I’m switching things up, sort of…
I’m still ranking each chicken wing spot I’ve tried, 67 as of this posting from first to worst. However, I’ve added a new wrinkle to my extremely unscientific formula—tiers.
Seven to be exact.
The reason is quite straightforward. While still assigning a numerical ranking to each, in reality many spots are effectively too close to call. Being ranked 21st looks so much better than 31st but in reality they’re nearly equal. Tiered groupings lets you, the wing enthusiast know all spots that are pretty much on the same level, at least of course in my opinion.
I now have seven tiers with a brief explanation following each:
Mt. Rushmore: The four undisputed championship wing spots of Western New York.
The Elite: The next best thing—right on the brink of being immortalized.
All-Pro: Perhaps not MVP material but categorically deserving of discussed among the best.
Solid Starter: You certainly won’t be complaining. Exactly what the description reads—solid.
Depth Chart: You can do far worse but at this point — significantly better as well.
Roster Bubble: If left with few other options these places may suffice, but I can’t recommend them.
Waiver Wire: I’d rather eat pizza.
Two things worth noting. Firstly, evaluating chicken wings is tough, especially when the playing field isn’t exclusively the same. I always have medium/hot wings at each spot I go but almost always try some sort of specialty flavor as well. Traditionalists certainly have a valid argument that only medium/hot wings should matter, but I factor in several things including (sometimes) a signature flavor, price and overall vibe. For example, Elmo’s is near the top based far more for killer Hot Cajun Double Dipped wings than their traditional medium. Perhaps someday I’ll have separate lists for traditional and signature flavors but until then—get over it.
Which leads to my second thing and one worth heavily emphasizing—these rankings and tiers are quite literally nothing more than personal opinion. I’ve never fancied myself a wing connoisseur. I don’t take myself too seriously with this exercise and nor should you.
That said, I’ve put a lot of time, effort, money and stomachaches into this journey and these rankings/tiers represent my unbiased take, uninfluenced by other views and/or friends in the chicken wing business.
Oh yeah, one last thing—- as someone born, raised and a resident of Buffalo most my life until moving to Florida a few years ago, I’m constantly on the hunt for good wings in every city I visit. They almost always pale in comparison to Buffalo. A place tiered lower in Buffalo would probably be elite in most other cities. Being ranked No. 40 doesn’t mean I think the place sucks, it means I’ve simply enjoyed 39 other places in Western New York more.
And on that note, my Winter/Spring 2020 Chicken Wing Power Rankings and Tiers. Most are linked to a review I’ve previously penned while others have not yet been written or need to be redone.
MT. RUSHMORE WINGS (These are the Jim Kelly, Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed of chicken wings in WNY)
THE ELITE WINGS (We’re talking the Joe DeLamielleure, Darryl Talley & Cornelius Bennett of wings in WNY)
ALL-PRO WINGS (We’re talking the Tre’Davius White, Nate Odomes & Ruben Brown of wings in WNY)
- Casey’s Tavern
- Klimek’s Tavern
- Kelly’s Corner
- Snyder Bar & Grill
- Mooney’s (Military Road)
- Potter’s Field
- La Nova’s
- The Lenox Grill
SOLID STARTERS (We’re talking the Cole Beasley, Ted Washington & Jim Haslett of wings in WNY)
- Gabriel’s Gate
- Wales Center Hotel
- Ebenezer Ale House
- Brunner’s Tavern
- Moor Pat
- Night Cappe
- Gene McCarthy’s
- The Wellington Pub
- The Big Tree
- Sal’s Lounge
- KO Bar & Grill
DEPTH CHART WINGS (We’re talking the Kenneth Davis, Spencer Long & Frank Reich of wings in WNY)
- Blackthorn Pub
- Jordan’s Ale House
- Bases Loaded
- Anchor Bar
- Bella Pizza
- Rusty Buffalo
- Adolf’s First Ward Tavern
ROSTER BUBBLE WINGS (We’re talking the Jason Croom and Eddie Yarbrough of wings in WNY)
- Mandy’s Care
- Dwyer’s Irish Pub
- Steel City Pub
- Mineo’s South
- Brick Over Bar & Bistro
- Essex Street Pub
- Doc Sullivan’s
WAIVER WIRE WINGS (These are the don’t quit your day job wings of WNY)
- Connor’s Restaurant
- T. Pockets
- Pour House
- Buffalo Tap House
- Guzzo’s Hot Spot
- Lovejoy Pizza
- Nino’s Pizza
- SC Lounge
- Kodiak Jack’s
- Blasdell Pizza
- Danny’s South
- Glen Park Tavern
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