No one would ever accuse the Buffalo area of being short on bars.
As detailed throughout our ongoing series on sports bar, the region hosts an ever-growing slew of them, catering to any type of diner, drinker and thirsty derelict that would ever consider sidling a leather-wrapped barstool and screaming at a Samsung flatscreen.
But before the Pegula family-owned 716 Food & Sport opened its doors at the corner of Scott and Washington streets in 2014, the historically rabid downtown Buffalo bar scene had never boasted anything like it.
Stationed at the base of the shimmering HarborCenter and adjacent to Canalside, the multitiered locale is a game-day palace, providing attention-deficient fans every sports bar spoil they could ever desire. Athlete facts and figures are strewn across corridors, acting as informative décor. Food options consist of items seemingly dreamt up by a culinary arts-trained tailgating chef. (See: Beer Can Chicken.)
Bottle and draft beers are available for every taste and temperament and locally themed cocktails are conveniently served atop the region’s only faux ice rink bartop.
And all these accompaniments are appreciated. But what makes 716 stand as an illuminated beacon apart from other area sports stops is its scope of game coverage—and how it’s presented.
Case in point: Its 38-foot television screen, mounted above the main bar and teamed with in-game sound to give fans—either looking up from the first floor or staring straight on from second floor seating—a theater feel for every night’s main event. But if 716’s staff doesn’t think your team’s game is worthy of top billing, never fear.
Throughout the locale’s two floors, televisions are akin to interior decoration, with more than 70 projecting every game, match or tournament daily —and even some replayed from the day or night before, as I found out on a recent visit.
After originally planning to stop by for the late January twofer of the NHL All-Star Game and NFL Pro Bowl, I instead stopped by 716 for lunch later in the week. And though the bar’s gigantic projection featured Bills play-by-play maestro John Murphy’s coverage from this year's Super Bowl, the TV in front of me offered a replay of my favorite NBA team (the Boston Celtics) and its previous night’s matchup with the Detroit Pistons.
Joined by a chicken finger sub ($12.99) atop the replica rink in front on me, I watched Boston’s Isaiah Thomas drive and distribute while working on my meal’s accompanying chips and pickle, all amid the glow of countless games around me.
It’s this assurance—that 716 will be showing any game you’re looking for—that’s reason enough for tourists and locals alike to pop by for a visit. Yes, the Buffalo area has countless sports bars in every corner of its area code. But for truly obsessive fans, the food and beers are supplemental, and the games are everything.
And whether on screens small enough for your college dorm room or large enough for a drive-in movie theater, 716 Food & Sport will always have your game.
7 Scott St. (855-4716)
When: Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Why: Because everyone needs to watch a game on a 38-foot television at least once in their life.
Parking: Available in connected garage or surrounding lots.
Credit/debit accepted: Yes.
Beers on tap: 20
Safe choice: Southern Tier One Buffalo
Seasonal choice: 42 North Asylum Porter
Roll the dice with: The Buffalo Boilermaker, fueled by Bulleit Bourbon.
Drink by numbers: An impressive array of player and game details associated with the locale’s trio of numbers are creatively featured across bar walls.
Wash up — and watch: Patrons worried about missing sports action while in the bathroom will be relieved. There are televisions in there, too.
Drink specials: Happy Hour is Monday through Friday, with $2 off bottles and drafts, and $1 off wine, wells and standard cocktails — except on Sabres game nights.
And if you hate sports: Order a colorful yet potent Sabre Blue, then close your eyes throughout your entire visit.