May 24, 2024

Best Chicken Wings in Buffalo: A Flavor-Packed Journey

Buffalo wings, a staple of American cuisine, generally involve baking or frying chicken wings until they are crispy and brown. They are then tossed in a mixture of peppery Frank’s RedHot sauce and melted butter. Traditionally, these wings are served with celery and blue cheese dressing, never ranch.

Historical Context

The original Buffalo wings featured a tomato-based sauce. John Young, a Black restaurateur, invented a version of these wings before the commonly credited Anchor Bar. Young’s wings utilized a sweet-and-spicy mumbo sauce made from tomato paste, sugar, vinegar, and cayenne pepper. Though his restaurant, Wings N’ Things, is now closed, his daughter continues his legacy through pop-up events.

Variation in Spiciness and Sauce

Modern Buffalo wings vary widely in spiciness, ranging from sweet and mild to extremely hot. Many restaurants offer different heat levels and allow customers to mix and match sauces. The levels of spiciness are crucial and often specified due to their intensity.

Cult Following and Local Pride

Buffalo wings have a strong local following in Buffalo, NY, where locals often have passionate opinions about the best places to get wings. There is no universally agreed-upon best version as opinions vary widely.

"Anchor Bar Buffalo Wings" by Food Thinkers is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/.

Notable Restaurants

Duff’s Famous Wings

Known for their tagline that "medium" is hot, "medium hot" is very hot, and "hot" is extremely hot. Duff's is notable for its extra-saucy and spicy wings, including their Death Sauce wings. Originating in 1946 as a corner tavern, it evolved into a chain with locations in Western New York and Texas. Duff’s gained fame for Buffalo wings introduced in 1969, leading to a name change in 1985.

Road-Tripping from NYC to Buffalo: A Wing Review

To savor Buffalo’s famous chicken wings, a long weekend trip was undertaken with the objective of reviewing 10-12 spots.

Anchor Bar

Rating: 4/10

Experience: Not as impressive as expected; original but underwhelming in taste.

Gabriel’s Gate

Rating: 8.5/10

Highlights: Excellent sauce with nice heat and vinegar tang, slightly lacking in crispiness. Great atmosphere and standout onion soup.

Kelly’s Korner

Rating: 9/10

Highlights: Very crispy wings with a unique, possibly slightly sweet sauce and genuine heat. Also praised for its beef-on-weck sandwich and divey atmosphere.

Big Ditch Brewing

Rating: 5/10

Highlights: Just average; wings were too big, lacked crispiness, and had mediocre sauce and blue cheese.

Adolf’s Old First Ward Tavern

Rating: 8.5/10

Highlights: Both hot and medium Cajun wings were very good despite being jumbo. Blue cheese dip stood out as the best.

"buffalo wings" by goodiesfirst is licensed under CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/.

Nine-Eleven Tavern

Rating: No specific rating provided

Highlights: General description about wings being slightly disappointing but overall a solid option with a chill bar atmosphere.

Doc Sullivan’s

Highlights: Memorable beef on weck. Wings were good but the bar atmosphere was very rowdy.

Wingnutz

Highlights: Impressive sauces but the wings were breaded and lost crispiness due to the sauce abundance.

Duff’s

Highlights: Positive experience with classic hot wings executed well, despite controversy over their quality.

Bar-Bill Tavern

Highlights: Mixed experience; Cajun honey butter BBQ wings were better than the hot variety. Atmosphere praised.

Elmo’s

Highlights: Enjoyed the final stop’s hot and double-dipped Cajun honey mustard wings with satisfying crispiness.

Buffalo Wing Reviews: A Road Trip from NYC to Buffalo
Restaurant Rating Highlights
Anchor Bar 4/10 Not as impressive as expected; original but underwhelming in taste.
Gabriel’s Gate 8.5/10 Excellent sauce with nice heat and vinegar tang, slightly lacking in crispiness. Great atmosphere and standout onion soup.
Kelly’s Korner 9/10 Very crispy wings with a unique, possibly slightly sweet sauce and genuine heat. Also praised for its beef-on-weck sandwich and divey atmosphere.
Big Ditch Brewing 5/10 Just average; wings were too big, lacked crispiness, and had mediocre sauce and blue cheese.
Adolf’s Old First Ward Tavern 8.5/10 Both hot and medium Cajun wings were very good despite being jumbo. Blue cheese dip stood out as the best.
Nine-Eleven Tavern N/A General description about wings being slightly disappointing but overall a solid option with a chill bar atmosphere.
Doc Sullivan’s N/A Memorable beef on weck. Wings were good but the bar atmosphere was very rowdy.
Wingnutz N/A Impressive sauces but the wings were breaded and lost crispiness due to the sauce abundance.
Duff’s N/A Positive experience with classic hot wings executed well, despite controversy over their quality.
Bar-Bill Tavern N/A Mixed experience; Cajun honey butter BBQ wings were better than the hot variety. Atmosphere praised.
Elmo’s N/A Enjoyed the final stop’s hot and double-dipped Cajun honey mustard wings with satisfying crispiness.

General Observations and Tips

Crispiness Matters: The importance of crispiness in wings cannot be understated, as recurring feedback emphasizes this factor.

Sauce Variety and Quality: Notable places where the sauce stood out impacted the overall score significantly.

Atmospheric Preferences: The atmosphere in each establishment either contributed to or detracted from the experience.

Diversifying Orders: Trying other local specialties such as the beef on weck added to the richness of the culinary experience.

Recommendations for Future Travelers

Timing and Waits: Plan accordingly, as some popular places like Gabriel's Gate had extensive waits.

Diverse Selections: Suggest trying different sauce styles and unique items like the onion soup at Gabriel’s Gate.

Dive Bars vs. Fancy Establishments: Both styles of establishments offer a full spectrum of experiences, appreciated for different reasons.

In conclusion, the diverse food culture in Buffalo, centered around its iconic wings, offers a unique travel and culinary experience. Whether you're a fan of high heat or a more mild flavor, there's a place for everyone to enjoy their perfect Buffalo wing. So, grab your napkins and get ready to explore this delectable facet of Buffalo's local pride.

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