Twelve tall ships will sail into Buffalo's inner harbor from July 4-7, attracting visitors to Canalside who may not regularly frequent the downtown hot spot. (Good luck with the parking!)
Long a desert in terms of food and drink options, Canalside and its surrounding neighborhood is now filled with several appetizing options within walking distance of the dozen hulls – which means you might have to park only once, a big-time advantage.
HARBORCENTER/ONE CANALSIDE ZONE
• 716 Food & Sport, 7 Scott St.
What to expect: Owned by Sabres and Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula, the glamorous sports bar has an American menu and a variety of beer options. A TV is visible from every booth, and a 38-foot projection screen looms over them all.
• Panorama on Seven, 95 Main St.
What to expect: The classy seventh-floor bar-restaurant offers the best views on this list, with shared plates and a range of $20 to $30 entrees. Try a cocktail, too.
[Related: Andrew Galarneau's dining review of Panorama]
• The Healthy Scratch, 75 Main St., No. 4.
What to expect: Their smoothies and cold-pressed juices are refreshing, but don't overlook this small store's healthy bowls, covered toast and array of salads for a quick meal.
• Pizza Plant Canalside, 125 Main St.
What to expect: Pizza Plant's pods - essentially calzones with different fillings - come in traditional flavors and more zany options. Ask for the monthly bread pudding flavor for one of the city's most underrated desserts.
• Clinton's Dish & the Garden Bar, 44 Prime St.
What to expect: The seasonal stand at Canalside has revamped its menu for 2019, with chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs, loaded french fries, churros and even a few healthier options. If you're thirsty, wander over to the Garden Bar for alcoholic beverages.
• Liberty Hound, One Naval Park Cove.
What to expect: Liberty Hound's waterfront patio often fills up fast during the summer thanks to a nice view of the Naval Park, Canalside and the Buffalo River. Pick compelling seafood options - a lobster roll, calamari or a crab tostada - and relax in a sunny environment.
[Read more: Canalside visits demand a round at Liberty Hound]
• Low Bridge Cafe, 130 Main St.
What to expect: This bright-and-new cafe sits on the lower level of the Explore & More Children's Museum and sells approachable food like personal pizzas, chicken fingers, french fries and burgers, with a few healthy options sprinkled in. You won't find it on the digital menu, but they sell beer, too.
• Bryce's Ice Cream, across from the entrance to Liberty Hound.
What to expect: A seasonal resident at Canalside, Bryce's small booth doles out soft-serve ice cream and smoothies for sweet tooths and people tired from tramping around the waterfront. Pick a flavor burst for a little pizzazz.
• Tim Hortons in HarborCenter, One Scott St.
What to expect: A Tim Hortons coffee shop. (But really, browse some of the tributes to the former Sabre, as well as the small sculpture outside).
• Starbucks in Courtyard Marriott, 125 Main St.
What to expect: If you absolutely must have Starbucks coffee, then it's available in the lobby of the Courtyard Marriott across Scott Street from HarborCenter. The menu of drinks and food is limited compared to a full Starbucks.
• Labatt House, 79 Perry St.
What to expect: Three new businesses dwell inside 79 Perry, including Labatt Brew House, which rolls out experimental Labatt brews and trusty Blues and Blue Lights; the Draft Room, a trendy brewery-style restaurant; and Bakery 55, relatively hidden in the very back, but with elite cinnamon rolls and other desserts.
• The Cobblestone, 130 South Park Ave.
What to expect: One of the OGs near the arena, the Cobblestone celebrates 20 years in business and is pretty standard: solid beer list, pub food and location that's set back a little from the hubbub but still incredibly close to the water.
• Helium Comedy Club, 30 Mississippi St.
What to expect: Helium is closed on the Fourth of July, but comedian Mark Normand is in town for two nights on July 5-6. The club's restaurant, Elements, is open to those who want to pair dinner with laughs. Reservations required.
• Lockhouse Distillery, 41 Columbia St.
What to expect: The only distillery in walking distance of the Tall Ships, Lockhouse broke out with its vodka and impressed with its gin; its taproom is usually a lively place brimming with colorful cocktails.
[Related: Rick & Morty bus drops by Lockhouse]
• Buffalo Iron Works, 49 Illinois St.
What to expect: There's only one night to enjoy the food and drinks at Iron Works, as Handsome Jack, a boogie band from Lockport, is slated to perform July 6. The food menu is pared down to chicken wings and french fries, but sometimes simplicity is better.
• Templeton Landing, 2 Templeton Terrace.
What to expect: If the weather's beautiful, Templeton Landing's deck is one of the best in the city. Happy hour specials - tiered by cost - and a supreme view give bargoers some flexibility. Check out the smiling faces from Templeton's deck-opening party.
• The Hatch, 329 Erie St.
What to expect: The seasonal restaurant by the water rolls out staples such as charbroiled Sahlen's hot dogs, hamburgers and a bevy of drinks. For the Tall Ships' arrival, The Hatch will host a chicken barbecue, live music and tent featuring beer and clams.
• William K's, 329 Erie St.
What to expect: Elegant ships could call for a classy dinner, which fits in at William K's, a high-end restaurant next to the water. Steak, seafood, pasta and pizza all grace the dinner menu, but there's a late brunch on Saturday and Sunday, beginning at 2 p.m. Read Andrew Galarneau's dining review for more.
MICHIGAN AVENUE ZONE
• Swannie House, 170 Ohio St.
What to expect: A neighborhood needs a cash-only dive bar, and that's exactly what no-frills Swannie House brings to the table. Grab a burger, a cheap domestic beer and chat up the regulars.
• Ballyhoo, 211 South Park Ave.
What to expect: Get the macaroni and cheese. But there are cocktails, a solid West Coast-inspired craft beer selection and a cool vibe, with a patio to the south.
• The Rose Bar and Grille, 199 Scott St.
What to expect: A newcomer to the Fairmont Creamery, The Rose has a welcoming spirit, heaps of seating and a classic American food menu. It's a good place to try wings or beef on weck, two iconic Buffalo foods.
• Phillips WD Bar & Grille in Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino, 1 Fulton St.
What to expect: Make an evening by viewing the Tall Ships, hitting the nearby casino and then dining at second-floor Phillips, where dinners range from $17 to $40 and embrace the surf-and-turf style. While there's no view of the water, the outdoor balcony offers a scenic look at the city. There are more bar options inside the casino, too.
• Milo's Diner, 126 Michigan Ave.
What to expect: With the Tall Ships en route, Milo's is upping its game, introducing a new chef and updating its social media more frequently. An affordable breakfast and lunch stop, you could do worse for a quick bite.
Also: Up for a longer walk? Consider Buffalo RiverWorks, at 359 Ganson St.; Pearl Street Grill and Brewery, 76 Pearl St.; and Public Espresso, 391 Washington St.