You think you know chicken wings?
Every Western New York carnivore has their favorite chicken wing. It’s an intensely local food, since the crispy, steamy essence of a great wing platter can’t be enjoyed too far from the fryer. So a lot of wing lovers find a spot they like and lock in.
Everybody knows about the Anchor Bar, where the chicken wing as we know it celebrates its 50th anniversary Thursday. And as many people or more know about Duff’s, with its multiple locations and its reputation as at least the equal of the Anchor Bar.
But then what?
Influenced by, but not strictly based on, an informal BuffaloNews.com poll, here are 10 good reasons to get out of your wing rut. Of course, no one is going to agree with nine out of 10 here, but that’s OK. If you don’t want an argument, don’t ask where to find the best wings in Buffalo.
In alphabetical order:
• Bar Bill, 185 Main St., East Aurora, 652-7959, www.barbill.com
You might have to shoulder your way through the crowd of regulars and ask for a table, but it’s worth the trouble. Cooks at this little place take pride in delivering super-crispy wings no matter which of its many sauces they’re wearing. Unlike most wing destinations, the nontraditional sauces like honey butter barbecue might be most popular.
• Brennan’s Bowery Bar & Restaurant, 4401 Transit Road, Clarence, 633-9630, www.brennansbowery.com
This place has been satisfying families for 30 years, and though it’s nominally an Irish-themed pub, it’s the wings that lead its reputation. Big, crispy and carrying a moderate amount of sauce, they light up diners’ faces like a pot of gold.
• Doc Sullivan’s, 474 Abbott Road, 822-1182
The regular wings are worthy, but it’s the “Smitty Style” wings that make this place stand out among South Buffalo taverns. A complex spice blend that includes celery salt and clove makes for a plate of wings that stand on their own.
• Dwyer’s Irish Pub, 65 Webster St., North Tonawanda, 692-4837, http://dwyerspub.com
The list of sauces will make wing traditionalists queasy, but Dwyer’s has created lots of fans for unlikely combinations such as raspberry barbecue and wasabi plum. If you’re interested in seeing how far the wing can go, Dwyer’s will help you out.
• Elmo’s Bar & Restaurant, 2349 Millersport Highway, Getzville, 688-7237, www.ElmosOnline.com
There’s not a lot to make Elmo’s stand out until you get to the wings. Big, crispy chicken digits that hold their sauce well. The Cajun style gets a lot of raves with its dry-rub-spiced ride on a smoky grill, but the standard works pretty well too.
• Gabriel’s Gate, 145 Allen St., 886-0602
Despite all the places that sell chicken wings on Allen Street, Gabriel’s Gate has held on to its reputation as the best wing in Allentown. Big. meaty wings by the platter have wing lovers returning even if the rest of the menu is hit-or-miss.
• LaNova Pizzeria, 371 W. Ferry St., 881-3303, www.lanova-pizzeria.com
The barbecue pit wing, fried, doused with barbecue sauce, and caramelized on a grill, might not have been invented by LaNova. But they were certainly popularized by the pizza chain and remain a standard.
• Mammoser’s Tavern, 16 S. Buffalo St., Hamburg, 648-1390
Another small place that draws locals for its distinctive “dry” wings, which feature a spice rub or paste to amp up the flavor. Lauded by wing lovers who don’t want a messy experience, and spice lovers who say the cooks aren’t afraid to deliver flamethrower heat.
• Nine-Eleven Tavern, 11 Bloomfield Ave., 825-9939
The wings arrive arranged on a plate, not dumped in a bowl, a sign of how seriously this tiny neighborhood place takes its wings. The customized sauce gives a nod to the Frank’s-based classic, but the umami intensifier of a grated Parmesan-like cheese, and a touch of sweetness to take the edge off the burn.
• Sal’s Lounge, 283 Olmstead Ave., Depew, 683-9553
Just another neighborhood tavern till the wings arrive. There’s an extra coating, though not a crust, to amp up the crispiness, and the sauces are no-fooling spicy. Nothing else on the menu stands out, but with wings like that, nothing has to.