If the building didn’t have a tiny, square sign identifying itself, you would swear you were driving by a normal apartment dwelling, with its nondescript stoop and bench helping it to blend into the neighborhood. So once you make your way over the Erie Canal just past downtown Lockport, slow down and take notice of the Pleasant Valley Tavern.
Lovingly known by the regulars as PVT, the neighborhood pub has been family-run for more than 30 years. Once inside, it’s clear to see that the crowd is mostly regulars who are treated like part of the family. Open since 1984, the owners even boast on their website, “Some of our customers have literally been coming here for decades.”
Entering from the back parking lot, my friends and I found a decent crowd for a Tuesday night. The bartenders and waitresses welcomed one of our friends – a regular – but they also were very kind and attentive to us newbies. The lengthy bar and dining room were festively decorated to mark the nearest holiday. Bright lights, dangling garlands, large flags – the works.
The clientele was varied in age and attire, but everyone appeared comfortable and looked as if they belonged. Older couples having dinner. Younger couples enjoying a drink at the bar. Friends gathering for happy hour after work.
The bar featured several draft beers including Sam Adams Boston Lager, Sam Adams Seasonal (spring was on tap – thank goodness winter is gone), Killian’s Irish Red, Guinness, Labatt Blue and Bud Light. We were happy to see Niagara Landing wines featured, as we like local businesses featured in other local business. To mix up your favorite cocktails, the usual bottles lined the shelves behind the bar, all lit from behind.
It’s not all sports in this bar. On the contrary, while one television to the far left behind the bar featured baseball earlier in the evening and hockey later, the other two entertained with “Twister,” followed by “Married at First Sight.” This is a bar that truly understands that not everybody is into sports. While I’m more hockey than reality TV, I see the entertainment in watching noncelebrities do ridiculous things for fame, and the entertainment value only multiplied with each sip of Guinness.
Entertainment isn’t limited to the boob tube and the Internet jukebox. Several Fridays and Saturdays per month feature local bands or karaoke.
The restaurant menu is extensive with huge burgers, sandwiches, hot dinners and fish fry Fridays with a Guinness beer batter. If you arrive outside meal service times, enjoy anytime munchies, including 50-cent wings, clams casino and other fried favorites. Customer appreciation Sundays bring 40-cent wings and $2 cans and well drinks.
Word of warning while navigating the bar area to the restrooms: There’s a stair, and even before you have had a few, it’s easy to miss. Twice I had stumble-and-recovery moments, but I’m proud to report no falls. And if you have to race to the ladies room, make sure to dodge the automatic teller machine in the middle of the hallway.
Pleasant Valley Tavern is a hidden gem in the City of Lockport, but once you find it, you’ll make sure to return. Whether you live down the street or a few towns over, the food, fun and future friendships are worth the trip.
Pleasant Valley Tavern
Where: 167 Van Buren St., Lockport (433-3326, pleasantvalleytavern.com).
Hours: Opens at noon daily, closes at 2 a.m. Sunday to Thursday and 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Dress code: You’ll feel most comfortable in your own style, so come as you are, whether you’re sporting your team attire, dressed down for a jeans day or glitzed up in the day’s holiday spirit.
Parking: Large lot and street.
Wheelchair accessible: No.
Extras: Cash only. Lunch served from noon to 2 p.m. daily, dinner served from 4 to 9 p.m. (reservations or walk-ins), sandwiches and bar food any time, takeout available, ATM and free Wi-Fi.