Thursday, January 20th at the Kenmore Live Studio, Free cooking demo with Chef Chuy Valencia and me. Read more here.
Now the post on Buffalo Joe's:
One of my oldest friends, Phil Jacobson, went to school at the University of Miami to study music and never came home. We grew up together and accordingly have some of the same favorite restaurants from our childhood. So when Phil came back in town for New Years and his birthday and was looking to have a get together over lunch it was no surprise we ended up at Buffalo Joe's.
Now I've been to Buff Joe's dozens of times. As soon as we had our licenses, we took a 45 minute drive to Evanston from Buffalo Grove every chance we got. There were wing places near us but not like Buff Joe's. We held countless wing eating competitions there (Jeff Dennhardt current record holder with something close to 50). Before the days of google maps, we never really had directions to get there either, but we always had a list of landmarks to help us find our way to that wingy goodness. Well this time around we had quite the crew including Josh, Missy, Ira, Max, and Kenny. The only thing that would've made it more like high school would've been getting a milk shake at Kafein afterward (Buff Joe's was plenty on its own).
Buff Joe's is an order at the counter operation. For parking you have to find a metered spot nearby which can be tricky at times. Luckily street parking was free on New Years Day. They've got a long counter you can eat at in the front room and a bunch of booths in the back. The whole place can probably seat somewhere between 50 and 75, and if you go before a Northwestern sporting event you'll see it at capacity. When I first went there about 10 years ago they used to have a really distinct stench in the back room (all a price well worth paying for the wings), but they seem to have taken care of that over the past few years. The bathroom's still something to avoid at all costs.
The cost is totally reasonable with a single order of wings for $6.49, an order of cheese fries for $2.69, and a mega gut buster of pop for $1.79. If you've got a big enough group, an event, or you just happen to have a few of those friends that never stop eating, you can get the Single Party Pan for $39.99 (serves 8-10 people).
There are tons of options on the menu, but really there's only a couple of ways to go about eating at Buff Joe's. Wings and waffle fries are what it's all about (although one time someone I went with [who I wont name out of embarrassment] got a plain hot dog). Everyone got either the mild, spicy, or suicide wings except for me. After enough times I've come to realize that my favorite are the BBQ wings. On top of that everyone had an order of the Cheddar Chips (waffle fries). The wings are a little on the smaller side, but I've never had room in my stomach after leaving Buff Joe's. The sauces are made in house. They're rich, loaded with flavor, and never separate out into oily mess. The wings are fried to the perfect crispy outside too. The fries are great, and the cheese is a thick cheddar like Merkts too.
The Spicy Wings
The Cheddar Chips
The BBQ Wings
I've had a ton of wings but none like Buffalo Joe's. Every time I leave full to the brim and can barely wait to get back. Some say that they've changed the wings for the worse, but as far as I can tell they're as awesome as ever. I'm giving Buff Joe's a Pearl Necklace, 5 out of 5.