Nightlife in Buffalo: Best Bars, Clubs, & More

Buffalo, NY at night

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Buffalo has a lively nightlife scene, with a few main streets where bars and clubs are clustered, making for easy hopping. Chippewa Street downtown has lots of clubs and some more upscale bars; Allen Street in Allentown (north of downtown) has a mix of dive bars and cocktails bars, plus some great live music venues; in Elmwood Village on Elmwood Avenue there are a few college bars, sports bar, and pubs and several hipster spots; and if you are in North Buffalo there’s Hertel Avenue, which is a bit more low key but can get crowded on weekends. An important part of nightlife in Buffalo is the late-night food stop and there are several restaurants slinging bar eats like wings and nachos.

Bars

The bar scene in Buffalo is eclectic, boisterous, and always a good time. Whether you’re on the hunt for the perfect dive bar, a spot with vast whiskey or beer selection, or are more drawn to the rooftop and craft cocktail scene, Buffalo provides a wide-ranging bar culture. From taverns to pubs and from breweries to gay bars, Buffalo’s bars have something for everyone.

Check out some of these bars for a well-made artisanal cocktail or a few rounds of drinks before a night of clubbing:

  • Founding Fathers: This classic presidential-themed pub has portraits of past presidents, presidential flags, and other memorabilia. Owner Mike Driscoll, a former social studies teacher, leads trivia nights once a month.
  • Billy Club: Located in trendy Allentown, this trendy restaurant and whiskey bar excels in craft cocktails.
  • Ballyhoo: This bar and restaurant excels in classic cocktails like a Sazerac, Singapore sling, and Penicillin. There’s also a lengthy beer list and a solid wine menu.
  • The Old Pink: Called the Pink by locals, the outside of this legendary dive bar is painted purple with snowy clouds and green flames, while the inside is dimly lit with uneven floors. The Pink is filled with rowdy patrons, especially after 2 a.m. when things really pick up. Don’t expect anything fancy and ask for the steak sandwich if you get hungry (there’s no menu though).
  • Cathode Ray: In the heart of Allentown, Cathode Ray has been one of Buffalo’s best gay bars for 25 years.
  • Thin Man Brewery: This Elmwood Village taproom has a beer list more than 20 deep, with their homemade brews ranging from IPAs to fruity sours. Pair your drafts with bar bites like nachos and wings.
  • Lucky Day Whiskey Bar: Located inside the historic Masonic Lodge downtown, Lucky Day Whiskey Bar has a whiskey library wall of more than 500 bottles.

Nightclubs

Queen City’s nightclubs stay open until 4 a.m. and the action typically surrounds West Chippewa in the heart of downtown. With gay bars, dance clubs, and sleek rooftop venues with bottle service waiting, Buffalo’s nightclub scene is hopping.

  • SkyBar: For epic city views on an open-air rooftop, SkyBar delivers. Reserve a VIP cabana to enjoy the electronic music and artisanal cocktails or get out on the dance floor.
  • Club Marcella: This rollicking nightclub has Buffalo’s best drag performances and some of the best dance music in the city. Their special events like Curtain Up Main Street drag show, black/white parties, and black-out parties are always worth checking out.
  • Lift Nightclub: This sleepy nightclub downtown has all the classic club offerings, like VIP bottle service, a Liquid Motion dance floor, and DJs spinning songs that can’t help but get you moving.
  • Venu Buffalo: Venu is a bi-level, neon-lit downtown club with energetic patrons enjoying the live bands and DJs as they sip cocktails and hit the dance floor.

Late-Night Restaurants

Figuring out where to grab a late-night snack or meal after a few drinks is just as important as the imbibing in Buffalo. After all, the birthplace of Buffalo wings (here they’re just wings) has bar food on lock. These spots are sure to satisfy your late-night cravings.

  • Smokey Bones: If you’re craving barbecue at midnight, Smokey Bones has you covered. From smoked wings to a 12-ounce pork porterhouse, you’ll definitely be satisfied with a late-night run here.
  • Gabriel’s Gate: This old-school joint in Allentown has some of the city’s best wings and they serve them until the wee hours of the morning.
  • Jim’s Steakout: There’s nothing like a gigantic steak hoagie at 5 a.m. to settle your stomach after a long night out.
  • Lenox Grill: Hidden below the Lenox Hotel, this late-night hangout is popular with servers getting off work who like to order the mac and cheese or a perfectly cooked burger with fries.
  • Mothers: Mothers is one of the best restaurants in the city and it happens to stay open until 3 in the morning, ensuring that even late-night parties can get a quality meal.

Live Music

Buffalo is actually a major hub for live music, even though it may not be as well known for music as NYC or Seattle. Live music pours out of almost every bar on weekends, and there are multiple acclaimed indoor venues drawing big-name and indie bands. Places like the Town Ballroom attract national acts, while smaller venues like Mr. Goodbar are known for hosting indie and local bands.

  • Nietzche’s: This quirky bar has live music most nights and brings a little bit of Brooklyn to Buffalo.
  • Town Ballroom: This legendary venue inside a restored 1940s theater has hosted some of the country’s best musicians, from Frank Sinatra to the Pretenders to Rakim. If you’re into rock'n'roll, this is the place to be.
  • Asbury Hall at Babeville: This stunning refurbished music hall inside a multi-use 19th-century gothic revival-style church was saved from destruction by singer-songwriters Ani DiFranco and Scot Fisher. It has incredible acoustics and provides a moody backdrop for bands like Sleater-Kinney, Sufjan Stevens, St. Vincent, and other indie rock bands. Also in the same building are the Ninth Ward basement bar and Hallaells Contemporary Arts Center.
  • Mr. Goodbar: This Elmwood Village bi-level space has been around since 1968, hosting live music and comedy nights while serving craft beer and classic bar bites. It hosts national and local bands.

Comedy Clubs

A handful of comedy clubs can be found in Buffalo, offering stand-up and improv from locals and a few national comedians on tour.

  • Helium Comedy Club: Buffalo’s main comedy club hosts national comedians like Kevin Hart and T.J. Miller as well as local and regional stand-up acts who serve as openers. The intimate space lets you get up close to the jokes and there’s also food and drinks on offer.
  • Rob’s Comedy Playhouse: This is western New York’s longest-running comedy club owned and operated by comedians, shows are just $12.

Tips for Going Out in Buffalo

  • The Metro Rail and busses run all night in Buffalo, although less frequently after midnight. Ubers and Lyfts are available as well.
  • The availability of Ubers, taxis, or rideshare
  • Bars in Buffalo can stay open until 4 a.m., and many do.
  • Most bars don’t have cover charges but some night clubs and venues do
  • Open-containers are illegal in Buffalo, although in nearby East Aurora it’s allowed.
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