The buffalo wing is an important staple of any respectable bar in Manhattan- probably because nothing pairs better with a frothy, ice cold beer than a messy, tender hot wing. LocalBozo.com has taken on the task of finding the best wings in New York City, by systematically tasting wings from the top bars and restaurants in each neighborhood. We begin in Manhattan’s Upper West Side where we checked out three of the most popular spots in the neighborhood to finally find out who’s the best, and why! Before embarking on our near biblical mission we set some rigid guidelines. First, only traditional hot wings could be ordered, as we wanted the style from each bar be on a level playing field. Second rule, don’t mention fight club. Third rule, finish your wing!
212 West 79th Street
New York, NY 10024-6225
Wing Off: Blondies
Our first stop, Blondies Sports has a reputation for being on many people’s list for the best wings in New York, which meant our expectations were already high beforehand. Blondies is the definition of a quintessential sports bar- the walls are literally covered with large, flat screen televisions, making it difficult to miss even a moment of your favorite teams in action. At Blondies you can order a single (10 wings), a double (20), a bucket (50), or a Party Platter (100). The LocalBozo crew decided on a double order, with medium temperature wing sauce. The wings came out of the kitchen quickly and were piping hot. The size of the wings was impressive as well, not a scrawny or boney one in the bunch. After the plate inspection was complete, it was now time to seek reward: the first wing of the day. The first one I grabbed was a wing section piece and the initial bite proved that Blondies excellent reputation had preceded it. The chicken was cooked with a perfect crispiness on the outside, covering up the tender interior. Plus, the sauce was perfectly layered so that each touch was not a soggy mess. The medium wing sauce was a fantastic compliment to the creamy side of cool bleu cheese dressing for dipping. The flavors of the tangy but not too spicy sauce and the chunky, white dressing were savory, but not overpowering to the meat itself. And since they provided us with two cups of blue cheese dressing, LocalBozo.com was given what we would call a perfect “Wing to dipping sauce ratio.” Blondies really hit a homer on this one, on our first try.
485 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10024-4644
Wing Off: George Keeleys
The next stop on our Wing Off brought us to George Keeley’s Fine Ales & Lagers on 83th and Amsterdam Avenue. Keeley’s would best be described as a “beer bar,” with a strong focus on microbrews and beer pairings with food orders- admittedly a nice touch. Similar to our first stop, we decided to order 20 medium wings here as well. Even though most of us can handle spicier food, we wanted the medium sauce to thoroughly taste everything going with the wing- from the chicken to the wing sauce to the dipping sauce- while not having our mouths burnt off in the process. The wings again arrived quickly, but these stood out because of their smoky flavor. The portion size at Keeley’s was large and was served with the standard carrots & celery and fresh, chunky bleu cheese and it was a savory second stop on our journey, because the smokiness was such a distinct flavor when compared to Blondies.
The Gin Mill
442 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10024-8601
Wing Off: The Gin Mill
For anyone who has ever wanted to relive his or her college days, they have most likely gone to one of NYC Best Bars’ many establishments throughout the city. From Down the Hatch to Off The Wagon these guys have something for anyone who is looking to return to those glory days, when everything was one perpetual happy hour. Well enough with the fuzzy detour down f memory lane and onto the wings. The true purpose of the day! The Gin Mill would be the conclusion to the Wing Off on the Upper West Side. This time around and each of us getting full, we ordered 10 medium wings and the opportunity to sit outside on a gorgeous afternoon. Once again, the turnaround from ordering to eating the wings was short, so they were nice and hot. The first thing the crew and I noticed was the deep orange color of the wing sauce- almost neon in appearance which led us to believe that The Gin Mill’s medium spiced wings were more than likely going to be hotter in flavor. After the first bite we found this to be true as they had a pretty nice burn to them for medium wings. The taste of each wing was also pretty familiar, as the same ones are served at the aforementioned bars that we had grown up on. But what we noticed about these wings as compared to our first two stops was that the wings themselves were smaller to a degree, less meaty, and were simply not as crispy as we had become used to.
THE RESULTS ARE IN!
This was a tough decision. After a full day of crawling up the UWS on a spectacular New York City afternoon, while at the same time consuming some of the best wings in the city, it was truly hard to decide on a winner. We examined all of the factors involved- the chicken itself (size, meatiness, tenderness, and most importantly- how was it cooked?), the sauce (messy, oily, spicy, or tangy), and the wing overall (how likely would you be to come to this bar, just for the buffalo wings?). The LocalBozo crew is proud to announce that Blondies Sports has the very best buffalo wings in the Upper West Side!
The Blondies Wings have all the factors that make up a classic buffalo style wing. The drumstick and wing sections were uniform throughout, providing the perfect bite with a wondrous snap of the perfectly fried chicken skin. The sauce was a huge reason for the win. It gave us a perfect combination of flavor with just enough heat to remind you that this was a hot wing. So here’s to Blondies: a hearty toast to you and your excellent wings. But remember, this is only the beginning. The Upper West Side battle is over, but the race goes on. Stay tuned to LocalBozo.com for round two as we travel down to the west village for more wing contests.
- Alan Smithee