Unbrave Eats: Buffalo Wings

March 31, 2013
You guys, can you believe I’ve been living in Buffalo for the past nine months and I have yet to really say anything about Buffalo wings on my blog?

Trust me, this is not because I haven’t been eating my fair share of Buffalo wings since my return.

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Buffalo wings & me. Reunited at last!

I mean, this is me we’re talking about here.

I’ve been eating my fair share of EVERYTHING since my return.

And by "everything" I mean "ALL THE CHEESE"

And by “everything” I mean “ALL THE CHEESE”

Except for maybe kale. I’m most definitely behind on my kale consumption. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten kale, like, EVER. I can’t say I feel too bad about that.

The reason why I haven’t yet talked about Buffalo wings on my blog is because, well, I don’t like to sound all preachy and tell people they’re doing stuff wrong.

At least not on my blog.

In real life, I have absolutely no problem with being a preachy jerk and telling people they’re doing stuff wrong all the time.

I mean, seriously, you guys, someone needs to tell them.

And that someone might as well be me.

But in my bloggy life, I want people to like me.

So that’s why I never write posts like “Top Ten Things You’re Doing Wrong While Traveling” or “Reasons Why You’re Wrong. I Bet You Can’t Even Read This Right Because You Do Everything Wrong. In Fact, I Bet Your Name is Wrongity Wrongpants III. That’s How Wrong You Are ALL THE TIME.”

But, here’s the thing, guys, about the Buffalo wings?

YOU’RE TOTALLY DOING THEM ALL WRONG.

Unless, of course, you grew up in Buffalo or have spent considerable time in Buffalo.

In which case, you might be doing them right.

But we never can be too sure.

You may have to complete some kind of test or something to prove to me that you know what you’re doing.

You see, in order to be considered a Buffalo wing, the wing needs to meet a number of strict requirements.

And these requirements go like this:

1. The wings must be deep-fried. There is no such thing as a “baked Buffalo wing.” Sure, you will see such a creation advertised on menus. You should probably just go ahead and burn that menu because it’s a LIAR.

2. The wings must be covered in hot sauce. Not barbecue sauce. Not Italian marinade. Not honey-soy-pineapple-pomegranate-Jamaican-Southwestern-jerk-STOP-IT-JUST-STOP-IT-YOU’RE-MAKING-MY-HEAD-HURT sauce.

3. The wings must have bones in them. Again, you may see something called “boneless Buffalo wings” on a menu here or there but that’s only because you didn’t burn the menu when I already expressly told you to. Sheez. Must I be the one forced to go around the world burning menus? Because I will. I really will.

4. The wings must be served with blue cheese dressing on the side. Do not even ask for ranch dressing. Just don’t. Listen to me. If you ask for ranch dressing instead of blue cheese dressing, this will be justification enough for the server to set you on fire. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

I know this all sounds a bit strict.

So I’m going to go easy on you guys.

First, I’ll totally let you order the mild wings. Because, honestly, I’m a mouth-wimp myself and can’t handle anything above a medium without my mouth threatening to leave my face.

I’ll also let you get your wings from any restaurant or bar or pizza joint or hole-in-the-wall you want. Whereas some Buffalonians I know are extremely particular about this kind of thing. Like, you have to get wings from “their place”, or they will probably never talk to you again. I’m not even kidding you.

While pretty much any restaurant or bar in the city serves Buffalo wings, the two big Buffalo wing contenders are Anchor Bar and Duff’s.

If I have people in town visiting me, I usually take them to the Anchor Bar.

This is because Anchor Bar is where Buffalo wings were originally invented, and I’m all about the history.

Anchor Bar. This is where the magic first happened.

Anchor Bar. This is where the magic first happened.

I’m also all about cheesy statues and kitschy doodads, which Anchor Bar happens to have a lot of.

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At the Anchor Bar. Who doesn’t love a good kissing waitress statue?

But many people I know swear by Duff’s, which is a local chain of chicken wing joints.

I’d only ever been to Duff’s once in my life, and I couldn’t really remember much about my visit. Probably because I’m blocking out the memory as I was in a lot of pain at the time. You see, I went with a friend who bullied me into ordering wings so hot my face started to melt off. It wasn’t pleasant.

But I was excited to have a do-over with Duff’s this week when a friend invited me there for a get-together.
 
Notice the crazy-pants blowing snow. In March. Because, of course, Buffalo.

Notice the crazy-pants blowing snow. In March. Because, of course, Buffalo.

I was a bit worried, though, when I entered, and this sign was the very first thing that greeted me.

Ahhh!

Yikes!

Apparently, this was not just a warning, but the restaurant’s motto, as it was all over the place – from the servers’ t-shirts to the menus.

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Luckily, not all the wings were some version of hot — they did have a mild option. And it wasn’t labeled “Mild Is Still Totally Going to Melt Your Face Off.”

Despite my face-melting fears, I ended up going with something called “mild medium,” which was supposed to be a little bit hotter than the mild. I wasn’t going to, but everyone at the table around me was ordering medium and hot wings, and I felt like ordering just the mild would be way too wimpy. Even for me.

Besides, who needs a face?

My friend who was sitting next to me ordered the “medium light” wings – which were supposed to be a notch of hotness above my order. They came out slathered in so much hot sauce my eyes actually started to sting.

IMG_2446

Medium Light Is Still Slathery & Eye-Hurtingly-Hot

Seriously, you guys, it’s not just my mouth that’s a wimp — my entire face is a wuss. Even my eyes are like, “Ahh, ahh, too much hot! Why are you always trying to set us on fire?”

When my order came out, my wings looked decidedly less slathery.  While they still had a nice kick to them, I was able to get through half of them without my face melting off.

Mild Medium Is Probably Not Going to Kill You. Phew!

That was a good thing.

Because, actually, as it turns out, I do kind of need my face.

I also really enjoyed the fact that the stalks of celery they served with the wings were HUGE. I’m usually not the type to rave about a vegetable – especially one as flavorless as celery — but, seriously, this celery was not messing around, you guys.

And, while my order definitely lived up to the aforementioned set of Super Strict Buffalo Wing Rules and Regulations, I was a bit surprised to see that the menu at Duff’s included a barbecue wing option.
 

BBQ? WTF?

Which we all know is TOTALLY AGAINST THE RULES.

I was really hoping it was some kind of test or joke or something.

Like, if you ordered the barbecue wings, the floor would open up and swallow you whole or a bucket of blue cheese would land on your head like on some kind of Japanese game show.

But then my friend ordered the barbecue wings AND a side of ranch dressing.

Mind you, this is a friend who grew up in Buffalo and has spent much of her adult life here. She, of all people, should have known better.

(In her defense, she said the ranch dressing was for her fries. But I wasn’t so sure I could trust anything coming out of her mouth after the whole ordering-barbecue-wings incident. I now even suspect she’s been lying about growing up in Buffalo. It’s possible she grew up in some place like California, where all the Buffalo wings are made out of tofu and coated in honey-soy-ginger sauce and happy thoughts.)

Surprisingly, her order of barbecue wings came out, she ate them, and nothing bad happened to her.

You know, besides me totally losing all respect for her.

Ha, ha, just kidding.

Kind of.

What’s your favorite hometown food? And are people in other parts of the world always getting it wrong?
39

I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On March 31, 2013 at 1:26 pm Deedee said:

    Funny – I was never a barbeque wing type until AFTER I moved back to Buffalo. But the ranch dressing for my fries – that’s totally a Buffalo thing!

    (I’m assuming you’re talking about me, though I was sitting far enough away from you that I was hoping you hadn’t noticed my transgressions) LOL!

    Even still – thanks for coming, and I’m really glad you enjoyed it!

  2. On March 31, 2013 at 1:27 pm Pamm said:

    Best. Blog. Post. Ever!!!

  3. On March 31, 2013 at 2:09 pm Craig Bottomley said:

    Ever try Honey’s? Me and my pal used to cross the border for Honey’s – even after my eyes melted out of my face. Had to drive slower after that.

  4. On March 31, 2013 at 6:51 pm McGriddle Pants said:

    I HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE it when people ask for ranch, or when they SERVE. ME. RANCH. I poke at it with my fork and tell them to take it away. Immediately.

    I’ve only been to Duff’s when I went through Buffalo. Mostly cause we were literally GOING THROUGH buffalo, and I think Duff’s was easier in-and-out than Anchor bar was.

    My life dream? To go the Buffalo Wing Festival. Oh, the humanity!
    McGriddle Pants recently posted..sunday funday

  5. On March 31, 2013 at 10:40 pm cosmoHallitan said:

    I am so coming to Buffalo when we’re back in the States next year. Sometime after March when the crazy-pants blowing snow has stopped.
    cosmoHallitan recently posted..Say Kimchi: The Best Meals We Ate in Korea

  6. On April 1, 2013 at 11:01 am Carmel said:

    Mmm…wings. I do love a good hot wing. And we had some pretty authentic ones while in upstate NY (not Buffalo). We have a place here that does them well, but yes, they do offer a whole bunch of other flavors, but whatever. I just get the hot wings.

    I don’t know that Portland really has any special dishes, but I do frequently correct people on other dishes.

  7. On April 1, 2013 at 2:31 pm Andi of My Beautiful Adventures said:

    We have so much great southern food where I live! I’m a veggie so I’d pass on the wings.
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..Cayman Islands: Day 3

  8. On April 1, 2013 at 7:18 pm Kim H said:

    Nanaimo bars rock!

    Especially when eaten in my hometown of Nanaimo.

  9. On April 1, 2013 at 10:16 pm Priya said:

    Being a vegetarian all my life, I know nothing about Buffalo Wings. But I do know how to eat food that I really like. I went to a vegetarian diner type thing last week and my meal(FLAUTAS)was quite tasty, and they even added cheese on top for me. Bonus points. Then my friend and I shared a vegan chocolate shake, and ever since then I kind of want to go back and have another one. This time without sharing it with anyone.
    Priya recently posted..Your Handbag Does Not Define You

  10. On April 1, 2013 at 11:05 pm Yeity said:

    blue cheese sauce…..if you’re lactose intolerant will also double as a weight lose supplement

  11. On April 2, 2013 at 1:53 pm Rose said:

    AMEN SISTER! I am glad I am not the only wing snob in the family. I have had to school a couple of waitresses on proper Buffalo wing etiquette, like not asking if I want bbq wings, and not asking if I would like the boneless. I am always nice about it and explain to them that I am actually from Buffalo and I know about my wings so it is totally okay for me to lecture them for 20 minutes on how they should act when someone orders Buffalo wings. I do tend to hiss and snarl when they ask about the ranch dressing.

    Also it’s apparently a thing to use cocktail sauce on a fish fry up here. What’s up with that? I thought the best part of a fish fry was the unlimited tartar sauce!

  12. On April 3, 2013 at 10:07 am coolnewz said:

    yep! unfortunately we cannot get them here, in Europe. But every time I travel to US (like … next week) I make sure I get my share of wings. They may not be the REAL Buffalo ones, but still they’re good enough to get all my face dirty trying to eat them.
    coolnewz recently posted..The hidden opera gem: Festspielhouse Baden-Baden, Germany

  13. On April 5, 2013 at 10:43 am choi kum fook said:

    Miss Sally,first of all, congratulation for the winning of Bloggie award! You definitely deserve for it! As America is a huge country,many things be seen and eaten in town in Buffalo. The chicken wings look awesome and delicious,but unfortunately I have been advised by doctor for not eating too much frying food because high blood pressure. My home town, Kuala Rompin, you had been, famous for KFC and Malay food.Actually, my home town is not so bad, beside, the long beautiful,sandy beach, you can explore the thick rain forest park just a distance from town. Miss Sally,when is your next turn to Malaysia?

    • On April 6, 2013 at 12:00 pm Sally said:

      Yes, I remember my time in Kuala Rompin. I thought it was also famous for seafood — especially those weird snail things we ate. Remember those? They didn’t have a back that faces the sky, but we still ate them! Ha ha!

  14. On June 14, 2013 at 1:41 pm Ceri said:

    Suicidal sauce? Death sauce? OMG Amazing!
    Ceri recently posted..NY Bucket List: #1 – Visit Central Park

  15. On July 29, 2013 at 7:51 pm Laura May said:

    Yesssssssss I love Anchor Bar and have sat through Bills games twice just to go there.

    I am definitely never telling you about how happy I am that boneless wings became a thing though.

  16. On July 30, 2013 at 4:07 am Tom @ Waegook Tom said:

    I’m going to get the instructions for ordering Buffalo wings tattooed onto my arm. Because I feel you’ll know if I order the wrong thing, and then never talk to me ever again and ban me from your blog.
    Tom @ Waegook Tom recently posted..Can You Know A Country If You Only Visit Its Capital?

  17. On December 6, 2013 at 2:06 pm Chris said:

    I love this blog post!

    Have not been to Duffs but I here you on liking a milder wing. I do realy like the hot ones tho too lol.

    Question for you, does Duffs offer wipes/towelettes and if so are they good one? My pete peav is when they dont give you enough wipes or they are the small ones so your face ends up stingy.

    Anyway, great post. BTW I have a hoel blog on wings please check it out sometime and let me know what you think. Would love your feebdac,

    http://twowingbros.wordpress.com
    Chris recently posted..Ultimate homemade hotwings recipe.

    • On December 7, 2013 at 11:05 am Sally said:

      Glad you enjoyed the post. Not sure about the wipes situation at Duffs. I’m sure they give them out, but not sure about their quality. Maybe I’ll have to do some “investigative reporting” (aka return to Duff’s!).

  18. On December 7, 2013 at 12:24 pm Cliff said:

    My frind Chris and I are the Two Wing Bros, we love your site blog!! Your wing rules are super good I had never really thought about it like that before I just eat the wings on the menu and decide if eh are good. Maybe you’ll like our site we try hard to it interesting to people about wings and wing related issues.
    Cliff recently posted..Ultimate homemade hotwings recipe.

  19. On December 9, 2013 at 1:42 pm Chris said:

    Thanks Cliff but I don’t think we should say that on this blog it makes it look like we are just agreeing wiht eachother because we are the wingbros but in fact if I didn;t like your opinion (or your wings lol) you know I would say it too your face. Even if your face was covered in wing sauce because duffs doesnt have wipes lol
    Chris recently posted..Ultimate homemade hotwings recipe.

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