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Marinaro’s Larkin Tavern

After a visit to Steelfest yesterday, my wife and I decided to track down a relatively obscure tavern not far from Larkinville. Although Marinaro’s Larkin Tavern has been around for a couple of years (formerly Sharkey’s), the bar/restaurant had eluded us until a friend texted me, asking if we had ever happened upon the place. Upon walking into the establishment, we were greeted by Maria Makowski, who, it turns out, is the granddaughter of Stan Makowski, a former Mayor of Buffalo.


Since the owners of the Larkin Tavern, brothers Chris and Jerry Marinaro, were not in, Maria took us under her wing to show us around the place. We were pleased as punch to be in the presence of Buffalo “royalty”, which made our stay at the tavern even more enjoyable.

As for the tavern itself, the place is a hybrid between an old saloon and a honky-tonk sports bar. Buffalo sports lovers will flip for this place. The back room is dedicated to the history of the Bills and the Sabres. Each wall boasts sports memorabilia ranging from autographed footballs to scarce trading cards. Even the bathroom walls pay homage to the history of Buffalo sports, in a fun and informative kind of way.


Aside from the sports aspect, the tavern also prides itself on live music that piggybacks off of the Live @ Larkin Wednesday concert series (8-11pm). The food offerings are also a huge hit with many of the office workers in the Larkin District who frequent the place for lunch, or for a bite after work. Maria told us that the most popular items on the menu were the burgers, the meatball submarine, the fish fry, and the mango barbecue wings. Other items that sounded pretty delicious included the fried bologna sandwich, the Mexican fries, and The Stallion (sausage patty topped with capicola, melted provolone and spicy hot pepper). Maria talked us into ordering a sampling of the wings, to prove how good the food was. The wings came out crispy (ordered that way) and flavorful, leaving us wondering what else we were missing out on.


While the wings were great, we had not come for the food due to eating earlier in the day – it was mid-day, and the lunch crowd had vacated and Maria was preparing for the early dinner crowd to roll in. More than anything else, we wanted to grab a couple of beers and shoot the s#@t about Buffalo. I was happy to see that the bar had a tap handle dedicated to Big Ditch, one of the city’s newest breweries, so I asked Maria to set me up with a cold one. It didn’t take long for Maria to open up about her love for the restaurant and the neighborhood. She grew up living between The Valley and the Old First Ward, and was excited to see so many positive changes underway. She was especially impressed with Pegula, and the prospect of landing a new stadium in that part of town. We talked about the happenings in Larkinville, and all of the development underway along the Buffalo River. Maria even told us that she was hoping to some day purchase a house of her own before the real estate prices begin to spike too high.


After downing a couple more beers, we felt right at home at Marinaro’s Larkin Tavern. Between the old Buffalo beer trays that lined the wall, the gorgeous wood bar and backbar, and all of the random aesthetic sports idiosyncrasies, there could not be a more Buffalo-esque bar in all of Buffalo. Larkin Tavern has great Buffalo food, plenty of local sports pride, local Buffalo brews (and some cheap dive beer selections too), and is located in the heart of an endearing blue-collar neighborhood.

This summer, I plan on adding Larkin Tavern to my bike destination check list. It’s close to the water and just off the South Park bike trail. These guys don’t just dabble in pub-style food, they excel in it. For a quick bite to eat and couple of beers, you just can’t beat this place.

Marinaro’s Larkin Tavern | 131 Van Rensselaer Street | Buffalo, New York | (716) 845-5400 | Facebook


Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette, and the Madd Tiki Winter Luau. Other projects: Navigetter.

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  • reggdunn

    Wow, this looks very cool. I had no idea it was so close to Larkinville. It’s an easy walk for all of the future tenants of lofts going in.

  • Cam33r4

    My brother works at Larkin and said this place is pretty good.  I’ve driven past it multiple times, but it looks really nice inside.  I’ll definitely be checking it out this summer.

  • BuffaloFenian

    Never heard of this place. Thanks for highlighting it with this article, I certainly plan to stop by after seeing how cool and comfortable it seems.

  • OldFirstWard

    Back in the Sharkey’s days, they used to run some pretty good football pools.  A good local hangout.

  • jim1234664

    Cool, looks like a nice spot.
    My hyper-vigilance is getting the best of me though… You’re no longer a vegetarian?

  • Rickyd0361

    We’ve been patronizing Marinaro’s since shortly after they opened 4 years ago and love the place.  They have a great menu, inexpensive drinks and a great crew.  You will not be disappointed.

  • KevinRyan1

    AWESOME FAMILY…They run a great restaurant and bar…Reasonable prices..great food and great service…Stop by soon…:)

  • RobertoBella

    I love Marinaro’s. I definitely recommend checking it out on Wed eves after Larkin Square ends. It’s usually pretty slamming.

  • Woods79

    My father, grandfather and I came in for Father’s Day lunch one year and for 20 bucks we got the fried bologna, and a round of beers. It was awesome. Great atmosphere, expanding beer selection, and live music. It has been my go- to post Shamrock Run party for a couple of years now as well. I knew Chris in High School and he is as great of a dude now as he was then. The kind of place you walk out of happy every time. Good honest food, and a fair price, served by good honest people, in a great spot. As a matter of fact, I think I may go in this week. Thanks for the reminder BR.

  • JerryMarinaro

    Thank You Buffalo Rising for the great review, and to all patrons who have helped us grow the last 4 yrs. Word of mouth is the best advertisement!!! We can’t wait to see all of our old and new friends in the upcoming months.  Stop in and ask for Chris or Jerry, Thanks again!!! Jerry Marinaro (marinaro’s Larkin Tavern)

  • Woods79 
    Fried bologna!?!  That brings back childhood memories (in a good way!).

  • Sabres00

    Really cool place on the inside, I was shocked when I went in. Good food and nice staff.

  • darrencp22

    Place is cash only – Of course they don’t tell you this until once you get the check. “Conveniently” there’s an ATM inside. Also the service is lousy here. Coworkers and I came here  recently and waited 40mins for food. When our food finally came the fish sandwiches were half cut fish fries because apparently they ran low on fish. The result was a smaller potion size than normal. It’ll be a while before we come back.

  • bufguy

    wcperspective Woods79 Also known as Irish steak

  • Woods79

    darrencp22 The “Cash Only” greeter girl must have been on her smoke break when you came.  Every time I go she is waiting outside pleasantly reminding everyone who walks in that it is cash only, like every other cash only joint in town.  Would the ATM be more convenient if it was outside?  Since you knew what a “normal” portion size was for the fish you must have been there before as a point of comparison, did you forget about the “cash only” deal, or are you just a silly person?

  • MTcomp


  • KevinRyan1

    darrencp22 There are cash only signs up all over the place…and i believe on the menu..HMMMM..

  • darrencp22

    MTcomp darrencp22 Our attitude was fine thank you. In fact we were quite patient given the circumstances. But I appreciate you knowing about our situation when you weren’t there. We have gotten the fish sandwich here before. This was not their typical fish sandwich. It was a single piece of fish fried, and then cut in half which was a smaller portion than normal. It was clearly an after thought because they ran out or somehow mixed orders. Would it be too much to acknowledge the issue? As for cards, of course they are not required to accept cards. Not sure where I said that, but thank you for misinterpreting. I merely take issue that it wasn’t obvious to any of  us that they were cash-only. I go to other places that are cash only frequently and there is usually a sign stating so, as it is not common to be cash-only in 2015. As for the service, is it asking much for as apology or acknowledgment when it takes 45mins to get food during a work week lunch? Seriously, they’re located in an area where they should expect a work crowd for lunch and need to provide prompt service to that customer base. I know this place having issues doesn’t fit the Buffalo Rising narrative, but these were real issues. Everything isn’t sunshine and pinwheels.

  • Sabres00

    darrencp22 Hey it sucks that you had a bad experience there, but how come you only commented on this article?  Are you new to the site?

  • JerryMarinaro

    Darren, thanks for taking the time to give a review, I believe i can address some of your concerns. 1) We are cash only, we have an ATM as a convenience to our customers that do not carry cash. We do not make any money on that machine, as im sure you know every small business that accepts credit passes the fees along to its customers and at this point we do not choose to do that. 2) All fish sandwiches are  a full fish cut in half, that is the way we have been doing it for 4 yrs and yours is our first complaint. 3) If you ever decide to come back and are in a hurry for lunch, I would suggest coming at 11:30 before the noon rush. 4) As far as our service goes, i guess it depends on whats the most important thing to you. If you want to be greeted by a friendly server and staff who will bend over backwards to insure you are treated like family, by all means come back and introduce yourself to me. If you want to get your lunch in 5 minutes head to your nearest drive through at Mcdonalds. Thank you for patronizing our establishment I hope you will stop in soon. Sincerely , Jerry Marinaro

  • darrencp22

    So to be clear, there’s no middle ground between 5 minutes and 45? This is your answer? Also, to be clear, your place was not busy and it was 11:30ish. Also, you are lying about the fish. My coworkers and I have ordered the fish multiple times. Our last visit was the FIRST time it was served that way in such a small portion size. As far as bending over backwards, I can assure you there was none of that. The waitress was neither fantastic or terrible but she certainly didn’t apologize for the wait. To be fair, we’ve visited three times (four of us) in the past 3 months. 2 of the visits I was relatively pleased. Of the group I’m the one who has brought the team back, mostly because you’re the best option around Larkin, for better or worse. Also, your food is good. Two of my coworkers would give you much more negative feedback than I have. However, your poor response to criticism will likely keep me away. I won’t be visiting McDonalds anytime soon,but I assure you it won’t be your place either.

  • JerryMarinaro

    darrencp22 Darren, if you were at our place multiple times how is it possible that you did not know we were cash only? We handle and respond to criticism quite properly, but we will also correct misinformation from patrons who quite honestly have no idea what they are talking about. Our fish sandwich has been, and will continue to be prepared as a half fish, just as it has been since we have opened! Have you ever been preparing fish in our kitchen because you seem to think you are an authority on something you have never done. It is perfectly fine to have a negative review about a place, but to decide that you know how are food is prepared, and to call me a liar is not something I will stand for. In your first post you made it seem as if you were never at our establishment, and were shocked that we were cash only. Now you say you have been there several times, either way YOU ARE THE LIAR! Take your business wherever you like, and remember to look for the credit card sign in the window, or carry some cash.

  • Sabres00

    JerryMarinaro darrencp22 is a troll, he only has 5 posts, and they’re all about your establishment.  To all of us who have been there, you’re doing a great job, you can’t please everyone, especially someone who obviously has an agenda.

  • Sabres00

    darrencp22 So if you were pleased by two visits, how come you just signed up for an account to rant about the bad experience?

  • darrencp22

    Sabres00 darrencp22 It really wasn’t a long sign up process. It took about 15 seconds. I’m not into commenting on news articles this is why you don’t see much from me. Why did I comment? That morning my coworkers and I were talking about our recent experience and then saw the article on Buffalo Rising. It was ironic so I commented. I have a full thorough review in a more appropriate place.

  • darrencp22

    JerryMarinaro darrencp22  You’ll find a full detailed review elsewhere where I fully expand upon my multiple experiences and the sequence of events. I welcome your full feedback there. I’m not writing a long review with every detail on Buffalo Rising. It’s not a restaurant review platform. You’ll also find that I’ve incorporated your inability to accept constructive feedback from customers. Good day.

  • darrencp22

    Sabres00 JerryMarinaro darrencp22 I have no agenda. I’ve done over 221 restaurant reviews and I give far more positive feedback than negative. If you think I’m a troll, then fine. I don’t know you. You don’t know me. But when I read an article that’s all unicorns and leprechauns I’m going to share my experience to the contrary. The owner had two options – Take it constructively or be defensive. He chose to be defensive. Owners who run their business in that manner fail. It would be very unfortunate because the food is good, and they provide a much needed sit down option in an area with limited competition. Best of luck and I hope you learn to take future feedback more constructively.

  • Sabres00

    darrencp22 JerryMarinaro I checked Yelp and saw that your review was the only negative one and it was posted today, maybe you should have just did that first place instead of signing on BRO to do that.