A Vegan’s Guide to Niagara Falls, NY

For those of you who may not know, I spent about a year in college being a vegetarian and six months of that time being a vegan. During this time, I learned a lot of neat recipes, and found many different delicious vegan friendly restaurants.

When I first went vegan I thought going out to eat would be inconvenient for me because I would be limited to a short menu and wouldn’t be able to get something I actually wanted. I am fortunate to say I found myself proved very wrong, and found several places that had the most amazing vegan food and other restaurants that were more than accommodating.

So for all you lovely vegans looking to visit the Buffalo Niagara Falls area, this one’s for you.

  1. Orange Cat Coffee, Lewiston, NY

IMG_2625This cafe is a simply vegan heaven. The reason is simple, everything on the menu is vegan friendly. The cool part? You wouldn’t really immediately know. In fact, here’s a funny story. I went here with a couple of friends (while I was vegan) to grab some coffee, sit down, and just enjoy time with one another. About half way through some of decided we had a sweet tooth and went to find a pastry to split. At the time we were completely unaware that any of the decadent cookies, scones, and muffins were vegan friendly, so we just stuck to our coffees. Well maybe a week later I happened to find out that everything was indeed vegan and my life has forever been changed. To this day, I still have yet to find a bake shop that sells a better snickerdoodle cookie, vegan or not. I dare you to go here and not indulge. Best part? A coffee and a cookie comes to less than 4 dollars… can I get an amen?

2. Mario’s Pizza, Niagara Falls, NY

IMG_3352Mario’s Pizza is located right downtown in Niagara Falls on Old Falls Street right across from the state park. Although Marios is not necessarily a vegan restaurant, the do offer the option to make a Pizza with vegan cheese. This isn’t just any old pizza either. This is literally the best pizza I have ever had. The downside is that I you are going to need to buy a whole pie if you want vegan cheese instead of just ordering by the slice. However, eating a whole vegan pizza may not really seem like a negative for most of you. What are you waiting for? Get yourself to Mario’s for the best vegan friendly pizza and eat the WHOLE thing.

3. The Griffon Gastropub

This restaurant has several locations, but the ones I have been to are located on Military Road in Niagara Falls by the outlet mall, and in Lewiston on the Main Street.IMG_1936 This restaurant makes the list thanks to its mouth watering veggie burger. I know what you’re thinking…  a veggie burger really? This is probably one of the most generic options for a restaurant to include on their menu if they want to be able to say they have vegan/ vegetarians. However, this burger is by no means generic. This burger is flavorful, and filling, and not like every other veggie burger on every other restaurants menu. I promise you, I do not mess around when it comes to delicious food. Don’t believe me, guess you’ll have to try it for yourself.

4. Brickyard Barbecue, Lewiston, NY

IMG_1907In the middle of a meat lovers paradise you’ll find another lovely black bean burger that tastes out of this world. I will say, if you are a vegan who really doesn’t like being around meat, I would not go here. Perhaps, though, you are traveling or visiting with friends whose dietary preferences range from carnivore, to vegetarian, to gluten free, to vegan… Brickyard Barbecue could be the spot for you. So sit back with friends, in a place where you can enjoy a wide variety of beers made right next door and enjoy that delicious veggie burger.. Maybe even split a fried pickle appetizers… just be cautious about the sauces.

5. Downtown Niagara Falls Indian and Halal food trucks and restaurantsIMG_2962

One thing Niagara Falls does not seem to be lacking in is Indian and Middle Eastern Food. If you find yourself wanting to be a little more courageous when it comes to dining this is the option for you. One of the favorite things to do when I worked downtown was during my lunch break I would grab a veggie or falafel gyro from the yellow halal food truck on old falls street and then go sit in the state park and enjoy my lunch or dinner. The food was made fresh right before me in the cart and came out hot and ever so flavorful. If you don’t know what something is on the menu I find the workers are more than happy to always explain dishes and recommend options you may have not tried otherwise.

6. Alz Rootz Cafe at Soma Cura Wellness, Grand Island, NY

Inside my favorite hot yoga studio in the Niagara region sits a small little cafe where serve smoothies, juices, and a small menu. I haven’t tried much from this menu but I am still obsessed with the smoothie I got from there. The smoothie contained something along the lines of banana, spinach, cinnamon, oats, almond milk, and drum roll please… sweet potato. This smoothies was as rich and delicious as the best custard I have ever had. In fact, it was so good that I literally stopped at Wegmans on the way home to buy sweet potato so I could remake something similar for myself at home.

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So if you are vegan/ vegetarian and looking for a cool weekend getaway head to Niagara Falls where you can indulge and not have to worry about feeling limited in your options. In fact, you may even notice your carnivorous friends eyeing down your vegan friendly treats.

~~han

Niagara Falls and Buffalo for the Breakfast lover

This one goes out for those of you who go a restaurant and consistently choose from the all day breakfast menu. From one breakfast snob to another I have compiled a list of my favorite breakfast spots in the Buffalo/ Niagara Falls area long enough that you could literally plan a weekend getaway around eating breakfast foods.

Niagara Falls:

  1. Power City Eatery

IMG_2626Power City Eatery is a local gem in Niagara Falls, just outside of the hustle and bustle of the main touristy area. This cafe keeps there menu simple and delicious featuring pastries, coffee, lattes, egg sandwiches, soups, salads, and sandwiches. The cafe is counter service style and then you can enjoy your food to go or stay for a while at one of the many tables in the cafe. I have mentioned this in other posts, but my favorite thing about this cafe is that it is so spacious. For me, when I go to a cafe I typically go by myself to work from my computer for at least an hour at a time. Sometimes local cafes are too crowded or just too small that it either makes you feel awkward or even claustrophobic. At Power City Eatery you can enter without having to worry about it feeling too crowded or like another patron is reading over your shoulder the entire time.

  1. Third Street Retreat

Just off Third Street and Buffalo ave, almost right across from the Casino, in the bottom of the Jefferson Apartment Building is where you can find this hip little hidden gem for an excellent breakfast. There menu is pretty standard as far as breakfast goes but they definitely do it well. My favorite thing about this restaurant is the decor and the vibe. This small restaurant is decorated in kind of an old school music vibe and it looks really cool from the inside. When I travel, I would always prefer to eat somewhere local rather than the same chain restaurants I have at home. So if you are in Niagara Falls and are trying to avoid eating a $20 bunch buffet at TGI Fridays, look no further than Third Street Retreat!

Lewiston:

  1. Syros

Just off the main street in Lewiston lies my go- to and absolute favorite breakfast spot in the Buffalo/ Niagara Area. Prior to Niagara Falls I lived in the Philly area, where I never understood how lucky I was to have diners on almost every corner. IMG_2526After moving to Western New York and realizing that this was not such a thing there it took me a little to find something that compared. Thanks to a lovely Lewiston Local, my family and I were introduced to Syros.

Syros became my go to for breakfast and brunch because it has that diner charm combined with food that makes my mouth water from nearly 400 miles away. IMG_2525At Syros, no matter what you choose you cannot go wrong. If you find yourself unable to decide I would 100% the gyro omelette, which features gyro meat, and feta cheese along with a side of tzatziki sauce. The day I make the trip back to Niagara Falls this will be my first stop.

  1. Brickyard Brewing Company

Brickyard Brewing Company, or BBC is my go to option for a delicious, boozy, Sunday Brunch. Working in tourism I often have to work every weekend, however; any time I was off on a Sunday you bet I could be found at BBC sipping on Bottomless mimosas and enjoying food just as good as their regular menu. So if you can’t guess already here’s why I love BBC for breakfast: the food is incredible and they offer bottomless mimosas along with other drink specials. The only downfall is that they are only open Sundays for brunch, so it can be easy to accidentally miss it. However, I think part of the reason why it is special is because you could only get brunch on Sundays– otherwise Syros would have a tough competitor. When you go here I recommend the breakfast burger if you are looking for something savory or a stack of doctored up pancakes if you are looking for something sweet.

  1. Villa Coffee House

This sweet little breakfast spot has a more hidden location just off main street. The restaurant has a super small town meets diner vibe and features a standard, yet delicious breakfast menu. Villa Diner is an excellent choice if you are looking to spend less money because they offer pretty good specials, which including a tip, would set you back no more than $10. My go to option here would be to get a create your own omelette with bacon, mushrooms, cheese, and onion, and most importantly, DiCamillo Bread. The simplicity of this restaurant is what sets it apart and makes it a wonderful spot to catch breakfast.

  1. Orange Cat Coffee

IMG_2375I have written about Orange Cat Coffee several times now so there is no hiding my love for Orange Cat! Although this not going to be a sit down breakfast option, this is the perfect place for those looking for a grab and go coffee and a delicious pastry. In my opinion, there is nothing to not love at Orange Cat. Their prices are really good, there pastries are delicious, they have rotating coffee flavors, and every time I go in there everyone is always smiling. If I had to give a downfall I would say that if you were trying to sit in during a busier time sometimes it can be difficult to find a seat. If that happens to you, I recommend taking your coffee and pastry to go and walking down main street to the waterfront and enjoying your coffee with a view instead.

Buffalo

  1. Perks Cafe

To be honest, I really have only been here one time and that was right before I moved back to Pennsylvania. That being said one time was all it took to turn Perks Cafe into a place I am looking forward to one day returning to. Towards the end of Elmwood sits Perks Cafe where inside you will find a cute little cafe/ coffee shop. The coffee and lattes were delicious, the pastries looked mouthwatering, and they did have small menu with a couple good looking food options. The thing I found most intriguing was that most if not all the tables had several outlets, so this would be a wonderful spot if you were looking to get some work done.

  1. Spot Coffee

Spot Coffee is kind of like a local chain cafe in Buffalo. The one I went to was the Elmwood location and kind of reminded me similar to Power City Eatery in Niagara Falls. The Cafe was plenty spacious so among all the other 20 some year olds on their computers I did not feel claustrophobic or awkward, and the menu was vast with many tempting options. This is a good option because if you find yourself loving Spot Coffee, there are several different locations so you can go to whatever location is most convenient to you at the time.

  1. Ashker’s

IMG_2864I initially found this restaurant during my hunt for a juice and smoothie bar. Little did I know I would find a lovely little cafe with not only delicious smoothies and juices, but also a fantastic menu for breakfast and lunch. I wish I remembered what the name was but my favorite was this fluorescent pink smoothie which I think had beets, peaches, and a couple other things. I would combine this with a breakfast quesadilla and then go about my day knowing that if everything else where to go wrong I had made at least one healthy decision.

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I don’t know if breakfast tourism is a thing, but with this lovely list you could make a long weekend out of traveling around Buffalo and Niagara Falls just eating breakfast. I really truly hope you enjoy these recommendations and much as I do and please please please leave a comment if you have any other local breakfast places you love so I can go try it out as soon as possible. Disagree with one of the suggestions leave a comment anyways have a super wonderful day!

xoxo han

Orange Cat Coffee Review, Lewiston, NY

Coffee shops… where to begin? I can’t think of one person who does not enjoy going to a coffee shop whether it be local or chain. Stuck right on the heart of main street in Lewiston lies a local favorite coffee shop: Orange Cat Coffee. Inside the shop or outside on the patio you can find a really cool mix of local retired regulars, students from the local universities, and friends of all sorts chatting over a cup of coffee, specialty latte, tea, pastry, or lunch item.

IMG_2625Orange Cat is the exact image that comes to mind when you think of your ideal small town coffee shop. The environment is cozy and small yet roomy with plenty of places to sit. The staff is super friendly and welcoming, knowing regulars my names yet also greeting first time customers with a smiling face, and the overall vibe of the shop is super charming with its cozy features making it an inviting place to enjoy with a group, a friend, or alone.

Orange Cat is one of those places on the main street of Lewiston that is always at least somewhat busy. I have gone in when it is easy to get a prime spot on the couch and I have gone in when I have to wait in a line out the door for coffee. Either way the shop is usually well traffic. I will make a note here that if you are going in alone and plan on sitting for a while and feel a bit awkward, the initial walk to the back area to find a spot on a busy day can be quite intimidating on a busy day being surrounded by groups of people laughing together.

So on to the food and drinks. I’m pretty sure I have mentioned Orange Cat in a post or two before but the shop features a large selection of freshly brewed flavored and regular coffees with rotating flavors, specialty lattes, tea, cookies, scones, muffins, and a lunch menu with a soup of the day and salads.

This is a place where I can honestly say I have tried almost everything and literally everything is good! My personal favorite when it comes to the pastries would definitely be the snicker doodle cookies. First off it should be noted that these cookies are about the size of your had and at least a half inch thick. I have personally found myself to be a very dedicated fan because they are soft cookies—so basically when you bite in it does not snap or crunch. It is simply just a velvety bite of sweet deliciousness and the best part is that because of the size you can enjoy longer than the average cookie. The muffins and scones are also super delicious and these usually become my go to if I am lucky enough to be here when there is a fresh batch out of the oven.

Coffee wise I usually go with one of the flavored coffees of the day simply because the prices are honestly really good. I think on the days I get a coffee and a cookie it comes to right around three dollars, which I think is extremely reasonable—especially cause I have spent at least this much on Tim Horton’s for something comparable. Recently my go to with the flavored coffee has been to mix the two flavors of regular coffee if they seem as though they may go together.

On a special day if I have a taste for something sweet or a flavor catches my eye on the latte menu I will opt for a flavored latte. Honestly I think the most interesting thing I have had here would be the latte that has I believe caramel coconut and kiwi, which I believe is called funky monkey. I initially had to get it because I was skeptical of Kiwi in coffee. This ended up all mixing really well together to make the perfect treat for my little extra need for sweet. Today I opted for a latte as my eye caught the sweet and nutty latte, which has cinnamon and almond flavoring.

Today is also the first day I am trying out the lunch menu. I decided to try the falafel salad and was honestly surprised with how inexpensive it was. The salad was 4.95 and because of this I just assumed it would be a small portion but instead the salad came out definitely a full portion that I would say would be filling for lunch.

So my meal today came to right around nine dollars for a salad and medium specialty latte and I would personally say I am quite satisfied with the price I paid. I can 100% say that this is far more reasonably priced than other local places and even than other chain such as Panera or Starbucks. As well, the taste is definitely comparable if not better than most places.

Another really cool note about Orange Cat is that everything on the menu is vegan. So all the pastries and salads are made vegan and dairy substitutes are available for coffee. This is something that doesn’t really seem to be advertised, partially because I think people freak out when they see vegan thinking its going to be ultra healthy. But here you can treat yourself to a super decadent pastry, salad, or coffee with a clear conscience knowing your goodies are cruelty free.

So If you find yourself in Niagara county and are looking for a place to go for a coffee or to sit back and catch up with friends or family, or a place to go to study or get some work down Orange Cat should definitely be on the list of places you need to try. I think the only way you could literally not like it here is if you don’t like coffee and you don’t enjoy sitting in a coffee shop. Even then—give it a try and be ready to leave with a happy heart and a satisfied stomach.

Syros Restaurant Review, Lewiston, NY

As many of you could probably tell by now, I am a lover of all things brunch and breakfast food. Seeing the words ‘all day breakfast’ on the menu for me is like walking into a store and seeing the words ‘clearance’ in large font.

One of my favorite places to go for breakfast in Lewiston and a top contender for Niagara County would be the restaurant Syros in Lewiston, right off main street. I first discovered this restaurant about four years ago with my family when they came to visit me at college for parents day weekend. We were walking around the town of Lewiston for the Harvest fest and happened to ask for a suggestion for a place to go for breakfast. Luckily for us the restaurant Syros was suggested and I have been loving going here ever since!

Syros is the place to go to enjoy a bite to eat amongst family, catching up telling stories, and enjoying the company of loved ones. Or a place I’ve found myself with friends recapping an evening after a long night out, filling in the gaps in each other’s memories. Or more recently, a place I’ve gone several times alone, enjoying a quiet breakfast eavesdropping on the ever-intriguing chatter of small town gossip from the locals. No matter what the situation may be I always find myself feeling welcomed here with fantastic service and even more incredible food.

Food wise Syros is basically your average diner style food but with some super unique specials. My go to here for the last couple of times has been to get a gyro and feta omelet, which comes with potatoes and toast, and then to kick it up a notch a side of tzatziki sauce. After having my breakfast with tzatziki sauce the first time, I really don’t think I can go back. Even if I were to find myself ordering something that tzatziki was not included with I would literally pay extra to have it.

Now I know the restaurant does do a lunch and dinner menu but I have never been during this time, and even if I did I would probably still order breakfast.

Another really great thing about this restaurant is that there is quite a lot of seating yet the restaurant still feels cozy, which in my opinion is the best sort of vibe for a diner.

I have been able to share some awesome memories, great laughs, peaceful mornings, and amazing food here at Syros and I always look forward to any opportunity to go here or recommend this restaurant.

So what are you waiting for???

Time to go try out Syros !!!

 

04.22.17 Taste of Niagara Falls

This past Saturday I had the luxury of being able to eat out three times. So this may not have been the best thing for me but I was happy to have been able to revisit one of my favorite places in the area, as well as try out some new restaurants.

First off, I am very proud to say that this summer I will be interning at Old Falls Street in Niagara Falls doing Event Planning and Marketing. Because of that, on Saturday I had my first day of job training. Little did I know that at the end they were going to treat us to lunch. We went to a place called 3rd street retreat, which has been open for I think a little over a year now.

I was very excited to try it as I had heard a lot of good things about it. Thank god I went there with my work because I would have got totally lost if I had tried to find it myself. This restaurant is neatly tucked out of the way under an apartment building. Don’t let that deter you from coming to this hidden gem, I was shocked at how cute the interior of this restaurant is, as well as how amazing the menu was! Seriously, I think I am going to make a goal for myself to eat through the entire menu before I graduate. I don’t think there was one item on the menu I didn’t want to try. On top of that they have daily specials and the prices are extremely reasonable. There menu features all day breakfast and a vast variety of sandwiches as well as salads and a few other things.

For my lunch I chose one of there specials: fish tacos. As I ate I thought of my Dad who says if he doesn’t know what to order he always chooses fish tacos if available. Today I was thankful for these words of wisdom because by entrée was incredible! The fish tacos featured breaded haddock, a spicy slaw, and some sort of pineappleish salsa.

As my training finished, I found myself back in my car with a slue of messages from my friends asking if I wanted to go to the silo because it had just opened for the season. Even though I had just ate, the silo is simply one of those restaurants I can’t say no to. The Silo is a seasonal restaurant in Lewiston, NY that was made famous by Man vs. Food for its Haystack sandwich.

This sandwich is one of those things that when I explain probably never makes sense why I am so in love with them, so if you are reading this and are still skeptical you will just have to trust me and try one.

Basically it is shredded sort of beef with mozzarella cheese and I think a little mayo topped with the haystack variety of potato chips. The best part, in my opinion, is the Silo also makes a vegetarian version, which tastes exactly the same (Go Silo!!). There is also something special about enjoying this sandwich with the waterfront view of the river, outside on a nice spring, summer, or autumn day with great company. The best part? If you still have room after you meal there is an ice cream place right next door, which features a variety of sundaes and more ice cream flavors than you could have even imagined existed.

I would be 100% lying if I said I didn’t get ice cream after. Too be honest, I really don’t think I was even hungry anymore, actually, I know wasn’t hungry. There was simply just this sensation inside of me that made me feel as though I needed it. Like this gravitational pull to the ice cream place, I like to believe that in that moment there was a similar dependency between the shop, and me like in that moment we both just simply needed each other.

Okay so enough about that, on to the next one.

Probably a week ago or so, a friend had mentioned to us that there is a taco place (Colosso taco) in Niagara Falls that is opened 24/7. I’m not going to get into details about how we ended up there, but we were excited to eat at a 24/7 place that wasn’t McDonalds.

To be honest, I can’t necessarily say I was 100% impressed. Compared to chains, I wouldn’t say that this place was anything special and the prices also weren’t necessarily brilliant. That being said the prices were decent and the food was good, just not great—especially compared to the food I had tried earlier.

I decided to try the Chicken tender taco, which as I said, was good but not great. I think next time I’ll just go to mighty taco if it is open and I am in need of a taco.

It was an exciting day of trying and getting to eat at all sorts of different restaurants in the Niagara Falls region. As well school year comes to a close I look forward to being able to try more local places and share with you which ones are my favorites!

Have a great day!

xxHannah

04.21.2017 Kiwi and coffee?

Kiwi, caramel, and coconut in a latte? Yes you read correctly!

Orange Cat in Lewiston does it again. Absolutely Delicious.

This morning I found myself with the need to have a little sweet indulgence, so naturally I thought of Orange Cat coffee in Lewiston, New York. Usually when I simply get one of there flavored coffees of the day, sometimes accompanied with one of their incredible cookies and muffins.

Today, however, I decided to treat myself to a specialty latte and one of there to die for cookies. This is where the title of this blog comes in to play. On there menu you will find a variety of I guess what you could say are ‘standard flavors’, however, tucked in the middle you will see one with kiwi, coconut, and caramel. Me being me, I was so curious I just had to try it! I have been loving the coconut cold brew at Starbucks and I love caramel but the fact that it also used kiwi intrigued me.

Lets just say I was not disappointed. This latte was the perfect little treat to start off a happy little Friday. As for the flavor it was a little too sweet for may day-to-day needs, however like I said today was one of those treat yourself days. The flavor is interesting because you can definitely pick up on the caramel and subtle coconut flavor, but then I think the kiwi almost brings a little extra element of acidity and sweetness—definitely not extremely noticeable but at the same time, if you didn’t have it in there I think you would definitely pick up a difference.

As far as the cookies go I really don’t think you can go wrong! I am simply so in love with their snicker doodle one that I have yet to try another. The other really cool thing about all their food is that it is all vegan. Truly, you would never know; in fact I actually didn’t order food there because I assumed it was all too good to be vegan—common misunderstanding.

All in all, Orange cat is definitely one of my favorite places to go to when I want to treat myself or just get something to brighten my day. I love going to a local owned place because you can get these little specialties such as kiwi in a latte or mouth-watering vegan goodies. If you are within reasonable distance to Lewiston, New York, you definitely need to make a stop!

Have a great day!

xxHannah