Profiling a classic venue takes on new meaning when you have 150 years to cover, let alone the oldest bar in Buffalo. Fortunately, Ulrich’s 1868 Tavern makes storytelling easy. This old-time tavern stands strong within the burgeoning Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
You don’t reach 150 years without your share of stories to tell. Some you can see when you walk through the door. The bar’s striking stained glass backdrop comes from previous owner (and namesake) Michael Ulrich, who brought it from the Iroquois Hotel in 1910.
In its early years, Ulrich’s served as a social epicenter of Buffalo’s German community, and as a meeting hub for politicians and big thinkers. At one time, the building’s multiple floors served as a delicatessen and restaurant, speakeasy, barbershop (who knew?) and hotel.
Through its owners and transformation, Ulrich’s solidified its reputation as a popular lunch spot and post-work watering hole. The same holds true today – plus karaoke Tuesdays!
Many modern bars strive for the décor that Ulrich’s has preserved for decades. Faded tin ceilings (and some walls) show their age, but give the venue an intentional and distinct vintage feel. Ulrich’s features three rooms, each with its own personality – a lively front bar room, a quieter adjacent parlor with tables and view of Virginia Street, and a spacious long back room lined with dark wood tables and side booths. The dimly pearl-lit overhead fixtures add to the classic tavern ambience, and keep your eye out for the striking Genesee Cream Ale lampshade.
German influence is part of the Ulrich’s fabric. Health nuts and carb counters need not enter. But fans of hearty, home style comfort food need not hesitate. Popular starters include the pierogis and plate-sized potato pancakes – with an extra dollop of apple sauce and sour cream. Easy follows are the wiener schnitzel, French onion soup or chicken pot pie. The pastrami on rye or beef on weck are also worthy choices for any time of the day – best served with a side of German potato salad or sauerkraut. And wash it all down with a healthy list of imported and bottled beer.
Newer establishments often trend towards mixology and microbrews with a side of Edison bulbs. Instead, this tavern hangs it hat with traditional charm because it has worked for 150 years. Perhaps one of its biggest strengths is its willingness to stay authentic, turning its patrons’ first impressions into lasting ones. That’s worth a cold beer anytime.