Best Of 2014: Best bakery, best sandwiches and more
Every year, Buffalo Spree puts out an amazing list of the Western New York area’s most coveted in areas including businesses and retail, media, the arts, and, of course, food and drink. It’s an honor to be a part of the group who helps select the best of the best in Buffalo. Here are my contributions to “Best Of 2014 ,” including some of my favorites: bakery, sandwiches, donuts and happy hours.
Best bakery (city): TIE with Mazurek’s, 543 S. Park Ave., 853-7833; mazureksbakery.com
Romeo & Juliet’s
Multiple locations; rjcaffe.com
To a bustling Italian restaurant scene, Romeo and Juliet’s Café brings authenticity. Since 1998, their bakery items, including bread, pizza, focaccia, and sweets, earned regular praise. Their ciabatta is especially noteworthy, crusty, airy, and flavorful. Desserts beckon from glass cases: cake, pastries, tarts, and cookies. Enjoy your favorite cake by the slice or select a single cookie. We can’t resist sfogliatelle, a shell-shaped pastry with a flaky crust, stuffed with sweet ricotta cheese and a hint of citrus.
Best sandwiches (not subs): TIE: Nickel City Cheese and Joe’s Deli
Nickel City Cheese
423 Elmwood Ave., 882-3068; www.nickelcitycheese.com
Nickel City Cheese has reigned as the city’s premier option for cheese, meats, and other goodies since opening in 2011. Unsurprisingly, the shop makes a mean grilled cheese sandwich, featuring pimento cheese spread on rye, but that’s not all. The rest of their sandwiches are as diverse as they are tasty. Mexican turkey (lime crema, pickled onion, avocado, and queso fresco on flatbread) and specials, such as jambon beurre with cornichons or mushroom and brie on sourdough, feature the fresh ingredients in the shop on rocking bread.
Multiple locations; joesdelionline.com
Joe’s Deli first opened on Hertel Avenue in August of 2006, in the former site of Mastman’s delicatessen. Clearly meant to continue a remarkable sandwich legacy, owner and operator Joseph Lyons brought culinary prowess to his hometown to convince us that he makes the best Reuben and tuna melt around. And who doesn’t crave I Love Lucy (turkey BLT) and Jimmy’s Cuban (marinated pork loin, ham, swiss, dill pickles, and honey mustard)? There’s much to choose from, all with adorable names and honest ingredients. We love Joe’s sandwiches.
Best donuts: Paula’s
Multiple locations; paulasdonuts.com
Paula’s Donuts are completely irresistible. With classics such as sour cream and Bavarian to twists on favorites—peanut cream and peanut jelly—Paula’s has over 30 varieties from which to choose. Established in 1996, Paula’s makes hand cut, fresh baked donuts daily, and gives great customer service. It’s old-fashioned in the best way. Spree readers know from past accolades… If you’re going to have a donut, make it a Paula’s.
Best happy hour (city): Cantina Loco
191 Allen St., 551-0160; www.cantinaloco.com
Grab a stool, order a margarita and guacamole, and let out a sigh. Cantina Loco’s fun and lively atmosphere invites you to settle in and relish the hour (or two) where you leave behind what happened at work and unwind. Mezcal cocktails and great beer on tap give you your pick of thirst-quencher, and the patio offers outdoor enjoyment for the warm months. Cantina Loco has an unmistakable energy that makes it perfect for drinks after work in the city.