Creating a restaurant in the street is a minor miracle of modern refrigeration and can-do attitude.
At 2018's Taste of Buffalo, a daring bunch of restaurateurs braved the challenges to take their flavors to the masses thronging Delaware Avenue.
There's more than 200 tastes on offer. After getting my chance to graze, here's what stood out.
Best in show: Guajillo roasted hog taco, Sear (8 tickets, 4 tickets)
Tender shreds of sweet, roasted pork steeped in dank chile sauce, moistened with mojo made from roasting liquids, orange juice, cilantro and red onion, hit with tomatillo sauce and lime-cumin crema. A steal at $2 a pop.
Best meat: beef on weck pierogi, Ru's Pierogi (4 tickets)
Another "not your babcia's pierogi" offering from Andy Ruszczyk that cleverly remakes the Buffalo tavern standard into a two-bite wonder. This pasta pocket gets stuffed with tender beef, deep-fried, then hit with horseradish cream, dill pickle chip and caraway sprinkle.
Honorable mention: Mineo & Sapio Street Eats chorizo po boy, Schnitzel rouladen, Saigon Café chicken sate, Caribbean Experience jerk chicken.
Best seafood: Summer roll with shrimp, Saigon Café (6 tickets)
A cool, crunchy salad roll inside translucent rice paper, with a pair of perfectly poached shrimp backed up with fresh herbs, bean sprouts, cucumber and rice pasta. Doctor up the proffered peanut sauce with crushed roasted peanuts and spicy sambal oelek chile paste to taste.
Honorable mention: Patina 250 tuna poke with pineapple, Sear lobster mac and cheese, Flaming Fish shrimp po boy.
Best vegetarian: Southwestern quinoa salad, Clarence Center Coffee Co. & Café (7 tickets)
Quinoa ensembles tend to suffer from blandness, but this offering showed the supergrain at its nutty best. It's joined by pleasantly chewy wheat berries, wild rice and red peppers in a light vinaigrette and jazzed up with herbed mayonnaise, all waiting to be scooped up with tortilla chips. Skip the mayo and it's a light vegan meal.
Honorable mention: Osteria 166 risotto stick, Patina 250 Buffalo cauliflower, India Gate chana masala.
Best sweet: Fried peanut butter and jelly, Stack Burger (8 tickets, 4 tickets)
It came correct, crispy and dripping with sweetness. I swiped it through the preposterously right peanut butter sauce, loganberry drizzle and grape whipped cream, took a bite, and I knew two things. Eating this more than once a year would kill me. And there was nowhere I would rather be than right here, right now.
Honorable mention: Sweet Melody's Red, White and Blue sundae, Chrusciki Bakery blueberry cheese pierogi, Rolling Cannoli sponge candy caramel cannoli.
Best fruit: Watermelon gazpacho, Souped Up (7 tickets)
A refreshing bolt of melon sweetness with lots of crunchy texture from diced watermelon, tomato and just enough onion and herbs to keep things interesting.
Honorable mention: BW's Barbecue grilled pineapple.
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