Blondie’s and The WingBar in NYC


A while back the Wing Authority visited New York City, and it was said that Blondie’s on West 79th Street in Manhattan was a must-try for wings.  Well, we saddled up, did our job, and the rumors were spot-on! Blondie’s is a busy sports bar that greets you with that sizzling, welcoming Buffalo wing aroma. You walk past tables of guests and see platters and – get this – buckets of wings. I just love that this place offers wings in buckets which is very old school. More on this later.

They are really tasty, the Hot sauce is not too runny and flavorful enough without being very spicy. Good thing the place was so crowded – otherwise I wouldn’t want to leave. With its devotion to serving hot wings in buckets with blue cheese, Blondie’s is a place that observes the Buffalo wings tradition!

Thanks to my anonymous menu model here

Blondie's menu close



Meanwhile over in Brooklyn, The WingBar is a cozy place that hustles, people coming and going , both the bar and kitchen just a few steps away from any of the high or low top tables. We stopped here on a dark night in October and unfortunately for us, could not get good photos. Fortunately for The WingBar, however, this was because the restaurant was packed and the Smith Street location had a jubilant atmosphere that spilled into the sidewalk. Good place for a drink and a snack, and the Wing Authority appreciates the limited sauce options on this menu. These were authentic and satisfying, if not outstanding. But hey, sometimes there is beauty in simplicity. Keep it simple, keep it classy, keep it totally Buffalo!

The WingBar WingBar hot wings

Atlanta Wing Joints are Totally Buffalo

One day while driving around the great city of Atlanta, the Wing Authority noticed that every few miles there seemed to be signs that read, “Hot Wings”. I decided to explore this further. Atlanta is hundreds of miles from Buffalo, New York, where the Buffalo wing tradition began all those years ago. Given the distance and what I know about Southern pride, the Wing Authority can’t help but wonder how faithfully the southern style is to the original Buffalo tradition. Clearly they’re really popular, based on the sheer number of wing joints. If Atlanta traffic prevents you from stopping at one, just wait a minute and you may get another chance. Two of these spots are across the street from each other on the east side of Atlanta in Decatur.

What I’m talking about are the small wing joints all over Atlanta – the kinds of places that specialize in take-out and in addition to hot wings usually offer fish, fries, and maybe a Philly cheese steak. These are not family dining restaurants with appetizers and a draft beer list. The service is quick and prices are reasonable.

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I was delighted to find that each place had a hot flavor that was zesty and light, with heat around the level of Frank’s Red Hot. Southern folks can handle spicy food. Each batch saw a few pepper flakes swimming around in the bright red sauce. I did not come across a single batch of hot wings that was syrupy or dull.

I would feel comfortable walking into almost any Atlanta wings joint and getting a quick Buffalo wings fix. What makes them Buffalo? First you have to select a sauce. Check out the menus. With this many options, the safest way to compare is to get the same flavor – HOT. It is worth noting that no menus listed any sauce named “Buffalo”. Is there a difference between Buffalo and hot? Are Hot wings always Buffalo wings? The Wing Authority believes that in most cases there is not a difference. Some chefs might boast a certain type of Buffalo sauce that coats wings and is not at all runny. The Wing Authority believes the recipe is simpler, and that the Buffalo wing tradition is easy to follow. Atlanta proves that it isn’t hard to nail it: hot sauce, butter, and blue cheese.

Even though I was told by one young lady at the register that lemon pepper was one of the most popular flavors sold, lemon pepper is most definitely NOT BUFFALO. It’s a dry rub and weird, quite frankly. It is missing the hot sauce, it is dry and too salty. Most places overdo it and all you can do is hope for a bold beverage to level out the sour and savory attack. But honestly, whether lemon pepper is delicious or not is not the issue. Lemon pepper is merely a ready-made seasoning for anything from fried chicken to catfish. It lacks the adventure and tradition of Buffalo wings. Not all hot wings may be Buffalo, but all lemon pepper wings are most definitely NOT BUFFALO.

Some of my favorite saucy specimens were obtained from “Atlanta’s Best Wings”, a small place near a busy intersection in Decatur. The Wing Authority was extremely pleased to see blue cheese served with this batch, along with carrots and celery. TOTALLY BUFFALO.

I want to give a special acknowledgement and Buffalo wings shout-out to my friends at Taco Pete in East Point. The hospitality, warmth, and of course the food there was phenomenal. We ordered up just a small order of hot wings and they did not disappoint. I had a great conversation with the grandson of Taco Pete himself, who said that the restaurant started as a taco stand but eventually began serving hot wings in response to overwhelming customer demand. He also gave me one of the best quotes the Wing Authority has ever heard: “Blue cheese is for wings. Ranch is for salads.” So classic. So delicious. SO BUFFALO. Atlanta does it right.

J Buffalo Wings: Best Wings in Atlanta??? We shall see.

J Buffalo Atlanta

This sign is just begging for attention. Welcome to J. Buffalo Wings in Atlanta, Georgia. First, any place that dares to say it has the best wings in town (with three exclamation points) immediately invites challengers and naysayers. Next, it has the classic logo of a buffalo with wings.

Therefore, the Wing Authority is expecting the original recipe and the only acceptable version of real Buffalo wings: hot sauce + butter + blue cheese.  Let’s see.

Upon entering, customers come to this:


While somewhat hard to read here, the Wing Authority deeply respects the dedication displayed right here on the wall. If you look closely you’ll see the name Teresa Bellissimo recognized as the mother of Buffalo wings, as she should be. I don’t know about the various other J. Buffalo locations, but this one on Buford Highway looks promising.

But let’s get to the wings. They were crispy, served steaming hot, and had a thick, bright red Buffalo sauce. Veggies and blue cheese were served up right along with the wings. Check plus, J. Buffalo!

Wings and Beer

Check those out. Very pretty. These wings were around the spice level of maybe a Valentina or Cholula with some high octane sauce added, the kind most people would hesitate to put on a taco at lunch. This Buffalo sauce does not mess around, but more importantly it’s a great texture for coating and not running.

One small critique of these wings is a common one: too crispy. Crispiness comes in degrees, may vary by day or even order, and can also be a matter of taste. To the Wing Authority,
Love that red colora Buffalo wing is too crispy when the skin has begun to shrink. I will take less-than-crispy wings before wings that even verge on dry. Best wings in town? I’m not so sure. Atlanta is no slouch when it comes to truly great Buffalo wings. More on that soon.

One interesting aspect of this J. Buffalo location was its apparent Mexican connection. The patrons appeared Latino, the young lady who took my order spoke Spanish to another worker, the televisions were tuned to a soccer game on Univision, and therefore I couldn’t help but ride the wave and order a Dos Equis. The Wing Authority loves to see the Buffalo wing tradition cross cultures and win over new crowds. I would have felt comfortable ordering a few more beers and another basket of wings, but unfortunately time did not permit such an indulgence on this day.

J. Buffalo nails it for its wing sauce, good service, and for proudly observing the history of the Buffalo wing tradition right on its wall. While they may not be the absolute best wings in town, there is no need to second guess that these are truly impressive and truly Buffalo wings. Delicioso!

Atomic Wings at “Best Wings USA” – Quaker Steak & Lube (Erie, PA)

IMG_1843Back in Erie for a family wedding. This region of Pennsylvania is known for its Buffalo wings, and this region is home to one of the best and biggest wing spots: Quaker Steak & Lube. To Buffalo wing fanatics, Quaker Steak & Lube (often referred to affectionately as “the Lube”) needs no introduction. This restaurant powerhouse started in Sharon, Pennsylvania and is now famous for its list of sauces and its speedway atmosphere. The staff at every single Lube location I’ve visited has been nice and professional, the restaurants are always clean and running efficiently – like a well-oiled machine, one might say. I had my first experience at the Lube during college, when Tuesdays were All-You-Can-Eat Night. In those days, Tuesday night wing-night could go on for hours and I easily wolfed down a few dozen wings of varying sauces.

One of the Lube’s landmark sauces is the Atomic sauce. It’s a habanero hot sauce that actually deserves the waiver some locations still ask their patrons to sign before they can try Atomic wings. The Wing Authority actually finds it quite tasty. An Atomic wing experience is deliciously, frightfully intense – the wing-lover’s rollercoaster.

Atomic wings are no lightweight endeavor.
Atomic wings are no lightweight endeavor.

This time, as I turned to seat myself at the bar, I came upon the face of the Atomic challenge itself. One of the walls sported the “ATOMIC WALL OF FLAME“.

There was no question that I’d have to satisfy my craving on this trip back to northwestern PA and get a quick fix of Atomic sauce, but this day was no day for a full-scale challenge. We were simply having an appetizer for the road because dinner was later. Sometimes it’s time to get sweaty, panting, bloodshot eyes bulging and sucking your own fingers, and sometimes it isn’t.

The Wing Authority saddled up to the bar and ordered a couple of sample sizes. These wings are super hot. They’ve got that unique, smoky, habanero flavor, peppery and rich, and the wings are always layered with this thick sauce. Naturally, celery and blue cheese help keep things relatively under control, but beginners are going to want a glass of milk for this ride.

One might point out that Atomic sauce, along with many other flavors appearing on the Quaker Steak menu are not Buffalo. It’s true. Atomic and other habanero sauces really walk a fine line between being Buffalo or not Buffalo. It depends on the recipe. Many habanero sauces will include some red hot sauce and some butter in order to round out the bitter taste some habanero sauces can have. Even the Louisiana Lickers, while presenting a strong barbecue flavor, brings plenty of Buffalo flavor and that sauce is therefore totally Buffalo.

Those are Louisiana Lickers on the right, another of Quaker Steak's brilliant creations.
Those are Louisiana Lickers on the right, another of Quaker Steak’s brilliant creations.

Needless to say, after just a few Atomic wings, we had a bit of panting and sweating going on. But, man – it’s always worth it! Long live the Atomic wing!

Alfee’s in Erie – this is how it’s done.

Alfee’s has long been one of my favorite locations for picking up spicy, flavorful, authentic Buffalo wings. Standing proudly on the corner of Glenwood Park Avenue, this place has a reputation for a reliably well-executed pizza & wings combo. I fell in love with my first Alfee’s wings almost twenty years ago. This place is so Buffalo it’s actually in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Alfee’s specializes in pizza & wings combos that the blue collar people of Erie rely upon for reliable delivery services on game day, for parties, and those dark winter nights with the kind of snow and wind that suffocates most continental souls. In other words, when you want some Buffalo wings in Erie and you want them right, Alfee’s is a top choice.

I stopped by this spring after a couple of years of not having had the opportunity, and I was not disappointed. The aesthetic, energy level, menu, and even the prices all declared that Alfee’s is STILL perfectly Buffalo.



I order up a few different flavors: hot, suicide, and honey mustard. I’ve got so many good memories about this place it’s hard to decide where to start. On one particular occasion years ago, a friend of mine was so overtaken by the suicide wings and the pre-dinner happy hour that he put his head down on the table and remained that way through most of dinner. Delightful.

I’m hungry just looking at these saucy specimens. Alfee’s serves up crispy wings, fast and furious, with blue cheese and celery – as they should be. I just love seeing a Buffalo wing institution like Alfee’s running at full capacity, and this last visit was no exception – phones ringing, delivery drivers coming & going, and my order coming out promptly and perfect.

I’ll tell you what I will point out: the hot sauce is leaning a little toward the syrupy side. But it coats the wings much better than runnier versions of Buffalo sauce that I’ve come across. The chicken was tasty, the sauces were zesty, and they coated the wings with a really satisfying Buffalo sauce.

I love Alfee’s and after all its years of faithful service to Buffalo wing fanatics like myself, The Wing Authority will be just as faithful in declaring Alfee’s to be so damn TOTALLY BUFFALO.



520 WINGS in Savannah – Southern Buffalo strikes again

520 Wings is a busy local joint in Savannah that offers a menu of wings, fries, and other munchies. It’s a take-out restaurant that offers friendly service and big portions at good prices. I’m a fan.

I’ve been to 520 Wings numerous times and it never fails to satisfy. The “Hot” flavor is real, delicious, buttery Buffalo that’s bright and red and a perfect level of heat. And you can’t beat these prices in today’s chicken wings market.

520 Wings 2 Looking good. The styrofoam and aluminum foil keep the heat in for the ride home, and you’re greeted with a steamy waft of cayenne and hot chicken when you lift the lid.

I’m very happy we’ve got such a reliable wings spot in Savannah. More to come on this friendly, affordable Buffalo oasis.