Restaurateurs Ryan DiFranco and Isaac Domingue had their hands full this weekend, serving up Mexican street-style tacos to hungry Buffalonians, who were also in search of menu items ranging from carnitas to baja fish to chapulines (grasshoppers).
Me? I came in search of an eclectic mezcal selection, and that’s exactly what I found.
Upon walking in, I was greeted by the Domingue, who pointed to a couple of bar stools that were freeing up. So I grabbed a seat, and waited for Stuart Green, owner of Braymiller Market (just around the corner) to join me. I figured that Green would like to get familiar with one of the closest restaurants to his market.
As I waited, I had the pleasure of conversing with my bartender, Christina Winquist, who helped me navigate the mezcal and tequila selections. I knew that I had come to the right spot when I spied Flor Del Desierto sotol sitting on a shelf. Considering that I recently bought a bottle, I would pass it by this time, but it’s good to know that they have this coveted relative of the tequila and mezcal families. I ended up going with a sipping Santera Reposado (barrel aged tequila), which Christina recommended. I also highly recommend this delightful blend.
As I sipped my reposado, served in a traditional copita vessel, I observed the action that was unfolding around me. The bar was full, as were the tables. Not that this place is all that big – it’s a nice, manageable restaurant space that is perfect for a Mexican street-style food setting. DiFranco and Domingue have done a bangup job of creating a warm and vibrant haunt, which is visually stimulating and aesthetically appealing. I love the oversized windows, although it would be nice to have some better views than sprawling parking lots – when are we going to see some appropriate infill in this area?
Before long, Green was seated beside me. While I stuck with the ever-winding tequila and mezcal path, he opted to venture down the Mexican beer road. As we chatted about the market, the new restaurant, and the potential of the area, we were briefly joined by DiFranco and Domingue, who were looking to learn more about the wholesale nature of Green’s market. It was great to see the melding of minds, as they discussed the businesses, and the opportunities to create a better, stronger, and more vibrant downtown. It actually wouldn’t take that much, with a little effort directed towards connecting nearby destinations such as Larkinville, Canalside, etc. After all the home of Hombre y Lobo isn’t called ‘The Hub” for no reason. It’s centrally located, albeit with not much surrounding it. Can we get some developers onboard with pushing the parking lot infill needle already? I suppose that would entail parking lot owners to actually do something that benefits the city, instead of raking it over the coals.
Hombre y Lobo is a welcome addition to a downtown neighborhood that could certainly benefit from a business that is already creating a big buzz. Not only are DiFranco and Domingue super likable chaps, they are also putting out a great product that people are hungry for. For people who are in the mood for a cauliflower or braised beef street taco, rice and beans, Mexican street corn (elotes), shishitos, plantains, chicharrones, or churros, you’re in luck because the slogan of Hombre y Lobo serves it all, with zestful flavor.
Come spring, we can also look forward to a streetside patio, as well as a rooftop patio for special party reservations. Now that sounds pretty darn good to me. In the meantime, I’m excited to watch the snow fly, while trying out a few more of the eye-catching labels that were calling out to me. Salud!