Don't blink or you'll miss your five hour window here.
To include Buffalo Bar & Grille on a dive bar tour of Buffalo requires a bit of planning thanks to the bar’s notoriously narrow opening hours, but the reward is a community-first vibe thanks to the neighbors and regulars assembled for the sole purpose of maximizing the time available inside. Open only one day a week, Friday, for a grand total of five hours (4 PM to 9 PM), Buffalo Bar & Grille is almost a dive bar pop-up in its own space along Louisiana Street in Buffalo’s Old First Ward.
Little commercial activity can be found anywhere near Buffalo Bar & Grille thanks to its semi-remote location in one of Buffalo’s oldest neighborhoods. The white structure fits in seamlessly with the small homes that populate the bar’s surroundings, a blazing red door the eye catching exterior feature under a simple sign depicting the name of the bar in block letters. Not to be missed is the bar’s logo on each of the two windows framing the front door, a woman in a red dress clutching a bouquet of roses while riding a buffalo.
Inside, the long narrow structure is divided into a pair of rooms, the main space filled with a curved, short bar that will no doubt be crammed with locals for the duration of the bar’s opening hours. The blinds here are typically shut, but rather than the typical dim dive bar interior, Buffalo Bar & Grille is aggressively illuminated thanks to a few overhead lights and movie theater-style bulbs that ring the ceiling.
Aside from the long mirror that runs along the wall opposite the bar, every other square inch of wall space is covered with some sort of photo or piece of art. Many of the decorations serve as tribute to the city of Buffalo, from old pictures of Buffalo City Hall to more modern art pieces depicting the city’s skyline. Of course, no dive bar is complete without the odd trophy perched above the proceedings and Buffalo Bar & Grille certainly does not disappoint. Unique is the framed “Buffalo Bartender Hall of Fame” that can be found nestled among the divey décor.
Living up to the Buffalo dive bar’s slogan “for the famous and famished,” a small kitchen area can be found wedged behind the bar in the main room. The menu is simple but accompanied by highly positive reviews focused largely on the chicken wings and steak fries among the limited set of options that also includes a hamburger and steak sandwich. Owner John Hofmann typically mans the bar, the grill and everything else during the five hour-span when the Buffalo dive bar jumps to life.
Through a secondary seating room, the unexpectedly spacious back patio can be found, a covered plot populated with dozens of plush, padded lawn-style furniture sets. A fan moves air under the tent above during the summer months and space heaters are deployed when the Buffalo winter accommodates, extending the usability of what is an underrated Buffalo patio space.
Maybe most importantly, the crowd attracted by Buffalo Bar & Grille clearly consists of long-time visitors reconnection with old friends on a weekly basis. Even a first time visitor like this reviewer could easily tell that the community here was interconnected, the focused opening hours of Buffalo Bar & Grille offering the perfect weekly forum to build and strengthen friendships. Hofmann has been known to open up the Buffalo dive bar on the occasional Saturday or during neighborhood events, so be sure to call ahead on any non-Friday.