Winging It

Where to sample the best Buffalo chicken wings

It’s a big year for the wing. Fifty years ago, Teressa Bellissimo of the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, N.Y., scoured her kitchen for something she could feed to unexpected guests. The classic Buffalo chicken wing, coated in a distinctive tangy, buttery cayenne pepper hot sauce, was born—and it has been inspiring chefs to come up with other varieties ever since. 

Got a craving? Here are some options for wing nuts of every type.

For the heat-seeker

In Ottawa, the SmoQue Shack offers fiery versions catering to wing connoisseurs who have a dash of daredevil. The piri piri sauce is especially sure to set tongues afire, showcasing the zippy African bird’s eye chili, coupled with ingredients like garlic and lemon. Have a pint standing by. 

For the variety-lover

Bubba Ray’s in downtown Halifax believes that variety is the spice of life with a menu that lists more than 57 sauces, ranging from Maple Hot (sweetened with a dash of Acadian maple syrup) to the tropical Island Mist (pineapple curry with sweet and sour flavours). 

For the locavore

The motto for Symons Valley Roadhouse in Calgary could be “smoke ’em, if you’ve got ’em.” This rustic resto on the outskirts of the city smokes its locally sourced wings for hours to add rich flavour and then serves them up with creamy chimichurri aioli on the side. 

For the fusion fan

In Vancouver, chefs offer up a variety of wing versions with a distinctively Asian flare, like the Korean-glazed, sweet-meets-spicy ones at PiDGiN, or the zippy balsamic, salt, black pepper and honey ones at YEW Seafood + Bar in the Four Seasons Vancouver.  

Or, if you're feeling adventurous try making your own:

Created in the Anchor Bar in New York, the official Buffalo-style wings are now being served at Anchor Bar Canada, in Hamilton. They’re made the original way—tossed in a 32-ingredient secret sauce. Though the recipe is secret, Gary Reed, president and CEO of Anchor Bar Canada, was happy to share four tips for making perfect wings:

1. “Start with fresh wings, never frozen. They cost more, but they are so worth it. Quality is everything.”

2. “Cook the wings so that they’re crunchy on the outside, while inside, the meat remains perfectly moist. High temperature deep fryers sear the wings and store the flavour for perfect, crispy wings.” 

3. “Once cooked, toss the wings in sauce by hand to better control the amount of sauce that goes on the wings, and then allow to cure for a minute or so.”

4. “Serve in the traditional way, alongside chunky blue cheese dip and celery.”