Bar Hopping: The Old Pink

Last year I wrote about The Library (a cool little bar in Amherst) for a new feature called Bar Hopping. My original plan was to write about a different bar every week but our busy schedules combined with my laziness prevented that dream from coming to fruition. I figured the easiest way to get this featured started (again) is to write about one of my favorite bars in Buffalo, The Pink.

While it goes by several names (The Old Pink, Allen St Bar & Grill, etc) everyone that I know simply calls this place “The Pink”. Many have heard of the place and it’s legendary debauchery, interesting crowd and level of cleanliness. For those of you who aren’t familiar, it’s the building on Allen that currently is painted blue/purple with snowy clouds and green flames going up the sides. When I tell people that their steak sandwich is still one of my favorite meals in Buffalo, I get looks of shock and horror that are usually followed by the question “you actually would eat something from there?”

Quick Info:

  • Beer Selection: About 6/8 drafts, uncertain selection of bottles in cooler
  • Bar Type: Dive Bar
  • Food Options: Steak Sandwich ($10), Burger/Fried Bologna/Chicken Sandwich ($6)

The bar itself is one of the darkest in Buffalo, with red lights inclosed in a cage that make me feel like I’m inside a submarine. You have to watch your step when walking into or out of the bar because the floor is uneven and at some parts sunken, making this bar almost deadly when stumbling around drunk at 4am. There is a large pool table in an adjacent room where people normally hang out rather then actually play pool, and in the back of the bar you’ll find two dartboards. The leather bar stool seats have seen better days, most of the seats are torn up and missing large chunks of leather. While all of these features might turn away the less adventurous drinker, these are some of the quirky traits that make me love the Pink.

The crowd can vary from night to night, but if you are grabbing a drink on a weekend night I recommended you visit after 2am, that’s when it really starts to peak and it can actually become quite crowded. In recent years it seems like the Pink has lost some of that edginess that made the average downtown drinker hesitant about stepping inside and is now the place where everyone likes to end their night. In the summer time if you happen to be outside on Allen around 4 am you’ll see a crowd of nearly 50 people standing in front of the pink, smoking cigarettes and trying to figure out whats next.

Behind the bar you’ll be able to find a couple good beers on tap but a seasonal Dogfish Head and Magic Hat #9 are generally the extent of “craft beers”.¬† Considering some of the other bars in the area (Colter Bay, DBGB, Fat Bob’s), this isn’t exactly the bar to chose if you are looking to get your beer geek on. They have a very large bottle selection in their cooler, but good luck trying to figure out what the hell is inside it in the dark with the glass doors covered in stickers. Let’s be honest though, you aren’t going there for a fancy beer, and that’s OK.

Their “dining” menu isn’t printed anywhere but simply ask a bartender and they’ll give you a run down of their options which include a Burger, Grilled Bologna or a Grilled Chicken Sandwich. They are all tasty in their own ways and I think their burger is incredibly underrated. What you really want to order however, is the greatest sandwich on all of Allen Street, the Steak Sandwich (pictured above). This is honestly on my top 10 list of favorite foods in all of WNY, it was my first meal as an Allentown resident and is still one of Alli’s favorite late night snacks. The steak is a simple 12oz strip steak, lightly seasoned, grilled and can be topped with cheese, onions and/or peppers on a toasted Costanzo roll. I honestly don’t know what makes the sandwich so great, maybe their seasoning has some magical ingredient or the grill has built up years of flavor. It doesn’t matter, drunk or sober, it’s incredible and always cooked perfectly tender and juicy, which is amazing considering how dark the bar is.

If I ever move from the area, or even move out of the city, the Pink is one of two bars that I will truly miss (the other being Founding Fathers). Anyone can step into the Pink and grab a drink, you don’t have to be part of the “club” and you shouldn’t worry about a crowd of people turning and creating an awkward scene. Yes, they do take credit cards but the tabs (sometimes) have a minimum charge of $10. Avoid ordering some elaborate cocktail (keep it simple), grab a steak sandwich, don’t complain about the music or ask ‘where’s the jukebox?’ and you’ll have a great time.

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