With all the thrilling things happening in Western New York all year, you will never run out of things to do. From the Taste of Buffalo which is the largest two-day food festival in the United States, Art Festivals, Garden Walks, and the National Buffalo Wing Festival, to free outdoor concerts and ethnic food celebrations, our night life and festivals bring visitors to our area from all over the world.
Speaking of night life, last call in Buffalo bars is 4 a.m. and I’ve closed my share of bars over the years. Yes, Western New Yorkers know a thing or two about having a good time. From old-school working man corner bars, to casinos and live music, Buffalonians party from dusk to dawn.
We also have sports teams. There is a sport for everyone in Buffalo, including football , hockey, and baseball. We even have the Buffalo Bandits, a professional lacrosse team. A win by any one of our pro teams is cause for celebration.
Cities struggle for their own identification, and often point to their growing food experience and talented chefs. But people are probably not coming to Buffalo for the avant-garde takes on American food. I never did understand “small plates” anyway, where you get just a little food for an exorbitant price and have to stop at Mighty Taco on your way home for dinner.
That’s not to say there aren’t many great new restaurants here. It’s just that when you are in Buffalo, eat what Buffalo does best. Even when the fashionable food writers come into town, they don’t necessarily want to go to those new, innovative restaurants. For the most part they want to go to places that serve our local favorites.
That’s fine with me because nothing says Buffalo to me like beef on weck, chicken wings, and grease filled, cup and char pepperoni pizza – the best comfort food in America. Many restaurants here are quite happy to just serve these regional hits. Things that they just don’t do right elsewhere.
Locals debate who serves the best wings until the bars all close, but Duff’s seems to be the number one pick. Then again, who can forget the Anchor Bar, the birthplace of what the rest of the world calls “Buffalo wings.” This is what passes for a tourist trap in Buffalo.
When every American city begins to seem the same, when Boston looks like Dallas looks like Chicago, Buffalo feels one hundred percent like Buffalo. It doesn’t have sky scrapers but it does have grain silos and every block has corner taverns that stay open until 4 in the morning.
You’ll find nightspots to party at all over the Nickel City, whether it’s Elmwood Avenue and Hertel Avenue, or the Chippewa Entertainment District right in downtown Buffalo. Dance the night away at many of the local clubs like the Club Marcella, 67 West, and Bottoms Up in Buffalo, or The Vault and Nfusion Night Club in Niagara Falls.
The night air in Buffalo smells like Cheerios. This is something residents won’t tell you. The General Mills plant gives off the aroma of freshly baked cereal 24/7. This makes the whole city smell like a combination of mom’s kitchen and a Dunkin’ Donuts, which adds to the Buffalo’s homey, welcoming feel.
To comprehend why Western New York is such a great area to live in, you need to know where it came from. It is situated on one of the world’s greatest inland waterways and as such it brought great wealth with it. Today, 70 years after its populace hit its highest point, Buffalo still has the Albright-Knox art gallery, the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, many churches and world-class architecture from Frederick Law Olmsted and Frank Lloyd Wright.
The people here are real, hardworking folks. They’ve repurposed beautiful old architecture without any hint of pretentiousness. They party harder, eat much better, and make many more new buddies in one weekend than most other places in the country. This is truly one of the best areas to live in.
Recently Buffalo has been called upon to produce new opportunities. Instead of endeavoring to attract old industries back into town, Buffalo has looked into technology and life sciences to boost itself. When young workers come here to find jobs, they find affordable housing and a rich cultural diversity, along with plenty of parties and festivals. Not a week goes by without several options to get turnt.
Buffalo has witnessed a 10% uptick in residents aged 18-34. This is one of the largest rates in the country. And these new, young residents have modified many of the great things about old Buffalo.
At The Old Pink, a sticky-floored, graffiti-walled, cheap beer watering hole, located in Allentown, one can find a a slice – a perspective of everything that’s awesome about Buffalo. Here you will find college kids tossing back tallboys next to senior citizens. In Buffalo, friendliness means pouring shots at 1:45am and saying, “In Buffalo, this is how we get the party started.”
“Going out in Buffalo between 3 and 4am is one of the most unique drinking experiences in America. Crazy things that can happen,” says city planner Chris Hawley. “The best nights in Buffalo are the ones you don’t remember.”
Make as many jokes about Buffalo as you want, and there have been many… but the people here know they’re living in an amazing place, at a the right time. Spend a few days here, and you’ll quickly come to understand why.