Happy 50th birthday, Buffalo-style chicken wings.
The milestone is being celebrated March 7, 2014 at the Anchor Bar, the Buffalo tavern that’s credited with inventing the dish on a March night a half century ago.
According to Anchor Bar lore, the restaurant’s owner, Teressa Bellissimo, whipped up a snack at the request of her bartender son, Dominic, after a group of his friends got hungry while having late-night drinks.
She cut up some large chicken wings to make them easier to eat by hand, deep friend them and served the snack covered in hot sauce with blue cheese dressing and celery on the side. The rest is foodie history.
Today, Buffalo-style wings are a bar favorite nationwide, but as any one will tell you, all are not created equal. We set out to find the ones that reign supreme.
Some are fried within an inch of their life then slathered in hot sauce; others marinated and then cooked so Buffalo flavor bakes right into the skin. Substantial and meaty or crackled and crisp, their techniques and textures are diverse.
Many Westchester wing lovers will tell you the Candlelight Inn in Scarsdale is king. And we can see why — chicken is meaty and crisp, and not so overly sauced that your fingers and face are covered by the end of the meal.
Pubs and pizza places found their way onto our list. And for something out of the ordinary we suggest a barbecue joint like Q in Port Chester or Holy Smoke in Mahopac. At Q the wings are large, plump and charred from the smoker, and Holy Smoke uses a salty rub before smoking that makes them completely addicting.
During our research, we also reached out for reader suggestions on their favorite wing spots throughout the Lower Hudson Valley. A flood of responses confirmed our suspicion that everyone has a go-to spot they adore. Meaty, crispy or smoky. Whatever the reason, wings truly inspire customer loyalty.
Here is our Hot List: Wings edition.
1 Candlelight Inn, Scarsdale
If you’ve lived in the Lower Hudson Valley for longer than 24 hours you’ve probably heard someone rave about the wings at Candlelight. Now considered an institution by local wing lovers, the tiny red barn on Central Park Avenue always has a crowd, many of whom order without even looking at the menu. While other dishes include juicy burgers, barbecue ribs and homemade soup, people go for the Buffalo wings and a draft beer. Cash only. 519 Central Park Ave., Scarsdale, 914-472-9706. Facebook page here.
2 Holy Smoke BBQ, Mahopac
Portions here are not for the faint of heart; wings are served by the pound and a good choice for sharing. Rubbed with a savory spice rub and smoked, each piece has crunchy skin over tender meat. Order with the house-made hot sauce or the popular barbecue sauce. And don’t miss the incredible craft beer menu, which includes 26 drafts and nearly 20 well-chosen bottles; tasting flights are offered along with growlers to go. 241 Route 6N, Mahopac, 845-628-9795, www.holysmokebbq.net.
3 Lazy Boy Saloon and Ale House, White Plains
A cornerstone on the Mamaroneck Avenue strip in White Plains, wings and beers are the name of the game here. While Buffalo and barbecue sauces are both good, we like the tequila-citrus sauce for some unexpected zest. The beer list has an astonishing 500 brews listed, so be prepared to deliberate for a while. But to pair with football and wings we like something malty and pale, like KelSo Beer’s Pilsner or Leffe Blond by Abbaye de Leffe in Belgium. 154 Mamaroneck Ave., White Plains. 914-761-0272, lazyboysaloon.com.
4 Nanuet Restaurant, Nanuet
A no-frills, casual restaurant that’s as easy to bring the kids to as it is to meet a group for drinks on a Friday night. Wings are a specialty, served by the dozen with choice of hot sauce, barbecue and teriyaki. The wings are juicy and crispy, and regulars know to order a dozen of them with the pizza. A flaky, almost pastry-style crust, makes the pies a local favorite. 211 Main St., Nanuet, 845-623-7177, nanuetrestaurant.com.
5 New York Firehouse Grille, Peekskill
More than 40 flavors of wing sauces (like Ninja Warrior with wasabi, honey mustard and terikayi or Mardi Gras with hot bourbon and jerk) can be mixed for a custom taste. The heat scale goes from Naked, to One Alarm, to Haz Mat and then to Waiver — as in you’ll have to sign a waiver before you eat them. There are 12 large screens around the bar, and 10 percent discount for firemen and women, EMT/paramedics, policemen and women, teachers and members of active military. 63 Welcher Ave., 914-788-0808, www.newyorkfirehousegrille.com.
6 Olde Village Inne, Nyack
Get cozy in one of this friendly pub’s booths and order a dozen, either hot, medium or mild. One crunch and you know — there’s something about how crispy the wings are that makes them irresistible. Still, the chicken is plentiful (and juicy) and the sauce is at that just-right level that gives you a kick without making it a 10-napkin meal. 97 Main St., Nyack. 845-358-1160. www.ovinyack.com
7 Piper’s Kilt, Eastchester
There’s no chichi food or haute décor at this pub, and many staffers have worked here for decades. But that’s just the way the regulars like it, a crowd more interested in the game and good beer than restaurant décor. Piper’s Kilt is known for their burgers, so the Buffalo wings fly under the radar, but each one delivers a satisfying crunch and mouthful of nearly-too-hot sauce. 433 White Plains Road, Eastchester. 914-779-5772.
8 Q Authentic Barbeque Restaurant and Bar, Port Chester
The wings at Q are not traditional. They’re not separated into two pieces, and instead of fried, they are smoked. Charred and flavorful, meat falls right off the bone. This meal is messy, but it would be a mistake not to sop up every bit of the creamy blue-cheese dressing that is made in house. Wash that down with a beer and you’re in barbecue heaven. 112 N. Main St., Port Chester; 914-933-7427, www.qrestaurantandbar.com.
9 Quaker Hill Tavern, Chappaqua
A basket of these will leave you both full and and not a total saucy mess. Each piece is juicy and with just the right amount of homemade sauce soaked up into the skin. They actually taste like chicken, a detail sometimes overlooked when crispness and sauce are at the top of a wing agenda. Even on a weekday, the bar is busy and has a neighborly feel. 61 N. Bedford Road, Chappaqua, 914-238-6416, www.quakerhilltavern.com.
10 The Blazer Pub, Purdys
The award-winning chili, slow-cooked and spicy, is worth the drive, but the delicately fried wings will keep you coming back. Perpetually crowded, the bar has remained unchanged for years, with old school video games, incredible burgers, and that’s part of its charm. The Blazer also happens to be one of the only spots in northern Westchester where you can get dinner for two for under $20. 440 Route 22, North Salem, 914-277-4424, www.theblazerpub.com.
The Lower Hudson Valley has plenty to offer in the way of wings, so our list is certainly not conclusive. Here are some reader favorites. Contribute yours on social media with the hasthtag #lohudfood or tell us in the comments on the Small Bites blog at food.lohudblogs.com.
Butterfield 8, 147 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains. 914-358-4881, www.butterfield8whiteplains.com
Kelly’s Corner, 1625 Route 22, Brewster, 845-278-4297, www.kellyscorner.com
Sports Page Pub, 200 Hamilton Ave #2, White Plains, 914-437-8721, www.sportspagepub.com
The Huddle, 92 Beekman Ave., Sleepy Hollow, 914-909-5644.
The Pour House, 468 Ashford Ave., Ardsley, 914-693-9707, www.ardsleypourhouse.com
Turco’s Market, 380 Downing Drive, Yorktown Heights, 914-243-9100, www.turcos.com
Uncle Henry’s, 309 Halstead Ave., Harrison, 914-835-0804, www.unclehenrysbarandgrill.com