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When it comes to wings, people in Buffalo have strong opinions.

While you can’t go far without coming across a restaurant serving up great Buffalo wings, locals will be sure to tell you where to get the best versions of the famous dish named after the city.

Trying authentic Buffalo wings in the city where they were invented is often top of mind for visitors to the Queen City. And even locals are always looking for a superior version of the dish to order along with their pizza for the big game.

Buffalo Wing Origins

According to the National Chicken Council, the Buffalo wing was created at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo in 1964, when co-owner Teressa Bellissimo cooked leftover wings in hot sauce as a late-night snack for her son and his friends. The dish was such a success that owners added it to the menu, and its popularity grew from there.

Dominic Bellissimo, Teressa’s son, went on the road to promote the dish, and it eventually became served at restaurants throughout the U.S., including large fast food chains like McDonald’s and Domino’s. A love for wings even inspired two brothers to open their own Buffalo wing-centered restaurant, Buffalo Wild Wings, in 1982, when they couldn’t find good Buffalo wings in their town in Ohio.

There is some controversy over the Buffalo wing’s origins, however. Prior to the Anchor Bar’s Buffalo wing development, there was actually a version of the Buffalo wing created by John Young, a Black Buffalo-based restaurateur.

Young served wings with a special coating covered in a sweet and spicy tomato-based “Mumbo Sauce” at his restaurant Wings N’ Things as early as 1961. The restaurant was originally located at Carlton and Jefferson, moved and then closed during the 1970s when his family left town. It reopened in the mid 1980s with three Buffalo locations at West Delavan, Central Park Plaza, and Bailey Avenue, but has since closed.

Evaluating the Best Buffalo Wings

What makes a good Buffalo wing? While it’s obviously subjective, most Buffalonians will tell you that a good wing is crispy without being overcooked, well sauced but not soggy, and meaty, not fatty, made with quality chicken wings. Some will prefer “flats” while others enjoy the drumstick wings.

Experts say that the perfect wing sauce needs to be the right ratio of Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne sauce to butter, and the accompanying blue cheese needs to be homemade, with the perfect amount of blue cheese chunks served with celery.buffalo chicken wings with celery and beer
There are many other wing flavors outside of the typical hot, medium and mild, such as garlic, sweet honey and barbecue varieties, but Buffalo wing purists tend to stick to the basic recipe when evaluating whether the dish is considered among the best.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the best places to order wings in Buffalo. Several of these restaurants can be visited along the Visit Buffalo Niagara Buffalo Wing Trail, a must-do for foodies in search of the perfect Buffalo wing.

Disagree with our favorites? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and share your favorite wing spots.

Best Places For Wings in Buffalo

The Old Standbys

Gabriel’s GateBon Appétit named Gabriel’s Gate as its top choice for wings back in 2018, and it’s still a favorite among locals and visitors for the traditional Buffalo wing experience. The Allen Street eatery was previously an antique shop, and its reclaimed church vibe is fitting for a place that serves up one of the best classic versions of the dish. If you’re looking for consistency and the purest version of a Buffalo wing, Gabe’s is your spot. Their wings have earned a following thanks to their exceptional flavor and texture, along with the high quality of the chicken used. They offer a classic Buffalo wing along with varieties such as zesty garlic parmesan and honey mustard glaze when you’re looking to mix it up.

Bar-Bill Tavern – Another place that comes highly recommended by locals is Bar-Bill Tavern, with locations in East Aurora, Clarence and Rochester. The original East Aurora location was long known for its fantastic Beef on Weck, but after wings were added to the menu in 1983 with homemade sauces, it became widely known for serving up some of the best wings in the Buffalo region. Their Buffalo hot varieties go all the way up to a “suicidal” level, and other eccentric flavors include cajun-honey butter, lemon pepper and Sicilian. All are served with their homemade blue cheese dressing, which is made fresh daily.

Cajun wings at Bar Bill Tavern in East Aurora, NY
The Cajun Honey Butter BBQ wings at Bar Bill Tavern in East Aurora, NY are just one of the historic restaurant’s spicy and delicious spins on Buffalo wings. [Image: Yelp]
Duff’s Famous Wings – With several locations around Buffalo and Niagara Falls, and even a few near Toronto, Duff’s is always a delicious choice for wings. They’ve been serving up their large, fresh wings since 1969 and now sell about 13,000 pounds of wings per week. Their philosophy is “the hotter, the better,” so be prepared to order a few drinks when you indulge in their wings. Their spice scale is hotter than most — “Medium” is hot, “Medium Hot” is very hot, and “Hot” is very, very hot. If that’s not enough for you, their Duff’s Death Sauce can be added for the spiciest wing experience. The restaurant’s distinct cooking method makes them a favorite, with less greasy finish than those from other restaurants. In addition, they ensure that the sauce is evenly applied to the wings, so every bite is full of flavor. They also pride themselves on their homemade dipping sauces, including their Duff’s blue cheese, an original recipe created in 1969.

Gene McCarthy’s – This Old Ward mainstay isn’t your typical Irish pub. The historic Gene McCarthy’s, which was known for serving grain scoopers who worked in the silos back in the 1960s, offers a surprisingly original gourmet experience with their wings. Locals love their McCarthy wings, which are tossed in a combination of spicy barbecue sauce and blue cheese and topped with more blue cheese crumbles, along with their Sheffield wings, featuring a Cajun dry rub that may convert even a Buffalo wing purist. They make their own beer at the attached Old First Ward Brewing Company, which provides a perfect companion to their large flavorful wings.

plate of McCarthy style wings at Gene McCarthy's in Buffalo NY
The “McCarthy style” wings at Gene McCarthy’s in South Buffalo offer a unique spin on the traditional Buffalo wing. [Image: Yelp]

Newer Contenders

Wingnutz – Wingnutz was started by a couple selling wings out of a Knights of Columbus and has now grown to open locations in Williamsville and North Buffalo. While it may not have the long history of some of the other establishments on this list, it has quickly built a cult following for having some of the best wings in the city — if not the U.S. Food & Wine Magazine named Wingnutz its best wings in the country in 2023, and we’d have a hard time disagreeing. Their reviewer complimented the wings’ perfect balance of spice, crispy exterior, size, moist interior and sauciness. Eaters rave about the specialty sauces and size of the wings, which are about twice as large as other eateries in Buffalo. The crunch of the wings, along with the way the sauce adheres to the wing, also earns them stellar reviews. No detail is spared, including the homemade blue cheese’s addition of Chardonnay, giving it a unique flavor you won’t find anywhere else.

Elmo’s Bar and Restaurant – Bet you didn’t think you would find some of the best wings in the area inside a strip mall in Getzville. Elmo’s has received critical acclaim for their scratch-made Cajun wing sauce and incorporating grilling into their cooking process, ensuring a crispy finish each time. According to Visit Buffalo Niagara, many of their wings are “double-dipped,” meaning they are fried, sauced, grilled, and tossed in another sauce before being served. This creates a wing experience that’s unlike any of the others on this list. Locals highly recommend the BBQ hot along with the Cajun honey mustard double-dipped varieties.

plate of "double dipped" wings at Elmo's in Buffalo, NY
Elmo’s is known for its delectable “double-dipped” wings, which involves both frying and grilling during the cooking process, as well as saucing the wings twice. [Image: Yelp]
Frank’s Gourmet Hot Dogs – You may be wondering what a hot dog joint is doing on a “best wings” list, but you’ll be surprised to find out that Frank’s is serving up some of the best spicy wings in the city — on a limited basis. The quirky Kenmore Ave. spot occasionally offers chicken wings as a weekly special, and those in the know flock to the restaurant when they do. They make their own hot sauces, such as Buffalo and Nashville style, along with a special Blueberry BBQ version, putting a twist on the traditional Frank’s RedHot-coated wings offered in the area. Pair them with their famous crispy fries and gourmet hot dogs for a well-rounded smorgasbord of comfort foods.

smoked blueberry bbq wings at Frank's Gourmet Hot Dogs in Buffalo, NY
The Smoked Blueberry BBQ wings at Frank’s Gourmet Hot Dogs are some of the most unusual and mouthwatering wings in the city. [Image: Yelp]

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