13 great restaurants in Buffalo's theater district

Some unexpected suggestions for pre- and post-theater dining



Raclettes’ outdoor patio

Photo by Stephen Gabris

 

The dining patterns of Shea’s theater patrons are fairly predictable: Bijou and Cabaret are packed to the gills without a reservation to be had, while other quality restaurants sit with empty tables. Though Hearth + Press seems to finally be catching on, it’s aided by in-your-face proximity to the Plaza of the Stars. Not so fortunate was Kaydara Noodle Bar, which recently closed.

 

If we had to bet why, we’d put our money on people not knowing about Kaydara rather than the jaunt to 777 Main being just a bit too far. We’d hope to win that bet, because it’s the impetus for this restaurant roundup of favorites within easy walking distance of Shea’s, Road Less Traveled, Irish Classical, Alleyway, Smith, 710, Buffalo United Artists, and New Phoenix theaters. We paired restaurants with nearby theaters in the hopes that you’ll not only become more varied in your dining habits, but in your theatergoing habits as well. Feel free to mix and match depending on your taste for both food and walking!

 

Disclaimer: This list is by no means complete, and we know from experience that if you’re willing to walk over to Chippewa, you can find any number of open tables at restaurants along that strip.

 

Road Less Traveled Productions

456 Main Street, Buffalo

PHOTO: STEPHEN GABRIS

 

Offers provocative contemporary work and occasional Western New York world premieres

 

Eat at:

 

Tappo

338 Ellicott Street

Distance: 0.5 miles

Photo: kc kratt

 

Typical fare:

Tappo offers the kind of food typically found at a classic red sauce Italian joint, but here it has “a modern twist,” as they say. Bonus: all wine bottles are just sixteen dollars.

Atmosphere:

Citified red sauce Italian; a favorite of New Buffalo’s business folk. In warm weather, the rooftop restaurant can’t be beat.

Pricing: $$ - $$$

 

Raclettes

537 Main Street

Distance: 0.3 miles

PHOTOs: Stephen Gabris

 

Typical fare:

Salads, sandwiches, and starters sure to thrill any cheese lover, plus daily specials.

Atmosphere:

Great ambience anytime! Carefully restored and reimagined, Raclettes’s interior pulls off romantic and cozy in the winter and fresh and European in the summer.

Pricing: $$

 

New Phoenix Theatre

95 Johnson Park, Buffalo

Photo: Stephen Gabris

 

Offers a mix of contemporary, new, and classic work in a unique, historic space.

 

Eat at:

 

Patina 250

Delaware Avenue

Distance: 0.3 miles

PHotos: Alana Fajemisin

 

Typical fare:

New American, think crab cakes and roast chicken, as well as some interesting vegetable sides. Theatergoers can take advantage of a specific prix fixe menu intended to get you in and out in time for the show.

Atmosphere:

The decor might be the highlight of any Patina 250 experience; it’s one of the prettiest dining rooms in the region. Here, the sophisticated and chichi vibe is successfully punctuated with the work of local artists.

Pricing: $$$

 

31 Club

31 North Johnson Park

Distance: 0.1 miles

PHOTOs: STEPHEN GABRIS​

 

Typical fare:

Steaks and pasta

Atmosphere:

31 Club originally opened in the forties and catered to the city’s socialites before shuttering in 1983. A careful restoration led to its reopening in 2009; picture Mad Men meets Buffalo.

Pricing: $$$-$$$$

 

Alleyway/Buffalo United Artists

1 Curtain Up Alley, Buffalo

PHOTO: STEPHEN GABRIS

 

Alleyway offers the classic A Christmas Carol, plus new works never seen in Buffalo. Buffalo United Artists offers a mix of classic and fresh works featuring or resonating with the LGBT community.

 

Eat at:

 

Señor Tequila

414 Pearl Street

Distance: 0.2 miles (from the front door, even less to the side entrance in the alley)

Photos: Stephen Gabris

 

Typical fare:

Classic big-plate beans and rice Mexican fare, sure to tide one over well past intermission. Good veg options, and big, strong margaritas, too.

Atmosphere:

This is dark restaurant space and always has been, but the owners have punched it up with color; super casual.

Pricing: $

 

Hearth + Press

665 Main Street

Distance: 203 feet

Photos: kc kratt

 

Typical fare: Pizzas, pasta, panini, salads, and apps

Atmosphere: The restaurant is flooded with sunlight during the day and offers an excellent view of Main Street at night. The interior has a very chill industrial feel, but it’s warmed up with friendly service.

Pricing: $$

 

Marble + Rye

112 Genesee Street

Distance: 0.3 miles

PHOTOS: KC KRATT

 

Typical fare:

Farm fresh and scratch-made pastas, burgers, super inventive appetizers, and a handful of typical meat-centric entrees. Don’t skip the cocktail menu; it’s the best in WNY.

Atmosphere:

Approachably cool—one of the few restaurants downtown packed with the city’s hipper than hip creative class as well as suburban Gen Xers.

Pricing: $$ - $$$

 

Shea’s Performing Arts Center

646 Main Street

PHOTO: KC KRATT

 

Offers fresh-off Broadway touring musicals

 

Eat at:

 

Frankie Primos +39

51 West Chippewa Street

Distance: 0.1 miles

PHOTO: kc KRATT

 

Typical fare:

This attractive spot on the corner of Chippewa and Delaware features a traditional Italian-American menu with a few surprises. Theater-goers in a hurry can choose from a diverse menu of delicious antipasti and panini, while those with enough time can dig into robust specialties like cacio e pepe and pasta arrabiata (featured in Spree’s November 2016 Red Sauce issue).

Atmosphere:

Expect a lively, youthful vibe and, in season, a hopping patio that’s great for people-watching.

Pricing: $$

 

Seabar

475 Ellicott Street

Distance: 0.3 miles

Photo: Melissa and Nino Ocampo

 

Typical fare:

American-style sushi, an assortment of Japanese classics, and the James Beard-nominated chef’s favorites like pork belly ramen, Loco Moco, and chicken and waffles.

Atmosphere:

Modern and minimalist, this place is always abuzz with beautiful young people, businessmen, and small groups of adults celebrating birthdays and anniversaries.

Pricing: $$ - $$$

 

Shea’s 710

710 Main Street

PHOTO: KC KRATT

 

Offers a mix of new musicals and plays produced by local and touring companies

 

Eat at:

 

Coco

888 Main Street

Distance: 0.5 miles

photos: Stephen Gabris

 

Typical fare:

A modern take on a bistro, Coco’s menu is peppered with French faves like cassoulet, mussels five ways, and ratatouille. A handful of pastas, pizzas, and specials round out the daily offerings.

Atmosphere:

This bastion of tranquility reflects its owner’s personal aesthetic: European-inspired, colorful, and fun.

Pricing: $$ - $$$

 

Toutant

437 Ellicott Street

Distance: 0.3 miles

photos: kc kratt

 

Typical fare:

Southern comfort food at its finest. Toutant is known for its daily barbecue offering, a killer muffaletta, fried chicken (available as gluten free, too), seafood specials, and biscuits to die for.

Atmosphere:

Simple and unpretentious, Toutant is always packed with suburbanites, tourists, and city dwellers in equal numbers.

Pricing: $$ - $$$

 

 

Smith Theatre

658 Main Street

PHOTO: STEPHEN GABRIS

 

Offers intimate crowd-pleasing theater, often interactive

 

Eat at:

 

Just Vino

846 Main Street

Distance: 0.4 miles

PHotos Stephen Gabris

 

Typical fare:

Despite its rep as a wine bar, Just Vino offers shareable items on its modest menu, including cheese plates (natch), meatballs, shrimp cakes, and more. Perfect for a light snack pre- or post-show; great paired with wine flights.

Atmosphere:

This venerable establishment features brick walls and great woodwork; visitors will find it both intimate and friendly.

Pricing: $$

 

Buffalo Proper

333 Franklin Street

Distance: 0.2 miles

PHotos: kc kratt

 

Typical fare:

Upscale pub food and entrees prepared with New American flare; this place is really known for its cocktail program.

Atmosphere:

Jovial service in Proper’s beautiful street-level barroom augments a sophisticated dining room tucked away upstairs.

Pricing: $$ - $$$    

 

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