By Ryan Glasspiegel
Buffalo wings are such an ingrained part of American culture that, if you didn't already know, you'd assume that their origin dates back further than to 1964, when Teressa Bellissimo prepared the first batch for a voracious group of her son's friends in the kitchen of Anchor Bar in Buffalo, N.Y.
It's hard to imagine life without such a culinary creation that's so versatile that it can be created in hundreds of styles, served boneless or bone-in, taste great with dozens of dips, and served as either an appetizer or a meal. Wings are now on the menu at virtually every bar that serves food, at pizza chains, and even at upscale restaurants. Just 47 years after being introduced to the world, most Americans have several wing options just a phone call away.
|Slideshow: America's best wings|
When the NFL and its players association were negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement, many feared that a lockout would have a disastrous effect on the chicken-wing industry. "It would kill wings, it would be terrible on wings," Joe Sanderson of Sanderson Farms Inc. said at the Reuters Global Food Agriculture Summit in March.
Buffalo Wild Wings, a now omnipresent chain inspired by delicious wings, echoed Sanderson's sentiment and offered its customers, who were hungry for both wings and football, six free wings if they signed a petition to end the lockout before July 20. The lockout ended shortly after the deadline, but Buffalo Wild Wings made good on its promise anyway. Two great American industries had been saved.
Let's face it, it's virtually impossible to make "bad" wings, and so it wasn't easy to determine America's 10 best. However, the bars and restaurants on this list go above and beyond, serving wings fit to be
eaten at dinner for a month straight. The pictures alone will make your mouth water and your stomach yearn. Hopefully, you're lucky enough to live close to some of these wings to make it happen.
This past September, an estimated 85,000 people attended the National Buffalo Wing Festival in Buffalo, N.Y., where 550,000 wings (or 37 tons) were served as Legend Larry's, an establishment with multiple locations in Wisconsin, took home the award for best traditional hot wing.
When the original Gritty's opened in Portland in 1988 (there are now two other locations in Maine), it became the first brew pub to open in Maine since Prohibition. For a $75 annual fee, you can join the Gritty's mug club. Named amongst the best wings in New England by the Boston Globe, Grittys wings can be ordered in three styles: Buffalo, BBQ, and extra hot.
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In a day-long quest to find the best wings for Super Bowl Sunday, Esquire's Scott Raab found bliss with Bon Chon's Korean chicken wings: "It isn't merely today's best chicken; it's perfect, the best fried chicken I've ever had." Raab continued, "On one level, this is delicate stuff, with a paper-thin skin that delivers a soul-satisfying crunch and a clean, subtle taste unmarred by anything beyond good fresh chicken and maybe a dash of salt and pepper. One batch is barely brushed with a sweetish soy-garlic mix, the other with a 'hot and spicy' blend whose snap builds nice and slow to a friendly scorch. Both are superb."
Located in Union Square, City Bakery is a destination for tourists and locals seeking excellent coffee and cuisine. In distinguishing City Bakery as having the best wings in New York City, New York Magazine notes that the wings, of the salt-pepper-sugar or Old Bay Seasoning variety, are "insanely delicious."
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It's only fair to give the honor of the best wings in America to the establishment that invented the wing. Anchor Bar’s web site describes just how this American delicacy came to be:
"On a Friday night in 1964, Dominic Bellissimo was tending bar at the now famous Anchor Bar Restaurant in Buffalo, N.Y. Late that evening, a group of Dominic's friends arrived at the bar with ravenous appetites. Dominic asked his mother, Teressa, to prepare something for his friends to eat. They looked like chicken wings, a part of the chicken that usually went into the stock pot for soup. Teressa had deep-fried the wings and flavored them with a secret sauce.The wings were an instant hit and it didn't take long for people to flock to the bar to experience this new taste sensation. From that evening on, Buffalo Wings became a regular part of the menu at the Anchor Bar."
Click here for TheDailyMeal.com's complete slideshow featuring the Top Ten list of America's Best Hot Wings.