Free bar snacks around Buffalo used to be near ubiquitous, with baskets of peanuts, pretzels or cheese doodles ready for any patron rolling through pints. All were complementary to the pilsners and lagers of the day—and drenched in salt, all kept patrons thirsty for more rounds.
But whether because of health concerns, changes to barfly bar culture or the foodie-like interest in craft beer consumption, the prevalence of free, utilitarian snacks has largely gone away. Beer nuts scooped in wooden bowls is rarely a thing anymore, so those looking to satisfy their salttooth with a few suds have been relegated to ordering actual food—and having to pay for it.
Thankfully, there are some holdouts across the region still offering freebies for those desperate for snacks with their stouts. Here are some of the best.
Ulrich’s 1868 Tavern (674 Ellicott St., Buffalo) — Visits to Buffalo’s oldest tavern shouldn’t end without a few German beers, sidled by baskets of its free popcorn. Just one recommendation: Chase servings with some water, as it might be the saltiest offering you’ll ever inhale.
Eddie Brady’s (97 Genesee St., Buffalo) — A few pints of Guinness within the more than century-old confines of Brady’s is never complete without a few scoops of its complimentary corn, available in plastic pint glasses for those in need.
Founding Fathers (75 Edward St., Buffalo) — Patrons pop into Buffalo’s only presidential-themed pub for the history and trivia, bestowed by owner Mike Driscoll. Those crippled with the munchies go for the self-serve nacho station—and never skimp on the jalapenos.
The Bar-Bill Tavern (185 Main St., East Aurora) — No one drives out to one of Western New York’s most cherished chicken wing joints for free table snacks. But in the event that you have to wait for a table—which is a near inevitability—you can hold off your hunger with some fistfuls of popcorn.
J.P. Fitzgerald’s (4236 Clark St., Hamburg)— Sports on the televisions, bands on occasion and festive Hamburg reunions all year long. J.P.’s serves lots of purposes for lots of patrons, and most enjoy their pops with a few trips to the self-serve popcorn machine, stowed in the corner beside its entryway.
Mr. Goodbar (1110 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo) — Free baskets of popcorn and nachos are one thing. A free Friday night buffet—with wings, pizza bites, cheese poppers and more—is another. That’s why Mr. Goodbar makes yet another list in this issue (see page 15 for their drink bargains). Starting every week at 6 p.m., Elmwood Village’s cherished rock spot turns it out for Buff State students and snacking drinkers alike.
Story topics: Food & Drink