Get ready, get set, shop.
Put on your comfy shoes, grab your credit cards and shopping list and dive into holiday shopping. Whether you prefer malls or neighborhood shopping districts, it’s time to find that perfect gift. For many of us, that means long, marathon shopping days with barely a minute to stop for a bite. But you need sustenance to tackle those long gift lists and Gusto is here to help.
Here’s a quick guide to where to eat at 10 area shopping spots.
The malls have both sit-down restaurants (usually chains) and food courts. If you choose a sit-down, remember to check for holiday gift card promotions that often include bonus bucks. The sit-downs also offer easy take-out options to grab on the way home too.
At the local shopping areas (Elmwood/Hertel avenues, Williamsville, East Aurora and Lewiston), there were so many choices that it was tough to decide which places to include.
Boulevard Mall area
30 Alberta Drive, Amherst
Of all the malls, the Boulevard Mall had the least options. It does not have a food court, but a few choices within.
Fast food: Subway, Mrs. Fields, Taste of China, Auntie Anne’s.
Local pick: Sweet Melody’s Gelato kiosk.
Other: Boulevard Convenience (snacks and drinks).
Sit-down: Part of the mall are T.G.I. Fridays and Bonefish Grill (dinner only Monday through Friday, Saturday lunch, Sunday brunch). Chili’s Bar & Grill is in the mall parking area, while Olive Garden and Scotch ‘n Sirloin are just across Alberta Drive.
Our pick: We like Premier Gourmet (3904 Maple Road) and Delta Sonic across the street. Premier Gourmet has lots of gifts for your foodie friends and a café that serves deli sandwiches, baked goods and coffee drinks. At Delta Sonic (7920 Niagara Falls Blvd.) pick up car wash gift cards and eat at its Brick Oven, which serves pizzas, subs, sandwiches, salads and wraps.
Eastern Hills Mall area
4545 Transit Road, Williamsville
The Eastern Hills Mall has a really nice food court with a fireplace and televisions. It provides an out of the way place to catch your breath.
Food court: Auntie Anne’s, Burger Stop, China Panda, La Rosa NY Style Pizzeria, Subway, Nana’s Mediterranean
Local pick: Piemania serves savory and sweet pies, plus comfort food.
Other: Tim Hortons, Minimelts and other vending.
Sit-down: Duffs is part of the mall. Brennan’s Bowery, Tully’s, Salsarita’s and Old Country Buffet are near Best Buy and Barnes & Noble. The Old Country Buffet serves breakfast Saturday and Sunday. Family Night (5 to 8 p.m. Thursday) kids ages 2-11 eat for $1.99.
Our pick: Sweet Keaton’s in the mall serves soups, sandwiches, shakes, sundaes and desserts, which are made in house. It’s the only location in Western New York that serves nine types of Perry’s frozen custard.
Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls
1900 Military Road, Niagara Falls
The food court is modern and beautiful with lime green, orange and silver tones. We loved the bar height counter with stools.
Food court: Auntie Anne’s, Lotus Express, Subway, Suki Hana, Larosa NY Pizzeria, Pita Gourmet, Tim Hortons, Yogen Fruz, Dunkin’ Donuts.
Local pick: Wegmans Market Café nearby.
Other: Starbucks kiosk and vending.
Sit-down: Applebee’s is attached to the mall, but must be entered from outside. Buffalo Wild Wings, Panera Bread, Olive Garden, Chili’s Bar & Grill and Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt are in the Hobby Lobby/Walmart plaza next door. Panera Bread has drive-thru. Across the street are Five Guys, TCBY, Chipotle Mexican Grill and LongHorn Steakhouse.
Our pick: Godiva Chocolates in the mall near Dunkin’ Donuts has fresh-made treats like a chocolate-dipped cone filled with chocolate-dipped strawberries, strawberry and banana kabobs, berry dessert cups, Trufflelata shakes, coffee and more. Hot chocolate is only $4.
3701 McKinley Parkway, Blasdell
The McKinley Mall food court is a nice, wide open area with plenty of seating.
Food court: Subway, Arby’s, JP Teriyaki, Wok N Roll, Nana’s Mediterranean, Queen City Char Grill, Matayo’s Pizza.
Local pick: Pharaoh’s Crepes & Ice Cream.
Other: Auntie Anne’s, Planet Smoothie, Palace of Sweets (ice cream, shakes, coffee, snacks).
Sit-down: Cheeburger, Cheeburger is visible outside the mall. In the mall, Buffalo Beef & Brew serves sandwiches, wraps, salads, beer and wine, too. Located in the parking lot area is the new, reopened Olive Garden along with Panera Bread, Red Lobster and T.G.I. Fridays.
Our pick: Barnes & Noble can be entered from both outside and inside the mall, with a nice quiet café that serves sandwiches, pizzas and soups along with awesome coffee drinks, like the seasonal Chestnut Praline latte.
1 Walden Galleria, Cheektowaga
The food court is very utilitarian. However this mall has the most sit-down options and a nice nook to escape the crowds near Sears/Regal Theaters end.
Food court: Sbarro Italian Eatery, Easy Wok, Salsarita’s, Oyishi, Subway, Souvlaki Bros., Charley’s Philly Steaks, Arby’s, Mr. Smoothie.
Local pick: Get Fried, a french fry café.
Other: Starbucks (seating nearby), Auntie Anne’s, Chozen Frozen, Pretzel Maker, Yogen Fruz, Tim Hortons (limited seating), Lotto & More (snacks/drinks).
Sit-down: Bravo! Cucina Italiana does not take reservations but accepts a “call ahead,” meaning you will be on the list and will bump folks already waiting when you show up. It’s not a reservation, but as close to one as you’ll get. The Cheesecake Factory has limited reservations during the week (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.), but not weekends. Sunday brunch is served 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. PF Chang’s accepts reservations, as does Jack Astor’s and the Melting Pot.
In addition to counter service, Johnny’s Burger Factory has a self-order station. Swipe a credit card, place your order then wait. Five Guys offers online ordering via an app, so you can order ahead and pick up to eat on site, or at a great nearby seating area.
Our picks: In the food court, Orazio’s Crepes serves fresh food with many choices from salads and sandwiches to crepes. Coffee Culture Café & Eatery opens two hours before listed mall hours so it’s a great place to game plan your shopping over breakfast. Located near the Sears/Regal end, Coffee Culture offers casual food, baked goods, coffee and comfy seating.
Elmwood has too many good choices. Here are some within a few blocks of each other. For early shoppers, the Lexington Co-Op (807 Elmwood Ave.) serves breakfast wraps from 7 to 10 a.m., then sandwiches, soups, etc. The Globe Market (762 Elmwood Ave.) opens at 10:30 a.m. with the same type of foods.
Also open early and great spots to grab a coffee and plan your day are SPoT (765 Elmwood Ave.), Caffe Aroma (957 Elmwood Ave.) and Starbucks (933 Elmwood Ave.). Warm up with a bowl of ramen and pot of tea at Sato (739 Elmwood Ave.), open at 11:30 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, or something spicy at the nearby Mexican restaurant Agave (765 Elmwood Ave.), open every day at 11 a.m. Hop into White Rabbit (802 Elmwood Ave.) for a frozen yogurt snack.
Kostas Family Restaurant (1561 Hertel Ave.) and Bertha’s Diner (1430 Hertel Ave.) both open at 7 a.m. (8 a.m. Sunday). Bertha’s closes at 2 p.m., while Kostas is open late night.
For something a little fancier, Ristorante Lombardo (1198 Hertel) serves lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday during the holidays until Dec. 23. CraVing (1472 Hertel Ave.) serves lunch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday and Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
End a day with a DEK oven pizza, dessert and cup of something warm at Romeo & Juliet’s (1292 Hertel Ave.), open Tuesday through Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Or visit Blackbird Sweets (1547 Hertel Ave.) for a fluffy cupcake and coffee, open at 9 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Around Vidler’s and other shops, Taste (634 Main) opens early at 7 a.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, with breakfast/lunch items, and sweet stuff and great coffee drinks. Arriba Tortilla (40 Riley St.), located right behind the Main Street drag, opens at 11:30 a.m. (noon Sunday) with very good Mexican food. Rick’s On Main (687 Main) serves lunch at 11 a.m. Monday through Saturday. We like the idea of a Soup Sampler with a half sandwich or small sandwich.
There are plenty of shopping and eating choices along charming Center Street. The Village Bake Shop (417 Center St.) opens daily at 7 a.m. and serves soups, paninis, baked goods and coffee. The Spicey Pickle (463 Center St.) opens at 11:30 a.m. and has a basic Mexican menu that includes soups, salads, burritos, tacos, nachos and yes, spicy pickles. For a sit-down meal, the quaint Apple Granny (433 Center St.) opens at 11 a.m. and serves comfort-style food.
Our suggestions on Main Street are two places with parking. DiCamillo Bakery (5329 Main St.), opens at 6 a.m. with breakfast specials, followed by a menu with soup, pizza and sandwiches. Milos (5877 Main St.) Greek restaurant opens at 7 a.m. for breakfast (served all day), and has a great atmosphere with a fireplace.