City Spotlight: Elmwood Avenue

By Becca Hartman

Features Contributor

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A mural on Elmwood Avenue

As Buffalo surely expands into a hub for countercultural changes and youth-driven scenes of music and art, people are flocking to the Elmwood Village. Located between the parallel Allen Street and Scajaquada Expressway (known affectionately to all locals as simply the 198), the Elmwood Village contains certain staples of Buffalo culture that all college students in the area should–honestly, need to–experience at least once. For now, forget Chippewa, Allentown, and even Hertel. Elmwood is absolutely a pivotal place to be.

 

First and foremost, Elmwood is known for its restaurants. Spot Coffee is located directly on the corner of Elmwood and Cleveland, and is home to the best chicken pesto panini in the area. This is not a title I give away lightly, or without a significant amount of research on the subject. Up the street, right near the intersections with Bidwell and Potomac, is Ashker’s Juice Bar. Ashker’s serves a variety of breakfast foods, baked goods, and coffee drinks alongside their housemade juices. Drinks can be ordered in or to go, and some are ready-made in mason jars for convenience; content ranges from plain fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice to more complex drinks, like the aptly-named Heated Heart (concocted from beets, carrots, lemons, apples, ginger, sage, and cayenne). Ashker’s also sells a variety of prepared flower arrangements and granola mixes, as well as flavored water infused with either cucumber, basil and lemon, or grapefruit. They double as a gallery, displaying artwork on the walls by emerging local artists.

Maybe coffee and pastries aren’t exactly what you’re looking for after a long day downtown; I get that. Luckily, the Elmwood Village boasts a large amount of full-scale restaurants for any type of food you could be craving. Several pizzerias, from Vera on Lexington to Mister Pizza up by Soldier’s Place, span the entirety of the street. Taste of Siam hosts an assortment of Thai food, while Vasili’s Express combines both Greek and American cuisine. Organic 3 Cafe features all-healthy, all-organic menu options, and Hero Certified Burgers promises hormone-free beef alongside vegetarian and GMO-free alternatives. If none of these sound appealing right now, there’s always lloyd’s Taco Truck. While the dine-in factory is located in North Buffalo on Hertel Avenue (also worth a trip), lloyd’s Taco Truck frequents the Elmwood strip and carries almost all of the company’s most-loved items. I spoke to one of the workers to ask which item is the most popular, and he suggested both the Big lloyd, a basic taco containing a heavy amount of each ingredient, and the Dirty South, which consists of buttermilk fried chicken, kale, bacon, waffle bits, and maple syrup. Considering I’m not the biggest fan of Mexican food, I enlisted Assistant Features Editor Nathan Ress to sample both menu items and the positive results were assured with two-thumbs way up. lloyd’s Taco Trucks can be tracked at WheresLloyd.com, which can prove very useful to the Canisius student looking to eat quickly in the car before that exam they were up all night studying for. You know, situations like that.

While the Elmwood Village is clearly home to a wide variety of restaurants and cafes, they also host an amazing amount of shops and markets. Her Story Boutique, run by the mother-daughter team of Susan and Ciara Morreale, sells a variety of jewelry inspired by the strength Susan found while fighting breast cancer. Mother Nature Plant Emporium, near the intersection with Breckenridge, sells a variety of indoor plants; Talking Leaves, right next to Caffe Aroma, is Buffalo’s oldest independent bookstore. The Lexington Co-Op can also be found in the Village, selling local and organic vegetables, organic dairy products, and fresh daily meals. According to their website, Lexington is owned by 10,000 local individuals that benefit from anyone supporting the business, and they donate fifty-two cents of every dollar back to the Buffalo-Niagara community.

If this hasn’t inspired you to spend a day (or ten) on Elmwood, perhaps their cultural element will. Elmwood is home to both of Buffalo’s prominent art galleries: the Burchfield Penney and the Albright-Knox. Each gallery is extensive, and each features drastically different art. The Albright-Knox is home to paintings by nearly every great artist; it holds works by van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso, and Pollock, among others. The AK also allows many internships to local college students during the school year and over the summer, from working in the registrar’s office to working alongside museum curators. Meanwhile, the Burchfield Penney Museum holds pieces by artists from western New York. Current exhibits include “A-Z: An Historical Survey of Women Artists,” which is on display until March 27, and “Finding Aid: Making Sense of Charles E. Burchfield’s Archives,” which is on display until June 19. The Elmwood Village is also home to Kleinhan’s Music Hall, off Elmwood Avenue at Symphony Circle, and the Buffalo History Museum on Nottingham Terrace.

Buffalo has experienced an intense growth as a community in the past half-decade. As college students right in the heart of the city, we’re lucky enough to have easy access–whether by car or by CRAM pass–to whatever restaurant, shop, or museum we want to visit on a given day. One look at the Elmwood Village is enough to convince anyone that it is a college student’s dream, and its close proximity is something that Canisius students should absolutely use to our advantage.

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