As we froth and foam over the latest cocktail bar or brewpub, the people who sling drinks at those places are more likely to head to a corner bar for their chance to unwind.
My editor suggested asking local bartenders for their most underrated bars in Buffalo, and I suspected a few of them might say their local dive. What I didn’t expect is a lot of them suggested the divey-est of dives – the places you’ve driven by millions of times and either told yourself you’d like to stop in some time, or said you would never set foot in there. Either way – you never do.
Here are a few bars where you’re most likely to run into the service industry crowd trying to drink away all that stress you put them through (in no particular order).
1. Casey’s Tavern
484 Amherst St., Buffalo
Recommended by: Vera, Keith Raimondi (Dapper Goose), Cory Muscato (Lockhouse)
There’s a bar like Casey’s Tavern in every town across America. Drop ceiling? Check. Signage with both corporate macrobrews and the local sports teams on them? Check. A mysterious smell? Check. And like those other bars in those other towns, it’s the people that make Casey’s so unique.
“Casey’s is reliable and friendly,” Lockhouse Distillery’s Corey Muscato told me over email. “You may go in not knowing anyone but by the end you’ll all be singing Whitney Houston together arm in arm.”
“I don’t know how Buffalo feels about Casey’s but we love it!” added the Dapper Goose Facebook operator, possibly Keith Raimondi. “We love Casey’s because they have always treated us like family. It’s great to go get a drink after work, even better when that drink is with good friends.”
In addition to great vibz, rumor has it Casey’s also has a killer fish fry on Fridays.
2. Winfield’s Pub
1213 Ridge Rd., Lackawanna
Recommended by: Cory Muscato (Lockhouse)
If it’s more refined food and drink you’re after, not drunken camaraderie, Winfield’s Pub in South Buffalo might be a better option than Casey’s.
“This little gem is widely known by the immediate area locals but the secret hasn’t seemed to get out yet,” Muscato said.
The South Buffalo gastropub has been getting some press lately for its contemporary menu. Shared plates at Winfield’s have included fish tacos and duck poutine, while the large plates have included a short rib noodle bowl and pan-seared pork chop.
To be fair, Winfield’s isn’t a dive, but it is underrated and I’ll bet you’ve driven by it countless times. Next time, pull over and stop in, the inside is a whole different story.
3. O’Daniels Gin Mill and Grill
1305 Abbott Road, Lackawanna
Recommended by: Thomas Daulton (Winfield’s Pub)
“I stop at O’Daniels on Abbott Road a couple times a week on my way home to South Buffalo,” Daulton, the bar manager at Winfield’s told me over Facebook messenger. “It’s an old school wing and draft beer kind of place but they have a great dinner menu and always have good specials. It’s the only place I go to get wings, as their house made hot sauce is through the roof good.
“We share a ton of regulars with them at Winfields and our staff members have all become friends. Proud to have a great restaurant and bar around the corner from my own.”
4. Frizzy’s Bar and Grill
140 Allen St., Buffalo
Recommended by: Billy Club
When Billy Club’s Facebook Page operator, possibly Jake Strawser, recommended Frizzy’s, it was with a caveat that I totally agreed with:
“It gets a bad rep for being filled on Fridays and Saturdays with young idiots,” I was told. “Sunday to Thursday it’s on the calmer side and a perfect place for an after work beer and shot (or ten.)”
If you haven’t been to Frizzy’s you probably haven’t been to Allentown in the past 20 years. The seminal bar has everything you’d want – pool, darts, a good beer selection and a solid jukebox. However, it can be a shit show on the weekends. Also, you should avoid getting on Frizzy’s bad side.
5. Crabapples Micro Brew Pub
3298 Genesee St, Buffalo
Recommended by: Aro de Tapas (bar staff)
Located on the fringes of the East Side, Crabapples is the type of place that really should be more popular than it is. Over Facebook, Aro Bar de Tapas told me that “most of the good and great bars around here are pretty well known for what they do well, especially the cocktail bars.
“Crabapples is an exception because it doesn’t get a lot of local hype, but has a quality-focused beer and cider selection.”
In addition to having microbrews, local beers, cult-favorite Belgian beers and Spanish ciders, Crabapples also serves craft meads – something that’s hard to find outside of the Village Beer Merchant.
With dive bar décor and no food menu, Crabapples truly is a brew nerd’s paradise.
6. Lenox Grill
140 North St, Buffalo
Recommended by: Savoy, Nathan West (Kyoto, Hot Mama’s Canteen)
The entrance to the Lenox Grill sits just a few steps below the North Street sidewalk, making it one of Buffalo’s few bars situated below ground level and a particularly cozy spot for bartenders looking to unwind.
The Lenox has more to offer than just subterranean ambiance. It’s got great food, a massive beer selection, food/drink specials and the great bartenders.