This story originally appeared in The News in 2015.
From now until Easter, which falls this year on April 5, the Broadway Market is the place to be.
But ... what if you’ve never been there? What if you don’t know where to start?
Maybe you’re unfamiliar with the neighborhood. You’re not Polish. Or you’re not Catholic. Perhaps you’re intimidated by the crowds that pour into the market at Easter time.
Fear not. The Broadway Market is like a big, chocolate bunny. Everyone can have a bite. And though Polish Easter delicacies are the soul of the place, the market is becoming international. It also is a celebration of all things Buffalo. You find undersung regional delights like sponge candy. And the mysteriously named Charlie Chaplin candy (a kind of Rocky Road confection of chocolate, coconut, cashews and marshmallow). Crystal Beach suckers, East Side soul food, and one of the best fish stores in town – it’s all there, at the Broadway Market.
Take our crash course and give it a try.
To market, to market
Turn from Broadway onto Gibson Street. It’s a one-way street. The entrances are on the left. The first entrance is for the ramp to the upper levels, and the second entrance is for ground-level parking. Things can get crowded. If you really want that urban experience, go by bus. Take the No. 23 Hertel/Fillmore or the No. 4 Broadway.
Once inside the market, check to see that you have cash. If you pop into a neighborhood bar or restaurant, you’ll want cash, and though some market vendors take credit cards, cash makes things easier. The M&T branch on the Broadway end of the market has an ATM. Shop with confidence: Security guards patrol the market year-round.
Ready, set, shop
Here are the basics – a sort of Broadway Market bucket list. Most of these vendors are at the market year-round. Keep watch, as you go, for the many other seasonal vendors tucked in among them – all of them interesting, but too many to list.
• The diner that was once Perison’s is now Potts Deli. As anyone knows who has been to Potts’ other location in Cheektowaga, their food is a great value – tasty, authentic and inexpensive. Try the Big Broadway, with scrambled eggs, home fries, bacon and sausage. Or the Polish Cowboy, scrambled eggs and Polish sausage. Or biscuits with sausage and gravy. Plop down at the counter and enjoy.
• Here is something you do not see every day: a giant cube, bigger than a microwave, of shea butter. This luxurious product is part of the inventory of Everything African and More, which also has clothes, jewelry, soaps, lotions and various oils. Greet proprietor Eva Jeter, who loves the Easter rush. She said, “It’s always nice to see all the families.”
• “White Eagle Bakery has some of the best breads out there,” confides a market butcher. Try a poppy bar loaded with sweet black poppy seeds. “We sell so many of those,” said Rita Milligan, an employee for 24 years. Everything – breads, doughnuts, pastries, rolled bread, jelly rolls, lemon rolls, cupcakes and – oh, yum – Almond Raspberry Flips, are all made at the D&L Bakery in Depew, owned by the same family since 1925. “It looks like a little house, but it’s amazing what comes out of it,” Milligan said. White Eagle’s famed rye, with and without caraway, is light with a sourdough taste. Milligan said: “Our rye flies out of here, nonstop.”
• The folks at Famous Horseradish ship jars all around town, but nowhere is it as fresh as it is at the Broadway Market. The other day they were actually ladling the stuff into jars. The aroma was intoxicating. Choose between regular horseradish and a purple kind made with beets, which is sweeter. Notice the name in fine print on the label: W. Skup. That is Wanda Skup, a blond lady usually on the premises. If you see her, say hi. Do not neglect other deals – produce like beets and red cabbage, at prices less than at supermarkets. Such a deal, Wanda!
• Chrusciki Bakery’s specialty is Angel Wings. They are deep fried, subtly sweet, powdery and crunchy. You can get a tray of them for $5.95, enough to take to work and pass around. Shelves groan with other irresistible, caloric treats. A chalkboard states the daily sandwich special, often sausage on rye with Famous Horseradish. Notice the inspirational slogans, in Polish and English.
• Mix it up at the East-West Cafe. Owner Ruban Selva is from Sri Lanka. He came to Buffalo via Philadelphia, where he learned to make a killer Philly Cheese Steak. “People love it,” he said. “They tell me they never had a better one.” His menu changes constantly. But you can expect Asian specialties, like chicken curry and fried rice, and also that Philly Cheese Steak, Polish cabbage rolls, traditional Polish duck blood soup, a rich mac and cheese and a bodacious fish fry with three sides. “I kind of mix it up,” Selva said.
• Go Southern at the Soul Food Shack, next to the East-West Cafe. When The News approached the owner, she sank heavily down into a seat. “Honey,” she said, “I’ve been talking all day.” We know without asking, though, that the fried chicken and mac and cheese at this place are seriously respected. So are MacKenzie’s Southern Meats, including Alabama smoked sausage, Liver Pudding and Fat Back. And Hog Head Cheese, which had to be tried. It’s really a meat, fatty and spicy, and goes great with German mustard on that White Eagle rye.
• Chateau Buffalo, which has its main outlet at the Niagara Frontier Food Terminal across from the Clinton/Bailey Market, has a Saturday kiosk near the middle of the Broadway Market with wines and hard cider. Ask about the Nouveau wine – the first made on the Niagara Frontier. And the Dancing Buffalo Cidre called “Promenade,” which sat ripening for two years. Sto Lat!
• A Halal market with a Bangladeshi owner has a wealth of Mediterranean items, a welcome addition. You can buy lamb, coconut oil, organic coconut, dried beans and lentils, olive oils, sesame seeds, chutneys, curry pastes, spices, etc. Gluten-free flours, too – rice flour, bean flour. And herbal teas. Our attention was directed to one that is supposed to fight your high cholesterol (presumably after scarfing down those Angel Wings you were going to take to the office).• Melanie’s Sweets, next to Potts Deli near Save-a-Lot, is a market mainstay. “Everyone wants to go down memory lane,” said owner Melanie Krygier-Lamastra. “This will take them there.” And they won’t leave hungry, not with Melanie’s cakes which, probably unique in the world, are decorated in dizzying, kitschy colors. Melanie has butter lambs, Crystal Beach suckers, four kinds of sponge candy, huge slabs of that chunky Charlie Chaplin, and Flying Saucers. (Popular in the spacey 1960s, they’re little wafers, with candies inside.) Anisette buttermilk sugar cookies are made on site according to an old family recipe. Melanie also sells butter lamb molds. Buy a butter lamb, you eat for a day, buy a butter lamb mold, you eat for life. “Start your own family tradition,” she said. “Tradition. Did you ever see that movie ‘Fiddler on the Roof’?”
• Lewandowski Produce has gleaming jars of local honey and jam that are a feast for the eyes. New this year is raw honey, with a bright, attractively grainy taste. Notice the wide variety of other items: sacks of onions and potatoes, raw peanuts, roasted peanuts, maple syrup, greens, rutabaga and herbs that owner Daria Parker grew in the Broadway Market’s roof garden.• Unless you’re vegetarian, Camellia Foods and Lupas Meats are a must. Both shops sell their own myriad varieties of Polish sausage, plus you can find Wardynski’s. There’s also Polish bacon: A Lupas butcher tells us that their low-sodium Polish bacon is so mild that you do not even have to cook it. Beyond things Polish, you can find soul food basics – turkey necks and wings, chicken livers, gizzards and feet.
The meat counters draw big crowds. How do you navigate things? We put that question to a Lupas butcher who loomed behind huge jars of Hans Jürgen pickles. “Pick a number,” he advised. “Then go across the street to the bar and come back.”
• Your last stop. The fish at Broadway Seafood is laid out, glistening, on ice, with no glass between you and it. Lean down and take a sniff. There are fillets of popular varieties, but the adventurous go for the whole fish – Jack fish, mullet, red snapper and shapely, tasty porgy. Prices are low. Select your fish and Broadway Seafood’s Asian proprietors prep it for you, to your specifications, while you wait.
Make a day of it
Before shopping or when you need a break, walk a block east and marvel at Corpus Christi Church.
After shopping or when you need a break, have a brewski on Gibson Street in the newly reopened Market Bar. Or cross Broadway for a Genny at the R&L Lounge on Mills Street. Brand-new Island Taste Cuisine, around the corner at 699 Fillmore Ave., has authentic Jamaican food. The oxtails are recommended.
Use the Easter season as an excuse to get to know the neighborhood. You might just want to come back.
Hours: Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday year-round (closed Easter). Special holiday hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 29; 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 2 (Holy Thursday) and April 3 (Good Friday) and 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 4 (Holy Saturday).
Events: There is daily entertainment through Easter, including pictures with the Easter Bunny. A Dyngus Day celebration is noon to 5 p.m. April 6.