Every Buffalo resident has had a visiting friend or family member ask for council on the region’s popularized wing debate between Anchor Bar and Duff’s. And time and time again, informed locals have inserted overlooked candidates in this debate — like South Buffalo’s Nine-Eleven Tavern. Experts in serving its uniquely arranged sun dial of sweet, scorching wings — with a side of deliciously dark hand-cut Finn fries—the locale is regularly submitted as superior to the aforementioned pair. And though not patronized by planned tours and U.S. presidents, the Nine-Eleven is better suited in its underdog role. That way, it can continue to satisfy regulars and surprise visitors with their combination of sports bar charm and sauce-aided superiority — while still unassumingly serving under the radar.
The beer: Flying Bison Aviator Red
The breakdown: Yes, Flying Bison’s Rusty Chain has been Buffalo’s gateway craft choice for years, but the Larkinville brewer’s medium-bodied red ale pairs particularly well with mounds of Nine-Eleven’s signature wings. Usually, one would reflexively choose to douse such Frank’s-fueled flames with the coldest and most watered-down selection on the tap line. But with FB’s Aviator, those interested in balancing their chicken intake with a full-flavored and manageable (5.5 percent ABV) craft selection can find relief in this local creation, and can find it for under $5.
Summertime wing fling: Nine-Eleven’s tight dining room gives customers the chance to enjoy a very neighborly, communal experience while waiting for and devouring items on the tavern’s Spartan menu. But when summer hits, the joint’s compact back patio gives those inhaling fistfuls of flats, bats and fingers the chance to cool their accompanying flop sweat with smooth South Buffalo breezes. And enclosed with tall wooden fencing, it allows just the right amount of casual privacy for those who’d rather hide their gluttony from barroom occupants or those passing by on Bloomfield.
Loosen your shuffling elbow: Aside personal photos of Jim Kelly, Steve Tasker and Dan Marino at then-Rich Stadium — and underneath a mounted collection of trading cards surrounding a seat cushion from Super Bowl XXV — those feeling sharp enough can battle men, women or anonymous challengers on one of South Buffalo’s finest shuffleboard expanses. Finely salted and given top billing in the tavern’s barroom, the polished wooden stretch would be the best reason to barrel into Nine-Eleven — if not for the wings.
When to go: Not open for lunch. Stop by for an introduction to one of South Buffalo’s most comfortable corner taverns; some neighborhood-hosted pints between games of shuffleboard; or award-winning wings on the locale’s clandestine back patio.
The Nine-Eleven Tavern
11 Bloomfield Ave. (825-9939)
Beers on tap: 6
Great place for: South Buffalo-served hot wings and cold beers.
Personal touch: The barroom’s amateur Bills and Sabres photos make you feel like you’re in a friendly fan’s basement bar.
Be ready to: Hoist a few beers next to '90s Bills memorabilia; battle your friends on one of the neighborhood’s marque shuffleboard tables; and discover a new favorite Queen City wing joint.
Hours: 4:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Weekend eat-in: No takeout orders available on Fridays or Saturdays.
Parking: Open lot across Bloomfield.