BY NORBERT RUG
With all the thrilling things happening in Western New York all year, you will never run out of things to here. From the Taste of Buffalo which is the largest two-day food festival in the United States, Art Festivals, Garden Walks the National Buffalo Wing Festival to free outdoor music concerts and ethnic food festivals, our nightlife and festivals bring visitors to our area from all over the world. The last call in Buffalo bars is 4 a.m. and I’ve closed a few myself. Yes, Western New Yorkers know a thing or two about having a good time. From old-school working man, corner bars too, casinos and live music, Western New York parties from dusk to dawn.
We also have sports teams. There is a sport for everyone in Buffalo from Football to hockey to Baseball. We even have the Buffalo Bandits, a professional lacrosse team and a win by any one of them is cause for celebration.
Cities struggle for their own identity and often point to their growing food experience and talented chefs. But people are probably not coming to Western New York for the avant-garde of American food. I never did understand “small plates” anyway, where you get just a little food for an exorbitant price and have to stop at Mighty Taco on your way home for dinner.
That’s not to say there aren’t many great new restaurants here. It’s just that when you are in Western New York, eat what Western New York does best. Even when the fashionable food writers come into town, they don’t want to go to those new, innovative restaurants. They want to go to places that serve our local favorites.
That’s fine with me because nothing says Western New York to me like beef on weck, chicken wings and grease filled, Pepperoni cup, pizza, the best comfort food in America. Restaurants here are quite happy to just serve these regional hits. Things that they just don’t do right elsewhere.
Locals debate who serves the best wings until the bars all close, but Duff’s seems to be the number one pick. But who can forget the Anchor Bar, the birthplace of what the rest of the world calls “Buffalo wings.” This is what passes for a tourist trap in Buffalo
When every American city begins to seem the same, when Boston looks like Dallas looks like Chicago, Western New York feels one hundred percent like Western New York. It doesn’t have skyscrapers but it does have grain silos and every block has corner taverns that stay open until 4 in the morning.
You’ll find nightspots to party at all over the Nickle City, from Elmwood Avenue and Hertel Avenue to the Chippewa Entertainment District right in downtown Buffalo. Dance the night away at many of the local clubs like the Club Marcella, 67 West, Bottoms Up in Buffalo and The Vault or Nfusion Night Club in Niagara Falls.
To comprehend why Western New York is such a great area to live in, you need to know where it came from. It is situated on one of the world’s greatest inland waterways and as such, it brought great wealth with it. Today, 70 years after its populace has hit it’s highest point, Western New York still has the Albright-Knox art gallery, the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, Many churches and world-class architecture from Frederick Law Olmsted and Frank Lloyd Wright.
The people here are real, hardworking folks. They’ve repurposed beautiful old architecture without any hint of pretentiousness. They party harder, eat much better and make many more new buddies in one weekend than any other place in the country. This is truly the best area to live in.
Recently Western New York is being called upon to produce new opportunities. Instead of endeavoring to attract old industries back into town, Western New York has looked into technology and life sciences to boost itself. When young workers came here to find jobs, they found affordable housing and rich cultural diversity parties and Festivals. Not a week goes by without several options to get burnt, one that is lit.
Buffalo has witnessed an uptick in residents aged 18-34 of over 10%. This is one of the largest rates in the country. And these new, young residents have modified the great things about old Buffalo and have turned Western New York into a hard-partying museum of this area’s industrial past.
At The Old Pink, a sticky-floored, graffiti-walled, cheap beer watering hole, located in Allentown there is a view of everything that’s awesome about Buffalo. Here you will find college kids tossing back tallboys next to senior citizens. No one ever worries about what you do. In Buffalo, friendliness means pouring you shots of Jägermeister at 1:45 and telling you, “In Buffalo, this is how we get the party started.”
“Going out in Buffalo between 3 and 4am is one of the most unique drinking experiences in America. Crazy things that can happen,” says city planner Chris Hawley “The best nights in Buffalo are the ones you don’t remember.”
Make as many jokes about Western New York as you want, and there have been many but the people here know they’re living in an amazing place. Spend a little time here, and you’ll understand it, too.