is 35-45 minutes one way if that interests you.
posted by Andrew Galarneau at 8:39 AM on March 23, 2019 [2 favorites]

If you are interested in car history or just cool small museums:

There are several Frank Lloyd Wright locations in Buffalo. This one is between Cleveland and Buffalo and is worth a stop if you would be interested, medium cool gift shop.
posted by RoadScholar at 9:19 AM on March 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm The Buffalo News' food editor, so if you like, tell me what you value most in a restaurant and I'll give you a suggestion on where to go like it was literally my job (or take it to email at Offhand my current No. 1 Buffalo suggestion after the stereotypical wings and pizza, sorted by "cheap, irreplaceable, memorable experience" is West Side Bazaar, 25 Grant St.

There, teams of immigrant cooks, many refugees who found asylum in the U.S. from war and destruction in places like Somalia and Burma, cook homeland specialties for their compatriots, and lucky Buffalonians. Prices top out at $12. (Here's a primer, self-link but on point, mods please delete if inappropriate.)

If nothing else enjoy owno koksware, the Burmese coconut chicken curry noodle soup, or le peth thoat, tea leaf salad, built on tea leaves fermented like sauerkraut, crunchy fried beans, juicy tomato, and garlic oil - the damndest vegan salad you'll ever eat for $6. Buffalo is about 4 percent Burmese these days, and it's considerably improved the eating opportunities around here. In my opinion.
posted by Andrew Galarneau at 9:53 AM on March 23, 2019 [20 favorites]

Candy in Buffalo? Boy are you in luck. In addition to the two options mentioned above (Parkside Candies really is like a museum, btw), there's a Watson's and a Fowler's a couple of doors down from each other in Elmwood Village. Quite close to Talking Leaves as well, which is one of my favorite bookstores anywhere, not just Buffalo. There's a nice coffee shop (Caffe Aroma) attached, too. Both are easily accessible from downtown.

IMO, the best Wegman's is on Sheridan in Williamsville, but that's out in the middle of nowhere. The aforementioned one on Amherst Street was my mother-in-law's local store before she moved out of town, and it's nice. It's also just up Elmwood from the candy stores and Talking Leaves.

If you do take that trip from Elmwood to Amherst Street, you'll pass by both the Albright-Knox and the History Museum, both of which I can confirm have nice gift shops. The History Museum also has a Japanese Garden that's beautiful; it'd where I had my engagement photos taken. I'd pick the History Museum for that reason, but if you have time, A-K is a good museum too.

Skip the Falls. The American side is underwhelming, and you'll have enough to do in the city to occupy your day.
posted by kevinbelt at 10:03 AM on March 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

the teddy roosevelt inaugural site if the dictator hasn't shut down the government(it's run by the nps)
posted by brujita at 10:31 AM on March 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

I assumed you'd experienced Buffalo's world-renowned chicken wings and distinctive thick-crust overflowing-with-cheese pies, featuring the cup-and-char pepperoni that would eventually thrill Manhattan, but if not, they can be explored together in standouts like LaNova Pizza, 371 W. Ferry, Bocce Club, 4174 Bailey Ave., Lovejoy Pizza, 900 Main St., or Imperial Pizza, 1035 Abbott Road.

Now I'll stop. In Buffalo, a visitor should never squander a meal.
posted by Andrew Galarneau at 10:35 AM on March 23, 2019 [4 favorites]

How are you at shuffling?

Just kidding. Actually I've never been to Buffalo but when a family member was stationed in New England, she used to prefer the drive through Canada to travel home to Michigan for major holidays. Before crossing the border she would usually stop in Buffalo to fuel on the US side (as one does before setting out for a long-distance drive through Canada) but also to go to a bakery and pick up a supply of kimmelweck rolls (a sandwich roll topped with salt and caraway seed that is the foundation of the regional sandwich "beef on weck"). You might look for a bakery (or a sandwich shop) and sample a regional specialty.
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:29 PM on March 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

roadfood recommends Schwabl's and charlie the butcher for BoW
posted by brujita at 2:47 PM on March 23, 2019

I can confirm that both Paula's Donuts and Charlie the Butcher are excellent.
posted by kevinbelt at 5:17 PM on March 23, 2019

The beef on weck at the Lake Effect (on Main at the edge of Buffalo and Amherst) is maybe less traditional but is fuckin-a good. If you're hitting Parkside Candy it's a block or two away.

I don't know if any LaNovas are eat-in but another fun bonus of LaNova is that it is an actual no-shit mob front.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 5:40 PM on March 23, 2019

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