Scarf-draped soccer fans. Dirty South burritos. Craft draft boards for hop-hungry millennials.
This is the new normal for Hertel Avenue, an area that once catered solely to its surrounding North Buffalo contingent or former neighbors who had since fled to the Northtowns. It’s now a diversified and heavily trafficked expanse known more for new occupants like Lloyd Taco and Revolver Records than the Italian bakeries or barbers that once ruled its blocks; and has steadily become a destination for those looking for an alternative to Elmwood Village.
But one of the main reasons the urban section was ripe for its recent enhancements is because of its already stable base of storefronts, bars and restaurants. Those looking for a taste of one of these longtime favorites should find a seat inside The Wellington Pub, standing as the Hertel stretch’s sports bar standard since 1984.
Whether in its compact barroom or its Union Jack-adorned front and rear dining room, fans of the Bills, Sabres or Yankees will find in-game action within classic confines, indicative of cozy neighborhood slings that once lined every Buffalo commercial district. But classic doesn’t mean old or outdated. It means comfortable, catering expertly to patron necessities while celebrating the spot for what it is—and not trying to be what it’s not.
The locale serves up domestic pitchers, depending on the day, for the throwback price of $5 per. It slides popcorn in front of its guests, boasts killer burgers and offers singles and doubles of some of Buffalo’s sneakily best wings. And though it now boasts a renewed emerald exterior and 14 taps to accommodate the city’s craft draft tooth, it’s still the type of joint you patronize if you absolutely need to watch a game on one of the bar’s eight televisions and actually care about the fabric of the neighborhood.
The Wellington was dealing its Friday fish fry before Manchester United matches brought new boozers down the block. It was running Quick Draw numbers before cyclists were crunching on tricked-out nachos; and its patrons were trading rounds of Canadian before beer geeks were lauding the almighty arrival of juicy IPAs.
It stands in the shadow of an ever-developing neighborhood — but every Buffalo neighborhood of note needs a dependable sports bar. Thankfully, Hertel has one in the Wellington.
1541 Hertel Ave. (833-9899, wellingtonpub.com)
When: Open daily, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Why: To appreciate a North Buffalo fan favorite amid one of the city’s most popular bar districts.
Parking: Available along Hertel or neighboring North Buffalo streets.
Beers on tap: 14
Safe choice: Miller Lite
Seasonal choice: Ommegang Grains of Truth
Roll the dice with: One of the rotating selections from Olean-based Four Mile Brewing.
Food: Buffalo staples and more, done with perfection. Favorites include Buffalo chicken wing dip ($8.99), French Dip ($8.99); and the Top of the Morning burger ($9.50).
Drink specials: Available every night, with highlights including $5 Bloody Marys on Sundays, $5 Molson Canadian pitchers on Mondays, and $1.50 Miller Lite pints during every Bills game.
Unexpected perk: Free Wifi, for those who need to surf the web while sucking down affordable rounds.
Tell your friends to: Settle in for Sabres, Bills or Yankees action before transitioning to a number of new favorites in the burgeoning Hertel District.
And if you hate sports: Take advantage of the seemingly retro drink specials.