Something magical happens when the unassuming chicken wing hits a deep fryer. The oil bubbles up, the fat renders, the skin crisps, and the meat gets juicy. Toss those wings in a simple combination of hot sauce and butter, and suddenly you’ve got one of the one of the finest snacks on earth: the Buffalo wing. But there’s an art behind Buffalo chicken wings; when they’re bad they’re bad. A perfect Buffalo wing is one that’s served fresh from the fryer, is thoroughly coated in sauce but not bogged down by it, and is crispy on the outside (with no flabby skin) while remaining juicy on the inside. Plus, the sauce needs to have the right ratio of heat to butter without being overly greasy. Buffalo, New York is the birthplace of the Buffalo wing, and these three spots hit the nail (chicken?) right on the head.
This is the place that started it all, and many would argue that they’ve been often imitated, never duplicated. The wings are juicy, crispy, spicy, and served to teeming hordes of hungry masses. Those who make the pilgrimage never leave unsatisfied (especially after knocking back a few tap Genesee Cream Ales).
For all the attention Anchor Bar gets, Gabriel’s Gate, housed in a building dating back to 1864, certainly gives it a run for its money. The wings Gabriel’s are bigger than you’ll usually find, and fried and sauced to perfection.
Duff’s Famous Wings
With three locations in upstate New York, Duff’s cements the region’s claim to fame as the home of the best wings in the country. Not only did they beat Anchor Bar on Man vs. Food, but President Obama himself paid the Depew, N.Y., location a visit. There’s some sort of magic in their sauce: It is unbelievably flavorful and even after a dousing the wings stay crispier than you’ll find just about anywhere else. And they’re always wonderfully juicy and tender on the inside. Buffalo, we’re officially jealous of your amazing wings.