The holiday season is a time of goodwill, appreciation, community… and if one is lucky, pure magic. This sentiment serves to describe the initial experience I had at a newly opened restaurant, tucked away in a sleepy part of Lovejoy.
La Verdad Café & Deli is a true delight in so many aspects of the word. This freshly renovated, former barber shop, is instantly so warm and welcoming as one enters – a space that customers can get excited about spending a bit of leisurely time in. From the bright streams of natural light beaming through the front windows, to the clean and tastefully decorated dining areas, to the soothing muted earth tones on the walls, with the uplifting religious Christmas music softly playing in the background, all senses are immediately heightened while settling into the warm daytime spot.
Though La Verdad was closing in less than a half an hour (by the time my friend and I arrived), one would never know it by the inviting welcome we received. We also came to find out that the staff was rushing to get ready for an offsite catering event, and again, they could not have been more accommodating, taking the time to acquaint us with the food, the menu, and their mission. This spoke volumes as to how they run the operation – my respect was instantly won over.
“Your Taste Matters” is La Verdad’s heartfelt message, which reflects the top notch food that they are putting out. The menu items are thoughtful, unique, hearty, and full of soul. Whether it’s the exquisite sixteen hour cherrywood smoked brisket, their succulent ribs, or their distinctive and mouthwatering jalapeño macaroni and cheese… even their refreshing take on standard slaw (with kale and apple)… La Verdad is putting out some superb fare.
Owner Vivian Gallon-Robinson has created a seriously satisfying array of offerings, and has commanded a devoted clientele in a relatively short period of time, only having opened in September. Customers come for her cheekily named sandwiches such as “The Stretch Mark,” “The Truth,” or “The Bigness” – featuring her signature items – brisket, Buffalo chicken, and pulled pork. Then there’s Vivian’s own take on a breakfast sandwich. There are also some daily specials – her chicken, ribs, and/or brisket combos are only available, at this point, on Fridays. Shrimp and grits are available on Saturdays. La Verdad also offers a rotation of smoothies, soups, salads, and various other sides such as smashed potatoes and baked beans. Apparently her homemade desserts are also highly coveted – we wouldn’t know because they were all sold out by the time we arrived. We also didn’t get a chance to try the bourbon sweet potatoes.
Now, I am not usually one to be so glowing about an eatery. However, there is something so different, special, and uplifting about what Vivian and her crew are doing over on East Lovejoy Street. Yes, the food is seriously good, but there is something else… something that is akin to a feeling… an energy. The La Verdad experience is more than expertly nuanced flavor profiles, or a sleight of hand in the kitchen. La Verdad is a story in the making – this is what any great café/deli should aspire to be.
La Verdad Café Deli | 1132 East Lovejoy Street | Buffalo, New York 14206 | (716) 768-3150 | Check Facebook for hours | Kid’s menu