To end the summer on a bang, this past weekend Alli and I headed to our city’s annual Chicken Wing Festival, held at Coca Cola Field. For someone who has started a food Buffalo blog it may shock you to hear that I really don’t like the festival (I never really have, and this year was no different). Sure, they have a crazy selection of wings from all over the United States and it’s a good place to bring the family and enjoy a beautiful summer day in the city, but its usually fairly crowded and hot, there are not many places to actually sit and eat, and (what may be my biggest complaint) the wings are usually never that good. And by that I am not talking about flavor as much as I am referring to how they are often soggy and cold from sitting in sauce for long periods of time. And here in Buffalo we usually enjoy our wings fresh and rather crispy. Regardless of these potential negatives, we went again this year in hopes that I would find something amazing, different, and delicious.
We arrived to the wingfest later then we ever have before (7:30 pm), and we did this for a couple reasons. For one, to attempt to avoid the daytime crowd. After going to the Taste of Buffalo this year and almost having a panic attack when I could barely move my arms, we decided later probably = less people. Of course the only thing that sucks about going later in the night was that every restaurant was running out of everything; the Marie’s Blue Cheese station had no carrots and there were some tents that were just vacated because they had absolutely nothing left. But we took the situation and made the best of it, and luckily we still got to enjoy some very good wings.
Now this post isn’t your typical Food Porn because, honestly, how many pictures of wings with different shades of sauces can you take? Also if you haven’t gone, you don’t realize the juggling act that is needed to eat wings, hold a bottle or pop, napkins, a side of blue cheese and try to take a picture at the same time without getting sauce all over your face/clothes/iphone/girlfriend.
I typically try to stay away from local restaurants at the wingfest; I can get wings from Anchor Bar whenever I want, this is an opportunity to try out the wings from out of town. And, on a side note, I am a bit surprised at the amounts of people who get anything besides wings at the wing festival…I understand that Bocce pizza is supposedly one of the best in Buffalo, but waiting in a line for 30 minutes to get a tiny slice of pizza at the Buffalo WING Festival? I feel that was just a waste of your food tickets.
Here is a breakdown of what we ended up trying:
Wing Zone – Buffalo Bleu Wings. They were fantastic, so much so that we actually ended up getting seconds. Sure the idea is pretty basic, you take some hot sauce/butter and just throw in some blue cheese (including crumbles), but I am unaware of any place in Buffalo that has this type of sauce as an option. They were on the higher end of the medium scale in terms of heat, and with that awesome blue cheese flavor added in, they were quite delicious.
Larry’s Legend – Teryiaki. Now I’ve never been a big fan of Teryiaki wings, but Alli has always enjoyed the version available at East Aurora’s BarBill Tavern. These wings were particularly saucy, and extremely messy, but (surprisingly for me) I loved them. I was impressed with the flavor and crispy-ness of the wing itself.
Hurricane Grill & Wings – Mango BBQ. These were interesting. The sugary sweetness of this fruit combined with the BBQ sauce created a nice flavor, or so I think…it was hard to tell because unfortunately these particular wings were were lacking when it came to the sauce (very sparse coverage). They were almost like grilled wings and had a very slime-y texture. Basically the sauce flavor was good but everything else about them sucked.
Like I said, I would have tried more stands, but several places had either closed down for the night or ran out of some item. I guess I walked away from the festival with the same thoughts as I have every year…the idea of the festival is great and I enjoy having the opportunity to see what else is out there (outside of Buffalo) when it comes to wings, but I always seem to feel I wasted my money. The lines, the heat (which we avoided this year by going at night), and the process of trying to stand and eat a soggy wing while also trying to hold on to your $4 bottle of water is such a pain; I could have just gone down the road and ordered a fresh order from La Novas, Duffs, Pearl Street, or [enter your favorite place to get wings here]. If you asked me right now, will I go back next year? I would probably say no…but I said that last year too.
UPDATE: apparently this was the 8th one? I don’t know where I saw 6th but I apologize if anyone thought this was from 2007.