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An Off Campus Guide for Getting to Know the City

2012 Buffalo Guide

Classes for Fall 2012 begin any day now. You’ll be unpacking, tripping through class selection, registration, orienation, textbook purchases, and so on. When all that’s done you’ll want to assess something more than the campus layout and class schedules; like what do with your life besides study. Buffalo offers a variety of activities to keep you entertained. Listed here is a sampling. Of course, there’s more than we could possibly include, but read Artvoice each week to stay informed.

Tattoo by Josh Schlageter, H.O.D.

Tattoos & Piercings

Seems every college student wants to take advantage of their new independence and get something Mom and Dad will be shocked at when they go home for Thanksgiving. Tattoos and piercing usually top the list. Buffalo has over 75 tattoo parlors so how do you choose one? Make sure it’s clean, that it’s certified, and that the people running it are passionate about what they do. Look for samples of the art and make sure you’re impressed by it. Not all tattoo artists are created equal. According to a poll of Artvoice readers, here are some of the best tattoo shops in the business:

Cowpok – Has won more Artvoice “Best of Buffalo” piercing awards than anyone, so it’s probably a great place to start your search. 177 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo, 885-0252,

Maddtat2MaddTikiTattoo These guys have two locations, one on Elmwood, one on Hertel. Top notch artwork. 115 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo, 602-7441,

American Skin Art – Has been in the biz forever. Great place. 44 Webster St., North Tonawanda, 694-9185,

Redhouse Tattoo – 4820 Broadway St., Depew., 684-6044,

Pirates Alley Tattoo Studio – 211 Chestnut St., Lockport, 590-6592,

Hand of Doom – A Buffalo tattoo favorite and regular winner of “Best Tattoo” shop. 734 Elmwood Ave. Buffalo, 881.4424,

Divine Machine Tattoo– 82 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo, 883-1300,

Hyperion Tattoo – 5868 Transit Rd., Depew, 681-7872,


Unleash your inner pop star and free the Lady Gaga in you as you shamelessly sing your favorite tunes at any of Buffalo’s karaoke offerings. Again, a number of places may have karaoke and they’re all listed in the Artvoice calendar, but here are the favorites.

Essex Street Pub – 6 Essex St., Buffalo, 883-2150,

Tudor Lounge – 335 Franklin St., Buffalo, 885-9643,

Roxy’s – 884 Main St., Buffalo, 882-9293,

Q – 44 Allen St., Buffalo, 332-2223,

Klub Karaoke – 2081 Niagara St., Buffalo, 877-1025,

Open Mic

Nietzsche’s Hands down has the longest running open mic in the city, and maybe even in America, Nietzsche’s Monday night open mic has been running continuously for nearly 30 years. Preceding the open mic are frequent singer/songwriter showcases. Check Artvoice for info on showcases. 248 Allen St., Buffalo, 886-8536,

Duke’s Bohemian (DBGBs) Duke’s has great food and also has a very aggressive music schedule with live music, Deejays, and an open mic on Mondays at 10 pm. Since Duke’s is right across the street from Nietzsche’s it’s easy to bounce back and forth and play both open mics in one night. 253 Allen St., Buffalo, 240-9359,

Merge a combination restaurant/bar with a Greenwich Village café atmosphere, Merge hosts a popular open mic Thursdays at 9pm. They have nice open stage in the center of the room and an in house PA system. 439 Delaware Ave., Buffalo, 842-0600,

Broadway Joe’s Under new management this music mainstay near UB’s South Campus has lots of live music, karaoke every Monday and an open mic every Tuesday. 3051 Main St., Buffalo,

Get Active

Besides hours spent studying, boiling ramen noodles, texting and chugging beer, you may be inclined to volunteer time to a worthy cause. Giving back to the community you live in can help others rise up and make this city better (and make you feel better about yourself). Here are some of our favorites and good suggestions for volunteer work:

PUSH Buffalo

PUSH People United for Sustainable Housing is a grassroots, nonprofit community organization rebuilding and revitalizing Buffalo’s West Side neighborhood. If you’re handy or want to get some rehab experience, this is for you. 271 Grant St., Buffalo, 884-0356,

People Inc. If you’re inclined to helping people on an individual level, People Inc. helps families and people with disabilities, as well as seniors, live more healthy, independent and productive lives. This kind of volunteering can be particularly rewarding for the soul. Williamsville, 634-8132,

Buffalo First! is a nonprofit organization comprised of local independent businesses, organizations, and citizens working to encourage people to shop locally and support small independent business instead of the Walmarts of the world. They steer local business to access locally produced goods and services, support green companies, and advocate better policy. The goal is to root dollars here at home and create a healthier environment. 910 Main St., Buffalo, 725-6100,

Give For Greatness is a non-profit organization that raises funds mostly by producing cool events throughout the year. 100% of funds raised go to support area cultural groups in theatre, dance, music, art, etc. If you believe the arts are important this is the org for you. 881-6604,


Autumn marks the start of the theater season in Buffalo, celebrated with the official Curtain Up! festivities on September 14th, with a big downtown party and shows all over town. This is the beginning of a yearlong array of diverse and exciting theater offerings, from Shea’s Performing Arts Center with the most lucrative single theater week in the American theater; to Children’s theater like Theater of Youth, African American theater and multicultural theater at the Paul Robeson Theater and Ujima Theater Company; contemporary plays and English language classics at the Kavinoky Theater; Irish plays and classics at the Irish Classical Theater Company; fresh takes on well known titles and new works at the New Phoenix Theater; new plays and American classics at Alleyway Theater and Road Less Traveled Theater; LGBT offerings at Buffalo United Artists; musicals at MusicalFare and O’Connell & Company; free outdoor Shakespeare at Shakespeare in Delaware Park; politically charged plays at the Subversive Theatre Collective; alternative works at ALT; and cutting edge avant-garde offerings at Torn Space Theater. At to that abundant community and university theater. Buffalo is one great theater town!

For current listings of what’s on stage, visit our On the Boards page.

What’s Going On?

There are thousands of websites that proclaim to have information you need. Here are our suggestions for getting the inside lowdown on the Buffalo area:

AV Daily (

Of course our first suggestion is the Artvoice Daily blog-site. Here you can find stories as they happen instead of waiting for the print issue once a week. There’s coverage of local politics, local music, and the local arts scene – perfect if you’re looking to really get involved in the City of Buffalo.

Buffablog (

If you’re looking for news on the local music scene, check out Buffablog. Their mission statement? To “musicate” Buffalonians. It’s mostly news and updates about local artists and bands, but occasionally the bloggers will write about national and international music that they deem “cool.” You can find show previews, album reviews, interviews, and exclusive tracks on the website. Next time you’re trying to seem hip to the local scene, this site can help.

The Good Neighborhood (

The Good Neighborhood is a blog all about Buffalo’s communities, educating citizens about where they live, and serves as a gathering spot for those interested in the greater good of Buffalo. Whether you’re looking for news from your neighborhood or just to get involved in your community with like-minded people at various events, The Good Neighborhood keeps you updated.

Buffalo Eats (

There’s more delicacies to this city than chicken wings and beef-on-weck, but where do you begin finding them? Try Buffalo Eats, a blog started by a guy inspired by Anthony Bourdain, Buffalo Eats helps locals find cuisine beyond Applebees or T.G.I. Friday’s.

Buffalo Rising (

Buffalo Rising’s beat is a local favorite featuring Buffalo stories and content written by Buffalonians who are knowledgeable about their city. Here you can find hyperlocal news not covered by bigger publications and commentaries by Buffalovers who want to see the city grow and prosper.

Learn This:

You may be attending an area college or university, but perhaps you’d like to beef up on your discipline off campus or find something not in the curriculum. Here are two suggestions:

Fencing Center of Buffalo This Olympic sport is sexy, agile and loaded with history. Unlike the sweaty image of basketball or beefy football, fencing has an air of sophistication associated more with wit and grace. And who could forget the James Bond fencing scene in “Die Another Day.” Binner Center, 1050 Maryvale Dr., Cheektowaga, 553-3448,

Community Music School There are probably more Steinway pianos at CMS than at the Steinway factory. Now its 88th year CMS offers individual lessons in piano/keyboard (including jazz piano), voice, violin, viola, cello, mandolin, fiddling, guitar, electric bass, flute, piccolo, clarinet, saxophone, recorder, trumpet, trombone, horn, drums, marimba, composition, jazz improvisation and theory. 415 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo, 884-4887,

Buffalo’s Happening Neighborhoods and Best People Watching Locales

Chippewa and Buffalo’s Entertainment District

Chippewa St. (photo by Alan Dunaway)
Elmwood Village
Allen St. Bar & Grill, aka "The Old Pink"
Hertel Ave. (photo by Alan Dunaway)

Every college student should visit Chippewa at least once. The street and its surrounding area is known for being one of the hot spots of Buffalo’s nightlife scene – bars and clubs line the strip. It’s relatively quiet during the week and during the day, but on weekend nights you can barely drive through the crowds of people waiting to dance at Bayou or Noir, get a fishbowl full of alcohol at the Purple Monkey, a burger with that cocktail at Soho, and so on. Beware of the age restrictions; if you are under 21 then Thursday is the only night you’re allowed on the street. If you’re over 21 you’re good to go any night. If you’re looking for the crowded bar and dance club experience with young girls in tight skirts and studs on the prowl, Chippewa is your best bet.

Elmwood Village

Elmwood Village runs along Elmwood Ave. between Forest and Allen St. It offers an array of daytime shopping, dining, socializing, and often entertainment at Bidwell Park. Coffee shops abound, Café Aroma, Spot Coffee, Ashker’s, Starbucks and more. With latte in hand, walk down to Lexington Co-Op for a variety of natural and organic food products or visit Urban Threads clothing, sunglasses, etc. Visit Shoefly for footwear, Spiral Scatch for records or Clutch for accessories. There are also several great dinner places and about a half-dozen good Greek restaurants, Ambrosia, Pano’s, Acropolis, Mykonos, etc. Blue Monk has a great beer selection and Mr. Goodbar at the corner of Elmwood and Forest has good music. If you’d rather play music than listen, across from Goodbar is Allentown Music, which is routinely voted Best Music Store ( There are also plenty of small shops full of eccentric, vintage, and fashionable finds – check out Plum Pudding or Second Chic for treasures you’ll never find at the mall. Further north on Elmwood across from Buffalo State College is Buffalo’s major art gallery hub – the Albright-Knox, Buffalo’s premier art gallery with a world renowned collection of 20th century and contemporary art, and the Burchfield-Penney Art Center featuring a fabulous collection of regional work.


Allentown is the heart of Buffalo’s art scene and has the TOY theatre, and a strong core of Buffalo’s music clubs, too. It also has a concentration of excellent restaurants like Tempo, Mother’s, La Tee Da, Rue Franklin, Hardware and more. During the day, Allentown offers many quaint antique shops and other retail businesses like the marvelous Dress Shop or Rick’s Cyle Shop. At night, the neighborhood transforms into a nightlife hotspot that rivals the Chippewa Strip with bars like the “Old Pink”, Fugazi’s, Colter Bay and Brick Bar. For live music there are four music clubs on a single block, Nietzsche’s Duke’s Bohemian, The Bend and Hardware. The bar scene in Allentown attracts an entirely different crowd than Chippewa, providing options that are less booming “dance club”, and serving a more alternative crowd and rock ‘n’ roll. It’s the artistic center of the city; the historic houses and buildings boast bright colors and a welcoming atmosphere.

Hertel Avenue

Hertel Avenue is a fast growing neighborhood. It’s not as “artsy” as Allentown or as dense with shops as Elmwood Village, but you can still find plenty to do on this North Buffalo strip. Spot Coffee has a location on Hertel, and Lone Star Fajita at the east end of the street is terrific. There’s live music at Shadow Lounge and Canvas. The historic North Park movie theatre has great indy and art films and wins Best Movie House in Artvoice every year. Local shops and businesses offer unique products and services that can’t be found anywhere else. Modern Nostalgia is a women’s clothing store that boasts new clothing with a classic twist and Korona Jewelry is Buffalo’s longest-running, family-owned jewelry store. North Buffalo is known for its Italian-American population and Hertel Avenue is home to most of the Queen City’s best Italian restaurants and is home to the Italian Heritage Festival each summer. And of course there is Terrapin Station, the area’s premier head shop and an absolute must-visit for anyone who embraces the Grateful Dead lifestyle. Next to Terrapin is Virgil, the city’s best tobacco store.


Unfortunately we do have them. You’ll have to find them on your own.


Gay Bars

There is a cluster of gays bars in the Allentown area. The close proximity of these offers great bar hopping opportunities to check out who is drinking, chatting or dancing nearby. You can also check out Here are some favorites:

Cathode Ray is probably the longest running gay bar in the city. Cathode has a very friendly atmosphere and has pool, darts and video games, too. It’s sits on the corner of Allen St. and N. Pearl.26 Allen St., Buffalo, 884-3616,


Q Bar has a friendly gay clientele mixed with a lot of area theatre people. 44 Allen St., Buffalo,332-2223,

Roxy’s caters to a lesbian clientele although there’s always a good mix of people, and since it also has a stage it frequently has live music and other entertainment. 884 Main St., Buffalo, 882-9293

Fugazi is a lovely place off of Allen St. that is more quiet and intimate than the dance club styled gay bars. Perfect for those who prefer a romantic cocktail and conversation instead of longing stares across a noisy room booming disco music. 503 Franklin St., Buffalo, 881-3588

Club Marcella is queen of the gay dance clubs, with live drag shows, specialty parties, award winning Deejays, and a dance floor where you can dance till you drop, either with yourself, your lover, or the nearest barstool. (No one will notice.) 622 Main St., #101 Theater Place, Buffalo, 847-6850,

The Underground located between Allentown and the Chippewa District, The Underground is a cross between an intimate local gay bar and a pounding dance club. The choice to socialize at the bar with a cocktail or hit the dance floor is yours. 274 Delaware Ave. Buffalo, 853-0092

Fast Foods and Take Out

God knows there is no shortage of fast food restaurants in America, but do the community you’re living in a favor and lean towards supporting the locals. If you have to choose Taco Bell or locally owned Mighty Taco, please go for the Mighty. Here are some favorite locally owned places for a quick delicious bite to eat:

Bagel Jay’s Voted Buffalo’s Best Bagel year after year by Artvoice readers, you won’t find a more authentic New York Style bagel unless you drive to the Big Apple. It’s all in the process and Bagel Jay’s has the secret NY recipe down to an art. Bagels are freshly made daily and the selection of spreads is endless.

For locations and hours:

Mighty Taco has the whackiest radio commercials in town. Fortunately, they have decent and inexpensive fast food, too. MT has been inventing and reinventing Buffalo style Mexican food for almost 40 years. When many former Buffalonians return home the first thing they invariable want to do is head for the nearest Mighty Taco. There are nineteen Might Tacos in the area. Check for locations.

Jim’s SteakOut is another locally owned fast food success story. There are now ten locations serving subs, hoagies, tacos, burgers, and more. Great for that late night urge to chow down.

Live Music

Buffalo has a thriving live music scene that features great local, regional, national, and international artists. According to our readers—who are among the hippest hipsters around—you can’t miss by checking out the acts that visit the following venues:

The Mordaunt Sisters at Nietzsche's (photo by Aaron Weese)

Nietzsche’s has been home to some of the most eclectic and exciting shows for over 30 years. Local acts like 10,000 Maniacs, the Goo Goo Dolls, and Ani DiFranco all played here on their way up. Music seven days a week. As Friedrich Nietzsche himself said: “Without music, life would be a mistake.” 248 Allen Str., Buffalo, NY, 886-8539,

The Sportsmen’s Tavern has earned its reputation as “The Honkiest, Tonkiest Beer Joint in Town” by hosting the best local and national country, Americana, folk and blues acts. This Black Rock staple has been undergoing a massive revamp that included pulling out part of the ceiling and adding seats on the second floor. Their “private party” series features big-name acts in the intimacy of a small club. 326 Amherst St., 874-7734,

The Mohawk Place has been the home of Buffalo’s indie-rock scene since the demise of the storied Continental club. Cutting-edge national acts often land here on their first swing through town, often performing the kind of shows that become legendary. 47 East Mohawk St., 465-2368.,

Town Ballroom This old burlesque house on Main street features some of the biggest names on the national and international scene. The circular lobby bar and big, open floor make it a unique venue to catch acts that are one step away from filling arenas. The folks who book Town Ballroom also book those jumbo-sized shows at the outer harbor and Artpark. 681 Main St., 852-3900,

The Tralf Music Hall is another mid-sized venue that features local and national touring acts, and it’s celebrating its 30th year at its Theater Place location. Stars on their way up as well as living legends grace the stage. It’s also where, for the past five years, the finalists of the Artvoice Battle of Original Music (BOOM) face off in a bid to win Buffalo’s most popular battle of the bands competition. 622 Main St., 852-2860,

Babeville is “the house that Ani built.” Located in a beautiful old church that was languishing on the corner of Delaware and Tupper, Buffalo gal Ani DiFranco led the charge to turn it into the multi-purpose event center it is today. Today, the complex known as Babeville includes Asbury Hall and the smaller downstairs bar known as the Ninth Ward. Both venues feature national and international touring acts. Babeville is also home to Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center. 341 Delaware Ave., 852-3835,

There is, of course, no way to get a complete Buffalo guide into a single issue of Artvoice, so consider this a rough sketch. However, if you pick up Artvoice every week you’ll find just about all the info you’ll need to get through the week.

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