Buffalo Joe’s is a staple of the downtown Evanston scene. Tucked in between boutiques, retail shops, and Northwestern University eateries, Buff Joe’s is by far one of the best wing places I have visited. However, when I first walked by, I imagined that this restaurant was no better than any other wing or pizza joint, which I think adds to its appeal.
Although Buff Joe’s does have burgers, baked potatoes, and hot dogs, I believe strongly that the only reason for this place to exist falls into line with my chicken at a steakhouse rule in that I could never imagine ordering anything except for the wings. I mean, come on, just have a look at the double order my wife and I split.
Sauce is every bit as important to a chicken wing and Buff Joe’s makes all their sauces in house. For those of you looking for a bit more spice, Buff Joe’s offers three varieties – Mild, Spicy, and Suicide. I went with the mild just to see and I was not disappointed. While there was heat, it did not overwhelm my senses and wasn’t unpleasant or painful like other hot wing sauces tend to be. The sauce is a bit thick allowing it to cling beautifully to the wings. I’m not ashamed to admit that I licked my fingers clean and not a bit of sauce left on my fingers was wiped away on napkin. That would just be a waste.
What impressed me most about the wings at Buff Joe’s is that the skin is incredibly crispy and does not become soggy after being tossed in the sauce – not even after 20 minutes. Our last wing was every bit as crispy and delicious as the first. For those of you that don’t eat wings often, this may not sound like much of a feat, but believe me, it is. I’ve eaten chicken wings in most corners of the United States, and too many fail to achieve a good level of crispiness without overcooking the meat, or slather on too much sauce leaving a sticky, soggy mess. Buff Joe’s has found the magic formula of proper heat and a high quality sauce.
My wife required me to order the waffle chips as an accompaniment to our meal. Apparently she wasn’t the only fan as several young men were ordering big bags of waffle fries with their party platters (it was Sunday and the Bears were playing). I’m confident that they do not make these fries in house, but Buff Joe’s has found a high quality product and cooks their waffle fries to be every bit as delicious and fluffy as the homemade version, complete with skin left on. I ordered mine doused with cheddar cheese, a decision I would take back as I believe the waffle fries are amazing on their own.
This is a must have for anyone looking for a hearty comfort food meal. I highly recommend that if you happen to be in the area taking in a movie at the Century Theatre, doing some shopping, or on the Northwestern campus, take some time to visit Buff Joe’s and see for yourself how good a chicken wing can be.