Delish! Cooking School, whose classes were voted as some of the Best of WNY by Buffalo Spree, is known for its quality instruction and taste. Within a comfortable urban space, customers can pick up sweet selections such as fresh fudge, scones, bar cookies, and hand-dipped chocolate. Fresh-brewed espresso drinks accompanied by baked goods or housemade ice-cream sandwiches tempt tongues, while a range of cooking tools, sauces, and spices line shelves for at-home chefs to use in their own kitchens.
Experienced chefs lead cooking classes geared toward the home cook looking to hone skills without memorizing transcripts of the Food Network’s full broadcast. Students sip wine during classes such as The Exciting Foods of Thailand, Casual Italian Supper Party, or The New Vegetarian Cuisine.
Genga Ponnampalam wanted to make it easier for people to eat healthy food, so after a long stint as a computer programmer, he founded Go Veggies—a vegetarian and vegan outfit that culls local produce and morphs it into hearty dishes, some of which hail from his native Sri Lanka. At farmers markets, grocery stores, and a café space, he and his staff delight taste buds with healthy cuisine that’s good for the environment, like carpooling or bikepooling to work. They also positively impact the community by composting their food waste and recycling their packaging.
Niagara Cafe offers a menu filled with fresh, tasty Puerto Rican–style cuisine that makes mouths water like panting clouds. Start with tostones ($2.50)—chips made from expertly sliced plantains—or a beefy deep-fried empanadilla ($1.84), and then taste test a quarter rotisserie chicken served with fries ($5.52). For lunch (11 a.m.–3 p.m., Monday through Friday), patrons can try the fried pork chops ($4.60); dinnertime guests, on the other hand, can enjoy the chicken stew ($8.28). All lunch and dinner plates are accompanied by yellow or white rice and beans, which are side staples for most Caribbean culinary traditions and Tritons. For dessert, appraise the custardy contents of homemade flan ($2.30) before escorting leftovers down the gullet with a small gulp of parcha juice ($1) or a 16-ounce soft drink ($1.50).
Canvas@1206's comforting American fare accompanies a wealth of spirited drinks and live musical performances. In the evening, amours and amigos cluster together, sipping libations, nibbling on salads and sandwiches, and sharing appetizers such as a creamy baked brie. Cofounders Dawn Kirchmeyer and Steve McCarthy merged their mutual love for food and entertainment to create memorable meals scored by jazz and acoustic performances. Going beyond the bounds of the interior space, each in-house performance streams live on the restaurant's radio app. Canvas@1206 also keeps patrons stimulated with breakfast offerings and complimentary WiFi.
Originally built by the Hamlin family in 1865, Hamlin House underwent a three-phase restoration in 2011 to reinstate it to its turn-of-the-century glory. Today, the Italianate-style mansion houses a sprawling banquet hall as well as a much cozier dining room serving homemade soups, salads, and sandwiches for lunch and a Friday-night dinner menu of steaks, grilled chicken, and seafood. The venue specializes in weddings and other large-scale events, which take place in an elegant ballroom that accommodates 220 people or one traveling circus. Events can include hors d'oeuvres; cocktails; and buffet-style, family-style, or sit-down dinners.
There are many good places to people-watch at Kaydara Noodle Bar—at the circular bar or near the windows that overlook Main Street or even near the open kitchen where chefs prepare Southeast Asian noodle dishes in bowls of broth and simmering stir fries. Vietnamese pho is served hot enough to cook thin slices of raw beef, and udon and crispy egg noodles arrive mixed with your choice of meat. Tofu is typically an option, too, as the menu makes many efforts to accommodate vegans and vegetarians. Daily features have included vegan pho, and there's always a vegetable side of the day.
Aside from noodles, Kaydara serves a variety of small and large plates. Potstickers stuffed with potatoes, goat cheese, and Chinese vinegar can preface entrees of beef tenderloin with sweet chili butter, or spicy black-bean pork riblets. To balance out the piquant flavors, try sipping on a house-made pear and lychee soda or licking one of the wall's more calming paintings by local artists, each one available for sale.