Having spent a decade working in the city, I know plenty of folks I might describe, in good fun, as “bar snobs.” If there is one thing Buffalo knows, and knows well, it’s how to drink and eat. The Queen City is loaded with an amazing array of watering holes from hole-in-the-wall joints, to upscale martini bars.
It’s for that reason, that my colleagues, the bar snobs, typically turn their collective noses up at the idea of drinking at any eatery attached to a mall. There is a sentiment that a mall eatery can’t possibly have a cool vibe to it. Those who feel that way have never been to Bar Louie.
Situated among a gaggle of popular eateries including The Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Chang’s and Texas de Brazil, Bar Louie offers a respite from the insanity of the mall, with an atmosphere that feels upscale and relaxed at the same time.
As we settle into a comfy high-top table adjacent to the bar, the puck is dropping for a Sabres game against the Vancouver Canucks. We were immediately drawn to an impressive array of happy hour drink specials. Draft beers (two dozen to choose from) for $3.25, wine by the glass ($4.25), and, if you’re so inclined, a selection of signature martinis ($5.25). Add to that a slew of half-priced appetizers including flat breads, quesadillas, boneless wings and calamari, and your game-day experience is off to a good start.
As for the game-watching atmosphere, Bar Louie isn’t for the fan seeking a shrine to the local teams or a television that can be seen from space for which to watch the game on. It is a bar and restaurant first, and the games are secondary. At least until the home team scores a goal, in which case the crowd — spread out across the bar, high-top tables and traditional tables ringing the large windows— erupts with the same unbridled Buffalo passion you’ll find at any downtown sports bar.
Bar Louie’s cocktail selection is impressive. Whether you are in the mood for a martini (16 varieties to choose from), a half dozen margaritas and mojitos (try the Berry Mojito for $9; fresh berries and a good strong pour make it a refreshing choice), or just a good ol’ fashioned beer (15 bottles, two dozen on tap and even a handful of canned brews), Bar Louie has you covered. And speaking of beers, for those looking to re-live your college days, order up a can of nostalgia in a Pabst Blue Ribbon ($4.25).
If, as was our case, you arrive at Bar Louie post-happy hour, fear not. It offers the same happy hour drink specials post-game from 10 p.m. to close. It’s a fact that can come in particularly handy after a gut-wrenching loss when one might feel the need to drown sorrows in a few extra post-game libations.
Walden Galleria, Cheektowaga
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily.
Why: Because you’re looking to class up game night a bit.
Parking: It’s the Galleria mall, so good luck.
Credit/debit accepted: Yes.
Best viewing spot: Close to the bar. Eight televisions mounted above the bar on all four sides.
Can’t-miss bar food: Don’t leave without trying the Beef Brisket Sliders ($11.79). Don’t miss $1 burger night on Tuesdays. Buy a drink, get a burger for a buck. You’re welcome.
Instagram op: Grab a selfie in front of the ultra-hip art adorning the walls.
And if you hate sports: You won’t feel like you’re in a sports bar, so you’ll have a relaxing evening.