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.
Behind the counter at Ashker’s Juice Bar - Bistro - Gallery, staffers concoct a long list of smoothies, sandwiches, and all-day breakfasts made to be enjoyed in their cozy lounge that doubles as an art gallery and social hub. In the front lounge, padded chairs invite diners to bask in the glow of the sunlight that streams through the eatery’s expansive windows, aiding in the body's natural photosynthesis process. Along the walls, local artists display their masterworks, which mirror the swaths of color often found in the creamy smoothies.
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.
Songs from the 1940s drift through the air inside Taste, a café whose hip, inviting interior is illuminated by lights salvaged from old factories and whose exterior is adorned with a steaming coffee cup statue. At a counter crafted from a repurposed bowling lane, baristas take orders for fragrant ciders and teas, steamy mochas, and dishes such as tiramisu french toast with mascarpone-espresso cream. Guests can also munch on gourmet sandwiches layered with smoked meats and cheeses or fresh tuna salad or order s'mores to prepare at their own tables.
The staff at Sweet Melody's Authentic Italian Gelateria is largely made up of college students studying music or voice who are apt to leap from behind the counter and serenade patrons at any moment. Sweet Melody's also makes tasty music with its menu. Fresh mozzarella and fire-roasted tomatoes sing without amplification in the A Cappella Panino ($6.95). The Stacatto Panino ($6.95) attacks each note with a fervor, powered by dijon mustard and then supplemented by ham, asiago cheese, and basil leaves. Play the small-size gelato—the piccolo ($3.25)—with your choice of Sweet Melody's two-dozen weekly flavors. Bigger sizes range from $3.95–$4.95.
Winners of the 2011 People's Choice Award at the Taste of Lockport, the family-owned-and-operated Sweet Sixteen Cafe keeps home ovens idle by supplying dessert devotees with fresh, homemade pastries, cookies, and signature cakes. Whether celebrating a birthday, an anniversary, or a state-wide ban on silverware, cake pops provide a stick-based treat ideal for portable snacking. The moist morsels come in a variety of signature flavors, such as red velvet embraced by fluffy cream-cheese icing, decadently doubled double chocolate fudge, and the birthday-cake-flavored creamsicle.