December 12, 2008
NYC Food Guy loves wings; high quality chicken, crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and doused in a fiery sauce. Astonishingly, there are no go to wings in New York City. Dinosaur BBQ never disappoints but it’s just one place, way uptown. That’s why I’ve made it my mission to find the city’s best wings in as many tours as it takes. Part One of my adventure features eight spots, only one of which truly impressed. Read on to find out about some great deals, some wings to avoid and whether or not the legend of Scruffy Duffy’s wings lives.
Blind Tiger Ale House uses a unique cooking method to ensure a one of a kind wing experience
Getting the unworthy wings out of the way to prevent you from making mistakes.
Lansdowne Road599 10th Ave New York, NY 10036 (212) 239-8020 http://www.lansdowneroadnyc.com/
Once upon a time, my favorite wings were at Scruffy Duffy’s on 8th Avenue b/t 46th & 47th. It was a big Steelers bar right off Times Square but all was forgiven because the Buffalo wings rocked. A thin, crispy skin encased meaty wings always covered in a fiery, hot pepper-flake studded sauce. Unfortunately the Disney-ification of Times Square eradicated this Hell’s Kitchen landmark leaving us only with sister bar Lansdowne Road where the Scruffy Duffy name is being tarnished, literally.
Landsdowne Road actually advertises “Scruffy Duffy’s World Famous Wings” on their menu (12 for $7.50, 24 for $12.50). But the similarities end at the name. The sauce was bitter and cakey and the wings were over-fried and brittle. An inedible excuse for the Scruffy Duffy name.
St. Mark’s Ale House2 Saint Marks Place nr 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10003
St. Mark’s Ale House is one of the few NYC relics remaining on a street that’s slowly turning into little Tokyo. Fortunately for the Ale House, they’re not staking their repuation on their wings. A tangy, slightly spicy sauce covers tiny low quality wings devoid of any crispy skin. Forget the fact that a dozen is under $10, these wings should be given away. Stick to the beer at St. Mark’s Ale House and if you’re hungry, go get a falafel.
SideWalk Bar & Restaurant
Food Served Until 4AM Sun – Wed, 24 Hours Fri – Sat.
New York, NY 10009
(212) 473-7373 http://www.sidewalkmusic.net/sidewalkblog/?page_id=3
Despite being open 24 hours on Friday & Saturday, there’s only one day worth going to SideWalk for wings: Wednesday. That’s because Wednesday (6PM – 4AM) features 25 cent buffalo style wings. I haven’t tried them, but for that price, how bad can they be? Every other day of the week the wings are called “Alitas de Diablo” (seen below) and they’re not very good. Grilled wings in a honey glazed ginger sauce arrived undercooked and lacking flavor, a surprise considering the unique sauce. After another trip through the fire, the wings returned with a smokey char but the flavor remained underwhelming. SideWalks’ main draw is their ever changing menu of live music acts featured in the back room. Check their website, listen to some music, drink a $3 PBR and order the sweet potatoe fries, which are actually quite good.
Don’t run, don’t flock, these wings are good but not great.
One and One
Food Served Until 1AM76 E 1st St at 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10009 (212) 598-9126
These wings were so close to being great. Thin, crispy skin encased high quality chicken and the largest wings featuered in this post. But bigger wings demand more sauce, more spice and more flavor, something these lacked in all three areas. Big wings also mean smaller portions. $7 gets you 7 wings. 20 Cent Wing Madness is Monday nights from 7pm to 1AM; you can order 10 wings at a time with a $4 drink minimum for every 20 wings (no doggie bags). The wings are complemented by a quality bleu cheese dressing and a healthy serving of carrot and celery sticks.
One and One features two other quality food specials: Sundays from 7PM to 1AM is 2-for-1 Fish & Chips, which also features the $4 drink minimum. Tuesdays from 7PM to 1AM is $1 Mini Burgers. Orders are placed in multiples of 3 and it’s a $4 drink minimum for every 2 orders.
Food Served Until 11PM Mon – Thurs, 12AM Fri – Sat, 10PM Sun.
New York, NY 10011
(212) 524-4300 http://www.rubbbq.net/
All ready home to the best brisket chili cheese fries I’ve ever had, I couldn’t imagine the wings would fall far behind. And they didn’t, but they didn’t really impress either. These are BBQ style wings; seasoned with the same rub as the ribs, smoked and then fried. For $7.50 the result is a dozen good sized, lean and quality wings which are smokey and sweet with a residual spiciness which lingers after you finish eating. They can be served with bleu cheese, which brought out the sweetness, or the better suited buttermilk ranch. Neither truly enhanced the eating experience. Next time I’m at RUB, I’m passing on the wings and sticking with my go to $40 for 2 BBQ feast.
Food Served Until 12AM Sun – Tues, 12:45AM Wed – Sat.129 East 18th Street at Irving Pl New York, NY 10003
(212) 473-7676 http://www.geocities.com/eureka/concourse/9261/petestavern.index.html
Opened in 1864, Pete’s is New York’s oldest bar and it’s also the birthplace of the O. Henry story “The Gift of the Magi”, supposedly penned in a front booth. And as history changes time, time can change the deliciousness of Pete’s wings. If they’re brought to you immediately, you’re in for a sweet, smokey, mildly spicy, crispy-battered wing feast. But if the wings arrive after their prime, you’re left with a sticky mess of slighlty crispy, mainly oversauced wings. It’s a fine line, but when done right, they’re worth the $7.95 price tag. The heavily battered wings are small and drowned in the smokey, sweet, slightly spicy sauce. The bleu cheese is watery and uncesssary. The rest of the menu features Italian food and standard continental fare. If the overcooked burger is any sign, I’d steer clear of the menu and grab an 1864 Original House Ale and take my chance with the wings.
The Old Reliable
Getting it done every time without knocking your socks off.
Food Served Until 1AM28 Avenue B nr 3rd Street New York, NY 10009 (212) 253-6140 Check Website for 3 Long Island Locations
Croxley Ales is the place that’s right around the corner that isn’t amazing but is so consistent, it’s hard for you to break away and risk disappointment with something new. They’ve got the blocking and tackling down, thin-skinned crispy wings covered in a Buffalo-style hot sauce that’s actually hot. At $8.95 for a dozen, they’re not the best because the sauce, although studded with hot pepper flakes, is a little too buttery, not really sticking to the wings and the chicken is middle of the line in quality and size. Great deals abound, however, reinforcing why you really can’t go wrong at Croxley’s. 10 cent wings on Monday & Wednesday from 5PM to 1AM plus free wings at the bar from 5PM to 7PM on Fridays.
The Best of This Bunch
Blind Tiger Ale House
Food served until 2AM281 Bleecker Street at Jones Street New York, NY 10014 (212) 462-4682 http://blindtigeralehouse.com/
The best wings I’ve had in the city are at Dinosaur BBQ. Why? Because they’re tender, spicy, uniquely sauced, and grilled. Blind Tiger Ale House delivers the same four qualities without making us trek up to Harlem. The main differences between Blind Tiger and Dinosaur are size and sauce. Dinosaur’s wings are full size and doused in spicy, sweet BBQ sauce. Blind Tiger’s wings are smaller and doused in a spicy and tangy Buffalo style sauce with strong peppery undertones. What they lack in size, they make up for in fall off the bone tenderness, the result of a baked then grilled cooking process. They taste even better with the delicious homemade bleu cheese dressing. The rest of Blind Tiger’s menu is nothing to scoff at: Cheese plates from Murray’s, a monster-sized chicken quesadilla, three types of grilled cheese sandwiches, and a revolving menu of mini sandwiches featuring a Vietnames Bahn Mi and a roast pork Cuban. And did I mention cask ales and 28 varieties of high quality draught beer? What are you waiting for?