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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

Experimenting with exotic cooking

Hey, friends! Check out this combination of sauces from today’s batch of baked wings:

Valentina and El yucateco plus Texas Pete Sriracha

Valentina Extra Hot sauce is simply delicious and has a thicker texture with a dark red color and a bright, vibrant flavor. El Yucateco Chile Habanero sauce is one you may find on your table at a local Mexican restaurant. This sauce has serious kick! Its Christmas shade of red suggests exactly the way your eyes will light up after a few tablespoons of this stuff.

I personally LOVE using these peppery, flavorful Mexican hot sauces on Buffalo wings. The taste is distinctly different but still totally Buffalo, all the same. It’s just one of a million different ways to experiment with sauces, yet remain authentically and totally Buffalo. Now, I don’t know what blend of cayenne and other peppers constitute these delicious items, but they make bright red wings that satisfy the craving for red-hot, zesty Buffalo wings with a unique color and texture. This combination can result in a thick but runny sauce, and no amount of butter is going to keep it from running all over your fingers. So get ready to get messy.

You also see Frank’s Original Red Hot in there. It’s such a classic, reliable choice of hot sauce and with all the other flavor experimentation going on here, I obviously couldn’t help myself.

But what’s that…? Sriracha by Texas Pete? Texas Pete is a well-known distributor of tasty hot sauces, and Sriracha has quickly achieved legendary status and a cult following. Texas Pete’s CHA! is a tangy, sweeter version of thick Asian chili sauces.

This is a great sauce combo that is experimental, extra-spicy, and TOTALLY BUFFALO. Check it out!


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.

Zaxby’s – Southern Buffalo!

There’s a lot to say about Zaxby’s. This is a short order restaurant chain that stretches from Florida to Virginia to Texas to Missouri. It’s entire aesthetic speaks to old Americana and country cooking. The menu is substantial but not overwhelming, the food is fast and always tasty, and the number of locations spread throughout the land makes it a reliable stop for Buffalo wings.

photo 1Check those out. Great red color, peppery sauce, served with celery and…Ranch Sauce. The Wing Authority refuses to acknowledge ranch as part of a truly Buffalo wings experience. Nevertheless, after two or three bites of Zaxby’s delicious “Insane” sauce, I’ll eat just about anything to cool the palette. Zaxby’s also serves milkshakes, by the way.

Southern Buffalo wings may sound like an oxymoron. I am pleasantly surprised by just how fantastic Zaxby’s chicken really is. The hot sauces are as zesty as can be, sharp and peppery, not at all dull or too greasy. The Wing Authority has been a Zaxby’s-lover for years, and anytime you’re on the highway needing Buffalo wings to keep it interesting, this is a place you can count on.

My friends in Georgia are all big fans and, despite the single-use plates and cups, this restaurant is completely acceptable as a place for lunch or casual dinner. That is, of course, unless you’re like me and a fan of “Insane” sauce. Zaxby’s does not bluff. Unlike many places that offer “extra hot” or “suicide” wings, Zaxby’s brings serious heat and you can expect a lift. I love it.

The Wing Authority stands by Zaxby’s and is proud to clock it in as very Buffalo (even without the blue cheese).


King Street Grill in Charleston, SC

While visiting a friend in Charleston, South Carolina, we found ourselves checking out the action downtown on a rainy Sunday afternoon, and got the hunger. Knowing me as well as he does, my friend mentioned that King Street Grille is known to have good wings. That’s really all it takes to get The Wing Authority interested.

We walk into the downtown location of this local restaurant chain, and it’s a big sports bar, tastefully dotted with TV’s, a full bar, and high-top tables. We scoped out one for ourselves and got a couple of beers while reviewing the nice-looking menu.


Didn’t take much to find the list of wing flavors. The wings were featured center stage. Naturally, I ordered up the XXX Hot. Alongside the Buffalo flavors were a number of novelty flavors that just didn’t really draw my attention.




But do these wings look XXX Hot to you? They were not. They’re pretty-looking chicken, no doubt, but that syrupy brown sauce – with no detectable hint of crushed habanero peppers or the sting of high-octane cayenne pepper sauce – just doesn’t scream XXX Hot. Tell you what though – this was some of the best blue cheese I’ve ever had. Cheers to that!

image_8  A-HA! The posters advertising wing night at King Street Grille show that this is a place that prides itself in its wings! The Wing Authority should swing by on a wing night, because on this rainy Sunday afternoon the XXX Hot wings were not the least painful and not even Buffalo. Great service, clean downtown location, and a fun, open atmosphere. Just don’t come here for the Buffalo wings.




Blue Cheese vs. Ranch? Choose the original!


ChunkyBleuCheese_44247_V2 “Ranch is for salads!” “Blue cheese all the way!”20120508-ranch-hidden-valley-original

There is a very serious debate taking place in the Buffalo wing-eating community:


Blue cheese is the original. Ranch has a salty, herbal tang that makes it an interesting choice.

But let’s be real – what’s next? Thousand Island? Mayonnaise? I just gagged a little.
The Wing Authority officially declares here that… BLUE CHEESE is the only way to do Buffalo wings. First and foremost, blue cheese was the original dipping sauce to accompany those first hot wings on that fateful night at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York. We can’t change the history of Buffalo wings any more than we can change that the Romans spoke Latin. But in addition to the history & tradition, the stark color contrast of white dressing on red sauce, the way it cools the palette, the tasty bits of cheese – there is no better compliment to this food than chilled, creamy blue cheese dressing.