The Chautauqua Belle brings the Industrial Revolution's innovation and muscle back to life with cruises held aboard the historic open-air steamboat. The eponymous vessel glides across the calm surface of Chautauqua Lake as guides educate guests of all ages on the lake's colorful history. Guests can enjoy snacks and libations from the full-service bar as they glimpse picturesque beaches and lush forests during dinner, fireworks, and private charters or narrated history tours.
As pedestrians bustle past the eclectic restaurants and theater of the lively Chippewa District, the aroma of sizzling ground beef and freshly baked brioche rolls draws them toward Soho Burger Bar. Executive chef Ray Flor's kitchen is the source of these smells, where chefs whip up a variety of specialty burgers using specialty ground beef from the local Johnny's Meats and custom-made buns from Romeo's Bakery Cafe. They adorn patties of grilled ahi tuna, bison, and turkey with gourmet cheeses, sauces and garnishes, pairing burgers with appetizers of fish tacos or sides of truffle tater tots. Meanwhile, bartenders blend premium liquors into cocktails and decadent spiked milkshakes.
Reporters who lauded the restaurant's burgers in publications such as Buffalo Rising or Buffalo News were equally charmed by the interior decor, citing sultry lighting, an inventive chandelier made of liquor bottles, and walls covered in illuminated retro album covers. Cozy conversation nooks, bistro tables, couches, and translucent tortoiseshell patio chairs scatter the vibrant dining room, upstairs lounge, and outdoor patios of the versatile restaurant, which transforms into a quirky eatery during the day, a lively hot spot at night, and an enchanted yo-yo factory by early dawn.
At Laughlin's Hearty Bistro, chefs concoct a menu of rustic, bistro-style fare that spotlights quality cuts of beef, fresh fish, and meaty sandwiches paired with hand-cut fries. Steak- and seafood-laden plates make their way to the cozy dining room, where warm lamplight illuminates dark-wood tables and exposed-brick walls. A mezzanine populated with plush, black leather easy chairs overlooks a copper-topped bar. Here, friendly bartenders and repurposed paint shakers mix a mean martini, and the bar's glassware also brims with wine and beer.
It's fitting that Alleyway Theatre makes its home in a renovated bus depot—the venue is a destination for local talent. The company focuses on Buffalo artists, frequently staging world premieres and fostering the work of homegrown playwrights. Freshly penned plays and acclaimed shorts entertain audiences in the historic venue, which sports the curved walls, stainless steel trimmings, and distinctive mustache of the Art Moderne architectural style.
At Duke's Bohemian Grove Bar, more than 150 types of beer stand ready for duty, chilling in bottles behind cool glass or waiting within deep kegs. Drawn from breweries across the world, these numerous libations, alongside a selection of international wines and handcrafted cocktails, find themselves on duty more often than not. No matter the day, Duke's doesn't close until the clock strikes 4 a.m. The drinks pair well with the bar's menu of pub fare, served until 3 a.m. In addition to specialties such as smoked barbecue chicken wings and mammoth burgers, the kitchen also sizzles up fresh cut steaks and curates a selection of fresh seafood ranging from raw oysters to delicate clams. These dinners often unfold to the sounds of live music; guests may hear anything from a classic-rock act to a jazz artist testing the limits of traditional time signatures.