There are a lot of places to eat in WNY (duh, that’s what this blog is dedicated to, I know) and sometimes deciding where to head for a meal is overwhelming. Where to Eat This Weekend is a weekly feature that I (Alli) have been thinking about for a while. I’m incredibly indecisive and while having 100′s of detailed reviews of restaurants to pick from is wonderful, sometimes having someone narrow down your choices makes your life a bit easier. A new Where to Eat This Weekend will be posted every Friday with the sole purpose of helping you decide where to eat and hopefully introduce you to a few new places that are worth checking out. The posts will have a new ‘theme’ each week. I will pick a town (i.e. East Aurora, Orchard Park), cuisine (Thai, Mexican) or street (Hertel, Kenmore Ave) and give you a list of all of the notable places to eat/drink within that theme along with links to websites and our reviews as well as a few quick descriptions (price, type of food, etc).
My first post focused on East Aurora and last week I featured Vietnamese cuisine. With the Buffalo Wing Festival hitting downtown Buffalo this weekend, I was inspired and decided it might be a good time to do a post on Chicken Wings. That said, this post won’t feature any wings that will be at the festival. Many of the venders there are from out of town and the focus is on the different sauces (the actual wings are all the same and made in bulk then distributed among the restaurants). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the festival at all, but there are so many places around WNY that serve amazing and unique wings that aren’t featured there that I want to make sure people know about.
Most of the wings below are not your standard Franks-and-various-amounts-of-butter type of wings. In fact, I don’t think most of the wings I am going to talk about use Franks at all. I love Franks, you love Franks, we all love Franks, but sometimes it’s good to take a break and see what else is out there. So, if you are like me and can’t make it to the Buffalo Wing Festival this weekend but still want wings, I highly recommend you check out one of the places below.
p.s. I know these aren’t all of the places to get “unique” wings in Buffalo, but these are some of my favorites. If there is a place I didn’t mention please comment below and let me know so I can check it out!
So..what should you eat this weekend? Chicken Wings!
- Nine-Elevern Tavern - BE Post
Nine-Elevern Tavern is a hidden gem of Buffalo. It’s sort of a dive, tucked away on the corner of Bloomfield Ave in South Buffalo. It’s a totally no frills bar that only takes cash and has….wait for it…THE BEST WINGS IN BUFFALO (pictured up top). There, I said it. What makes them so good? They make their own sauce, and Franks is not on the list of ingredients. I still haven’t figured out what’s in it, but garlic and parmesan cheese are somewhere in the mix. From what I understand, the owner has been offered a lot of money for the recipe but it remains a closely guarded secret. It is truly a unique flavor and I probably could eat 100 in a sitting if left to my own devices. Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but honestly, you have not lived until you have had these wings. You’re welcome.
- Charlie O’Briens - BE Post (warning, supppper old post)
Charlie O’Briens used to be a weekly hang out spot for a lot of Donnie’s extended family. It’s one of the more well known South Buffalo bars with pretty good pub food. It’s been a few months since we have stopped back in, but their Charlie-style wings will always be one of our favorite things. Like many Buffalonians, you might hear “battered chicken wings” and shudder. Relax, it’s not what you think. Charlie-style wings are regular wings but with a crunchier southern-fried-chicken style coating. The sauce is sort of baked into the coating and the flavor is so unique you won’t even need the blue cheese. They are hard to describe in words, so you are just going to have to go try them yourself. I promise you won’t be disappointed. p.s. They also serve Smitty wings, which is a whole other animal that I will talk about below….
- Doc Sullivan’s - Website
This is three South Buffalo places in a row, huh? I guess they just know their wings down there. Doc Sullivan’s is another legendary bar in SoBo. You can actually find Smitty style wings at many bars in South Buffalo (Charlie O’Briens, etc), but Doc Sullivan’s is argued by many to have the best. Smitty-style wings originated at a place called Smitty’s Bar & Restaurant, which is unfortunately no longer around. Again, it’s the sauce that sets these babies apart from traditional wings. It’s a blend of butter, nutmeg and a mix of secret/mysterious/not immediately recognized spices that truly create a unique and ‘effin delicious wing eating experience. Nutmeg! Amazing.
I know, I know…I already featured Bar Bill Tavern in my first post. Get over it. It’s one of my favorite places in WNY and their wings are damn good. My favorite are the Teriyaki (pictured above). They are sweet but at the same time also incredibly spicy. I always need at least 300 glasses of water while I eat them. The Sicilian wings are also great. If you don’t know what those are, well, you better get over there and find out.
- Amherst Pizza and Ale House - Website
If you step into Amherst Pizza and Ale House you will immediately notice they are very proud of their award-winning Crown Royal BBQ wings. I was skeptical at first, it seemed like they were a little TOO proud. But you know what, they really are great. The BBQ sauce has Crown Royal whiskey in it (duh) and seared on a char-pit so they have those great little slightly burnt grill lines on them when they arrive to your table. I’m a big fan and will never eat BBQ wings from anywhere else unless they are charred on a grill.
To be honest, I initially wasn’t the biggest fan of the wings at Rocco’s, but Donnie really enjoyed them and they grew on me. They also seem to be a favorite for some respectable foodies around town. If you have never been to Rocco’s up in Amherst, they have a giant wood-fire oven in the middle of the restaurant and specialize in creating authentic “VPN-esque” pizza’s. While they have traditional wings on the menu, they also serve wings that have been baked in the wood-fired oven (pictured below). They are seasoned with lemon, olive oil, herbs, and garlic and the oven creates a really nice char and smokey flavor. They aren’t as crisp as fried wings (obviously) but seem to be juicier and a little bit healthier.