Go North for Christmas
by Buck Quigley
If you’re looking to cross a bunch of gifts off your shopping list this season, you should take a stroll down Hertel. This north Buffalo avenue which hosts the wildly popular Italian Festival every summer is packed with shops, markets, restaurants and bars—kind of like a mall, if malls overwhelmingly featured cool, local businesses and boasted a picturesque and convenient urban charm.
The stretch from Delaware to Main is less than two miles long, but if you start out in the middle, say, between Colvin and Starin and head in either direction you’ll be in window-shopping heaven. Do you have a friend who still reads books? You remember, those things with all those pages you turn by hand? If so, visit the cozy little Second Reader Book Shop (1419 Hertel), which is full of quality used reads. Or, if you know someone who is addicted to mystery and detective works, along with spy novels and true crime, pay a visit to the Bloody Candle Mystery Bookshop. This new little specialty bookstore is located approximately 10 steps south of Hertel at 100 Commonwealth Avenue.
Hertel is rich with shops catering to the home. There’s ROOM (1400 Hertel), where you can check out a wide variety of hip, contemporary furniture. Or, pick up a stylish wooden iPhone holder that looks like a little radio and functions as a speaker ($40)—a solution for anybody looking to keep things uncluttered. Also check out Essential Home Decor (1478 Hertel), a newer shop that features some fun retro designed furniture and accessories. If you want to guarantee that your gift will be unique, you can’t miss visiting an antique store. On Hertel, you can take your pick: The Antique Lamp Co. (1213 Hertel), Buffalo Antiques & Quality Furniture (1539 Hertel).
There are all kinds of clothing shops to choose from—from colorful tie-dyes, silk sarongs and warm mittens at Terrapin Station (1172 Hertel), to hip urban men’s clothes, ties, socks, bags and accessories at Blue Collar (1382 Hertel). Adjoining Blue Collar is Modern Nostalgia, which features equally spiffy women’s clothing and accessories like a sweet little wool hat that’ll give her that nouveau-flapper look.
When you get hungry—as you will, walking past all the many varieties of restaurants Hertel boasts—you can stop for anything from pizza at Bob & John’s La Hacienda (1545 Hertel), La Pizza Club (1511 Hertel) or Romeo and Juliet’s Bakery Cafe (1292 Hertel). If a sandwich is your bag, don’t cheat yourself by passing over Marco’s Italian Deli (1744 Hertel); and Joe’s Deli, located in the former home of the venerable Mastman’s Deli (1322 Hertel). The Lone Star Fajita Grill (1855 Hertel) still dishes out authentic Tex-Mex fare, and for a more upscale experience have a fine dinner at Ristorante Lombardo (1198 Hertel).
If you’re thirsty, there are plenty of places to stop in for a cold beer or something stronger to take the chill off at any number of bars located on the bustling Hertel strip: Shadow Lounge (1504 Hertel), Gecko’s Bar and Grille (1464 Hertel), Gabel’s Lounge & Restaurant (1285 Hertel), Checkers (1854 Hertel) or the Sterling Place Tavern (1487 Hertel)—just a few of those to choose from. Visit the Village Beer Merchant (1535 Hertel) if you’d like to take home some fine craft beer to enjoy while you wrap presents.
This is just a small sample of the great shops you can visit as you stroll this happening avenue, and soak up the ambience of a venerable old Buffalo neighborhood. For more holiday shopping suggestions, visit www.hertel-ave.com.
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