As legend has it, on the evening of March 4, 1964, Dominic Bellissimo was tending bar at the famed Anchor Bar in Buffalo, N.Y. with his mother Teressa in the kitchen. When a group of his hungry friends showed up, Dominic asked Teressa to whip up some food for them, so she took some chicken wings, which were intended to go into the stockpot, and instead tossed them in the deep fryer. She concocted a simple butter and hot sauce-based sauce, mixed them together, and arguably the greatest bar food of all time was born.
While you might argue that it’s impossible to judge a Buffalo wing because they’re all the same (just deep-fried wings tossed in sauce, right?), that couldn’t be further from the truth. A perfect Buffalo wing is crisp and not soggy in the least, completely coated in sauce but not bogged down by it, fresh from the fryer, crispy on the outside (with no flabby skin) while remaining juicy on the inside, and the sauce needs to have the right balance of spice to butter without being overly greasy. It’s actually a lot harder than it appears to make a perfect Buffalo wing, but the bars and restaurants honored on our list have got it down to a science.
From humble sports bars to one of the country’s most well-known experimental restaurants, we tracked down the finest examples of the form, nationwide (we left out the big chains like Buffalo Wild Wings to give everyone their fair shake). The Buffalo wing is one of the most easily accessible, enjoyable, fun foods known to Americans, and is served just about everywhere that has a modest kitchen and a game on the TV and as it turns out, some of the very best in the country are served in Los Angeles.
The most upscale, wildly experimental restaurant on our 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, and 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 wings at The Bazaar in Los Angeles are so good, they came in at #8 on our list of the 25 best in America, and since Andrés’ restaurant is the only eatery from L.A. to make the compilation, the great chef can also boast that he serves the very best Buffalo wings in The City of Angels.