It’s no secret that I love South Buffalo. My family has a long history with this close knit neighborhood and I try to visit new restaurants in the areawhenever I can. Unfortunately, it’s not exactly a food destination at the moment. Sure they’ve had some exciting developments with the opening of The British Chippy, Brick Oven Bistro, an impressive Farmers Market and Valle de Mexico but it’s still mostly pub food and fish fries. That said, I’ve wanted to check out Doc Sullivan’s for years and thanks to a project I’m working on, I found a reason to finally visit.
They are famous for their Smitty Wings, a South Buffalo staple that dates back to this particular pub in the late 60’s (when it was called Smitty’s). Smitty wings are a little different then your typical chicken wing in Buffalo. Instead of the traditional Frank’s Hot Sauce and butter combination, the sauce on these wings can include spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. It has been years since I last had Smitty wings (at the now close Charlie O’ Brien’s, RIP), so I figured if I was going to try them again it should be in the bar where they originated so many years ago.
I was a little nervous when I walked into the old South Buffalo pub. These types of places tend to have a customer base of dedicated regulars and I was afraid of feeling out of place. Like many bars in the area, Doc Sullivan’s had very little internet presence, there’s no website or facebook page, so we didn’t know much before walking into. Sure enough, it was packed with older men hanging out and telling stories. I instantly fell in love. Even though it was clear everyone there knew each other, I felt comfortable and everyone was very friendly. It honestly felt like I was overhearing conversations from my South Buffalo born grandfather over and over again. The bar itself looks exactly how you’d want a South Buffalo bar to look. Wood Paneling, Irish paraphernalia, shuffleboard and a dining room filled with tables with vinyl table clothes and simple metal chairs.
Since the waitress was running a little late (dinner service does not start until 5pm), Alli and I grabbed some drinks at the bar and found a table. Everything is pretty cheap and the menu consists of what you would expect; wings, various fried snacks and some sandwiches. I decided to order a $2 pint of Yuengling, a double order of wings ($13) with 10 medium and 10 Smitty style along with some french fries ($2).
Our waitress quickly brought over a basket of wings and we had to ask which wings were which since both the medium and Smitty style looked very similar. These wings were cooked very crispy but almost a little too dry. The small amount of sauce that were on the wings was delicious but sadly there wasn’t much of it. The sauce was heavy on the butter and I could pick up some of the more unusual flavors like celery salt and nutmeg. I’ll have to order the wings extra saucy on my next visit. The Smitty wings are also served with Doc Sullivan’s own housemade blue cheese which initially reminded me of veggie dip. The texture is a little grainy, it has a strong kick of garlic and is slightly sour.
Even though we had an issue with the amount of sauce, the ambiance of sitting in this ‘stuck in time’ South Buffalo pub with some cheap beer and crispy wings was enjoyable. I’m looking forward to checking out other Smitty wings in the South Buffalo area but Doc Sullivan’s is still a good place to grab a cheap pint and relax with some regulars.