In 1888, some recent immigrants set up a market at 999 Broadway so they could enjoy the food cultures they had grown up with, and buy what they needed to bring home cooking to their new neighborhoods.
Many of the Broadway Market’s customers have moved on. New neighbors moved in. From Iraq, Bangladesh, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere, families put down roots on the East Side.
Four years ago, Buffalo Fresh opened at 1018 Broadway, aiming to become a sort of Broadway Market for the newest Buffalonians. Abdulhafed Abdulla, born in Yemen but more lately of Arab-American capital Dearborn, Mich., turned a former Rite-Aid into a diverse market that goes far beyond soup to nuts.
It’s of interest to a much broader cross-section of the Buffalo population, though. People looking for rare seasonal produce like green almonds, bargain sheep’s milk cheese, fresh lamb and freekeh, roasted green wheat, have all turned up at 1018 Broadway.
People are also reading…
Here’s some of the sections I’ve directed people to most often:
Immediately to the left of the entrance is about six sorts of pita bread. On the right is a sweets counter, where syrup-soaked cakes and various forms of baklava are available by the pound. The baklava comes from Dearborn, and is better than the New Jersey stuff.
Weekend resupplies usually include kunafeh, which clads salty cheese with shredded phyllo, to be baked until oozy inside and crispy golden outside. It’s a family-scale dessert the size of a small pizza, and comes with sachets of syrup for drizzling once it emerges crackling hot.
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Fresh vegetables and herbs
Sure, tomatoes, onions and cucumbers. But also vegetables and herbs that some Buffalonians crave, like the Turkish fellow who found his prized green almonds there. (Eaten plain with salt, as a snack. Who knew?)
More vegetables I’ve found in season at Buffalo Fresh that I Didn’t Even Know Were Things: fresh chickpeas, fresh yellow dates, fresh pistachios in rosy shells. Sure, I knew fresh fava pods and grape leaves existed, but never before had I seen them on a shelf. Jujubes? Thought that was just a candy, before some light Googling. Often when sold out elsewhere: bunches of fresh dill.
Caveat shopper: The full extent of the fresh offerings might not be restocked until 11 a.m. or so.
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Jarred and boxed groceries
If you want to know how many cultures are shopping at Buffalo Fresh, take a minute to count how many sorts of olives it sells: brined, cured, marinated in chile, lemon, spices, even grilled. In pickles, Lebanese pickled wild cucumbers are one shelf above Iraqi pickled mango, brilliant yellow with turmeric.
Most cultures have their equivalent of Twizzlers, Ho-Hos and Oreos, and many are here, along with a dozen kinds of rosewater and three kinds of rose jam. Coffee, tea, biscuits, instant noodles – all the essentials are here, and a vast array of frozen food in lockers that run the building's length.
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Halal meat counter
Goat is the most popular red meat on the planet, and the contest isn’t close. Round these parts, goat is usually found frozen, or at halal counters in Middle Eastern groceries. Buffalo Fresh’s butchers will get you a pound, or a leg, making it a favorite for restaurant cooks who just need enough for a rare goat curry.
They also offer veal and chicken. As befitting a shop following Islamic dietary practice, there is no pork on the premises. Shop across the street for that.
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When the feta-and-tomato-bake craze ran its course through social media last year, some folks made Buffalo Fresh’s acquaintance solely for its solid pricing for Bulgarian sheep’s milk cheese in brine. The refrigerated spaces of Buffalo Fresh hold scores of expressions of the cheesemaker’s art, from Bulgaria, to Syria, to Turkey and points in between.
Lebanese lebaneh, Turkish kaymak, Bulgarian kashkaval, braided Armenian string cheese and the characteristic black-nigella-seed-flavored cheese of Nablus are all here for purchase.
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More than food
Clothing like abaya robes, rugs for prayer or living room purposes, decorative vases, tea sets in many price ranges, Middle eastern perfumes, incense and henna are also in stock.
If you want to buy a tagine, the cone-lidded earthenware braising vessel, you can get a decent unglazed one at Buffalo Fresh for about half what Amazon.com vendors ask. If you're looking for a voluminous mortar and pestle, same deal.
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