Buffalo is building a reputation as the host of one of the best Dyngus Day parties in America. But the city doesn’t just bust out the pussy willows and Tyskie on the day after Easter; proud Polish residents celebrate their heritage year-round, and are more than happy to celebrate with you.
Few places in Buffalo will do a better job of immersing you in the Polish culture that spawned Dyngus Day than the Adam Mickiewicz Library and Dramatic Circle. What started out as a meeting hall and club for blue collar Polish immigrants has turned into a Polish bar, bona-fide performance space, the oldest surviving Polish library in Buffalo, and a bastion of Polish heritage on Buffalo’s East Side. The performance hall, now occupied by Torn Space Theater, was built in 1895 followed by the main building in 1920. The library contains about 12,000 books and the bar serves up Polish booze year-round.
I ventured down to the club on a recent Friday evening to taste test a few brews and learn about this Polish stronghold. The building has the familiar feel of a Prohibition Era neighborhood bar, right down to the dual staircases for a quick escape in case the cops showed up. The wall décor and an old jukebox in the front room call back to Buffalo’s booming industrial days.
Upon entering I was met immediately with a warm welcome from the bartender and the couple seated down the bar from me. I mentioned my mission to taste test some Polish beers and they were more than happy to offer their recommendations. It turns out that the bar stocks anywhere between 10-25 polish beers depending on the time of year and they travel to Syracuse and as far west as Chicago to bring you the best that Poland has to offer. The bar also stocks multiple Polish spirits, including many imported directly from the motherland. To top it all off, polka music pours through the speakers.
But the true Polish experience here isn’t just about the beer or the polka music. It’s the Polish hospitality you receive. I learned all about that from the couple next to me as they explained all about the club and the events it hosts. The bartender was more than happy to tell me all about the history of the club and invited me back for a Sunday Bills game or a performance in the theater. It felt like we had known each other for years as the four of us chatted the evening away.
So with Easter rolling around again by all means, Dyngus your heart out, but make sure you stop by Adam Mickiewicz’s for a true taste of Poland. And be sure to tell my new friends I said hello.
The Adam Mickiewicz Library and Dramatic Circle, 612 Fillmore Ave., is open on Friday and Saturday nights. For more fun in Buffalo, follow Jay on Twitter and Instagram @TheBigElevator