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Buffalo Wild Wings is a restaurant and sports bar chain in the US and Canada. The first location opened in Kent, Ohio in 1982, and was originally known as Buffalo Wild Wings and Weck, though most locations outside of New York don't serve beef on weck anymore (unfortunately). They specialize in Buffalo wings, boneless wings and chicken sandwiches. They also serve shrimp, hamburgers, fries and other standard American classics, but really, the chicken is the main attraction. And of course, as a sports bar, they have plenty of different beers, mostly American and Canadian macrobrews and mass-market German and Irish imports, but the exact types vary from one location to another.

They're known mostly for their various wing sauces - rather like Hooters and Quaker Steak and Lube. Really, chicken is chicken - it's the sauce that makes the wing, and BW3 (as they're known) does sauce well. They have a fairly extensive selection, and most of them are quite good. Even the few duds probably appeal to somebody.

Buffalo Wild Wings wing sauces

  • Sweet Barbecue: A thick, slightly smoky, slightly sweet Texas-style barbecue sauce. No heat at all, but it's pretty darn tasty on chicken, burgers or fries. All in all, I give this one an A.

  • Teriyaki: Hints of savory teriyaki flavor overwhelmed by salt and syrup. In my opinion this is the worst of the sauces - edible, but only just. F.

  • Mild: A pretty standard Buffalo wing sauce with a hint of peppery heat. Good if you have low heat tolerance but like the taste of Buffalo sauce, rather uninspiring otherwise. C+.

  • Parmesan Garlic: A creamy Parmesan cheese-based sauce with garlic and peppers. There's a hint of heat, but that's offset by the cheese, and it almost tastes milder than the Mild. It's a little heavy on the salt, but not enough to seriously hamper it. One of my favorites. A+.

  • Medium: An ordinary wing sauce with enough heat to be interesting, without so much as to be overpowering. A safe default choice, and good on sandwiches. B.

  • Honey Barbecue: A very sweet, honey-based barbecue sauce with a hint of hot peppers. I barely notice the heat, and it's both too sweet and too salty. Frankly, this one sucks - stick with the Sweet Barbecue. D.

  • Asian Zing: A sweet-hot sauce with ginger, chiles and garlic. Hot enough to be interesting, and a change of pace flavorwise, but there's too much salt and the ginger is almost overpowering. It's merely OK. C.

  • Caribbean Jerk: A blend of unusual flavors, with peppers, black pepper and cardamom, and some hints of other spices I can't quite identify. It's quite unusual, not your usual wing fare at all, and it's hot enough to get your attention. Really quite good, but it can be overpowering in large doses. A-.

  • Spicy Garlic: BW3 calls this a "spicy, garlicky" sauce, and it certainly is both. Almost too garlicky, actually. It's good at first, but quickly gets overwhelming - the sort of thing that would be decent as a dipping sauce but I wouldn't want a whole order of wings with it. Unless, of course, you really love garlic. If you do, this sauce is perfect - as long as you can hack the Jalapeño-level heat. B-

  • Hot Barbecue: They're not kidding when they say "hot". This is a rich Texas-style barbecue sauce with lots of Serrano and Chipotle peppers added for a lasting burn and a hint of smokiness. It's a pretty good burger sauce, too. One of my favorites. A+.

  • Hot: The more fiery alternative to the typical wing sauce. The peppery burn offsets some of the vinegary bite for a well-balanced taste, if you like it hot. Probably the hottest sauce that doesn't become rapidly painful, and the tastiest of the Buffalo-style sauces. A.

  • Mango Habanero: A mix of fruity and fiery, with, as the name implies, mangoes and Habanero peppers. The mango adds sweetness and makes the intense heat more bearable - this sauce actually doesn't have as much up-front kick as the Hot Barbecue, but the burn will stay with you. Wash it down with some beer. B+.

  • Wild: A damned hot standard wing sauce. I'm not sure what the actual Scoville rating is for this one, but I found the overall burn was similar to eating a Serrano pepper straight - painful, but not unbearable. It's pretty tasty, but too hot for most. B.

  • Blazin': The hottest sauce they've got. This is basically Wild turned up to 11. The company claims it's around 200,000 SHU, but I doubt it's anywhere near that hot usually. In my experience its heat varies, from almost inedible down to barely hotter than Wild (which is still pretty nuclear). If you're in it for the heat, this is the sauce to get. If not, do yourself a favor and try the Hot instead - it's tastier. I say B-, but your mileage may vary.

Atmosphere-wise, BW3 is more family-friendly and less overtly "for men only" than Hooters or Muggs and Juggs. The decor is sports-focused and still fairly focused toward stereotypically masculine interests, but the effect is less in-your-face than most winghouses. Most locations tend toward being busy and loud, but no more so than any other sports bar.

All in all, Buffalo Wild Wings is one of the better burger-and-wings joints that I've been to. I first went to one in 2007, and I've been a regular customer ever since. If there's one in your area (and if you're in the northeast US or southeast Canada, there should be), give them a shot!

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