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Mooney's is a triple threat

It’s easy enough to say that Mooney’s Sports Bar and Grill isn’t your typical suburban neighborhood watering hole. But what is it that sets it apart? After all, there are plenty of places to get your drink on and they all have a lively bar, a loaded jukebox, a decent space for darts, some variation of chicken wings and the occasional live music. So how does a place like Mooney’s distinguish itself from the pack?

It begins before you even set foot in the place. As you approach the front door you’ll notice the building is lined with big, comfy, log cabin-looking booths. While they are empty as the temperature resides below freezing, in the summer, they take outdoor drinking to a whole other level.

An African elk stares down at diners from the wall at Mooney's. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

An African elk stares down at diners from the wall at Mooney's. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Inside, if you had any doubt this is an Irish pub, the green neon illuminating the bar and the plentiful supply of shamrocks let you know to order the corned beef.

Mooney’s offers three distinct experiences depending on your preference. The bar area has a 30-foot bar and plenty of high-top seating.

Visiting on a Saturday afternoon, the bar is bustling with a dozen regulars watching college football. Most are enjoying a draft beer (Mooney’s offers more than a dozen selections on tap) as they take in the game from flat screens mounted to every wall.

Looking for a more relaxing drinking and dining experience? The hostess will seat you in the dining room, where you are close enough to the action to feel the energy (and catch the game on the big screen), but far enough removed to enjoy a leisurely conversation.

Kenmore sports bar Mooney's provides a casual hangout for groups. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Kenmore sports bar Mooney's provides a casual hangout for groups. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

When the weather is warm, Mooney’s offers a third seating option in a covered outdoor area off the dining room. Come in on a weeknight in June, and you’ll likely have to fight for a seat among the dozen or more softball teams that call Mooney’s home after the work leagues conclude.

I asked the affable bartender what her specialty drink was. She thought for a moment and said Mooney’s specialty is its food, and most people stick to the basic drinks. Fair enough – with the beer specials they have at Mooney’s, who needs a bunch of fruity cocktails?

Like your beer in a bottle? Every Bills or Sabres game day you can enjoy $3 bottles of Labatt Blue and Blue Light. Mooney’s always seems to have an interesting shot special and on this day it is shots of PieHole whiskey for $2.50.

Dressed as Santa's helper, bartender Julie Mang pours drinks at Mooney's. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Dressed as Santa's helper, bartender Julie Mang pours drinks at Mooney's. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

No game on? No problem. Stop in after work and partake in happy hour specials from 4 to 7 p.m., which include your choice of domestic drafts or any well drink for $2.50. Pair that up with some of Mooney’s better-than-you-might-expect chicken wings, and you’ve got a solid way to end the day.

Then there is the service. If you spend much time drinking in the city, you know there are places where you could grow old waiting for a drink at the bar. Not Mooney’s, where the staff is friendly and engaging, and more importantly, efficient. My Captain and Diet was tall, served quickly, reasonably priced ($4.25) and my server was attentive enough to check in on a second before my glass ran dry.

Great atmosphere. Check. Great deals on drinks. Check. Friendly staff, live music and outdoor seating. Check, check, check.

Put it all together and Mooney’s Sports Bar and Grill is a must-stop on your rotation of local watering holes.

BAR TAB

Mooney’s Sports Bar and Grill

Where: 1531 Military Road, Kenmore (877-1800)

Hours: Seven days a week, 11 a.m. until 4 a.m.

Dress: Casual

Parking: On site.

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