We’ve been following Krystal Sondel and her blog Lovin’ On Buffalo for well over a year now. Her restaurant reviews brought me to the site initially, but after following the blog for a couple months I realized that was just one aspect of the blog. Krystal is a big proponent of support local businesses, she’s active in several charities and even gives tours with Buffalo Bites Food Tours and Richardson Olmsted Complex. The blog has been getting more popular and Krystal was featured in the same Buffalo Spree Cheap Eats issue that we were in.
We got a hold of Krystal and asked her our usual questions about her favorite restaurants, places to grab a drink and some of her earliest food memories. Here’s what she had to say…..
Right now, where are your favorite places to eat in Western New York?
Krystal: I set a goal to check out 25 “new” restaurants in Buffalo during 2013 so getting to any one frequently is a challenge. That being said, I have ended up at Cantina Loco and Falafel Bar numerous times this year. They both do everything right. From price, to atmosphere to quality of food, I’ve never been disappointed. Nothing in Buffalo beats Cantina Loco’s $4.00 veggie quesadilla (which is a meal in itself) and I could probably live off of the mushroom hummus at Falafel Bar.
Can I also count Lake Effect Ice Cream? Though it’s a good 30 minute drive from my house, every chance I get, I find myself up in Lockport. Now that they have the ice cream flight, I never have to make the tough decision on flavors; I can pick five. Plus, it’s served on a plate so I think it counts as a “meal”!
Where do you like to grab a drink and relax with friends?
Krystal: In the summer in Buffalo nothing beats the beer garden at Blue Monk. It’s tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Elmwood and is perfect for date night, a night out with friends, or happy hour with co-workers! They rotate the 32 beers they have on tap and include a handful of local brews. I currently can’t get enough of Community Beer Works’ De Maas. Plus, they have duck frites. Close second, Black Rock Kitchen & Bar.
If you had a friend visiting from out of town, where would you take them for a good “Buffalo” time?
Krystal: It’s a toss up between Canalside and the Elmwood Village. If they are friends who enjoy shopping, I’d say Elmwood, but if they are just up for a good time, Canalside is the place to be, especially in the summer. Dinner at Liberty Hound, concerts at Canalside, a nice walk along the water, comedy at Helium, and a trip to the Hotel Lafayette just down the road for drinks would all be on the list of things to do.
What are some food memories you have from your childhood?
Krystal: I’m almost 100% Polish, so growing up I learned to master traditional Polish dishes including pierogi, golabki, barszcz, kraut and more. During the holidays we had (and still have) all the traditional Polish meals, frequented the Broadway Market and always started meals and special events with the traditional “Na Zdrowie” (cheers). My Grandma used to always take my cousin Samantha and I to all the Polish events around town, and our dance card was always full as we learned to polka away.
Each year, we still have an annual pierogi making party!
As a kid, eating out meant ordering a pizza or a trip to Swiss Chalet. I wasn’t very adventurous in my food choices until a few years ago, and wish restaurants would start including some of their regular options on kid menus instead of the usual burger, chicken fingers and fries so that kids begin to experience new cuisines.
What other restaurants and cuisines would you like to see more of in Buffalo’s restaurant scene?
Krystal: Earlier this year, for my 30th birthday, my boyfriend and I went to Burlington, Vermont. I was given a list of recommendations for local eateries from a Burlington foodie, and we explored nearly all of his suggestions. One thing that struck me was the number of restaurants that used almost entirely local products. From local farm produce to cheese and meat shops they made a tremendous effort to source their product locally. Many had up on the wall or in the menu where the ingredients came from. I’d love to see that in Buffalo. We are such a “shop local, eat local” city, it would be awesome to see a restaurant purely dedicated to translating our local bounty into inventive dishes.
We’d like to thank Krystal for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer our questions. We recommend checking out her blog Lovin’ On Buffalo for posts on local restaurants, charities and events. If you want to stay up to date on the blog, follow her on twitter and facebook. Looking for some ideas to keep yourself busy this summer, check out her Summer 2013 To Do List.