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Tour de Wings: Albany’s Westside

January 28, 2019

Let’s get this out of the way. Albany isn’t just a city, it’s also a county. But for better or worse, Albany also serves as a shorthand for the greater Capital Region.

There have been a long long list of tours organized by the Fussy Little Blog over the years. The tours started with apple cider donuts, and slowly progressed through other regional specialties.

Wings took a little while to get started because there were just so many darned places to get them. Long ago, it was decided that since buffalo style wings were so omnipresent, the only way for a tour to make sense is if we looked at micro-regions within the area.

Relatively arbitrary political boundaries matter not to this process.

What matters is finding five excellent, long standing places, that people go to for wings, so a thoughtful group of eaters can evaluate all of them on the same day. The purpose of this is largely for fun. But wings are also terrible for human consumption. So if you are going to indulge, it makes sense to get the best ones you can. Hopefully, the results of the tour can help locals find wings worth eating.

That said, the next tour is ready to roll, and we would love you to join us. Here are the deets.

You can call it Uptown. You can call it West Albany. But after tackling the eastern part of the city on one tour, and the big juicy middle on a second tour, we now have five more spots to evaluate on the western edge of the city as Albany bleeds into the suburbs.

What’s not up for debate is the date. This Saturday, February 2, we’ll start at 11:30am. And our first buffalo-style wing will emerge slightly thereafter.

This is a tour of buffalo wings. No garlic and butter wings. No asian sesame wings. No smoked wings. As a buffalo wing tour, that means we’re looking for something fried, crispy, and spicy. No breading. No barbecue sauce. Ideally served with blue cheese, alongside cold and crisp vegetables for dipping.

Buffalo wings should be bar food, dammit. After all, these things were designed to be consumed with beer. Not that you have to drink beer when eating wings. But beer should always be available. It’s why for the very first stop, we’ll be meeting at an actual bar. Hey, it will be five o’clock somewhere.

So what’s the plan?

At 11:30am we’re going to meet at the bar inside TJs Cafe, and from there we will break up into teams. Those who want to try and walk the course are welcome to do so. And they may very well want to start with a morning beer. Those who are driving, should not be drinking. Safety first.

The last Albany Wing Tour fielded two teams and that worked out nicely. Don’t worry, the team selection process is painless. And most people will get paired with other readers of the FLB. That means you already have something in common. Consider them friends you haven’t met yet.

Team size and numbers will depend on the turnout. I’ll spare you the chart, but the ideal team size is four people. Most likely teams will be a combinations of threesomes and foursomes. Of course, if you want to come with your own threesome or foursome already assembled, that’s great too.

So, which wing places made the cut?

This tour is being executed as proposed. As we’ve learned from past outings, it’s best to front-load the eating, and back-load the walking. So we’re starting out with three places that are almost right on top of each other.

TJ’s Cafe is one of Albany’s underrated gems, as far as I’m concerned. Years ago I sat down with Todd, and he’s a guy who cares deeply about what he does. On the menu, he even puts his name on the chicken wings. They are called “Todd’s Terrific Wings” and despite rising costs, still come twelve to an order. It’s been too long since I’ve been into his place, and I can’t wait.

Little Anthony’s is just a couple of doors down. Technically, it’s a pizza place. And more than anything, these days it’s known for its vegan offerings. But I have been there before in the past, and there are places to sit and enjoy the food on site. There may not be beer, but that’s okay, because the next stop is just another couple blocks up Central Avenue.

Joe’s Grill looks like a road house. It’s a bar, that’s for sure. But right there on the side of the building is a large sign that says “wings”. Amazingly, despite being in business since 1942 there are only two Yelp reviews of the place, and both are favorable. On Saturday, we’re going to solve the mystery of this spot, and get up close and personal with its wings.

After three stops for wings, I will welcome a brisk sixteen minute walk in the cold to Lynn’s Uptown Tavern. The cold and the exertion will make the wings taste better. Promise. Not that Lynn’s needs help. This is Steve N’s local spot, and it was one place that simply had to be on the tour.

Will anyone be up for a 29 minute walk from Lynn’s to The Orchard? It’s hard to say. The good news is that there is always Uber and Lyft. But unless there is an ice storm with 20 mph gusts, I really want to do the walk. It’s totally walkable. And seriously, after stop four, most people will relish the break. But we’ll see, and nobody has to make the call ahead of time.

Here’s the full walking map for anyone who is interested.

If you’re driving in, and planning to walk the tour, you could park at Westgate Plaza. It’s large and centrally located between TJ’s and The Orchard.

So we’ve got our plan. We’ve got a date, February 2. We’ve got a time 11:30 am. We’ve got a meeting spot at TJ’s Cafe. Now all we need are a few crazy people who want to be a part of this.

I’ll bring the scoresheets.

If you want to come, bring a pen and cash in small denominations. There is no activity fee to participate in this event. However, each team will be responsible for splitting their own bills, and doing it all in cash makes everything much much easier. I just ask that you tip your servers very well given the real estate we’ll be taking up, and the relatively small size of the check at each stop.

So who is in for an afternoon of wing eating, and maybe a little light walking in the depths of a freezing cold Albany winter?

Please respond to this post to RSVP, and let me know if you plan to bring others along too. It’s really just for organizational purposes, so I know how many scoresheets to bring. Looking forward to another great tour with the best food blog readers in the Capital Region.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Eric Scheirer Stott permalink
    January 28, 2019 11:02 am

    I’ll be there, ready to join a team.

  2. January 28, 2019 11:06 am

    It’ll be fun to saunter around my stomping grounds with other foodies and a belly full of wings and beer. See you at TJs.

  3. Benjamin M. permalink
    January 28, 2019 12:26 pm

    Wife and I will be there.

  4. January 28, 2019 1:44 pm

    This is awfully tempting but Saratoga Chowderfest is that day. If I knew I would see people throwing up in the snow on the wing tour I might be swayed….

    More seriously, I have a meeting up here that ends at 11 so my arrival at 1130 is questionable, especially because I’d have to fight traffic on the way out of town.

    So put me down as a possibly…..

  5. Buffsoulja permalink
    January 28, 2019 9:12 pm

    Count me in!

  6. February 1, 2019 12:34 pm

    I’ll be there with a team of three others!

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