By Aaron Bartley
In preparation for PUSH's annual "Buffalo Takes Manhattan" party, I spent last Monday crisscrossing NYC in search of chicken wings, Labatts and other Buffalo cultural treasures. My pilgrimage took me to five different establishments that serve as homes away from home for the thousands of Buffalonians living in the Big Apple as part of the worldwide Buffalo diaspora.
My quest to garner chicken wing donations for Buffalo Takes Manhattan--to be held in Times Square on Saturday, September 19th--began at Kelly's in the East Village. I've walked past Kelly's, located at 12 Avenue A near Tomkins Square Park, many times on previous trips, never realizing that Buffalo had a beachhead in one of America's most historic bohemian districts.
Kelly's was founded two years ago by a Dubliner and a Buffalonian. The bar is festooned with Bills and Sabres pennants, serves Labatts, and shows Bills and Sabres games. Although they don't make their own wings, Kelly's draws boisterous crowds on game days.
After crossing Avenue A, I noticed a mural with a flying Buffalo on the side of Nice Guy Eddie's at 5 Avenue A. Upon entering to investigate the meaning of the Buffalo, I met Alie, a bartender, who claimed that Nice Guy Eddie's makes the best wings in the city. Alie should know, as she's spent the better part of the last ten years in Buffalo, having moved to NYC in March.
Next, we visited McFadden's on 2nd Avenue at the corner of 43rd, the capital of Buffalove in Manhattan. All you need to know about McFadden's, you can see is this incredible Youtube video:
The NYC Buffalo Bills Backers, ably led by Matt Kabel and Matt Soreco, use McFadden's as their clubhouse on game days. John Ciciaa, the owner of McFadden's as well as Calico Jacks, is an affable guy who's proud of his role in supporting Bufflao culture in exile.
Then on to Atomic Wings, headquartered on 9th Avenue near 39th, which, is the largest purveyor of authentic wings in NYC, with three locations. Owner and Founder Adam went to college in Buffalo and saw an opportunity to introduce our sacred culinary art to a larger audience. Adam was in the south of France when I visited Atomic on Monday and couldn't be reached for comment, but more than a thousand of his wings were well received and quickly devoured at last year's Buffalo Takes Manhattan party.
Finally, I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge to reach Bonnie's, celebrating its 10th anniversary as Buffalo's bastion in Park Slope. Mike Naber, the owner and founder, is a North Tonawanda native who has helped to lead the revitalization of Park Slope's 5th Avenue shopping district. Bonnie's wings are highly regarded among Buffalonians living in Brooklyn, and they draw healthy crowds on game days.
Thanks to donations from McFadden's, Bonnie's, Kelly's and Atomic, this year's Buffalo Takes Manhattan extravaganza will be well-stocked with wings, along with Labatts and Flying Bison, and wine from Kelly's. Come taste the Buffalo goodness on Saturday, September 19th in Times Square. For Buffalonians making the trip to NYC, there's also the option of watching the Bills play Tampa the following day in any of the above establishments.
For tickets and more information, see PUSH's website at www.pushbuffalo.org
image: The author at Kelly's
Top image: The author at Kelly's