Best Of 2003

Best Chicken Wings: J & A's Bar & Grill

At some point after 1964 -- when (as legend has it) a bar owner in Buffalo slathered deep-fried chicken wings with her own hot-sauce concoction -- ordering wings and a beer became part of this nation's food culture. We don't like the way things have been trending, however: baked wings to reduce the fat, mild sauces, serving only the oh-so-polite "drummie" portion, etc. But J & A's (for Jimmy and Andy's) Bar & Grill does wings right: crisply deep-fried and served with the proper combination of hot sauce (Frank's RedHot Sauce, in this case) and melted butter. In a Midwest twist, J & A's proffers ranch dressing, not the traditional blue cheese, and no celery stalk. Still run by the same family since 1907 (when it opened as a speakeasy during Prohibition), J & A's is a hole-in-the-wall -- old, woody and showing its age -- so don't expect anything fancy. The wings come in a disposable basket with the sauce on the side. You can also order charbroiled burgers, sandwiches and a pretty good pizza, which comes from the establishment's original, stone-lined oven. Did we mention that pitchers are only $6.25? Barhounds, take your stools!

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