City Spotlight: Hertel Avenue

By Becca Hartman

Features Contributor

As the weather is steadily climbing up, and with that sun came the desire to investigate another corner of Buffalo. This week, we take a look at the neighborhood of North Park in North Buffalo, specifically Hertel Avenue. Located a five-minute drive from Canisius, SUNY Buffalo State, and Nichols High School, Hertel is full of restaurants, retail shops, and markets of innumerable kinds. The Elmwood Village is important because it amalgamates a culture that anyone can take part in; Hertel is important because it hosts so many different cultures in one central area. It’s a melting pot of Buffalo, holding some of the most interesting ideas that our city has to offer, and is more than worth visiting before the end of the semester.

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The new lloyd Taco Factory on Hertel Avenue

Right away, it’s worth noting on of the biggest magnets on Hertel: lloyd’s Taco Factory. A standing location owned and operated by the very same company as your favorite local taco truck, lloyd’s Factory is a tall brick building with an open front, a stocked bar to the right, and colorful neon graffiti painted on the walls. The factory also hosts more menu options than the smaller trucks are able to hold. As someone who tries to eat vegetarian as often as possible, I was overjoyed to see that they offer many unique meatless options. The one that I tried was called the Skinny Thai, which is a taco consisting of organic tofu, peanut sauce, Asian-style pickles, cilantro, scallions, and radishes. Now, you’re probably thinking that absolutely none of this sounds like something that should be in a taco. I want you to know that you’re wrong, but you can make up for it by going to lloyd’s and ordering this as soon as possible.

If you’re not feeling tacos, there are countless other options any foodie would enjoy on Hertel. The Jewel of India uses fresh and nutritional ingredients to prepare traditional Indian foods like shrimp tandoori, chicken tikka masala, and lamb samosas. They also have several vegetarian options, from tofu kashmiri to bhartha paneer (an eggplant-centric dish). Kostas Family Restaurant is a Greek diner, and Bob & John’s La Hacienda serves Italian with all-you-can-eat spaghetti on Monday and Tuesday nights. The Lone Star Fajita Grille serves a variety of Tex-Mex entrees, and Caramici’s Bakery is your average cute coffeeshop that also specializes in dazzling wedding cakes.

Although Hertel has amazing selections of food, most of the street’s charm lies in the other vendors it hosts. The Aladdin Market serves as part-Middle Eastern market (containing all halal products), part-Aladdin Cafe (serving Turkish coffee and imported baklava), and part-outdoor hookah lounge. The Antique Lamp Co. and Gift Emporium sells vintage lighting fixtures as well as all of the antiques that clutter its shelves. The Antique Lamp looks like your great-grandma’s attic, full of pink doilies and fogged mirrors and a vintage typewriter that could date back to the Civil War, and it’s incredible. Korona Jewelry, established in 1900 and still running today, both sells and repairs jewelry. MODA Vintage is a local vendor for vintage clothing, and the closely-related store Modern Nostalgia sells clothing self-described as “classic with a twist.”

Perhaps one of the most interesting stores on Hertel is Love Light & Magick. A spiritual store, Love Light & Magick sells objects pertaining to Santeria, Paganism, and Buddhism among more varied items. There are shelves of candles designed to bring anything from love to money to protection, tarot decks, Tibetan singing bowls, and numerous types of incense. One shelf holds bags of graveyard dirt- exactly what it sounds like, and used to protect users against evil spirits- and little bottles of Florida Water, named for the Fountain of Youth and used for purification and home blessings. An entire wall is covered in bags of herbs to be used in spellwork. Love Light & Magick also sells jewelry by local designers, including reiki master and crystal healer Nikki Benatovich (whose jewelry line is Cosmic Lotus Jewelry). Benatovich’s bracelets are infused via reiki (healing through touch) to provide the wearer with certain qualities such as discipline, grounding, joy, and replenishment of energy.

Hertel is also full of miscellaneous hair salons, from the modernist New Age Salon to Charlie’s Barber Shop to Germa’s Brooklyn Hair Braiding and African Shop, which specializes in proper care for natural African hair. Four tattoo parlors (Leviathan, Madd Tiki, Absolute, and Arboreal Ink) are spaced out down the street, and Revolver Records between Colvin and Parkside Aves. is known as “Buffalo’s Most Unique Vinyl Record Store.” With April 16 being Record Store Day, Revolver is definitely worth checking out this weekend.

The easiest way to go about exploring Hertel, much like anywhere else in a city, is to park on the street and make your way between stores on foot. Public transportation makes this even easier by eliminating the stress of parallel parking. However you want to go about getting there, it’s definitely a cultural hotspot worth visiting this spring. Take the two hours between your last class of the day and a club meeting to make the quick drive up Delaware, past the Buffalo Zoo, and into the heart of Hertel-it’s a landmine of Buffalo culture.

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