It’s funny that in the city of Buffalo, home of the chicken wing, it’s nearly impossible to find a suicidal hot wing that actually kicks ass. But there is one place that takes hot wings seriously, and that’s Wing Kings on Elmwood Avenue.
Wing Kings got its start on Hertel Avenue, but I learned earlier today that that location is now closed. Apparently the goal was to get to Elmwood, and then cut loose the North Buffalo location. And it appears that was the right decision, because the Elmwood spot is always busy. Earlier today, I stopped in to order a dozen hot wings, and a couple of chicken finger sandwiches. The reason that I ordered the wings hot and not suicidal was because last time when my wife and her friend ordered the suicidal (their version is 911), they spent the next half hour running around the kitchen panting, and drinking glasses of water. Just smelling those 911 wings made me recoil. So this time around, lesson learned, I stuck to the hot level. It’s good to know that there is a wing joint around that takes its heat levels so seriously.
Ever since Louie’s Foot Long Hot Dogs left the 500 Block of Elmwood, there has been a dearth of this sort of eatery in the neighborhood – a place to get quick and tasty grub along the lines of hamburgers, tacos, wings, etc. Wing Kings fills a nice little niche on the street. Inside, the place is small, but somehow they have figured out how to accommodate a good amount of seating. If you’re eating in, or waiting for an order, be warned that the soul/R&B music is a bit loud, but the customers that were eating there today didn’t seem to be bothered one way or another. There’s a flat screen TV to watch too, with no sound. College football was the channel choice when I stopped in.
As I mentioned previously, Wing Kings is pretty busy. Today’s business was brisk, with phone orders, customer pick-ups, and diners eating in. Obviously, word is out that this place has some of the best wings around – not just for the heat, but also the flavor. The wings are on the crispy side (you don’t have to ask), and have the perfect sauce ratio. The “rounds” are much larger than normal, but not bizarrely so. My wife and I have come to thoroughly enjoy the wings at Wing Kings for all of these reasons.
While we like Wing Kings wings a lot, we still have not ventured too far down the specialty wing road – something that they are known for. The last time, three of us ordered wings to be delivered to the house. We got the 911 heat level, the salt and vinegar, and the mango habanero. We enjoyed all of the flavors immensely, but in the end, they are novelties when held up to those with traditional Buffalo flavoring. From what we can tell, Wing Kings’ hot flavoring is house made, making it even more of a special experience. I have yet to try their dessert style wings, such as Nutella and PB&J. Someday I will have to break down and wing it, just to see what they taste like. For now, however, I are very happy sticking with the traditional Buffalo wings.
Our chicken finger supreme sandwiches were pretty good too, although my wife thought that the bun was way too big, so she discarded it. I actually agree that the bun did overwhelm the ingredients, and it was a little dry, which is too bad because with a couple little tweaks, it could be excellent. The preparer does get a couple of extra points for toasting the bun. I thought that there needed to be more blue cheese… thankfully we had an extra tub of blue cheese for the wings, which I used for the sandwich. The fingers had a very nice kick to them (we ordered hot), which, once again, is important. A little more hot sauce would have gone a long way too. This sandwich has a ton of potential.
My wife got regular French fries with her sandwich – she thought that they were way too soggy, and they were. My sandwich came with sweet potato fries, which I typically don’t like because they are always super soggy. But for some reason, I decided to give them a try once more, and boy was I happy that I did. While they were too sweet for my wife, I thought that they were divine. They were perfectly waffled, crisped, and drizzled with honey, which helps to balance the heat of the wings. Man, I’m going to go back to Wing Kings soon, just to get my hands on more of the sweet potato fries.
The only thing that I think is missing at Wing Kings is a good milkshake. The 500 Block of Elmwood was once known for its milkshakes, with Louie’s and Sweet Tooth. Now that we’ve got a wing joint that can actually make fiery hot wings, it would be great to cool down with a delicious frosty shake.
As much as the Wing Kings experience is top notch, I do have a couple of gripes. First, I hate that everything is served in Styrofoam. When will NY State ban styrofoam? A quick search on the internet brings up tons of alternatives. I don’t understand why we are allowing our planet to be sacrificed in this way, when there are options. Also, the 500 Block of Elmwood is constantly filled with litter. Why don’t these businesses step outside to sweep their sidewalks? I’m talking about all of the businesses on this stretch. Last Saturday, Dave Cosentino, owner of Trattoria Aroma on Lexington, organized a clean up crew to tackle the litter problem on the 500 Block of Elmwood because he was fed up with litter on the sidewalks and on the street. One week later, and the mess is back. This is always the scraggliest part of Elmwood, which is unfortunate because it’s completely preventable with just a little TLC from each business owner.
Wing Kings | 484 Elmwood Avenue | Buffalo, New York 14222 | (716) 248-1427 | Facebook