At the table / VilaVerde Café
Small, stylish, and vegan on the West Side
The grilled Marguerita panino sandwich is made with tomato, vegan mozzarella, basil, and olive oil.
Photos by Eric Frick
388 Porter Ave, Buffalo, NY 14201
(716) 464-3455 or vilaverde.co
Not long after the opening of Root & Bloom, Buffalo’s see-and-be-seen vegan hotspot that burst onto the Buffalo scene last year, another 100 percent plant-based cafe opened nearby, at the site of the old Morning Glory near D’Youville College. Called VilaVerde, the cafe aims to be as green as its name, espousing the sustainable, eco-friendly nature of an all-plant diet as well as the health benefits.
Largely a coffee shop, with notably strong espresso drinks, VilaVerde sells sandwiches, soup, salads, and bakery items. Most entrees range from six to nine dollars but regulars will tell you the extra three for twelve dollar sandwiches such as the “fish” or the “cheeseburger” is well worth the expense.
Lattes, cappuccino, and tea au lait can all be made with oat, almond, or coconut milk and a selection of flavor syrups—including vanilla, mocha, and maple. On my visits, I stuck to an espresso shot, which was perfectly pulled and bracingly, appropriately bitter.
Sea & Tomato with Spicy Mayo, the vegan version of a traditional fried fish sandwich, is remarkably similar to the original; golden, flaky, and crunchy with just the right amount of seafood flavor.
On my first visit to VilaVerde, a friend and I both tried the Sea & Tomato with Spicy Mayo, the vegan version of a traditional fried fish sandwich, served with kettle chips and a small green salad. We couldn’t believe how similar to a fried fish fillet sandwich it was: golden, flaky, crunchy and just the right amount of salty, with a distinctive seafood flavor.
On another visit, I tried the grilled Marguerita panino sandwich, made with tomato, vegan mozzarella, basil, and olive oil. While the vegan mozzarella does not taste exactly like a cheese made with animal products, it grills up crispy and delicious in its own way.
“Cheeseburger” on a gluten-free roll
The cafe also serves toast with avocado or hummus, and the spicy “chorizo” employed in several sandwich options comes highly recommended, as does a traditional Portuguese potato and kale soup, served with bruschetta. Gluten-free options abound—a colleague swears by the “cheeseburger” on a gluten-free roll—and gluten-free bagels, doughnuts, and biscotti are on the menu.
Avocado or hummus toast can be augmented with vegan sides. Spartan but stylish, the space boasts a handful of small tables.
Spartan but stylish, the space boasts a handful of small tables, a glass bakery case, distinctive lighting fixtures and a dark-with-white accents color scheme, as well as uptempo instrumental music. The owner, Pedro Manuel, started his Buffalo career as a furniture designer and the aesthetic of a design professional is evident throughout. Manuel does much of the cooking, coffee-making, and service on his own, usually with one other employee on duty. Given such a small space, service does not suffer and is fairly timely, even during the lunch rush.
In addition to offering animal welfare- and eco-friendly choices, VilaVerde is a great spot to grab lunch or a coffee regardless of your dietary goals and a welcome addition to this section of the West Side.