Covid has really sucked.

Obviously that statement holds true in more ways than be counted but for the purpose of this post I’m referring specifically to chicken wings.  Being a life-long Buffalonian currently (emphasis on that word “currently) residing in Florida, Covid severely hampered my ability to get back home to Western New York regularly to add new places to my list.  As a result, not a lot of new spots have been added since my last Winter/Spring rankings of a year ago.

Not all is though.  There’s a handful of new places that appear on this list and I frequented multiple others during my trips I’ve had before, swinging some up or down the ladder from my last posting of rankings.

To recap, I still power rank all of the places (69 as of this posting) I’ve had from first to worst.  However, I added a new wrinkle to my extremely unscientific formula that I begun last time—tiers.

Seven tiers to be exact.

The reason is quite straightforward. Many spots are effectively too close to call.  Being ranked No. 22 looks much better than No. 33 but being in the same tier, I think those wings are essentially on the same level.  Tiered groupings lets you, the wing enthusiast know my personal opinion on how these spots should be grouped.

Here’s the seven with a brief explanation of 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.  Evaluating chicken wings is tough, especially when the playing field isn’t always level. I always have medium/hot wings at each spot (that’s rule No. 1) I go but almost always try some sort of specialty flavor as well.  Traditionalist wing lovers have a valid argument that only medium/hot wings should matter, but I factor in several things including (sometimes) a signature flavor, price, service 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 (although those are great too so maybe that’s a bad example).

Perhaps someday I’ll have separate lists for traditional and signature flavors but until then—get over it.

Which leads to my second point—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 unless you’re an idiot.  Food is as subjective as music or movie preferences.

That said, I’ve put significant time, effort, money and stomachaches into this journey, I’m quite proud of my efforts in fact and these rankings/tiers represent my unbiased take, uninfluenced by other views and/or friends in the chicken wing business.

One last thing— as everyone from Buffalo who’s had wings elsewhere knows, a place tiered lower in Buffalo would probably still be elite in most other cities.  Being ranked No. 40 doesn’t on this list doesn’t automatically 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 2021 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 because old links are missing.

MT. RUSHMORE WINGS  (These are the Jim Kelly, Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed of chicken wings in WNY)
1. Nine Eleven Tavern
2. Macy’s Place Pizzeria
3. Elmo’s Bar
4. Bar Bill
THE ELITE WINGS (We’re talking the Joe DeLamielleure, Darryl Talley & Cornelius Bennett of wings in WNY)
5. Dalmatia Hotel
6. Sports City Pizza Pub
7. The Audubon North
8. Sonny Red’s
9. O’Neill’s Stadium Inn
10. Amherst Ale House
ALL-PRO WINGS (We’re talking the Tre’Davius White, Nate Odomes & Ruben Brown of wings in WNY)
11. Casey’s Black Rock
12. Klimek’s Tavern
13. Wingnutz
14. Mammosers
15. Duffs
16. Kelly’s Corner
17. Snyder Bar & Grill
18. The Lenox Grill
19. Potter’s Field
20. La Nova’s
21. Gabriel’s Gate
SOLID STARTERS (We’re talking the Cole Beasley, Ted Washington & Jim Haslett of wings in WNY)
22. Mooney’s on Military
23. Wales Center Hotel
24. Ebenezer Ale House
25. Cole’s
26. Brunner’s Tavern
27. Moor Pat
28. Night Cappe
29. Gene McCarthy’s
30. The Wellington Pub
31. The Big Tree
32. Blackthorn Pub
33. KO Bar & Grill
DEPTH CHART WINGS (We’re talking the Kenneth Davis, Harrison Phillips & Mitch Trubisky of wings in WNY)
34. Prohibition
35. Sal’s Lounge
36. Strikers
37. Rusty Buffalo
38. Bases Loaded
39. Murphs
40. Anchor Bar
41. Bella Pizza
42. Vinny’s
43. Adolf’s First Ward Tavern
44. Jordan’s Ale House
ROSTER BUBBLE WINGS (We’re talking the Jason Croom and Eddie Yarbrough of wings in WNY)
45. The Yelling Goat
46. Goodbar
47. Dwyer’s Irish Pub
48. Gecko’s
49. Steel City Pub
50. Doc Sullivan’s
51. Mandy’s Cafe
52. Jokers
53. Brick Over Bar & Bistro
54. Essex Street Pub
55. Mineo’s South
WAIVER WIRE WINGS (These are the don’t quit your day job wings of WNY)
56. Connor’s Restaurant
57. M.T. Pockets
58. Pour House (Hamburg)
59. Buffalo Tap House
60. Guzzo’s Hot Spot
61. Lovejoy Pizza
62. Wiechec’s
63. Nino’s Pizza
64. SC Lounge
65. Kodiak Jack’s
66. Pappas
67. Blasdell Pizza
68. Danny’s South
69. Glen Park Tavern

Continue the discussion by following me on Twitter @PatMoranTweets.