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Albany Tour de Buffalo Wing Nominations

February 8, 2017

Did I mention something about being addicted to buffalo sauce and blue cheese dip recently? Because it’s totally true. It’s dangerous for me to have tater tots in the house. I’m totally serious about turning over a new leaf in March.

But it’s still February. So when it come to fat, it’s fair game. That means we better get this winter tour on the books, and do it fast.

Mark the date. Saturday, February 18. It’s the day after the General Strike on the 17th, so that will give you a chance to work up an appetite.

As is our custom, before going into one of these tours, I open up the floor to nominations. Because invariably, when the winner was announced, someone will say, “Why didn’t you go to this other awesome place?”

No, it’s not a democracy. The final slate is decided neither by popular vote nor an electoral college. To paraphrase a past president, I am the decider. So there’s no need to rally your friends to bolster your claims. But you should be prepared to explain with some detail, exactly why you think your favorite spot deserves a stop on the tour.

Before we get to that, let’s back up just a little bit, and then I’ll give you a lay of the land.

History. This whole tour thing started many years ago when Stanford Steph thought it would be a good idea to go out to local orchards and try several apple cider donuts from different places back-to-back.

Well, we tried that and it was a lot of fun. So I’ve been keeping the tradition rolling. But we’ve moved on to other foods, since one cannot live on apple cider donuts alone. The goal, however, is to try foods that are somehow special to our little corner of the earth.

Now, you may say buffalo wings are a Buffalo thing. And you would have an excellent point. That said, wings are a big thing here too. While our wings may not be as consistently brilliant as the wings to our east west, the buffalo wings in the Capital Region are some of the best you can find in the country.

It’s true. Most of the country has terrible, terrible wings. It’s a travesty.

Going on a Tour de Buffalo Wing in the Capital Region would be an act of sheer folly. These tours only stop at five different places. Any more and it would start to feel like work. Any fewer, and the scope of the survey just feels incomplete.

So what we’ve been doing is breaking down the Tour de Wing into walkable micro-geographies. We may choose to drive a leg or two, but for the most part, we try to keep the geography tight. In the past, we’ve done the wings of Downtown Troy and the wings of Downtown Schenectady.

But I’m not sure Downtown Albany is quite as compelling as, let’s say, Pine Hills.

A Downtown Albany Tour might put us at:
1) Hill Street Cafe
2) The Hollow
3) The Olde English
4) McGeary’s
5) Pinto & Hobbs

But a Pine Hills Tour might put us at:
1) The Washington Tavern
2) Graney’s Bar & Grill
3) The Fountain
4) Junior’s
5) Crave

Andy’s Place might find it’s way onto a Pine Hills tour too, perhaps squeezing out Crave. There also could be a case made for Recovery Room, and I’m sure there are others I’m missing too.

The above aren’t final lists. Rather they are presented as thought starters. Because now is the time to weigh in. Do you think we should hit Downtown or Pine Hills? Or should we be looking elsewhere in Albany? And what places should get elevated to make the cut?

Now is your time to speak out. I’m looking forward to the input. And I’m really looking forward to eating wings with you on February 18. You know, for science. Not to feed my addiction. Definitely not to feed the addiction.

Excuse me for a moment while I heat up another batch of tots.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. MikeH permalink
    February 8, 2017 10:25 am

    I’d nominate The Fountain – medium, extra crispy extra saucy. In the early 2000’s the Washington Tavern made a great wing. Can’t vouch first them since 2002 or so.

    Also, I think you give Buffalo too much credit for the “brilliance” of their wings. I spend a lot of time there and the best wings I’ve had in the Capital region are as good as any I’ve had in Buffalo.

  2. laurenluck permalink
    February 8, 2017 11:00 am

    I’d steer towards downtown – I’m biased towards McGeary’s and I adore their hot sauce, but their chipotle bbq is amazing as well.

  3. -R. permalink
    February 8, 2017 11:04 am

    The Pine Hills tour could feasibly be recast as the College Ghetto tour and encompass the places from Madison/Ontario, down to Quail St. You’d have Mild Wally’s, Washington Tavern, Crave (I’ve never had their wings, but if they’re as good as the rest of the menu, watch out), Paesan’s, Capital Q and Chicken Joe’s. All within easy walking distance.

    I like the idea of this tour since it doesn’t necessarily cherry-pick places with the so-called ‘best’ wings, but rather offers a broad range of wing options from cheap college joints to higher end BBQ. I’m sure if you queried the residents of the area, they’d all pick someplace different as having their favorite wings – all within the span of a few blocks.

  4. February 8, 2017 11:18 am

    I’m game either way! Three downtowns kinda makes sense somehow…

  5. buffsoulja permalink
    February 8, 2017 11:34 am

    To me, Pine Hills seems the obvious choice.

    As for wings at The Fountain – I would argue that hot and crispy is the way to order as the medium wings have a weird tangy sauce.

    If downtown, I would say excelsior pun across the street from Hill street should be added instead of Ol’ English. Or victory cafe if that is still around.

    Either way, I want in!

    • MikeH permalink
      February 9, 2017 11:24 am

      The tangy sauce is what I enjoy about the Fountain medium wings. Something a little different from the run of the mill Frank’s and butter (not to say Frank’s and butter isn’t delicious)

  6. Sue H permalink
    February 8, 2017 12:02 pm

    This is a tough call but thinking it through I would say Pine Hill’s would be the area with the best choices. I think Lynn’s Uptown Sports Bar should be added as well maybe even Joe’s Grill. Never tried Crave’s wings but they look good.

  7. Debra permalink
    February 8, 2017 12:47 pm

    “While our wings may not be as consistently brilliant as the wings to our east, the buffalo wings in the Capital Region” (I’m pretty sure you meant west – right?)

    This sounds like a fun time, walking a neighborhood would be cool.

  8. February 8, 2017 1:40 pm

    I also agree about Lynn’s Uptown, maybe in place of Crave.

    If going downtown – some other suggestions: Victory Cafe, Excelsior Pub (right across the street from Hill St.), Pump Station, and Stout (same owner as Graney’s – so hopefully that means good wings),

  9. ericscheirerstott permalink
    February 8, 2017 7:03 pm

    Pine Hills- My Back Yard

  10. February 8, 2017 7:34 pm

    I second Excelsior Pub. As a former Buffalo guy and someone who takes wings extremely seriously, I’d say they’re absolutely in contention for best in the area.

  11. February 8, 2017 7:36 pm

    As a former Buffalo guy and somebody who takes wings extremely seriously, I’d say Excelsior absolutely needs to be on the list. In contention for best wings I’ve had outside of Western NY,

  12. Ron Schubin permalink
    February 8, 2017 10:25 pm

    I know this doesn’t fit tidily into a downtown tour – but please check out the Bull and Barrel Smokehouse Grill, 155 Wade Road, between Rt 155 and Rt 7. They smoke and season their own wings, and man, are they good! You can get them mild, medium, hot or garlic parm, or with a unique Chipotle Raspberry sauce (which tastes better than it sounds!) – but my favorite is “Naked” with a sweet spicy dry rub, and some smokey blue cheese dipping sauce! PS – they have an awesome revolving selection of draft beers (and cider), too!

  13. Randy K permalink
    February 9, 2017 12:08 am

    I think they are both good options! Parking is definitely easier in Pine Hills, so maybe I’d choose that for ease.

    Some other places to consider:
    Albany Pump Station
    Orchard Tavern
    My Place on Delaware Ave

  14. February 10, 2017 2:25 pm

    I would love to see some love and attention for Scubbers.
    Bob and Bernice have been shaking our GREAT wings for almost 40 years.

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