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.

If you only venture out to The Blackthorn for its famous St. Patrick’s Day party, you’re missing out on a year-round scene that’s equal parts Irish pub and South Buffalo standby and as welcoming of new friends as old. My dad played upright bass in local Irish band The Leftovers throughout my adolescent and teen years so I basically grew up in South Buffalo bars. I…

It’s summertime in Buffalo, and that means we’re itching to get outside. When heading out on the town, my patio criteria include seating, beautiful views, decent drinks and of course, food. The Terrace at Delaware Park offers all four, exceeding expectations in almost every area. The new restaurant occupies the upper deck of the Marcy Casino, next to the rose garden…

It’s the most wonderful time of the year in Western New York: Patio season. The holidays bring cold and snow, quarrelsome relatives and credit card debt but patio season asks nothing of its celebrants but to kick back, relax and enjoy summer’s fleeting glory. “I think people living elsewhere enjoy [patios] just as much, but we get an actual ‘patio season,’ so …

Americans, on the whole, are not good at sharing. We’re used to our own share of everything from real estate to entrees. But many other cultures around the world eat the same way at restaurants as most of us do at home – sharing a few plates with the table. That way, everyone at the table gets to try a wider variety for less financial investment. The approach works …

Downtown Buffalo used to be something of a weekday lunch desert. A decade ago, there was a smattering of diners and pizza joints, the Main Place Mall cafeteria, a few options on the Chip Strip and that was about it. Now, Ellicott Street alone features Tappo Italian, Deep South Taco and Big Ditch Brewing Company, and that’s just one block. As of August last year, Jaz …

Mammoser’s Tavern & Restaurant is almost as much a Hamburg institution as the burger itself. Family legend has it that my grandfather used to light a firecracker and leave it in an ashtray, fleeing before bedlam broke loose. Today, there are no ashtrays on the bar and more craft taps behind it, but not much else has changed. “Mammy’s” has earned a spot in Ha…

We know what you’ve all been thinking. John Pawlowski has gotten a lot of guff for eating his lunch under Barbara Tucker’s tree on Zimmerman Road in Tonawanda. The story went viral, but after everyone from BuzzFeed to Esquire investigated, one question remains unanswered: How’s the food? For the past 18 months, Pawlowski has been ordering the same submarine sandwi…

The 1950s decor isn't the highlight of Bertha’s Diner. It isn’t the creative twist on diner standards, either. Nor is it the cozy atmosphere or its walkable Hertel Avenue location. The diner's unique appeal relies on all of these, which have made it a Buffalo favorite. Blink and you’ll miss Bertha’s, nestled next to North Park Theatre on the bustling shopping s…

Vegans, vegetarians and diner fans rejoice: Amy’s Place is your haven. The unassuming Main Street storefront has been open since 1981 and serves all meals from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. Amy’s is a no-frills, cash-only spot with all of the standards, as well as a large selection of meat-free choices. Most of the menu weighs in under $10 and is largely customizable.…

Buffalo’s poetry culture – like the city itself – is clawing its way from shadowy bars and coffeehouses into the streets, stages and public consciousness. Poetry in Buffalo is not new but a slew of players are keeping it as fresh as the Main Street medical campus, and growing just as fast. “Whether you write for the page, the stage or for the walls in your bedro…

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…