It was a difficult job, but someone had to do it.
Over the past two weeks, we visited bars and restaurants across the North Fork sampling chicken wings to determine which local places do it right.
From classic Buffalo to secret recipes, dry rubs and Thai spices, we ate our way from Wading River to Greenport, with one goal in mind: To determine our favorites in time for Super Bowl Sunday.
Along the way, we asked our readers to give us recommendations — the complete list is shared below — and we did our best to get the restaurants to share with us just what it is they do to serve a wing that rises above the ordinary.
Of course, we couldn’t get everywhere, and some of the recommended places were closed for a winter break. Lucharitos, for example, was a real favorite of our readers, but our challenge happened to fall around the weeks of their brief time off (Little Lucharito’s in Aquebogue reopens today, though, so be sure to check them out.)
We did still get to a bunch of places, however, and we quickly learned there are a lot of places to get your fix.
Here are some of our favorites, followed by a complete list of the bars and restaurants recommended by our readers.
Traditional Buffalo Wings
CJ’s American Grill
Tucked away in Mattituck Plaza, CJ’s American Grill might be a little out-of-sight, out-of-mind for some of our readers, but a trip to taste their wings (half price for happy hour!) might have you returning often.
Their Buffalo wings have a lot of meat on them, with a little bit of kick up front, though not too spicy on the finish.
They also serve a Thai spiced wing with wasabi ranch that’s fairly unique and a “Stinging Honey Garlic” as well.
10095 Main Rd, Mattituck, (631) 315-5311, cjsamericangrill.net
Perfectly crispy, and saucy, the wings at Legends in New Suffolk are the kind you could down two dozen at a party without even thinking about.
This a great bar wing, that would pair with just about any beer.
It’s a must try for any classic Buffalo wing lover.
835 1st Street, New Suffolk, (631) 734-5123, legends-restaurant.com
Perhaps the best known wing around, the Buffalo wings at Phil’s in Wading River are truly legendary.
They fry their wings and then place them under a broiler to achieve a smoky, char-grilled flavor.
Some might say the taste burnt, we say they taste like heaven. Especially when you reach back down to dip them in all the extra sauce that builds up on your plate.
1856 Wading River Manor Road, Wading River, (631) 929-0508, philsrestaurant.com
For something a little different
Buttermilk ranch dry rub wings at First and South
When you think of First and South, you might think of a summertime craft cocktail and their Monday night pig roasts first.
But they’re not messing around with their wings, and the buttermilk ranch dry rub wings are a flavorful alternative to classic Buffalo.
Served with goat cheese ranch dressing, it’s a top choice for someone searching for a wing outside the usual.
100 South Street, Greenport, (631) 333-2200, firstandsouth.com
Jerry’s famous not your ordinary Buffalo wing at Jerry & the Mermaid
Jerry & the Mermaid is a sneaky good seafood spot near the aquarium in Riverhead and their wings are the perfect way to start your meal.
The recipe, our server informed us, is kept highly guarded, but there’s a sweetness to the wing that suggests there’s brown sugar and likely maple syrup in the sauce.
The sauce sticks to the bone and tickles your senses. Their homemade blue cheese is also something to savor.
469 E Main Street, Riverhead, (631) 727-8489, jerryandthemermaid.com
Chicken wings at Spicy’s
Spicy’s is an old faithful choice for anyone looking to serve up wings at their Super Bowl party, but not necessarily concerned with having them be served Buffalo style.
The sweet and mustardy Spicy’s sauce gives you all the added flavor you need.
A bucket of 50 of these bad boys will satisfy all your guests.
225 W Main Street, Riverhead, (631) 727-2781
Felicia’s Top 5
- Jerry & the Mermaid
- First and South
Grant’s Top 5
- Jerry & the Mermaid
- CJ’s American Grill