Buffalo Bucket List No. 1-3: Wings and things

Anchor Bar, Duffs and Dinosaur BBQ give the classic Buffalo culinary experience


Buffalo is a city filled with culture and life – you just need to find the right places. As a sophomore from Long Island, I hope to get the most out of my Buffalo college experience. With that in mind, here is first installment of my “Buffalo Bucket List,” starting with the food that bears Buffalo’s name: the Buffalo wing (or as you locals call it, “a chicken wing”).

No. 1 - Anchor Bar

National Geographic recently ranked Buffalo as the third best food city in the world, trumping cities in France and Italy. The main reason? Anchor Bar Restaurant.

Located at 1047 Main St, the famous bar is known for creating Buffalo wings and is a treasured part of Buffalo’s history. The restaurant offers a wide variety of foods beyond their fabled wings, but the real reason to go here is to say you had the original Buffalo wing.

William Rapaport, a computer science professor who also runs the now 27-year-old Bill Rapaport’s Buffalo Restaurant Guide, called Buffalo wings “one of [Buffalo’s] best ambassadors.”

“[Anchor Bar] certainly made them (and the sauce) famous, and the restaurant’s fame and importance to the history of Buffalo are assured,” Rapaport said in an email.

Whenever I tell anyone I go to school in Buffalo, the second thing they ask, after asking if we really get that much snow, is if the wings are really that good. The answer to both of those questions is always yes.

The buffalo wing, Rapaport explained, became popular simply due to the flavor of the sauce “plus a lot of luck and being the right thing at the right time.”

My dad was the first one to tell me about Anchor Bar’s original wings status. When we visited Buffalo in my senior year of high school, Anchor Bar was naturally one of the first places we went.

Pulling up at Anchor Bar, you can see immediately a big sign proclaiming “The Original Buffalo Wing.”

They don’t mess around.

The restaurant has a classic pub feel. Exposed brick walls, multiple small dining rooms and a full-sized bar in the center of the building create a rustic atmosphere for customers. The walls are lined with photos of famous visitors, newspaper reviews and other memorabilia of Anchor Bar’s history.

The wings come in five different flavors: mild, medium, hot, spicy hot barbeque and suicidal. Being a bit of a wimp, I usually get medium and always enjoy it. Anchor Bar’s advantage of having made Buffalo wings longer than anyone else shows in the quality of their wings.

The restaurant sells its famous sauce separately for at-home chefs.

For those of you who don’t like wings, the menu offers other options, ranging from soup and salads to seafood and pasta. The restaurant also offers a wide selection of wines and beers.

Whenever anyone visits me in Buffalo, Anchor Bar is usually where I’ll take them out to eat. It offers Buffalo’s most famous dish along with an historic atmosphere and extensive menu.

For those who fly in to Buffalo, you’ve probably noticed that there’s an Anchor Bar at the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport. This is a good place to stop if you want to bring some of the wings home with you, but for the full experience, the original Anchor Bar in downtown Buffalo is preferred.

Before leaving Buffalo, you need to go to the home of Buffalo’s most famous food. If nothing else, it makes for good conversation when your aunts and uncles ask you how college is.

No. 2 - Duff’s

Duff’s doesn’t have the distinction of being the founders of the Buffalo wing and it also lacks in rustic pub atmosphere, but in my opinion, it edges out Anchor Bar as the better quality Buffalo wings as well as being slightly cheaper. It also is closer to North Campus, with one of their locations being right in Amherst, on 3651 Sheridan Drive.

There is a bit of a debate amongst UB students between Duff’s, Anchor Bar and other wing joints. Duff’s wings simply have better variety, better quality, better prices and better location, making it the ideal wing restaurant for college students.

No. 3 – Dinosaur BBQ

The original Dinosaur BBQ is in Syracuse, however, Buffalo has its own Dinosaur BBQ at 301 Franklin St. in downtown Buffalo. The restaurant serves a wide variety of barbeque meats including ribs, sandwiches, burgers, wings and others. Live bands occasionally play, providing a lively yet family friendly atmosphere.

Dinosaur BBQ offers an alternative to the typical wings place in Buffalo. While they do serve wings, they mainly focus on their barbeque foods. Large portions for decent prices, unique southern-meets-upstate atmosphere and locations in Buffalo, Syracuse and Rochester make Dinosaur BBQ an upstate classic.

Daniel McKeon is a features editor and can be reached at dan.mckeon@ubspectrum.com