When checking out the Taste of Orchard Park on July 24, the eating approach is dependent on where you're coming from.
For residents of the village of OP, who will say, "I've been going to Ilio DiPaolo's for 30 years!" the biggest opportunity will be trying the food-and-drink offerings from outside the area. Restaurants from Blasdell, Hamburg, West Seneca and even Amherst will be in attendance, although the majority are located in or very close to Orchard Park.
For the wider Buffalo area audience that might think, "Well, this should give me a pleasant sampling of an unfamiliar neighborhood, which is far more efficient than eight separate visits and more than $400 on dinners," there are abundant staples of Orchard Park cuisine, from buzzy recent additions to standbys such as Eckl's and the Mansard.
The Taste of Orchard Park runs from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. July 24 at Four Corners, the intersection of West Quaker and North Buffalo streets. It's free to attend, but the food is for purchase. See the full festival menu.
Below are five items worth considering, and none of them repeats from last year's suggestions (all of which are still valid aside from Duke's Donuts).
Cannoli cone ($4.50) at Kaylena Marie's Bakery, booths 19 and 21.
Brick-and-mortar restaurant: 4236 N. Buffalo St.
Why: The profile of Kaylena Marie's Bakery has continued to skyrocket since we wrote about the bakery 16 months ago; even Bills quarterback Josh Allen paid a visit. The cinnamon buns remain a must-try. The cannoli cones, introduced by owner Kaylena Eisenhauer this spring, can be traced back to her great-great-grandmother, who hailed from Naples, Italy.
The main draw is housemade cannoli filling that can be "eaten like ice cream," Eisenhauer said. Three varieties will be available at the Taste: traditional, sponge candy and fresh berries.
Mini beef on weck ($7) from Eckl's Restaurant, booth 64.
Brick-and-mortar restaurant: 4936 Ellicott Road, Orchard Park and 703 Seneca St. in Larkin District.
Why: With the recent addition of a second location in the Larkin Center of Commerce, Eckl's footprint – and reputation for elite beef on wecks – has grown considerably.
For a one-night festival, it's reasonable to think that Eckl's can maintain a restaurant-quality beef on weck to meet demand, even without its elaborate indoor carving station. In his 2017 restaurant review, News food editor Andrew Galarneau lavished high praise on Eckl's rendition of the Buffalo staple. "If I had grown up eating at Eckl's, I would no doubt defend [the beef on weck] against all comers." Well then.
Lamb pops ($6 for two) from the Mansard Fine Drink & Eatery, booth 67.
Brick-and-mortar restaurant: 3365 Abbott Road
Why: The Mansard, run by Steve and Sherri Molisani for almost half a century, is amid an interesting transition period. New owners Becky and Mike Morgan didn't enter with a desire to make sweeping changes. In fact, they were commended by the previous owners for their respect for the OP landmark's history. The Mansard's lamb pops are an upscale festival food and manageable to eat on the move thanks to their natural handle. Sold as an appetizer at the restaurant for $16, the lamb for the pops will be prepared sous vide in advance, then pan-roasted on site and served with a mint pesto.
Organic lavender lemonade ($5) from Green Eats Kitchen & Juice Bar, booth 52.
Brick-and-mortar restaurant: 6445 W. Quaker St.
Why: While it might be tough to stomach spending $5 on a lemonade, know the cold-pressed juices and other healthy beverages are Green Eats' specialty. Lavender has been hot for a while given its calming nature (and now, with a serious lavender farm nearby, it will just get hotter), and fresh-squeezed lemonade is hard work. Good luck finding a more refreshing nonalcoholic drink at the Taste.
Green Eats has been open only since 2017, and its bright, healthy and natural approach is a nice fit for those seeking to improve their diets.
Chubby Bun or a cupcake ($3, $2.50 respectively) from Chubby Chix Cakery, booth K in Princeton Place.
Brick-and-mortar restaurant: 5037 Lake Ave.
Why: Try hard to not smile when saying this dessert purveyor's name. Impossible! While Chubby Chix owner Kimmi Fisher has been on summer break since July 14, she'll take part in the Taste in the special Princeton Place section and roll out an assortment of cookies and fan-favorite cupcake flavors: pink lemonade, chocolate salted caramel and cherry almond.
Chubby Buns, a take-and-go item at the cakery, are gooey cinnamon rolls topped with maple cream cheese that are as decadent as they sound. Chubby Chix Facebook page – and images, specifically – are a sight to behold.
Classics to consider
• Italian sausage cacciatore ($5) from Ilio DiPaolo's, booth 28.
• Pizza from Cappelli's Pizza ($3), booth 43.
• Buffalo wing soup ($2, $4, $6) from Danny's South, booth 22.
• Potato latkes ($4.50) from Homegrown Bistro, booth 42.
• Freak Shake ($7) from Main Street Ice Cream, booth 48.
• Salmon poke bowl ($6.50) from Wegmans, booth 68.