In a meat-crazy city like Buffalo, locating delicious vegan eats can be difficult. Rethinking breakfast without egg, meat, and milk-based dishes can seem limiting. So what does that leave for arguably the most crucial meal of the day?
These five restaurant dishes are serious contenders for the best vegan breakfast in the city of Buffalo.
No meat? No dairy? No problem.
Amy’s Place has been a vegetarian staple in Buffalo since 1981. Located in University Heights, this little diner offers many vegan options with hard-to-beat prices.
Amy’s has a classic diner setup with a long breakfast counter and booths. Although the restaurant serves several meat dishes, its main focus is catering to vegetarian and vegan palates.
The star attraction of Amy’s breakfast menu is the lentils and broccoli. It is served daily, but most notably as an early-bird special from 7 to 9 a.m. ($4.25 with tofu or seitan, $2.50 without). This dish is a mixture of soft green lentils and sautéed broccoli, served alongside home fries, toast, and the optional seitan or tofu “sizzle strips.”
Hidden within the lentils is the occasional sweet piece of caramelized garlic, which adds even more depth of flavor. The tofu has a marinated flavor and ample seasoning - a welcome addition to the lentil plate.
Amy’s uses only margarine in house, and the generous stack of rye toast that accompanies the special is crisp and rich. The inexpensive, filling options at Amy’s Place make it perhaps the best vegan breakfast value in town.
Info: Amy’s Place, 3234 Main St., 832-6666. Hours: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Sunday, with early bird specials from 7 to 9 a.m. Cash only.
Located on the corner of Fargo Avenue and Jersey Street, Tipico serves up simple, yet well-executed beverage and food items for a reasonable price.
Tipico boasts what it calls the “largest kachelofen in North America.” (A kachelofen is a traditional masonry stove that captures heat from a fireplace and evenly distributes it from the ground up.)
With its concrete floor, high ceilings and skylight, this industrial space balances coziness and modernity.
Breakfast options at Tipico include assorted pastries from Butter Block Bakery, Ithaca Milk brand yogurt, ricotta and seasonal jam toast, and chocolate hazelnut spread toast. Tipico’s avocado toast ($3) is a straightforward vegan breakfast. It starts with a thick slice of rye, made by local bakery BreadHive.
A generous portion of thinly cut avocado is heaped onto the bread and topped with salt, freshly cracked pepper, smoked paprika, and a drizzle of olive oil. The rye is dense, crisp, and fragrant. The smoked paprika gives the toast some extra bite.
Although it may seem light, this avocado toast is a satisfying breakfast choice. Paired with a “quick cup” of coffee ($2), this dish is a total vegan victory.
Info: Tipico Coffee, 128 Fargo Ave., 331-3954. Hours: 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Since Betty’s opened in 2004, it has become a Buffalo favorite, especially for breakfast. This cozy restaurant on the corner of Virginia and Cottage streets has exposed brick walls, soft lighting and a warm atmosphere.
Betty’s offers a diverse selection of breakfast, lunch and dinner items, and the menu is clearly labeled based on dietary restrictions and preferences.
Many of the selections can easily be made vegetarian, vegan, gluten free or dairy free. Betty’s breakfast menu has traditional items such as omelettes, egg platters and waffles, and more complex offerings like shrimp and grits, chilaquiles and smoked turkey hash.
The restaurant’s most notable vegan breakfast option is the scrambled tofu hash ($10). It is made up of sautéed tofu, sweet potatoes, caramelized onions, roasted red peppers and black beans. The dish is also served with home fries and your choice of grilled cornbread or wheat pita.
To make the dish vegan, opt for the pita instead of the cornbread. The hash contains soft cubed tofu and is more like a mash with its sauce-like consistency. There is a hint of cinnamon to the dish, and it packs some punch with the distinctive tang of hot sauce.
Info: Betty’s, 370 Virginia St., 362-0633.
Breakfast - 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday
Lunch - 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday
Dinner - 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 5 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Brunch - 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday
Newbury Street’s menu includes salads, quinoa and rice bowls, soup, wraps, organic coffee and tea. This counter-service café offers create-your-own options as well as signature items, and a beverage division called Crush Juicery. At the juicery side, cold-pressed juices, smoothies, oatmeal, avocado toast and acai bowls are served.
The Myrtle Avenue ($9), one of Newbury’s acai granola bowls, is a breakfast option that plays into the culinary fads of the moment. The bowl has a thick, smoothie-like consistency, made of blended frozen acai berries, cocoa powder, banana, mango, peanut butter, almond milk and almonds. It is served on buckwheat granola and topped with sliced fresh strawberries, blueberries, sea salt, shaved coconut and a chia-sesame seed mix.
This is quite possibly the most hipster breakfast option in the city of Buffalo. It is loaded with trendy ingredients, but the dueling textures of dense, blended fruit and brittle granola are a major success.
Info: Newbury Street, 470 Elmwood Ave., 886-6466. Hours: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Closed Sunday.
Known as one of Buffalo’s most vegetarian and vegan-focused restaurants, Merge takes pride in using locally grown, sustainable ingredients, and brings vegetables to the forefront. This restaurant opened its doors in 2009 and offers a more upscale vegetarian experience.
On Saturdays, Merge has a special brunch menu that features items such as peanut butter banana stuffed french toast, breakfast hash, quiche, pancakes, and wraps.
The breakfast burrito ($9) is a notable breakfast option. It can be made completely vegan with tofu, tapioca-based Daiya cheese, black beans, peppers, onions, pico de gallo, and Frank’s hot sauce (or Vitamin F, as Merge calls it). The burrito is lightly grilled in a panini press, and the fluffy tofu filling is seasoned in a way that mimics the appearance of scrambled eggs.
With a side of home fries included, this breakfast dish can certainly please a hearty eater. To add to the overall brunch experience, Merge plays Saturday morning cartoons on its large projection screen.
Info: Merge, 439 Delaware Ave., 842-0600. Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. for Saturday brunch.
Honorable Mention: Protein Power Smoothie from Ashker’s - $4.59
Made of plant-based vanilla protein powder, banana, peanut butter and almond milk, the Protein Power Smoothie is a simple and portable vegan breakfast choice.
Info: Ashker’s Juice Bar & Café, 1002 Elmwood Ave., 886-2233. Hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.