This post was updated April, 2018
With warmer temperatures upon us and the summer season right around the corner, the desire to spend quality time dining and drinking outdoors with family, friends, and significant others intensifies over the next few months. While munching and sipping on sidewalk seating is swell and Western New York has a plethora of fabulous outdoor patios to do just that, why not up the ante at one of these rooftop bars, some of which feature restaurant-style seating for your dining and drinking pleasure?
Ranging in cuisine and style, Western New York’s open-air bar scene has something to offer for everyone. From cityscape views to classic cocktails to appealing appetizers, the special features that cannot be duplicated indoors make these six establishments truly unique destinations.
Go ahead and eat, drink, and be merry as you visit one (or all) of these rooftop bars based in Western New York:
MANGIA RISTORANTE & CAFFÉ
Neighborhood: Orchard Park (South Towns)
4264 North Buffalo Road / SOB LISTING
Located at the “Four Corners” intersection in the heart of the Village of Orchard Park’s central business district, Mangia’s recent expansion saw the creation of a seasonal eating and drinking space that offers a unique view of the evening sky. The rooftop deck features a full-service bar and plenty of room to stretch out and relax on comfortable outdoor lounge furniture.
There are planters packed with colorful flowers that help to set the mood as well as other decorative plants located near the bar area. There are no bar stools as their approach to customer service is for servers to bring drinks to you, although standing alongside the bar to chat with the “mixologist” on duty is also an option.
Just like their spacious dining room downstairs the rooftop menu features plenty of delectable choices that are served on white rectangle-shaped plates. No plastic or paper napkins either; all of their meals are served with real silverware and black linen napkins.
I recommend an order of chicken sliders and a plate of toasted ravioli to go with your drink of choice as you observe the flames coming from their decorative fire pits, yet another nice touch that helps set the mood on a summer evening.
SOHO BURGER BAR
Neighborhood: Chippewa (Downtown)
64 West Chippewa Street / SOB LISTING
One of the trendier places to visit if you’re dining and/or drinking any evening in downtown Buffalo, Soho Burger Bar is known to many not only for their extensive food and drink menus but also for the establishment’s sleek modern décor.
Their rooftop bar features about a dozen tables for dining and additional room for those who prefer to stand to gather and converse while sipping on their favorite beverages. The atmosphere is always festive and there is something special in the air as you overlook Buffalo’s Chippewa Entertainment District.
While some may think Soho is just another drinking establishment on “The Chip Strip,” I highly suggest you come here with an appetite and strongly consider ordering a milkshake (with or without booze), truffle tater tots, and any one of their mouth-watering cheeseburgers.
Neighborhood: Chippewa (Downtown)
257 Franklin Street
Located on top of D’Arcy McGee’s Irish Pub, Sky Bar is open on Friday and Saturday nights throughout the summer months. One word describes the view of downtown Buffalo and beyond – breathtaking. Another place where you want to see and be seen, there’s a energetic vibe in the air when the weather is warm and Skybar is open for business.
Sky Bar is a favorite hangout spot for my friends who live in the city thanks to their reasonably priced drinks which aren’t hiked up tremendously like you’d find at certain establishments with rooftop bars in New York City, Philadelphia, or Miami. The drinks are also “regular sized” aka each beverage is served in glassware and carefully prepared, not quickly and carelessly poured into a flimsy plastic glass like some other bars. A visit here is a nice way to follow up a meal downstairs at D’Arcy McGee’s, the Chophouse, or any number of restaurants within walking distance.
The customer service is always top-notch, from the folks making your drinks to the security guards on duty who make sure everyone is having an enjoyable experience at what has become a must-visit summer destination. It should be noted that there’s a strictly-enforce dress code and you may be asked to produce photo identification prior to entering.
THE STEER RESTAURANT & SALOON
Neighborhood: University Heights (North Buffalo)
3151 Main Street / SOB LISTING
A North Buffalo landmark for four decades, The Steer has changed over the years with the goal of making itself more open, warm, and inviting. The entire rooftop bar is a fun space filled with character and charm. There’s a warm, pleasant “campfire scent” that provides you with a sense of relaxation and a sense of friendliness that not every bar can offer to their patrons.
There are too many palate-pleasing appetizers offered for me to recommend one single plate and their nearly two dozen draft beers on tap are a wide enough variety that even the finickiest beer drinker will find something to please them.
Long gone are the days of the rowdy college students hanging out downstairs as The Steer’s clientele has become a bit more mature than the traditional frat boys from years past. These days on Friday and Saturday evenings at the rooftop bar you’ll find affordable drinks served with that longtime friendly Steer charm, without the drunk barely-legals crushing beer cans on each other’s heads.
Neighborhood: Business District (Downtown)
338 Ellicott Street / SOB LISTING
Truly spectacular views can be enjoyed from Tappo’s rooftop terrace that some may say say rival the views from the top of any bar or restaurant in any major U.S. city. You really have to see it for yourself to truly understand the natural beauty of the Queen City.
The folks at Tappo embrace the fact they have a great space and do everything they can to make sure their patrons enjoy every moment that they are there. Kudos to their team for strategically laying out the area to best utilize their space instead of just plopping a table here and a few bar stools there. They put thought into it and it shows.
In addition to a great view they serve classic Italian food with superb customer service at affordable prices. If you can find a few good friends who have a few hours to spend enjoying the view, a pleasant summer evening awaits you.
VUE ROOFTOP LOUNGE @ CURTISS HOTEL
210 Franklin Street, Buffalo
The view will literally make you forget you’re in Buffalo- it’s absolutely stunning (and HUGE). FYI-casual upscale dress code is required- so be prepared to look your best for this breathtaking dining experience. You’ll want to get there at night when the buildings surrounding the rooftop are lit up, and the fire outside is flaming with warmth. Enjoy a delicious cocktail, beer or glass of wine from any of the not one, but three (!!!) different bars. But make sure you eat beforehand, because they don’t have a kitchen *yet*!