10 Great Places to Savor Buffalo Wings

With college bowl season about to kick off, it's the perfect time for wings.

— -- With college bowl season about to kick off, it's the perfect time for chicken wings, says Armand Vanderstigchel, a chef and author of Wings Across America (Citadel, $10.95). "They're a great sharing food, a great sports food, and they taste great with beer." While many diners stick to spicy wings with blue cheese dip and celery, Vanderstigchel shares other options from his favorite wing restaurants with Larry Bleiberg for USA TODAY.


Bountiful, Utah

This Western chain fries its wings "naked" — that is, without batter. "They wouldn't go for that everywhere, but it works," Vanderstigchel says. The restaurant sells wings by the bucket and bottles its own sauce. 801-295-4884; wingers.info

Pluckers Wing Bar


This Texas-based chain has stuck to the basics even while expanding from its original location. Pluckers uses real blue cheese in its dip, which helps tame the spice in hot wings, Vanderstigchel says. "They still use great wings, and they use good sauce, and they don't compromise the quality." 512-469-9464; pluckers.com

Nando's Peri-Peri

Washington, D.C.

You'll find an international variation on wings at this chain that started in South Africa in 1987 and has spread to 34 countries on five continents. Its addictive flame-broiled wings are seasoned with the fiery African bird's eye chili, known as peri peri or piri piri. The restaurant likes to ask "Which came first, the chicken or the chili?" — but Vanderstigchel is more interested in the preparation. "They're marinated and grilled. That's really a healthy version." 202-898-1225; www.nandosperiperi.com


Los Angeles

Wings aren't just an American obsession. This budget-friendly chain helped popularize the snack in Japan and has a huge following in Southern California, with customers lining up for fried chicken wings at its West Los Angeles location. "They're super crispy, and people are really hooked on them," Vanderstigchel says.310-444-1432

Jimmie Kramer's Peanut Bar Restaurant

Reading, Pa.

Peanut shells have littered this landmark tavern and restaurant since the 1930s, when the owner first urged patrons to toss them on the floor. Vanderstigchel says the old-school eatery pleases its customers in other ways, too, sticking to pure ingredients and using meaty wings. "No exotic fancy flavors, just good quality wings," he says. 610-376-8500; peanutbar.com

The Tavern Sports Grill

Little Rock

Wings are smoked for four hours over hickory and applewood and then fried to order at this sports bar. The taste is so good that some customers even skip the sauce. "It's really an incredible flavor. Wings smoke really well," Vanderstigchel says. 501-830-2100; thetavernsportsgrill.com

Three Dollar Café


Consistently rated as one of Atlanta's favorite casual restaurants, the café serves big, meaty wings and has a large selection of drinks. Plus, there are plenty of HDTVs tuned to sports channels. "It's a wonderful place to have that perfect storm of wings and beers," Vanderstigchel says. 404-303-0047; threedollarcafeatlanta.com

Hurricane Grill and Wings


You'll find more than 30 different-flavored rubs and sauces at this Florida chain, which is now expanding nationwide. Choices include Thai ginger and garlic glaze, and ancho chile lime sauce, but Vanderstigchel's favorite remains raspberry-chipotle, a blend of raspberry and smoked jalapeño. "It's very daring using raspberry, but it works." 305-576-7133; hurricanewings.com

BuffaLouie's at the Gables

Bloomington, Ind.

A college town is a natural spot for a good wing joint, and this spot near the Indiana University campus has been a student hangout since 1987. The walls are covered with IU memorabilia, and patrons include athletes and coaches from the school's teams. Diners can chose from 14 homemade sauces. Former Hoosiers basketball coach Bobby Knight is said to have favored the sweet barbecue. 812-333-3030; buffalouies.com

Anchor Bar


For wing fans, Buffalo is a city of pilgrimage because this is where the dish first took flight in 1964. The story is that a group of friends arrived at the bar late one evening, and the only food Teressa Bellissimo could find was the wings usually used for chicken stock. Instead, she deep-fried them and whipped up a spicy sauce to coat them, and a dining legend was made. "It's where it all started, and it took off like wildfire," Vanderstigchel says.716-886-8920; anchorbar.com