Now that we are finally getting close to Summer here in Buffalo, there are a lot of fun and exciting events and activities going on around town. Between farmers markets, outdoor concerts, festivals (check out of comprehensive list of upcoming Buffalo food-centric festivals here), and everything going on at Canalside (including Food Truck Foodfights), there is a lot to do in the warmer months. If you are a fan of food and enjoy strolling around the city, Buffalo Bites Food Tours has you covered.
Buffalo Bites Food Tours are three-hour walking tours that cover about two miles throughout the heart of the Elmwood Village. Each tour is guided by Laura Reed and involves six stops at local restaurants and specialty food shops. Each stop involves a tasting along with background information about each establishment. Between tastings, the tour explores the architectural and cultural high points of the Village.
Alli and I took some time out of our schedules to enjoy a tour this past Saturday. It was about 55-60 degrees but still beautiful out. I personally think that the weather was perfect for walking around in the sun for three hours. We put on light jackets and comfortable shoes and headed out to Globe Market, the meeting place for the start of the tour. Our tour group consisted of 10 people, including people from both Toronto and NYC. Throughout the tour I was really happy to see the out-of-towners learning about Buffalo and enjoying the sights, sounds and tastes of Elmwood. They seemed surprised but pleased. It’s awesome to see outsiders really get to see the best parts of our city and not just the inside of the airport or Galleria Mall.
I’ll be honest, I went into the tour thinking that there was nothing new I could learn about the places we were going. I was wrong. Laura was incredibly nice and knowledgeable and I learned something at every stop. She made us feel comfortable from the beginning and kept the tour interesting and fun. Alli particularly enjoyed the walk we took through the side streets with stops at the Unitarian Universiliest Church, Nardin Academy, Tudor Place, the Thomas McKinney House, Buffalo Seminary and more. The streets around Elmwood are filled with beautiful architecture and history that a lot of Buffalonians don’t think about on a daily basis. It was really cool to stroll through these streets and learn a few facts that we didn’t know before. For instance, did we know that the History Museum is the last standing building from the Pan Am Exposition? Did you know that really cool Chemical 95 building on Auburn Ave. was a horse drawn firehouse at the turn of the 20th century and is now a private residence? We picked up a lot of interesting bits of historical knowledge throughout the entire tour.
Of course, though, the focus of the tour was the food. At Globe Market we started off by sampling their Roast Turkey Sandwich (pictured top). This is actually one of Alli’s favorite things to order. The sandwhich is composed of their house made bread, Boar’s Head turkey breast, sage cheddar cheese and cranberry chutney mayo. It’s so good that we actually stopped back after the tour for a full order that we took home and enjoyed for dinner. Globe Market does a pretty nice job of keeping things local; they make their own bread, grow their own herbs and use products from places like Guercios, First Light Farm and Creamery and the Massachusetts Ave. Project.
Our next stop was Watson’s, home to Buffalo’s best sponge candy (based on public vote and also our own personal opinion) where we had a brief chocolate history lesson along with a sample of actual sponge candy and a scoop of their sponge candy ice cream. Watson’s actually has a impressive and unique ice cream selection. Their sponge candy ice cream was really fantastic. It’s made specifically for Watson’s by Anderson’s (yes, that Anderson’s). Our third tasting stop was D’Avolio Olive Oil and Vinegars. We spent some time sampling all of their Olive Oils and Vinegars throughout the store. D’Avolio is moving a few doors down to the old Clutch soon and we are hoping they expand to offer actual food like their Williamsville location does.
After the walk up Elmwood, we stopped at the newly opened Firefly Cupcakes. The former location of Zillycakes has gone through some renovations and there is now a nice little seating area up in the back of the store. To Alli’s delight, we were told we could pick any full-size cupcake that we wanted from the case (pictured above). Alli choose her favorite Red Velvet while I choose one of their specialty cupcakes, Pink Lemonade. We then headed over to Coles were we enjoyed some wings on their second floor. After a walk around Bidwell Parkway, we made our way back to the other end of the Village for our final tasting at Blue Monk. We were very pleased with the spread; bowls of their famous Duck Frites (above) with dipping sauces, a sampling of Blue Balls (meatballs w/ blue cheese) and a round of beer (with the Whale from Community Beer Works being strongly suggested by our guide and enjoyed by many). Side note, did you know Blue Monk has 32 taps to symbolize the 32 Buffalo Breweries that were around before Prohibition? Cool, right?
Over all, we really really enjoyed the Buffalo Bites Food Tour. The pace of the tour was perfect, the samples of food were perfectly portioned and added up to a nice, somewhat large lunch, and we really learned a lot. Walking around the Village in between tastes was a great way to “work off” some of the food so we didn’t feel too stuffed at the end. It was a really enjoyable way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon. While this tour is especially wonderful for people who are not from Buffalo who want to learn a bit about the local food scene, it is also great for people who live in the suburbs around the city and may not be as familiar with Elmwood Village as they could be. That said, even city dwellers who think they know all there is to know about Buffalo (like we did) will enjoy this tour. Not only do you get to hit up some of the best food spots on the Elmwood Strip, but you get a really nice history lesson in the process. We highly recommend it.
For more pictures from our tour, check out our facebook gallery here.