Over the past 20 years, America’s man-room revolution has turned dank basements, oil-stained garages or office space into personally crafted clubhouses for fathers and fanboys alike.
Wall-sized televisions host seasons’ worth of sports events. Gaming tables and refrigerator taps enable battles and beers; and historical memorabilia saved through free-spending single days can have life after marriage. The domestic bastion has gone from frivolity to necessity, now as accepted into a home’s master plan as its mud room.
But try as you may, you’ll never construct any in-home drinking shrine that compares with the sports-devoted display available inside Marinaro’s Larkin Tavern.
Perched a short walk from Larkin Square up Van Rensselaer Street, the 5-year-old Buffalo locale not only raises the stakes for area sports bars. It gives housebound dudes intent on building a tavern-like shrine to the favorite game-day memories a model to emulate or enjoy as their own.
Those who have spent afternoons in Marinaro’s barroom have traded rounds aside a veritable visual history of the Queen City and New York State (see: Yankees) sports. Framed photos and trading cards of Bills, Sabres, Bisons and Braves line every vacant corner of wall space. Seats from the Aud and Rockpile are mounted adjacent to autographed football helmets; and mounted hockey equipment looms over scenes of Buffalo’s past hockey glory.
[Photos: A tour of area sports bars]
And all of this interior decoration may sound inspirational for whatever elaborate in-home speakeasy you have planned. But consider this: Will your wife let you turn one of your elegantly tiled bathrooms into your neighborhood’s only American Football League museum? Of course not — so Marinaro’s did, which is merely another example of how the accommodating spot refuses to let any opportunity for Buffalo athletic reverence to fall outside its polished bar’s realm.
Find its men’s room, which is festooned from floor to ceiling with framed AFL program covers, ones from 1960s-era scrapes between the Bills, Boston Patriots and others of the original eight. Never have you had a more acceptable excuse to go — and remain — in a tavern latrine.
So can you still draft plans to transform part of your home into a recreation-ready bar cave? Sure. But with Marinaro’s, you don’t have to — because someone’s already done it better.
Marinaro's Larkin Tavern
131 Van Rensselaer St. (845-5400)
Hours: 11 a.m. to 4 a.m. Monday through Saturday. Open on Sundays during Bills season.
Why: To immerse yourself in Buffalo’s rich sports history over a few beers.
Parking: Available on Van Rensselaer and surrounding streets.
Beers on tap: 7
Safe choice: Labatt Blue
Seasonal choice: New Belgium Pumpkick
Roll the dice with: Old Vienna
Food: Full menu. Favorites include stuffed hot peppers ($7.99), Texas burger ($8.99) and fish fry ($10.99).
Bills' game specials: All-you-can-drink bottles, well drinks or Labatt drafts plus halftime wings and pineapple upside cake shots for every score; $25.
Instagram op: Seated in blues from the Aud, posing under pennants of the AFL’s original eight teams.
Tell your friends to: Stop by for lunch, grab drinks after Larkin Square events or settle in for any local or national sports event.
And if you hate sports: Stop in on St. Patrick’s Day weekend.