Lizz Schumer
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Lizz Schumer

Contributor - Buffalo, NY

Lizz Schumer is a writer, photographer and journalism professor living and working in Buffalo. She teaches journalism at Canisius College and writes about food, drinks and living in Western New York for a variety of publications. Find her online at lizzschumer.com, @eschumer on Twitter, @lizzschumer on Instagram and Facebook.com/authorlizzschumer.

It doesn’t get much more Buffalo than a Friday fish fry. And there aren't many places more old-school about it than Wiechec’s Lounge. The Clinton Street bar and restaurant fills up before quitting time on Lenten Fridays. Get there early if that’s your plan, and be prepared. We had a few brews at the bar during our hour-long wait. Most of the barroom knows what …

Helen’s Kitchen is housed in Transitown Plaza, surrounded by chains that dwarf the unassuming storefront. Blink and you’ll miss the red-lettered sign tucked in the corner of the strip. If you’re looking for a solid diner breakfast without the corporate vibe down the street, this is your spot. Advertising circulars doubling as placemats, thick-rimmed mugs and large…

Greek diners are a dime a dozen in Western New York, but Taki's serves its souvlaki with a side of witty repartee. The two-level dining room is adorned with posters like this one signed by Pandora: “I adore getting Taki’s Takeout – They always put my food in a box.” Then there’s the confession from Poseidon: “Don’t tell anybody, but I absolutely love Takis’…

Rachel Wright of Mes Que loves experimenting with wild fermented ingredients. Sarah Tierney of Ballyhoo plays with rose water. Kerry Quaile of Buffalo Proper enjoys using dimmi. Jeannie Alexander of Community Beer Works geeks out over the science of brewing and Allie Ralbovsky of Rusty Nickel Brewing Company reaches for IPAs. These women are part of a growing contingen…

The Wayside Family Restaurant might have the friendliest waitstaff in town. While being called "sweetheart" usually makes me prickle, it felt homey coming from our waitress. Courteous service goes a long way in making a dining experience worthwhile, and our waitress treated us like we were her own kids, sitting down for a bite in her kitchen. If that’s what earns W…

Classically trained Chef Victor Parra Gonzalez had a choice to make. “Do I want to be a French chef, or do I want to be a Mexican chef?” asked the Acapulco-born restaurateur. “Or can I be something in the middle?” With Las Puertas, a 35-seat gem on the West Side, Gonzalez’s creations answer for him. The restaurant opened on Feb. 9 after years in the making.…

When I was a kid, my mom never bought anything full price. From groceries to school clothes, that woman had a coupon for everything – and still does. An extensive list of deals and specials is not the reason Picasso’s Pizza is great, but it doesn’t hurt. Picasso’s has locations in Williamsville, West Seneca, Lancaster and Blasdell. That means if you haven’t …

In the Buffalo area, tacos are the new black. It’s not just Mighty Taco anymore. With everything from the artisanal Casa Azul and Lloyd Taco Factory, to Valle de Mexico and La Divina, almost every suburb has its share of Mexican outposts. Now thanks to Cantina 62, Lackawanna does, too. The diner in the shadow of Our Lady of Victory basilica features a breakfast and l…

Hamburg native David Busch grew up listening to his grandfather, Ray Gates, tell stories about his time behind the bar at The Steakhouse, an institution where Mason’s Grille 52 now stands. As he takes over the bar program at Carte Blanche on the corner where he used to work as a dishwasher at Buffalo Street Grille, he's right at home. “I came into a family atmospher…

Western New York is more slush than sand beaches this time of year but inside many local bars, tropical sensations are just a sip away. Carved ceramic mugs, garish garnishes and two handfuls of ingredients indicate that tiki is in the house. Tiki, as we know it today started 80 years ago with Don the Beachcomber in Hollywood. The restaurant was founded by Ernest Raym…

Nick’s Place on Amherst Street has been a Black Rock institution since 1994, surviving through neighborhood changes and several disasters of its own. Even after a fire ravaged the kitchen in 2009, the neighborhood banded together to get the business back on its feet. Earlier this year, a car ran through the front window, but Nick’s didn’t let that stop it. Plywood…

Lone Star Fajita Grill has been a Hertel Avenue secret for decades. The hole-in-the-wall spot north of the business district doesn’t look like much, but it’s solid Tex Mex for less than a Mighty run. Lloyd Taco Factory this is not. You won’t see any artisanal tortillas or unconventional toppings here. It’s a far cry from La Divina or Valle de Mexico, too. But what …

The sign on the door said "opening at 12:30-sorry" when I stopped by Kalypso on a recent weekday shortly after noon. I shrugged, walked down the street to browse at Talking Leaves on Main Street, and by the time I came back at 12:33, I was already fifth in line and it was growing behind me. Kalypso's signage is simple. Blink and you'll miss it. The menu is a printed …

Buffalo loves cocktails. Throwing a few back in a parking lot pre-Bills game. Enjoying a tipple at the corner watering hole after a long week. Tasting craft concoctions at any one of the burgeoning options. Western New York is always up for a few drinks. From 4 to 7 p.m. Nov. 13, up to 750 cocktail enthusiasts can put their tastebuds and voting fingers to task at Step…

Under the watchful eyes of their mentors-turned-judges, four up-and-coming bartenders sliced garnishes, stirred glasses, shook tins and bodies and served a slate of classic and original cocktails at the City of Good Mentors 2016 cocktail competition last week. The Campari-sponsored event was hosted by the Buffalo chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild at Panoram…