Like the mythical Greek phoenix that rose from the ashes, The Phoenix in Black Rock did indeed rise from a fire that could have destroyed the original 1940s neighborhood tavern.
The space was restored and opened in 2013 by Mary Logue. (Try to spot the somewhat charred beam in the corner of the bar area.)
The space retains much of that 1940s charm including an original tin ceiling, a retro curved mirror behind the bar and original coolers, which are now used as the waitress station. Orange backlit lights in the bar add to the fire theme.
In the bar area sits a custom-made, skinny wood and metal table, adding another space to gather and drink. The one modern twist is the addition of a really cozy patio out back.
The bar is what we like to call “good wood,” with a brass bar below to hoist your foot on. In fact, the entire layout of The Phoenix reminds us of old-time gin mills. Bar in the front, food in back.
Behind the bar, a unique white metal buffalo watches over patrons while a Phoenix Beer clock keeps time. As entertainment goes, it’s you and the people you came with (or are sitting next to). No TVs at all.
While there is technically no happy hour, The Phoenix prices won’t kill you. Because The Phoenix is smaller, there are no tap beers. Bottled beers are $4 for the Bud Light, Mich Ultra and Corona crowd. Specialty bottles are $5 with locals Rusty Chain, Southern Tier IPA along with Blue Moon, Rohrbach Vanilla Porter and the like.
Summer cocktails are $8 with refreshing choices like Watermelon Aqua-Fresca that combines tequila and bubbly Prosecco with watermelon juice and watermelon wedge.
Other fun choices that bring the booze and wine worlds together include the Sweet Orange that mixes Riesling with Campari and the signature Phoenix Phizz which mixes King’s Ginger liqueur with Prosecco, cranberry juice and lemonade. Look for the weekly $6 wine cocktail feature if you are on a budget, like a Red Hot Summer (red wine with lemon vodka and lemon-lime soda).
The tight wine list offers choices from $7-$9. Red and white, but also a nice rosé and sparkling choices come by the glass. Wine Wednesdays are for wine drinkers. Secret bottles not listed on the menu are $15, while Wine Flights are $12. Get three, 4-ounce pours from the by-the-glass menu.
We cannot miss talking about the fun food specials. Bacon Tuesdays bring all things food, booze and music together. “Meet The Bacons” (Robin and Joe Bacon) will play on the patio, weather permitting. Food will feature bacon. Expect to see items like bacon cheeseburgers, bacon quesadillas and others. At the bar, enjoy a Bacon Bourbon Manhattan or Bacon Bloody Mary for $6.
Throwback Thursdays is even more fun, as retro food and drink will rule. The Phoenix will bring back faves from the 1970s like chicken marsala and Waldorf Salad or a dish from an iconic Buffalo restaurant, like the mud pie from the former Mulligan’s Cafe on Hertel Avenue.
And don’t forget the drinks. Classics like Tequila Sunrise, The Godfather and Stingers will be $6.
While it would be fun to go back in time to see what the original neighborhood tavern looked like, we think the new version that pays homage to the old days is just as neat.
269 Amherst St. (thephoenixbuffalo.com)
Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday
Scene: Old-school Buffalo. Intimate patio out back.
Yum: Pulled short rib tacos and creamy hot pepper dip
Extra: Late-night menu, Bacon Tuesdays, Wine Wednesdays, Throwback Thursdays
Multitask: Grocery shop at the nearby Amherst Street Wegmans or go to 4 p.m. Saturday mass at Church of The Assumption Catholic Church at 435 Amherst Street.