It’s one of the most Portland things we’ve seen outside of Portland, and it’s just one example of how New York State’s second city is evolving.

By David Landsel, Food & Wine
September 01, 2017

On September 16th, for the ninth year running, a group of cyclists will meet on the west side of Buffalo, New York, strap on their helmets, and start riding—thirty-five miles in all, winding past an array of urban agriculture projects, abandoned buildings, open fields, scores of handsome old homes, and, eventually, open countryside. The Tour de Farms, as it’s known, is not only a chance to observe firsthand the massively-downsized Western New York city’s slow, steady resurgence, it also benefits, via the collection of a modest registration fee, local organizations working to make Buffalo more sustainable.

If that doesn’t sound like the Buffalo you might have heard of—years of steady decline and a certain NFL team have more been its modern claims to fame—go ahead and get used to it. The event is far from a one-off, but rather an expression of the type of city Buffalo is quickly becoming—a magnet for young (and young at heart), forward-looking people in search of a different pace of life than a certain city on the other side of the state is known for.

Far closer to Canada’s New York (Toronto’s barely two hours away) than actual New York City, Buffalo has always gone its own way, and has always, even in its lowest moments, had plenty to celebrate—the architecture (Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House, for example), a passion for gardening (the summertime organized garden walks are considered some of the best in the country), a simple but easy-to-love food tradition (roast beef sandwiches, frozen custard, those world-famous wings, crunchy sponge candy), a vibrant cultural life dating back to its heyday, not to mention lots of good-natured locals who like a beer or three.

Lately, however, visitors are seeing a different, newer side of Buffalo — it’s almost as if this old, Rust Belt city has been busily channeling the Pacific Northwest, more than any of its Eastern neighbors. A bike cooperative, those aforementioned farms, a project returning vacant land on the city’s East Side to its natural state, bakeries, cafes and restaurants that are working hard to support regional agriculture, too many microbreweries to count and a budding café culture. (You have to sit somewhere on all of those cold mornings, after all.)

Photo courtesy of Chris Lee.

Full article, including local restaurant recommendations at