This historic neighborhood just north of downtown is a perfectly quirky spot filled with live music bars, trendy restaurants, public art murals and locally owned galleries, antique shops and boutiques. Allentown, named after early 1800s local farmer Lewis Allen (who let his cattle graze on the land prior to the neighborhood’s construction), is roughly bordered by Main Street to the east, Edward and Cottage Streets to the south, Kleinhans Music Hall to the west and North Street to the north (of course). Here are my 5 ways to eat, play and love Allentown:
The art community is alive in Allentown. Every first Friday of the month Allentown hosts a gallery walk, known as “First Fridays.” Find yourself rubbing elbows with some of the city’s most creative trailblazers. Discover fresh talent from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. from galleries like Studio Hart, El Museo and Dreamland Art Studio.
History in the Streets
Allentown features a historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s an enchanting part of the city, where beautiful cottage style homes fill the neighborhood and historic landmarks are at every turn, from the legendary Kleinhans Music Hall to the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, one of the only spots outside the nation’s capital where a U.S. president took the oath of office. Other notable buildings include the Allendale Theater, home to the Theatre of Youth; Butler Mansion and First Presbyterian Church. Take a self-guided tour of the neighborhood’s charms on our Allentown Amble.
Listen to it LIVE
Allentown is particularly known for its bars and music venues. On any given night you can hear hip hop pouring out of Allen Street Hardware, jazz playing at PAUSA Art House and the Buffalo Philharmonic on stage at Kleinhans Music Hall. Nietzsche’s is a neighborhood staple that hosts musicians, open-mike nights, comedy acts and burlesque shows. As the public art on the outside Nietzsche’s states, “Life without music would be a mistake.”
For Those Who Like to Eat
Allentown is home to some of my favorite foodie destinations. Some of the city’s most popular restaurants are within a stone’s throw of each other.
Save your appetite for dinner, but it’s going to be hard to choose! If you are looking for fine dining, Tempo is one of the best restaurants in the city. For tasty wings and things head to Gabriel’s Gate or Allen Burger Venture. As for your second dinner, Founding Fathers Pub has make your own nachos, and how can you pass up a legendary “chicken finger sub” from Jim’s Steakout…you can’t, so just give in.
Art For The People
Mark Goldman, a Buffalo historian, social advocate and businessman, created the public art scene in Allentown, known as the Allen Street Art Collective. In 2013, he set out to create a mural series that would be dedicated to his late brother, and since then it’s blossomed into the heart of the public art scene. The murals feature artists from New York City, Los Angeles and Buffalo.
And in the summer months, don’t miss the guy locals affectionately refer to as the “Bubble Man,” who blows hundreds of bubbles from his third floor apartment into the intersection of Elmwood and Allen on nice days. Only in Allentown!