In the 1986 John Hughes classic, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” the film’s title character leaves viewers with multiple pieces of advice, including the following: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
The same could be said about Buffalo summers.
Every year, they’re gone in a blink, booked with a surge of cookouts, concerts and kayak trips, and all gone once the first Octoberfest beers flow through tavern tap lines. That’s why it’s important to meticulously strategize what you can, as well as spend the season’s fleeting moments along the city’s greatest resource: it’s waterfront.
With what’s been built at Canalside and along the Buffalo River over the last decade, it’s hard to imagine you haven’t already spent considerable time around these locations this summer. But even if you have, it wouldn’t hurt to return with a fully fleshed-out itinerary of seafood, searing guitar riffs and soothing late-night beverages.
That’s the plan for this month’s Night Out. Ready? Let’s go.
Stop 1: Dinner at Liberty Hound
1 Naval Park Cover, Buffalo
When strolling its boardwalk, snoozing in an Adirondack chair or sipping a cold beer off the edge of the Buffalo River, it’s easy to forget that, 10 years ago, the waterfront destination that is now Canalside wasn’t much more than revamped cobblestone and fresh sod.
What’s even easier to forget is that there wasn’t a marquee bar or restaurant adjacent to the development until the birth of Liberty Hound in 2013.
Now, the location is a canal cornerstone for those headed down to the waterfront, and provides a convenient spot for those looking for seafood and a few pre-concert cocktails—but get there early. Those who secure seats inside its tight dining quarters or scenic back patio can sip the fruit-and-rum-laden lusciousness of a Liberty Lady before feasting on a summer menu of Liberty mussels ($14) and ahi tuna nachos ($14), as well as entrée fare like diver scallops ($19) and the grilled Australian bass of Barramundi ($19).
Stop 2: Social Distortion & Flogging Molly at Canalside
Once the Hound-hosted dining is done, circle back down Marine Drive for entry into the last Canalside Live show of the summer, featuring the rollicking rock double-shot of Social Distortion and Flogging Molly on August 27 (6 p.m.). The Canalside concert series has stood as an annual hallmark of the Buffalo summer for seven years, with past lineup announcements serving for some as an official start to the season. But with this year’s schedule skewing from its every-Thursday tradition, calendar flexibility has helped snare some tours that would otherwise miss Buffalo—including this twofer of overly amplified proportions.
In the Mike Ness-fronted Social Distortion, attendees can expect more than three decades of punk rock snarl, the kind that’s accessed sing-along rockabilly for coming-of-age tracks (“Story of My Life”) or veered head-on into Fender-laden lament (“Bad Luck”). For Flogging Molly, unfamiliar listeners will get a taste of Celtic tradition in August, albeit backed by a fighting Irish thrust that questions political leadership (“Drunken Lullabies”) or celebrates pugilistic history (“The Hand of John O’Sullivan”).
Put them together, and both should make for a hot end to the cherished summer concert series. Tickets through eventbrite.com, $15-$45.
Stop 3: Drinks at Ballyhoo
211 South Park Ave., Buffalo
After the invigorating reverberations of Ness and the Dave King-led Molly, you’ll need somewhere to exhale while your adrenaline winds down. Thankfully, a brisk stroll through the Cobblestone District will get you to the unexpected South Park Avenue oasis known as Ballyhoo.
Known for their jam-infused cocktails, rotating list of craft drafts and the finest barroom sausages in the city since debuting in 2014, the locale is simplistic in decor, but sophisticated in every other aspect. Boasting an encyclopedic spirits list (much like its sibling location, Lucky Day) and an always-ambitious draft board of local and hard-to-find drafts ($4-$9), it’s an ideal stop for that last drink—or last few drinks—of the night.
And dependent on your mood and the riverfront breeze of the evening, you can enjoy your order against two distinct backdrops. Stay inside and sidle up to the bar, or stand within an expanse once favored by grain scoopers and General Mills employees in its previous shot-and-a-beer iteration as the Malamute. Step outside to its back patio and you can sip your beverage while gazing across the Buffalo River to those laborers’ places of business, still humming and loading freighters that ease under the nearby Michigan Street lift bridge.
Either way, it’s an ideal way to end the night along the city’s ever-evolving waterfront.
Story topics: Food & Drink