Larkinville, the neighborhood surrounding one of the city's earliest business districts, was reportedly home to more than 85 retail businesses during its heyday at the turn of the 20th century. It was the place to be, until it wasn't – business evaporated and buildings fell into disrepair.
But with the Zemsky family's Larkin Development Company at the helm of the neighborhood's redevelopment, long-vacant storefronts and dilapidated historic buildings have been renovated and occupied with an influx of office tenants, boutiques, breweries and residents.
Visitors can play a game of pickleball or bask in the sun on a candy-colored lawn chair at the neighborhood's piazza, Larkin Square (745 Seneca St.). Larkin Square hosts many events over the summer, such as Food Truck Tuesdays, a Wednesday music series, literary talks and artisan markets, so keep an eye on its calendar. Here are some ideas on how to spend time in Larkinville or where to stop for a quick visit before events.
People are also reading…
Try a breakfast spot
For those who don't mind a wait and crave one of the most beloved breakfasts in the Buffalo area, swing by Swan Street Diner (700 Swan St.), where eggs Benedict and French toast are served inside a restored vintage dining car that dates back to 1937.
For something more grab and-go, stop by Toasted (799 Seneca St.), where you can expect a nutritious and creative breakfast served on toast and wash it down with a smoothie, coffee or tea.
Kornerstone Cafe & Juice Bar (701 Seneca St.) also offers healthy breakfast and lunch classics, juices, smoothies and coffee. Paula's Donuts (872 Seneca St.), is a nearly 30-year old Buffalo staple known for its sizable and dense doughnuts.
Dip in and out of shops while breakfast settles, beginning with bkind city (871 Seneca St.). Owner Katie Monacelli started her athleisure brand, bkind city, as a pop-up at local events before choosing Larkinville as her first brick and-mortar location late last year. She lives above the shop, where she also hosts wellness events and outdoor yoga.
"(Larkinville) is definitely a destination," Monacelli said. "They're starting to really fill in the gaps so that it isn't this disjointed street."
The Lounge Shop (799 Seneca St.), brought its Buffalo-branded loungewear to Larkinville in November. In the same building, Blue Table Chocolates makes artisan truffles in flavors such as cherry sesame and Mexican hot chocolate (and offers free samples). Make your way to Winkler & Samuels (500 Seneca St.) for some organic wine hand-picked by a certified sommelier. Daniel Grosenbaugh, who owns the wine shop with his wife, Melissa Winkler, said they've seen the neighborhood grow over the last six years.
"This part of the city is experiencing a rebirth, and it's really wonderful," Grosenbaugh said.
Grab a drink
Beer is abundant in Larkinville. Begin at Flying Bison Brewing Company (840 Seneca St.) for craft beer and live music. Head to Buffalo Distilling Co. (860 Seneca St.) for a cocktail made with one of its own One Foot Cock spirits. Across the street at Magic Bear Beer Cellar (799 Seneca St.), enjoy an international beer while perusing the art gallery that is its craft beer selection.
The tour continues at Belt Line Brewery (545 Swan St.) which offers an awning-covered patio, and Buffalo Brewing Co. (314Myrtle Ave.) where beers come with a side of history. End the afternoon at the new Sad Boys Brewing (567 Exchange St.), the "saddest brewery" around (their words). Owner John O'Neill chose the neighborhood for its dense brewery landscape.
"There's so much collaboration within the community," O'Neill said. "Plus, cheap rent."
Nondrinkers can have a funky fermented drink on a shady patio at Big Norwegian Kombucha, slightly hidden within the 500 Seneca building, but accessible through a courtyard entrance on Myrtle Avenue.
Soak it up with a bite
For a casual dinner of brick-oven pizza, relished under twinkle lights on a patio that feels like a party on a summer night, visit Hydraulic Hearth (716 Swan St.). Stop by the nearby Damar Hamlin mural by Buffalo News cartoonist Adam Zyglis at 740 Seneca St. beforehand. Enjoy a dinner of steak, pasta or a Larkin beef on weck sandwich at Eckl's (703 Seneca St.). The Toutant team brought its Southern comfort food to Larkinville in Compass Run (500 Seneca St.), where diners can get a taste of Louisiana in their seafood, chicken fried steak and roasted poblano mac and cheese.
The Plating Society (799 Seneca St.) is a unique and exclusive dining option, where you rent the space for private dinners, brunches and cooking classes. On a recent Saturday evening, one couple had the whole restaurant to themselves for a private six-course dinner prepared by Chef Darian Bryan.
Bryan also announced plans recently for a new restaurant, Bratts Hill, a spot for both upscale Jamaican dining and authentic Jamaican takeout, in the former Filling Station in the heart of Larkinville.
Larkin Square and the Larkinville neighborhood host multiple single-day and ongoing summer events. Here's a quick look at some of what's coming soon.
• Family Fun Day, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 20 in Larkin Square, with free family programming from the Valley Community Center.
• The 10th anniversary season of Food Truck Tuesday runs 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays from June 6 to Aug. 29 (except July 4).
• The weekly music series Live at Larkin returns with concerts 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays from June 7 to Aug. 30 (except July 26).
• Larkinville Day of Fitness is in Larkin Square from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 3. It starts a season of healthy activities at 10 a.m. Saturdays and 6 p.m. Mondays.
• Chef Darian Bryan's Jamaican Market, 4 to 8 p.m. July 22 in Larkin Square.