Sweet Thai Chili from Buffalo Wings & Rings

A nearly unanimous favorite of the judges, the Sweet Thai Chili slam-dunked the competition with its trifecta of unique flavor, meaty wings and ample sauce. Best described as a spicy sweet and sour sauce, flakes of crushed red pepper bring a kiss of heat even to the mild sauce.

Added to the menu late in 2011, Sweet Thai Chili — along with the other nine available flavors — can be ordered in any heat level, from mild to atomic (we sampled medium).

Buffalo Wings and Rings has all the trimmings of a sports bar: 35 always-on TVs, an extensive beer list featuring unique craft and North Carolina beers, wings — but strives to be more.

“It’s a very fun atmosphere with a sports bar look to it, but we are first and foremost a family restaurant,” said Matt Tartaglia, general manager of Buffalo Wings & Rings in Morrisville.

“If I didn’t like our food, I really couldn’t work at a place. I’m kind of a food junkie. I know that our food is really, really good,” said Tartaglia, who also counts the traditional hot Buffalo and Sweet BBQ among his favorite wing sauces. “I love our bleu cheese. The hot sauce goes amazing with our bleu cheese. It’s our own recipe that we make at the store every day.

“I love seeing people happy,” continued Tartaglia. “At this restaurant with the staff that we have and the food that we have, it’s really not that difficult to make people happy.”
That includes our panel of judges.

The Contenders

Woody’s Sports Tavern & Grill
8322 Chapel Hill Road, Cary
Also try: Buffalo Chicken Rangoons and Philly Cheese Steak Eggrolls — a 2012 N.C. State Fair phenomenon.
Claim to fame: Non-conformist atmosphere of casual, slighty irreverent fun.
Open since: 1993
The Corner Tavern and Grill
1301 NW Maynard Road, Cary
Also try: Corner Tavern Beef Medallions, Shrimp and Grits, Buffalo Chicken Sandwich.
Sets them apart: Fresh, homemade food, stellar service and great drink specials.
Open since: 2009
Wings Café
1307 Buck Jones Road, Raleigh
(919) 481-3772
Also try: Korean specialties Bulgogi (traditional sesame steak and spicy pork) and BiBimBop (rice, vegetables and signature hot sauce).
Sets them apart: All 11 wing sauces are house-made fresh from scratch.
Open since: 2012
East Coast Wings
1945 High House Road, Cary
Also try: Gourmet burgers, freshly crafted and topped with the signature hot sauce.
Claim to fame: More than 75 wing flavors and the National Buffalo Wing Festival’s winning Best Hot Sauce.
Open since: 2011
Carolina Ale House
2240 Walnut St., Cary
Also try: Sweet Mountain BBQ Baby Back Ribs, Grilled Teriyaki Salmon and the Lots a’ Cheese Fries topped with mozzarella, cheddar, bacon and jalapeños.
Sets them apart: Local sports memorabilia, made-from-scratch menu items and daily specials.
Open since: 2002
Buffalo Wings & Rings
4101 Grace Park Drive, Morrisville
Also try: Classic Gyro in soft, grilled pita bread or the Gyro Quesadilla, both made with fresh seasoned meat cut to order from the rotisserie.
Sets them apart: The chicken and Certified Angus Beef are cooked fresh to order, never frozen or par-cooked.
Open since: 2009
Apex Wings
518 E. Williams St., Apex
Also try: Philly Cheese Steak, Grilled Chicken Philly and Classic Reuben sandwich.
Claim to fame: The original wing joint in Apex and a neighborhood atmosphere where everybody knows everybody.
Open since: 1993
The Big Easy
231 Grande Heights Drive, Cary
Also try: New Orleans-inspired creations like Jambalaya, Red Beans and Rice and Gumbo.
Sets them apart: Unique menu featuring authentic Cajun and Creole food.
Open since: 2011

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