BUFFALO, N.Y. — Zina Lipa has been working in the food industry for nearly a decade. With a degree in culinary arts and hospitality, you certainly get a sense of an intimate dinner when you walk into Casa Azul on 128 Genesee St in downtown Buffalo.

Lipa opened Casa Azul when she thought downtown Buffalo lacked an authentic Mexican restaurant.

"A lot of Tex-Mex styles can be found, but not authentic," Lipa said. 

You'll find traditional Mexican stables like tacos, guac and quesadillas on the Casa Azul menu. But you'll also find items with a little more flare to them. 

"Our guac has cricket brittle in it," Lipa told me. The befuddled look on my face led her to explain some more. "So we take dry-roasted crickets that we source from Mexico and we make a little like sugar candy out of them. So it adds a little sweetness to guacamole which is nice."

Their torta is a Mexican style sandwich on house-made bread with lettuce, tomato, marinated onion, avocado puree and choice of protein. If you're going all in and not caring about anything other than your desire to eat without worry then pick up a tostada, preferably the shrimp one if they're serving it. 

Guac with cricket brittle
Nate Benson, WGRZ

Tacos come in their typical varieties - chicken, pork, beef. But you'll also find a few gems like the tongue (don't knock it till you try it), birria (a ten-hour roasted goat) and the sweetbread which is crispy fried and tequila cured veal. 

The mole rojo used for their chicken enchilada uses 30 different ingredients and takes a whole day to put together.

Crickets for Brittle
Nate Benson, WGRZ

"So it's just really about making food from scratch using good ingredients and then putting our own little touches on things," Lipa said. "We want it to remain somewhat authentic Mexican, but we want it to be known that it's Casa Azul and I think when you look at our food, you can tell like it's from us."

You can learn more about the Casa Azul menu by checking out their website or Instagram.

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