BuffaLouie’s at the Gables
Located a stone’s throw from Indiana University’s campus since opening in 1987, this wing heaven is perpetually packed, and if anyone knows good wings, it’s college students. Wings are available in 17 homemade sauces, but stick with the straight-ahead Buffalo sauce: perfectly balanced, crispy, juicy, and so easily washed down with a beer.
In a town known for great wings, the ones at Wogies have risen above the pack. This classic sports bar serves classically delicious wings with no frills — they're crunchy, spicy, perfectly sauced, and addictive. The heat level is spot-on, and there’s simply not much else you can want in a sports bar.
This Utah-based mini-chain brews their own craft beer, keeps the classic rock pumping, and turns out some of the best wings you’ll find anywhere. Their wings are traditionally battered before they’re fried, but can be ordered with no batter if that’s what you prefer. Their sauces are so addictive that they bottle their own, and you can buy your wings by the bucket.
Yelp/ Dana C.
This popular West Village bar is run by Rochester native Phil Casaceli, and he takes his wings very seriously. A little red wine vinegar, honey, and tomato sauce makes its way into the hot sauce-butter blend, and the concoction is a perfect accompaniment to the crisp fried wings. If you're in New York and love wings, you owe it to yourself to try these.
Yelp/ Justin S
Plump, juicy, and flavorful, the wings at Bird's Nest are also some of the largest you’ll find. Paired with some killer blue cheese dip, these wings really hit all the right notes.
Super-crispy, crunchy, and perfectly sized, the wings at Buffalo Joe's come drenched in a stellar wing sauce, available in plenty of heat levels. Don’t miss out on the waffle cheese fries!
East Coast Wings & Grill
With locations throughout North Carolina, this place knows how to make a good wing. There are 75 flavors, but the true test is the classic Buffalo-style, and they nail it: they've even taken the title of Best Traditional Hot Wing at the Carolina Wing Festival.
Should you find yourself in Omaha, Neb., some of the best wings around will be found at Addy’s. The secret to their success is a trip to the grill after saucing, resulting in a caramelized exterior and a nice, smoky flavor. Big, juicy, and still retaining their crispiness, these wings are impossible not to fall in love with at first bite.
Three Dollar Café
This café has eight locations in the Atlanta area, all the better for those who want to be as close as possible to world-class wings. Nothing short of legendary, these wings come in orders from 10 to 50, and are big, meaty, and perfectly crispy. The atmosphere, with plenty of TVs and lots of great beer, makes for a world-class wing-eating experience.
Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap
The wings at Jake Melnick’s are pretty much flawless, evenly fried, perfectly sauced, and handled with care. Big, meaty, and juicy, they’ll make a wing lover out of those who swear they’re not a fan. It’s hard to put your finger exactly on what makes these wings so perfect, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a finer wing in the Windy City.
Pluckers Wing Bar
With 13 locations throughout Texas (and two in Baton Rouge, La.), the folks behind Pluckers must be doing something right. And they are: they’ve never compromised quality, using only high-quality chicken wings and making their sauces, including their blue cheese sauce made with real blue cheese, from scratch.
Rated the best wings in Orange County by the OC Register in 2011, the wings at Wingnuts start off with a 24-hour marinade before heading to the deep fryer. Going through about 3,000 pounds of wings per week, this restaurant offers wings in a ton of flavors, but you can’t go wrong with the straight-up Buffalo. Packing just enough of a spicy punch and loads of flavor from the marinade, they’re absolutely to die for (and you’ll feel like you want to after sampling the "Seek Shelter" heat level). A trip to Wingnuts doesn’t result in just awesome wings, it’s also always a really fun time.
Wings that are big, meaty, crispy on the outside, and juicy on the inside, and more than 20 house-made varieties of sauces to choose from? You can’t go wrong at this fun, lively, beachy sports bar, but start out with the Classic Buffalo to get a sense of how pitch-perfect these are. To see their fryer skills, you can also order them "Naked," with no sauce at all. Don’t miss out on the homemade blue cheese dip, though (you can also order your wings coated in half wing sauce, half blue cheese dip).
flickr/ Linden Tea, queenkv
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 served at Gabriel’s are bigger than you’ll usually find, and are fried and sauced to perfection.
The first brewpub to open in Maine since Prohibition also happens to serve some of the best wings you’ll find anywhere. They're available in a handful of sauces and dry rubs — but these guys know that you don’t need to rely on crazy sauces to let the wings shine. If you’re lucky you might be able to join their "Mug Club" and hang your personal mug on the wall, but it’s a lot easier to just dig into a plate of stellar wings and down one of their own line of beers.
The winner of several awards at the National Buffalo Wing Festival, Legend Larry’s is certainly legendary in its native Wisconsin. The big, juicy, wings are guaranteed to be hot out of the fryer, and are best washed down with their stellar selection of craft beers.
The Bazaar by José Andrés
The most upscale, wildly experimental restaurant on this list also serves some of the country’s most mind-blowingly delicious wings. José Andrés first confits his wings (slow-cooking them in chicken fat) before deboning them, dredging them in flour, pan-frying them, then dunking them in his own interpretation of Buffalo sauce. He’s even got the accompaniments covered: each wing is topped with blue cheese cream and compressed diced celery.
The Tavern Sports Grill
The wings here are smoked for four hours over hickory and applewood before they’re fried to order, and the result is outstandingly delicious. You can skip the sauce, but don’t: the combination of the spicy sauce and smoky, crispy wings is a match made in heaven.
Foursquare/ Brian F
There are no frills to the wings at this Reading, Pa., institution, where guests have been littering the floor with peanut shells since the 1930s. Great care is given to the wings here (just like all the other items on the sprawling menu), which have won countless awards. They also offer them in a garlic-herb sauce, but you’ll want to stick to the classic: big, meaty, crispy wings, perfectly sauced, made with high-quality chicken. Not much not to love here.
Delaney’s Hole in the Wall
Crispy and tossed in a perfectly balanced sauce, these wings are consistently rated among New England’s best, and were voted New Hampshire’s best by New Hampshire Magazine in 2008. Conveniently located near the slopes, they’re a perfect après-ski snack.
Located in the heart of Park Slope, Brooklyn’s Restaurant Row, the diminutive Bonnie’s, run by two guys from Buffalo, N.Y., is mostly taken up by a long counter from which you can watch your never-frozen wings fry to order, then get a toss in house-made Buffalo sauces of varying intensity. No garlic barbecue sauce here, just a near-flawless, Buffalo-style wing sauce. They're served steaming hot with just the right amount of sauce and are best washed down with one of their rotating craft beers or a cheap can of Genesee — there’s no better way to while away a lazy afternoon.
Yelp/ Shaun H.
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, and those who make a pilgrimage here never leave unsatisfied (especially after knocking back a few tap Genesee Cream Ales).
J. Timothy’s Taverne
Located in a building that’s well more than 200 years old, J. Timothy’s serves a full menu, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a table that doesn’t have a pile of chicken bones on it. Constantly rated the best in the state, J. Timothy’s serves more than 200 tons of wings per year, and invented what’s called the "Dirt Style" wing, where they get a dose of sauce both before and after they head into the deep fryer. Usually a recipe for an acrid, burnt-tasting wing, these guys have mastered the art form and the result is a depth of flavor that just doesn’t exist elsewhere.
Duff’s Famous Wings
With six 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, which is unbelievably flavorful, and even after a dousing the wings stay crispier than you’ll find just about anywhere else, while staying juicy and tender on the inside. Upstate New York, we’re officially jealous of your amazing wings.