West Side Bazaar in downtown Buffalo doesn’t look like much from the outside, but inside it’s a smörgåsbord of delicious international foods. A rotating selection of eight to ten stalls, all run by independent vendors (and sometimes their families), serve the cuisines of Ethiopia, Japan, Jamaica, China, Myanmar, Thailand, Pakistan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and beyond. It’s part of a terrific incubator project for emerging businesses.
From entrepreneur Maria del Carmen of Kiosko Latino, you can order mofongo with shrimp and pork rinds or hearty beef-stuffed pastelillos. From Zelalem Gemmeda of the long-running Abyssinia Ethiopian Cuisine, generous vegetarian injera platters. (For $14.99, two can stuff themselves like royalty on seasoned beets, split red lentils simmered in a spicy berbere sauce, kale slow-cooked with ginger and garlic, and five other dishes, not to mention enough tangy injera to wallpaper a kitchen.) From Boulivone Serixay of Gourmet Lao Foods, traditional sesame cookies molded into a lovely lotus shape. In the past, select Burmese vendors have cooked up unique Shan dishes, like rice noodles stir-fried with chicken, topped with roasted peanuts and bean sprouts, and combined with peppery cabbage soup, pickled mustard greens, and fried dried chilies. Perfection.
Beyond its popular food court, West Side Bazaar is also home to eight indie retailers—also part of the broader incubator. Gadget Bazaar was founded by Romala Rajendran, who specializes in jewelry, handicrafts, and Hindu paraphernalia from Sri Lanka. Macrame by Nadeen is run by Iraqi transplant Nadeen Yousef; her jam, as the name suggests, is macrame wall hangings, planters, and necklaces. Julienne Boutique, run by Rwanda native Julienne Nyiranjishi, is into African goods like hand-woven baskets, banana-stamped cards, and Namibian shawls. Gysma’s African Style, founded by South Sudanese entrepreneur Gysma Kueny, sells everything from Shea butter and black soap to cow horn jewelry. Truly, you won’t find a more diverse set of small businesses under a single roof in Western New York.
25 Grant St., Buffalo, NY; 716-464-6389.