Whenever I plan a trip to a new city, I scour locals' Instagrams and blogs. How else am I going to know which cafés have the most Instagrammable avocado toast? I find someone whose general tastes mirror mine and discover where they eat their pepper-flaked, olive-oil-drizzled, avocado toast, just the way I like it.
On the curated feeds of local bloggers and Instagrammers here, you'll find aesthetically pleasing photo after photo of Buffalo's restaurants, parks, museums and public art. Generally, lots of cocktails (or mocktails) and beer, too.
Let's dive in.
As a part of our new "According to Bloggers" series, we've asked local bloggers and Instagrammers where they like to drink, as well as a few other questions. Where can you find Buffalo's best brunch? An activity that doesn't include food and cocktails? Best photo spots?
We will start the series with the drinks.
Local bloggers both from inside the city and throughout Western New York lent their personal favorite watering holes to this list:
112 Genesee St.
"As a non-drinker, I fully appreciate that they have mastered the art of the mocktail. ... I've never had the same one twice," Robson said.
Two bloggers endorse the new-American restaurant and whiskey bar, Marble & Rye. The on-trend atmosphere created by the living green wall, exposed brick and tiny candles on each table catches Buffalo up to larger cities. Plus, if you need something to soak up that "Odessy & Oracle" (Irish whiskey, passionfruit, Armagnac, Earl Grey, vanilla, toasted walnut, cream) you're sipping on, News Food Editor Andrew Galarneau says they make a mean burger. Mirand Koch said she always tries something new there, "with the help of their friendly bartenders."
517 Washington St.
"I'm a sucker for pretty spots with pretty bars. This one fits the bill," Nkay said.
A slice of urban decadence, Angelica Tea Room almost feels like a bar Betsey Johnson would design. Pink, patterned and swanky, the bar gets all the details right, down to the non-divey pool table.
For drinks, Nkay recommends the Crystal Castles cocktail (vermouth blanc, mezcal, marasca cherry liqueur, orange bitters). If you're coming with a group, order a bowl of the bar's rotating punch, which serves four to six people.
333 Franklin St.
A popular home of the craft cocktail, face exposed brick and at least 100 bottles of alcohol while sitting at the bar, sipping an elaborate drink comprised of surprising ingredients and libations. For something different, order a Tijuana Tea Time, a mixture of green tea tequila, Szechuan red peppercorn oil, lemon and honey. For an unusual twist on a classic, try the Sherry Bomb, composed of sherry, whiskey, lemon, mint, cranberry, honey and nutmeg.
1503 Hertel Ave. and 5933 Main St., Williamsville.
Recommended by: Nabila Ismail, travel blogger at Dose of Travel.
"Because tequila," Ismail said.
Once a mere bright green food truck, Lloyd now has multiple trucks, plus two full-blown restaurants and an ice cream shop. As far as cocktails go, Lloyd's claim to fame is its inventive margaritas, each with either mezcal or tequila, which is a choice left up to the patron. The classic margarita is loaded with cilantro and a delightful treat to just watch the bartender make. The Michelada is a "spicy beer-tal." Aside from margaritas, Lloyd offers 12 other craft cocktails, each as fruity or peppery as the next.
228 Allen St.
Recommended by: Billy and Pat Sandora-Nastyn, YouTube content creators at Billy & Pat.
"Awesome cocktails in the heart of Allentown. The big window offers one of the best views for people-watching day or night," they said.
These aren't your college mixed drinks. An upscale hole-in-the-wall, Billy Club serves highbrow American food at a relatively affordable price, as well as an array of artisanal drinks. For brunch, enjoy a mimosa, Bloody Mary or perhaps a John Stamos, a mix of gin, lemon and prosecco, named after the "Full House" star.
291 Ellicott St.; 1707 Hertel Ave.; 6727 Transit Road.
Recommended by: Caitie Newman, photographer and Instagrammer.
"Amazing margaritas!" Newman said.
Neon-colored lights of yellow, red and blue paint diners' faces at Deep South Taco, while margaritas fill their hands. Each location yields slightly varying vibes, yet all are similarly crowded on weekends, with patrons either stopping by for a pregame margarita, all dressed up for a long night ahead or ending their night after an exhausting day with a taco and some tequila.
860 Seneca St.
"I don't drink, so I choose my bars very carefully. Buffalo Distilling checks all of the things off my list: yummy non-alcoholic options, friendly bartenders, super cozy atmosphere, killer live music and the perfect patio for the warmer weather," Robson said.
For non-drinkers, a mocktail isn't something to be overlooked or tossed aside; a glass of soda with maraschino cherry juice doesn't always cut it. Buffalo Distilling Co. is the home of One Foot Cock spirits, selling bourbon, brandy, vodka and Krupnik.
The bar area has the feel of a ski lodge-meets-farm cabin, with an asymmetric hardwood wall behind the rock-tiled bar and rooster logos found in more than one place throughout the space. Stop by on a night with acoustic music and order a Violet Beauregard (vodka, blueberry simple syrup, lemonade).
220 Lexington Ave. [Update, post-blogger interview: now at 1488 Hertel Ave. inside PK Eats]
Recommended by: Katharine Phillips, travel blogger and photographer at The Roaming Buffalo.
"I'm a fan of a well-made cocktail and I'm always on the hunt for this city's best. There are only a handful of places where you can get away with opting for bartender's choice, and Vera Pizzeria is one of them! Their most recent use of CBD oil is a testament to their ability to keep a finger on the pulse. Cam Rector has absolutely stocked some amazing craftsmen behind the pine," Phillips said.
Vera rather suddenly packed up its original location at 220 Lexington Ave. and focused its energy on barVera, a new cocktail hub inside PK Eats. Rector is still behind the bar - with several other familiar faces - and has the entire Vera Bible of pre-Prohibition-style cocktails at his disposal. PK Eats' official grand-opening party is Jan. 9.
437 Ellicott St.
Recommended by: Tom Przybylak, blogger at local food and dining site Buffalo Eats.
"The tandem of Jill's seasonally updated cocktail program and the in-house sommelier Jessica curating a fantastic yet accessible wine list, make it my favorite spot for a drink," Przybylak said.
Chef James Roberts draws from his Southern Louisiana background to create the Southern-meets-Creole-meets-new-American food at Toutant that fills diners' stomachs with comfort food, such as fried chicken, reimagined in an innovative way. No matter what kind of alcohol you consume -- beer, wine, whiskey, cocktails -- you'll be satisfied with the drink menus. The Kentucky Derby drink of choice, a mint julep, is a fitting option, blending the familiar bourbon, sugar, angostura and muddled mint together to create a drink that pairs best with hush puppies and an elaborate hat.
75 Edward St.
Recommended by: Donnie Burtless, of Buffalo Eats.
"If there is one bar that will always have a special place in my heart, it's Founding Fathers. The spur-of-the-moment trivia questions, the free popcorn and nachos and the general vibe inside that Allentown dive will always be one of my favorite places in Buffalo, period," Burtless said.
Burtless isn't the only Buffalonian to share that sentiment. From its monthly historical trivia nights to its owner and bartender, Mike Driscoll, who could ask you puzzling trivia question after question any day of the month, the bar teeming with presidential knowledge and knickknacks remains a local staple and has even garnered national recognition.
770 Elmwood Ave.; 5419 Main St., Williamsville.
Recommended by: Beau and Lindsay Riggs, bloggers who write about things to do for couples and families at Buffalovebirds.
"Something out of the norm. Our drinking consists of shots of wheatgrass and detoxing on charcoal drinks. Squeeze uses fresh veggies and fruit to get us moving and keep us healthy," the Riggses said.
You won't find any alcohol at Squeeze Juicery, but instead of shots of Fireball, consider a shot of wheatgrass. The sunny, California-feeling smoothie parlor carries that aura inside even when it's snowing outside its doors, supplying vitamin D and fiber through their vivid green drinks. This is the hydration spot to check out the morning after you've been to one of the above watering holes.