Turn on your peripheral vision
Class hasn't even begun yet, but maybe you need a break.
You've been bombarded with pamphlets of every highlighter-color and a class schedule that you can barely decode. You've endured endless trips to and from your car trying to pack everything into your new cubicle of a home.
Fortunately though, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You've happened to land on a campus that has so many cool things to discover, all accessible via public transportation, bike, or foot.
Take South Campus, for instance. Once you get past the endless frat parties and never-ending treks back to the drunk bus, you'll soon realize that this campus has much to offer.
Amy's Place, for example, is a great little diner that makes you feel right at home. Forget stuffy restaurants with food that's been micro waved and served on a hot plate. This little gem offers great vegetarian and vegan options, as well as choices for the meat lover at reasonable prices.
Here's my tip: order anything with lentils followed by one of their chocolate chip cookies.
While we're on the topic of diners, Falafel Bar is a new addition to the South Campus scene. It's hard to miss in its easy-to-spot location on Main Street, directly across from the campus. This Mediterranean place is sure to become one of your favorites after the first visit.
Whatever you do, don't leave Buffalo without having a milk shake from either Lake Effect Diner of Parkside. If you haven't heard about them already, consider this your wake-up call. It may be one of the most fulfilling ways to gain your freshman-fifteen in style. Lake Effect offers a two-for-Tuesday special and Parkside delivers a larger shake from an old-style chocolate shop. Either way, you can't go wrong.
For a slightly more expensive meal, check out Shango. This restaurant specializes in New Orleans cuisine and boasts a wine bar, making it a great date option.
For the academic in all of us, check out the Main Street Talking Leaves bookstore. You may have to stop there anyway to pick up some books for class, but don't let that be your only encounter with this quaint bookstore. With a unique collection of literature that either isn't available or is lost in the masses of books at other stores, you're certain to find something that strikes your fancy.
For those times that you're hurrying and need to pick up a quick lunch, latte, or toothbrush, don't neglect University Plaza. Fully decked with a Starbucks, Tops Market, banks, McDonalds, New York style pizza place and a dollar store, it's a great place to make a quick stop when you just don't have the time to waste.
What description of South Campus would be complete without mentioning the bar scene? It's definitely more convenient than heading down to Chippewa, Elmwood, or Allen deep in the heart of the city every weekend. Cab rides are much cheaper and you're likely to run into a lot of other University at Buffalo students.
The Steer is a hometown favorite and a great place to congregate, have a couple drinks, play some darts or pool, or relax at the upstairs outside bar. If you want to be near the social scene, this is your best bet. Mojos and Northside right across the street usually blare hip-hop music and are packed beyond capacity every weekend.
"Flip Night" at Third Base is also a favorite among Buffalonians: flip a coin, call it correctly, and get your drink for free. It's a great option for those of us whose parents only believe in Campus Cash and are otherwise pretty strapped when it comes to loose change. That is, as long as you're feeling lucky.
After a night of drunken escapades, when your stomach starts to grumble, University Hots on Main Street near Winspear is the place to go. Featuring infamous college garbage plate, delicious grilled cheese, burgers, sandwiches and basically a whole smorgasbord of incredible drunk food, any hungry stomach leaves happy. The best part? They accept Campus Cash.
North Campus has its vicinal perks, too. Although Moes and Jamba Juice make even the most selective of us hesitant to leave, there are a couple spots worth the short trip.
Natalie's is a great little place just down Millersport past Sheridan that hosts great Mediterranean and American cuisine. Everything is homemade, including the soups that change daily.
Up and down Maple Road you'll find some places worth checking out. Keep in mind that the Stampede does make periodical trips to Wegmans and the Boulevard Mall, so even the most transportation-challenged of us can make it there with little to no difficulty.
Kyoto is a great place to get some sushi or a hibachi-style dinner. Coldstone Creamery opened up this past year on Maple and, hands-down, can beat any other location in terms of variety and creativity.
Friendly's and Fuddruckers are right at the corner of Sweet Home and Maple and are a good, albeit slightly less creative, option for a lunch off-campus. Fuddruckers features college nights on Mondays after 5 p.m. For just $5.37 you can get a build-it-yourself burger, bottomless fries and a drink. There's a Wednesday special, too.
You may find yourself at the Denny's on Maple right by the Boulevard Mall on more than one late-night occasion. Luckily, it's relatively clean and they accept Campus Cash, so by all means, bon appétit.
Slightly further away, but worth exploring, is Niagara Falls Boulevard. Just one exit off the I-290 west from UB, you'll find a plaza with Chipotle, Barnes and Noble, Target, Starbucks, Carabbas, Best Buy, Cheeburger Cheeburger and many other stores. It's close, convenient, and a very valid option when the Commons eateries just aren't cutting it for you anymore.
Don't get bogged down with all the new demands of campus life. Buffalo has some of the best food in the country, so indulge, take a breath, slow your stride, and don't be afraid to go out and explore your new home. It's certainly worth taking a look.
Check out the map on pages 10 and 11 to see how close all of these places are.
Questions? Comments? Have a better idea?