PUBS & PATIOS:Winging it down to Buffalo
Pretty much anyone who’s grown up in southern Ontario has a passing acquaintance with Buffalo’s Anchor Bar, an institution famed for reputedly inventing “Buffalo wings,” the gold(en fried) standard of the genre. And while thousands of Canadians have ventured across the US border over the years just to get a fix – thing is, I’d never actually been.
That is, until a couple of years ago when a long weekend excursion to Cleveland to visit the Rock and Roll of Fame presented the opportunity for a short detour that would at last allow me to cross off this shamefully neglected bucket list item.
I suppose I’d never gone before because as a Torontonian, Buffalo (beyond the Galleria Mall and the airport outside of town) had always been a place to simply hurry through on the way to sunnier, southern climates.
In my younger days, the night spots of Niagara Falls were nearer; and in more recent years franchise locations of the Anchor had been sprouted up as close as Pearson Airport – though friends who knew such things assured that they just weren’t the same.
So, a pit stop for lunch on our rock and roll road trip at the mecca of chicken-flavoured munchies was in order.
Notwithstanding my life-long, arms-length familiarity, the legend of the Anchor precedes it, the origin story duly detailed on the restaurant’s web site – but suffice to say, dating to 1964, when Mama Terressa served up the first batch featuring her secret sauce.
World-wide fame, many awards, frequent celebrity guests, and references on umpteen TV shows ensued, along with the aforementioned franchise strategy, which has seen replicas of the establishment spring up in a dozen cities across North America.
So here we are: sitting in the Anchor at a table beyond the bar, vintage dim and cluttered ambiance, chequered floor tiles, motorbike hanging from the ceiling… (There is a patio option).
The menu is surprisingly extensive: burgers, sandwiches, pasta, seafood, um, salad, but we’re here for one thing, the wings! After all, what else would one have in a place affectionally called “The Chicken Wing Museum” and which literally anchors the city’s Buffalo Wing Trail?
Options range from a single order (10 pieces, US$12.99) to a 50-piece bucket ($48.99) and more than a dozen types of coating (sauces – mild, medium, hot, spicey hot, BBQ chipotle, sweet BBQ, spicy garlic parmesan, honey garlic and extreme heat, otherwise known as suicide; and rubs – Cajun, habanero spice, and original Buffalo spice).
It seemed only fitting that we selected the “original” version and, at the risk of going on at length about a chicken wing, the morsels were substantial and the sauce noticeably beyond compare.
Overall, the experience was not a disappointment. Finding the bar was quick and easy, the ambiance unique, and the food was delicious and plentiful.
In sum: yum!
The original Anchor Bar is located at 1047 Main St. in downtown Buffalo, NY, perhaps half an hour from the border. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; Friday 11 to 11; Saturday noon to 11 and Sunday noon to 10. Oh, and there’s take out for the road.
With glass (and wet naps) purposefully in hand, we at Travel Industry Today continue our series on some of the planet’s best bars, patios and rooftop venues. For more articles in the series, click here:
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First published at Travel Industry Today