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Monday, June 24, 2024
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No designated driver? No problem: the NFTA bar crawl

How to use nothing but public transportation to hit some of the best bars in Buffalo

The NFTA subway departs from University Station outside of UB South Campus.
The NFTA subway departs from University Station outside of UB South Campus.

It’s an almost universal college experience: You’ve planned an epic night out on the town, but now it’s time to choose the designated driver. There’s a lot more shifting eyes than raised hands.

What if no one had to DD? What if no Ubers had to be called? What if there was a way to hit some of the best college bars in Buffalo without entering a single car? 

Lucky for you, there is! The Spectrum presents… the NFTA bar crawl.

How it’s done:

The NFTA metro runs from South Campus all the way to Canalside. Riders can go one way for only $2 or ride the metro as much as needed in a day for $5.

UB students can ride the Stampede Yellow Line from North Campus to South Campus, and get dropped off right next to the NFTA Metro’s University stop. That’s where the fun begins.

Keep in mind that the metro stops running back to South around midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, so any shenanigans past midnight will require an Uber or designated driver back to campus.

Where to go:

Before getting on the Metro at University Station, consider stopping by The Steer, South Campus’ main attraction for UB students. Steer has $1-off drinks during happy hour from 3-6 p.m. on Friday, and a pregame special from 9-11 p.m. with $6 double-well drinks.

Once on the metro, here’s some places to stop by:

Utica Station:

Thirsty Buffalo is a sports bar and a good place to start the night, especially on a Bills gameday. Thirsty Buffalo has happy hour from 3-7 p.m. with $3 domestic drafts and $3.50 well drinks.

Amherst Station:

Central Park Grill has live music and themed nights that can get the vibes going for the rest of the night. 90s night, karaoke, open mic and a lineup of bands will get the groove on before picking up the pace in Allentown.

Allentown stop:

Allentown is where the fun really begins. Allen Street alone can keep you occupied for the entire night. 

The eastern end features the LGBTQ bars 26, Edison's Proof & Provision and Fugazi, which will not disappoint. Lively bartenders and clientele alike will have you laughing and putting gay-bar-strength drinks down before you know it.

After crossing Delaware Avenue, you’ll find Frizzy’s, a bar filled with college-aged customers. Its big back room is perfect for socializing, especially if you have a large group with you.

After Frizzy’s, if you are feeling brave, cross the street to visit the Old Pink. There’s no name on the building, but it’s hard to miss. You’ll know you’re there when you see the large metal Buffalo with green flames above the door. This is a true dive. The bathrooms are covered floor-to-ceiling in stickers and Sharpied obscenities, the music is fantastic and you will lose money at the pool table. If you need some drunk food, don’t leave here without trying a steak sandwich off the grill right behind the bar.

There are other places further down Allen worth checking out, like Mulligan’s and Allen Street Hardware (which is in fact a bar, not a hardware store).

The final Allen street stop could be Nietzsche’s, which is perfect for releasing your inner hipster. It’s adorned with funky art, has indie bands on the weekends and fantastic craft beers. If you want a place with character, here’s your joint.

Chippewa stop:

If you’ve survived this long, Chippewa should finish the job. This is the beating heart of nightlife in Buffalo. There’s no shortage of bars and clubs here to find whatever vibe you need.

Though it often receives mixed reviews, Venu is one of the more popular clubs on Chippewa. If you like loud music and can tolerate the crowd, this is the place to dance the rest of the night away.

Rec Room is the superior club on Chippewa. With two levels and a balcony overlooking the street, it can be easy to venture away from your friends for a side quest. They also often have good DJs, bands, live karaoke, etc.

If you like country music, Cowboy is a must-stop. It has a completely different vibe from the other clubs and bars on Chippewa, which can be a good thing.

Other popular spots include Soho, D-Tour and Bottoms Up. You don’t need a strict game plan for Chippewa. Just go where the night takes you (and where the lines are shortest).

Erie Canal Harbor Station:

If you didn’t spend the entire night downtown, consider taking the metro a bit further to the Erie Canal Harbor stop and taking a short walk to Ironworks for some live music. Or maybe you and your friend group want to walk Canalside and reflect on the night, which could very well be what you look back on when reminiscing about your college days.

Dominick Matarese is the senior features editor and can be reached at


Dominick Matarese is the Senior Features Editor at the Spectrum. He enjoys writing about interesting people, places, and things. In addition to running an independent blog, he has worked worked with the Owego Pennysaver, BROOME Magazine, the Fulcrum Newspaper, and Festisia. He is passionate about music journalism and can be found enjoying live music most weekends. 



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