Great Dates / Dine, dance, drink in Polish
Take a whirlwind tour of old Buffalo
Clinton Bar & Grill has regular polka nights.
Photo by Stephen Gabris
Best for: Dyngus devotees
Where: Various Polonia spots
You don’t have to be Polish nor does it need to be Dyngus Day to get immersed in Buffalo’s Polish culture. It’s possible to eat, drink, and be merry Warsaw-style year-round in Western New York. Start the evening with some sustenance, burn off the golabkis with a fun activity, then wind the evening down with a Polish nightcap. Here are some suggested itineraries:
First stop: Polish cuisine
It’s more than pierogi. Polish menus can include czarina and borscht (traditional soups), golabki (cabbage rolls), potato pancakes, fried bologna, and kielbasa (sausage). Here are a few places that serve these items and more:
A hearty meal of standard Polish fare at Polish Villa 2.
Photo by kc kratt
The R&L Lounge at 23 Mills Street has been operated by Ronnie and Lottie Pikuzinski since 1969. The menu may be more limited than some, but is lovingly prepared by ninety-one-year old Lottie and exemplifies home-cooked Polish fare.
The Ukrainian American Civic Center, 205 Military Road, serves home cooked Slavic meals prepared by Pani Mariya. Although the club is for members only, it is open to the public on Friday evenings for dinner from 6 to 10 p.m., or until Mariya sells out. Check out “Pierogi Love Night” on February 15.
The Happy Swallow sits on the corner of Sycamore and Titus Streets on the city’s East Side. This small family-owned bar, whose Friday dinner menu is as authentic as it gets, has long had a clientele of regulars who depend on it for a taste of old world Polonia.
Ru’s Pierogi on Niagara Street is the new kid on the block and offers a modern twist on the old-world classic—like chicken wing pierogi and a cookies and cream pierogi for dessert.
A tour of a magnificent church in Polonia (Corpus Christi shown here) can kick-off your date.
PHOTO BY KC KRATT
Second stop: Polish culture
Listen to live polka music and dance a few polkas—there are dozens of polka bands in Western New York. Check out who’s playing where before you head out by visiting Polish Buffalo’s online journal, the Am-Pol Eagle. Some of Western New York’s favorite polka bands include Special Delivery, the Buffalo Touch, the New Direction, and the Knewz. You can always count on the Clinton Bar and Grill in Cheektowaga each second Sunday of the month to host live polka music and dancing.
Attend one of the biggest happy hours around. Polish Happy Hour Buffalo hosts monthly events that are hugely popular. On February 8, check out a Polish Ukrainian Happy Hour showcasing Polish and Ukrainian food and drink. Celebrate Tlusty Czwartek (Poland’s version of Fat Thursday) on February 28 at Skoob’s on Central Avenue in Lancaster. Admission is free and so is the food and entertainment, including live music and Polish dancing. Polish beer and liqueurs are available as well. Find more information on all events on Polish Happy Hour Buffalo’s Facebook page.
Take in a lecture on Copernicus, the Polish astronomer, at The Burchfield Penney Art Center on February 7, or listen to a Musical Feast on February 8, in a concert featuring music and poetry about Copernicus. More information can be found on the Center’s website at burchfieldpenney.org.
Knock down a few pins at Voelker’s Bowling on the corner of Amherst and Elmwood, one of the area’s oldest bowling lane venues.
Final stop: Polish nightcap
End your night with a krupnik cocktail at the Buffalo Distilling Company in Larkinville. The distillery debuted the world’s first barrel-aged krupnik back in November. Find out what makes this sweet polish vodka so special as you wind down your evening with a sip and a traditional toast: “Twoje zdrowie!”