The Final Four is about to get underway, and that means so is your search for NYC's best wings to eat while watching. And since we're all about making your life easier/wing-ier, here they are: NYC's 11 best wings (Buffalo and otherwise).
If you like your wings more tender/BBQ-y and less fried/not-BBQ-y, Dinosaur is an excellent go-to. They rub the wings, pit-smoke them, char them on the grill, and then inventively sauce them down with Honey BBQ, Sesame Hoisin, Garlic Chipotle, Wango Tango, or their hottest (seriously, we dare you to get this sauce): Devil’s Duel.
Created and perfected over several years (including during the chef's stint at Momofuku), these flappers are dredged in a combo of beer, liquor, and spices, then twice-fried with a freeze in between to maximize their crispiness. After all that, they get coated like a “candy apple” in a sauce that hits every note from sweet to savory.
One of the oldest, most well-respected, and most well-urinal'd (seriously check them out) bars in NYC, Old Town’s wings are the kind of bar wings with enough tangy/buttery Buffalo flavor and substantial meatiness that you can house several orders and never get tired of them.
Upper West Side
This standby sports bar is reliable on all fronts: it’ll always play the sound for games, it’ll always have a decent crowd, and it’ll always have wings that are always good. They're just crunchy enough to not be overdone, and just sauced enough to not be overwhelming.
Taking over the recipe from the dearly departed Scruffy Duffy’s, the “Scruffy Duffy’s World Famous Wings” are consistently meaty with good sauce coverage, and are best enjoyed while “drinking like a champion”, as is their motto. Along with standard mild, medium, and hot, they’re also available in BBQ or Garlic Parmesan.
Columbia St Waterfront
The Ike’s Vietnamese wings were once described to us by a friend as, “the best wings I’ve ever had, ever”, right before Pok Pok first opened in NYC. While that’s not quite true, they’re certainly in the top tier with their fish sauce-based flavor and impressive heat.
This relative newcomer mixes it up by adding a Mexican resto vibe to its sports bar theme, and brings with it a shload of tequilas, 80in TVs, and some amazing wings. Get started with some classic ones covered in Frank’s RedHot, and eventually move on to others like Salt 'N Vinegar, Pineapple Habanero Mango, or “The Nuclear Option”... which're coated in ghost pepper and require a waiver.
These guys are a good standby for a Buffalo bar wing, but the real draw is that you really can’t beat the bang-for-your-buck this place gives you with $0.20 wings on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights.
They don’t just dump stuff in a deep-fryer and hope for the best here. The chef has a strict, 10-step process... which he may divulge to you if you ask nicely, and may not if you're all, "Don't be a d*ck; tell me the process". In addition to doing an incredibly solid everyday offering, they’re always doing weird-ass flavors for the fun of it, too, like Thai peanut butter & spicy jelly.
The OG of Korean-style, twice-fried chicken is still a worthy meal if you're seeking out some top-notch non-Buffalos. The flavor is soy garlic, the skin is crispy, and the inside is juicy. It all somehow becomes more than the sum of the already-delicious parts.
Brined in pilsner and available in hot, inferno, or BBQ at what might be NYC’s best beer bar, these top-tier wings feature consistent meatiness, unique flavor, and nice heat.
Bonus other editor's pick: Buffalo Wild Wings
"You may think Buffalo Wild Wings is just a nefarious organization that makes football players trip on sprinklers to force overtime so everyone can keep drinking beer, because all of their jobs stipulate that if you’re at a bar, and an overtime game is on, you’re not allowed to come back to work. But it’s more than that. For one, they also serve wings! Wild ones. For two, those wings are legitimately delicious. I started devotedly hammering them back in college, and I’ve been urging people to come with me to locations everywhere from Iowa to Colorado ever since. They all think I’m doing it ironically or am straight joking, but both of those assumptions are dirty and false. So do yourself a favor: go to Atlantic Station. Go up the escalator. Get the hot, plus some teriyaki or mango habanero. Get a huge beer. Get over the whole chain thing, and just get down." -- Ben Robinson, Editorial Director
1. Blondies212 W 79th St, New York
2. Distilled New York211 West Broadway, New York
3. Pok Pok Ny117 Columbia St, New York
4. Whiskey Soda Lounge Ny115 Columbia St, Brooklyn
5. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que604 Union St, Brooklyn
6. Old Town Bar45 E 18th St., New York
7. Campeon9 E 16th St, New York
8. The Hog Pit37 W 26th St, New York
9. The Blind Tiger281 Bleecker St, New York
10. BonChon Chicken325 5th Ave, New York
11. Croxley Ales28 Avenue B, New York
12. Lansdowne Road599 10th Ave, New York
Blondies has all the fixins of a quintessential sports bar: big screen TVs, cheap happy hour drinks, and all-you-can-eat-wings on Monday nights. The Upper West Side spot is usually packed with Big 10 alums cheering on their respective alma maters.
This sprawling gastropub, situated in a landmark TriBeCa building, is a dark-wooded space with charcoal banquets, an elevated outdoor patio, and incredibly high ceilings. Living up to its name, Distilled derives the essential elements from classic pub fare and drinks and then redefines them, from complimentary popcorn with "magic dust" to chicken fried duck & waffles. The wings, created and perfected over several years (including during Chef Shane Lyons' stint at Momofuku), are dredged in a combo of beer, liquor, and spices, then twice-fried with a freeze in between to maximize their crispiness. The method seems like madness, but it creates some of the best wings in the city.
Andy Ricker's Michelin-starred restaurant on Brooklyn's Columbia Street Waterfront specializes in Northern Thai food, a regional cuisine that favors pork and deep-frying over spiciness and coconut milk. Pok Pok's menu is filled with family-style plates like deep-fried pork riblets, minced pork salad with crispy fried garlic, and insanely good chicken wings, deep-fried and coated in fish sauce. There's usually a wait at peak dinner times, especially for a table on the back patio in the summer.
Pok Pok's brother restaurant, WSL dishes Authentic Thai food and drinks in Brooklyn.
Before Dinosaur Bar-B-Que was a kitschy blues-and-barbecue chain, it was a motorcycle hang in Syracuse, and all of its locations across the Eastern seaboard pay appropriate homage to its biker bar history. As for the food, the ribs, pulled pork, and brisket are something to write home about, as are the sauced-up hot wings. Live music, featuring acts from rock and reggae to R&B and classic soul, keeps Dinosaur BBQ's honky-tonk charm alive.
While many other bars are trying to create it, old-school New York charm comes naturally to this institution, which has been slinging drinks since 1882 (then known as Viemeister’s). The charm, however, is not the only anachronism that makes it so popular: Old Town also boasts a mahogany bar, distressed mirrors, a dumbwaiter, and high, tin ceilings.
Tequila enthusiasts and football fans alike are lured to Campeon, a Mexican mezcaleria-slash-sports bar off of Union Square Park. The neon-bedecked venue is organized around a long bar and is split between a front area with full-length banquettes and a more secluded back dining room. TVs line the entire space, meaning you don't have to huddle around a packed bar to see the winning field goal. Margaritas rule the drink menu while spicy guacamole, taquitos, and tacos are a welcome change from the mozzarella sticks and onion rings that make up standard bar food menus. That said, there are plenty of wings to go around.
This Southern BBQ dive is one of the best in the Flatiron. Sidle up with some hearty chili, watch a few games, and wash it all down with a cheap brew or two.
Arguably the epitome of a New York City craft beer bar and a true pioneer in the NYC craft scene, Blind Tiger’s been doling out a fine selection of the top tier libations since it opened in 1995. It’s the go-to spot to meet folks from your favorite breweries who happen to be swinging through town, and the tap takeovers are legendary to say the least. Sip from 28 taps, two casks and a staggering list of microbrew bottles.
With outposts across NYC, the Korean mega-chain BonChon is known for its perfectly crispy, huge wings, with flavor choices of soy garlic or "hot" (which contains red chili peppers and 'gochugaru,' a smoky Korean spice). If that weren't enough to whet your whistle, the Midtown East location of the chain is also decked out with large HDTVs for sports fans to watch games. Score!
One of a handful of locations in the greater New York area, the East Village's Croxley Ale delivers beer and wings in a dark tavern space complete with mounted TVs. Croxley might be a sports bar, but don't expect typical sports bar beer (read: Bud, Miller, or Coors). Instead, you'll find an expansive and rotating roster of craft beer from near and far, bottled and on tap. The food menu sticks to the bar food canon (that's a good thing) with sauce-covered Buffalo wings, crispy mozzarella sticks, and mounds of nachos.
Once you've stepped into Lansdowne Road, you're expected to "Drink like a champion", as their motto goes. You'll have no problem living up to those expectations with an expanded draft list and delicious eats (especially their wings) to soak up the suds.