yes. another wing place. I WILL NEVER GET TIRED OF WINGS. so once again i desired wings. and once again it was late night on a weekday. my friend and i were starving, but we knew we needed quality wings, and were willing to go to great lengths to obtain these wings. after consulting the intarwebz, and making a quick phone call, we found out that buffalo wild wings, located waaaaaaay out in oldsmar, was open until 1 am. it looked like we had found our destination.
after twelve hours of driving, we finally got there. by this time, i had passed out a couple times due to huger fatigue. the parking lot was jam packed, as it always seems to be when i drive past here, so we parked in the back. we went in and had to wait at the host/hostess station for a while before we were sat. it was a rather large place, with two big sections, and a whole crap load of televisions (and two huge projectors). they were all playing different sports… things. now i am not a sports fan of any sort, but i imagine that if i were, this is the place i’d want to be. there was a lightning game going on at the time, and everybody in the restaurant was totally into it. they got crazy. i got hungry.
we went ahead and ordered appetizers, because (in addition to the starvation) they were TWO FOR ONE. now, i don’t know if this is something that happens often there, but just knowing that it’s a possibility makes me want to go back. i am all for two for one or half price or wacky wednesday appetizers. i enjoy anything that can get me to eat more and feel like i’m paying less. so we asked for mozzarella cheese sticks and fried pickles.
if you’ve never had fried pickles, you need to correct that mistake. you can get them here, you can get them at square one burgers, you can probably get them at a state fair. or just make them! it’s so simple, yet so divine. serve hot, with ranch dressing. buffalo wild wings had some good ones (though i prefer square one burgers’), with a thick cornmeal batter. they were delicious, as they always are.
and the cheese sticks were perfect. they came out piping hot (but not so much as to scald you), and when you bit into them, they produced a long string of stretchy cheese. this is surprisingly rare, i’ve come to find. these were the best cheese sticks i’ve had in many years. i don’t know it this was a fluke, or maybe the gods were just smiling on us that night, but i was blown away by those damn cheese sticks. [edit: this was not a fluke. best cheese sticks in tampa.]
and then, of course, came the meal: an order of 18 wings. they allowed you to choose a different sauce for every four wings, so i could have chosen four different sauces, but instead i went with three, so i could get a whole bunch of the standard medium wings (in the middle). to the right of the mediums were four hot wings, and to the left you will see four wings served with a buffalo dry rub.
they were decent sized wings… just about where i like them. they were well cooked; fried and still tender on the inside. but the best thing about buffalo wild wings is their sauces. they feature no less than 14 different flavors of sauces, and in addition they had four dry rubs available. the sauces are all listed on their website, but a few highlights include teriyaki, parmesan garlic, ‘asian zing’, and mango habanero. on top of those, they have five levels of heat for the standard wing sauce: mild, medium, hot, wild, and blazin’. their new dry rubs are desert heat, chipotle bbq, salt and vinegar, and buffalo. so yeah… these guys have got some choices for you to make.
alright, so let’s take a look at these from left to right. on the left is the dry rub wing. i have never had a wing with a dry rub, although i love ribs prepared with them. so i had to try it out. unfortunately, the buffalo dry rub didn’t taste much like buffalo seasoning. in fact, it just tastes like salt. a good salt, like Lawry’s classic Seasoned Salt™ (a family favorite for decades!), but still just salty. the only thing i really liked about these wings is that it tasted like naked wing, which is something you rarely get to taste (but then again, that’s because why would you want to if you could have buffalo wings??).
the medium were pretty damn decent wings. i would have liked them to be a little saucier, but it wasn’t a real issue. the sauce itself was a pretty standard buffalo sauce, with a solid spiced flavor. however, they were hardly hot at all; they almost came off like a mild wing to me. that was the biggest disappointment. but they were a really good casual snacking wing.
last but most certainly not least are the hot wings. the hot was by far the best; the flavor was not just a bolder version of the medium, but seemed to have its own recipe of spices. the flavor was much more powerful in these, a much more rounded and traditional taste. and the spiciness was definitely present in these wings. it was not too much, but it was enough to get your mouth burning. if i could only choose one flavor, this is was i would get.
i also got to try two different flavors that my friend got: teriyaki and caribbean jerk [neither picture]. the teriyaki was a very standard flavor; the sauce was rich and salty. there was really no sweetness to them at all. it was pretty good, although i enjoy wing stop’s teriyaki sauce more. their jerk sauce was unlike any i’d ever had before. it was very strong and upfront with its flavor; it was a bit sweet and it had an intense after-burn, but the most exciting part of it were the earthy clove notes. it was really nice. i doubt i could get through a big order of these wings, but having just a few would be a good change of pace. both the jerk and the teriyaki sauces were nice and thick on the wings; they were heavier sauces than the buffalo sauces, and they tasted like a lot of care was put into the recipes.
honestly, i was completely blown away by buffalo wild wings. the wide variety of wing sauces, the two for one appetizers, the surprise of finding fried pickles on the menu… everything about this visit was perfect. despite it being located in oldsmar (though there are new port richey and brandon locations that may be closer to you), i will definitely make the trip out there again.
PS: they have a food challenge. LEMME HIT DAT UP!
UPDATE: since my first visit, i’ve tried the parmesan garlic, the spicy garlic, the asian zing, the hot barbecue, the honey barbecue, and the mango habanero. the best of these was definitely the honey barbecue sauce, molasses thick and deliciously sweet. next best is either the asian zing (great sweet/spicy asian chili flavor) or the parmesan garlic (wet and intense… reminiscent of an italian dish). the mango habanero was decent. it had sweet, vaguely fruity upfront flavor with a nice after burn to it, but i would have liked a stronger mango presence. the hot barbecue was meh… it was pretty tame for as far up as they placed it on the hot-o-meter. and the spicy garlic was just an unpleasant combination of traditional buffalo with garlic. no thanks.
UPDATE 2: i did hit that challenge up. watch it here.