Bar Hopping: Founding Fathers

Two months into starting Buffalo Eats, I wrote a post about having lunch at Founding Fathers and vaguely mentioned how much I enjoy the bar. The post was brief and over the three years since writing that article, my feelings for this bar have grown. I now consider it one of my favorite bars in the city (on par with the Pink), it’s the bar I chose to drink at the night before my wedding and the first place I took my brother when he turned 21. When I became the mayor on foursquare last month I was genuinely excited.

For those who haven’t visited, the bar is literally filled with historical artifacts mostly related to US History and Presidents (hence the name).  Almost every inch of the place is covered with something interesting; flags are hanging from the ceiling and when you sit down at the table you’ll notice a place mat featuring every US president.  Bartender/owner Mike Driscoll purchased the building (on Edward and Delaware) in 1985 and over time filled the bar with things he owned and has continued to fill it with donations.

The crowd at Founding Fathers can vary on the night and the time; generally as the night gets later, the crowd gets younger.  The bar is open seven days a week and serves food until they close, so on the weekends that means the Pink’s steak sandwich isn’t your only 3am snack option in Allentown.  While you will find your fair share of older folks enjoying the artifacts, most of the time on a weekend you will find a post-college/hipster/chill crowd looking for a place that won’t be playing loud/obnoxious music.  If you don’t mind opening a tab, you can grab a table with a couple of your buddies and sit back and hang out.  While the bar has some entertaining shots that seem to be geared towards the ladies (fluff-n-nutter shot anyone?), this isn’t a “let’s get wasted and be annoying” type of place.

Besides the historical theme and awesome bartender (more on Mike later), one of the more popular features of Founding Fathers is their free popcorn and nachos.  The popcorn is incredibly salty and a great partner for cold beer, the nachos are made from large wholesale bags of chips with canned cheese, beans and jalapeno peppers on the side for toppings.  They also have a menu that features a wide variety of grilled sandwiches, my personal favorite and the ONLY thing I order is the Black and Blue Burger (pictured above).  It has become my favorite burger in Buffalo, the meat is always juicy, the sesame bun is great and grilled just right and they’ve come up with the perfect meat/blue cheese ratio.  It’s effin’ delicious.

As someone who primarily orders just beer at a bar, I can’t really speak to the selection of liquor/mixed drinks that can be made but just knowing that Mike has over 30 years of bar-tending experience, I’m guessing you can order some classic cocktails.  (Actually, I just had him make me a Negroni this past weekend and it was pretty good.)  Beer wise they have a good selection of bottles, usually a mixture of the standard macro’s with some seasonal micro-brews and at least 3 Flying Bison’s.  The draft selection isn’t anything to brag about, but I usually order the McSorely’s every single time.  It’s something you can’t find too often in Buffalo on draft and just a tasty, darker Pale Ale.

The real reason to go to Founding Fathers is Mike Driscoll.  Sure you could sit with your friends at a table in the back and have a great night, but you’d be missing out on some fantastic entertainment at the bar.  If you happen to go on a slower night (early weeknights) and sit at the bar, be prepared because you will start getting trivia questions from Mike.  They’ll range from all sorts of topics but mostly will revolve around US History and other weird facts about our country.  These questions come from Mike’s years of teaching Social Studies and renting out books at the library.  If you start answering some correctly (or even just flat out guessing for 2 minutes) you might even start to see Mike do a little dance behind the bar or start spinning pints of beer in the air.  If you don’t get the answers right, fear not because many people don’t get them right.  You may get made fun of a little bit (“They’d be impressed with you at Brick Bar”) and if the entire bar is stumped you’ll hear the now infamous “How soon we forget….”.  My only problem with the trivia questions becoming so popular is that now people go there thinking they can stump Mike and most of the time that gets annoying real quick (spoiler: you CAN’T stump Mike, so don’t try).

I love this bar and whenever we move out of Allentown, I will be genuinely upset that I can no longer walk to this drinking establishment.  If you’ve never been, make some plans to go this week for dinner or drinks.  Make sure you sit at the bar and get a history lesson from Mike because it’s always a great time.

Photo Gallery:

Founding Fathers on Urbanspoon
Founding Fathers Restaurant on Foodio54

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