Balance out the Allentown cool factor with a divey steak sandwich.
As national exposure goes, The Old Pink is undoubtedly Buffalo’s signature dive bar, a timeless institution founded in 1968 often cited as one of the top dive bars in the country, let alone upstate New York. Though it may not be obvious to expect a renowned steak sandwich from a dimly lit, thumbprint of a grill behind the bar, the Buffalo delicacy is one of many divey characteristics that helps The Old Pink Buffalo earn its reputation.
Located in Buffalo’s Allentown neighborhood, the building that houses The Old Pink has been part of the Brinkworth family since 1968. Rental agreements and management regimes have shifted over the years, including a stint in 1983 when Mark Supples rented out the space to open a dive bar of his own called the Pink Flamingo. In 1991, the Pink Flamingo shifted locations, moving a few blocks away, creating the “Old Pink” and “New Pink” distinction that eventually stuck as the Allen Street location’s permanent name. Thought the bar is officially named Allen Street Bar & Grill, The Old Pink name persists.
Today, The Old Pink Buffalo is overseen by owner Molly Brinkworth, continuing the tradition of family ownership of the space. Molly has had the unique distinction of struggling with the city of Buffalo over The Old Pink’s paint job, long a signature of the Buffalo dive bar. The design of The Old Pink exterior has shifted over the years, from the depiction a Buffalo cityscape at one point to today’s flame-tinged, purple design. In 2022, the city of Buffalo cited the structure under a graffiti ordinance, requesting that certain aspects of the flame & snowflake design be covered up. A quick repainting of the front building, leaving the flames and snowflakes intact elsewhere along the structure allayed the city’s concerns.
Chief export of The Old Pink is its steak sandwich, an item the Buffalo dive bar famously makes little profit from but is usually among the first food items recommended to city visitors. The cut of steak used is premium not just by dive bar standards but by any standards, the sandwich’s sales one of the components that kept The Old Pink afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bartender on duty is also the resident chef, meaning busy hours can sometimes cause a steak sandwich backup on the grill, but those patient enough are rewarded with an above dive bar-grade meal available late night.
Outside, a small patio can sometimes resemble a bus stop, the crammed quarters outfitted with a pair of benches and not much else. A black painted buffalo cutout hangs above the shingled front door that leads to a profoundly dark space, tinged with red light emanating from a handful of caged red bulbs that line the ceiling. Amenities here are sparse, in true dive bar fashion, a long bar lining one wall supported by a few bar stools and precious little else. The bar counter looks 1968 original, the space behind the bar crammed with bottles, a wide cooler and the steak sandwich-producing grill.
Along the pillars that dot the space, the wall opposite the bar and pockets throughout The Old Pink Buffalo, intense sticker coverage can be found, matched with a little graffiti here and there. A framed art print of Elvis anchors the end of the bar closest to the front window that while spacious seems to let in precious little light. A handful of small benches can be found ringing The Old Pink, most of the space cleared out to make room for the late night crowds that tend to fill the Buffalo dive bar.
The lone carveout that does exist off of The Old Pink’s main space is a small pool room complete with updated flooring and long bench. Rather than a pool light, red lamps hang from the ceiling over the pool table because why mess with the space’s red glow. An ATM can be found within The Old Pink because the dive bar is naturally cash only and aside from a few sets of string lights and a pair of electronic dart boards, few other amenities exist here. The Old Pink is a committed and authentic dive bar, a space designed for steak sandwich-fueled drinking and not much else.