by Terrance Mc Arthur
Our roving food critic Terrance Mc Arthur continues his search for great food in Sanger and the surrounding communities. Check out more Great Food Search here!
If I had wings to fly…Better yet, if I had wings to eat. Hot wings, cold wings, buffalo wings…Who knew the arms of a chicken would become so popular?
Created in Buffalo, New York, in the mid-60s, probably at the Anchor Bar, true Buffalo Wings are unbreaded, deep-fried, and tossed in a cayenne pepper sauce. They were first served with ranch, bleu cheese, and celery sticks, because that’s what the bar had available late one night when a snack was requested—according to legend. Thanks to several Super Bowl appearances by the Buffalo Bills, the popularity of the dish spread, and chickens now fear Buffalo almost as much as they cringe at the name of Col. Sanders.
Here in the San Joaquin Valley, there are many options for the wingseeker: boneless, bone-in, Buffalo, teriyaki, mild, mouth-searing, cheesy, and more. The Great Food Search went looking, and here’s some of what we found.Applebee’s—98 Shaw Ave., Clovis
As part of an entrée/appetizer combo, we skipped our favorite, the artichoke dip, for boneless chicken wings. We split the order between classic sauce and honey BBQ. It was tender, tasty, and terrific. Sometimes, boneless wings can lean towards the dry, but these lightly-breaded wings were moist. Applebee’s is a lively place that manages to balance a family atmosphere with a sports bar appeal, and I may start alternating my dip with the wings as appetizer of choice.
Wingstop—606 Academy Ave., Sanger
Wingstop is new in Sanger, and the original reason for doing a Food Search feature on wings. I only thought wings had one or two options until I discovered the Wingstop varieties that ranged from Hawaiian to Atomic. I admit to being timid on the Scovill scale of pepper heat, so I wouldn’t think of subjecting my stomach to a Mango-Habanero blast. I’ve tried Lemon Pepper, Garlic Parmesan, Teriyaki, and Hickory Smoked BBQ. The flavors are lively, and the dipping sauces include Ranch, Bleu Cheese, Honey Mustard, and a Hot Cheddar sauce. The bone-in version is my go-to variety for juiciness, and I have a yen for Bleu Cheese (have you ever put chunks of Bleu on apple slices? My mother got me hooked on that as a late-night snack.), although their Homemade Ranch tastes like comfort.
Call ahead, because good things take time. Boneless cooks up faster, and the sides are great. It’s a cozy, soothing atmosphere, and I’m glad they came to Sanger.
Buffalo Wild Wings—3065 East Shaw Ave., Fresno
BWW is the High Temple of Wingdom. The staff are like Sommeliers of the Sauces, Wine Stewards of the Wings. To aid in your selection of their two dozen flavors displayed on a color wheel chart that starts at Salt & Vinegar Seasoning and ends at Blazin’, they will bring out a tasting assortment of flavors to try on their friendly fries. The Honey Garlic, Parmesan Garlic, and Spicy Garlic (yes, I like garlic) are inviting. The Teriyaki is bold, but forgiving, and the Chipotle is a winner. It’s across the corner from Fresno State’s Save Mart Center, and it’s divided into a family area and a “let’s have a good time” section. There are more TV screens in the place than I’ve ever seen outside of a Wal-Mart. You can watch the sports of your choice, gazing at games even in the outside seating areas.
Me ‘n Ed’s—1343 North Avenue, Sanger
OK, it’s a pizza place, but they have Hot Wings on the menu. Barbecue-sauce slathered, they are messy and “mahvelous.”
So, who is the Lord of the Wings?
Me ‘n Ed’s and Applebee’s are surprisingly good for places where wings are only a side dish. Wingstop is convenient, with a nice variety of flavors. My wingmasters are the folks at Buffalo Wild Wings for the service and terrific tastes.* Fly over there and try it for yourself. Happy eating.
*Your results may vary.