Other locations: Buffalo-NY metro (4); Toronto-Canada metro (3)
The other day we wrote about Rusty Taco, and how they had taken a Texan chain and then chose Minneapolis as their first step outside our borders. Duff's did the reverse: Took a western New York / Ontario chain and brought them here to Texas. So Southlake was chosen as the first step in what would appear to be a large expansion strategy. If omens are to be the barometer, Duff's has an uphill climb. This same location has already claimed 3 victims, all national, or wannabee national, chains: Cheeburger Cheeburger, San Francisco Oven, and Qdoba. Personally I miss the last one, though they are still here in DFW - just a lot further.
Tangent: One of the RJG's life goals was to visit every city that has an NFL franchise. I achieved that milestone by visiting Buffalo in the summer of 2008 (and was covered in these very pages). Not surprisingly, I also wanted to visit each MLB and NBA city, and I accomplished that precisely one day later with a visit to Toronto. So these two cities are not only geographically close, but they share a somewhat similar outlook regarding food heritage. Though no doubt Buffalo appeals more towards the blue collar verse the ostensibly white collar Toronto. As an aside, my final "sports" venture is the NHL, for which I had three cities left after that trip (with Buffalo and Toronto taking me from 5). I wiped out Raleigh, North Carolina in 2011, and I hope to finish the entire quest this summer with a trip to Alberta, with Edmonton and Calgary capping the adventure.
Where were we? Ah yes, Duff's Famous Wings. Duff's is one of the legendary places that popularized the Buffalo Wing craze in the 1980s and beyond. The Anchor Bar is generally credited with its invention, going back to 1964. Saaay - wings are the same age as the RJG! And Duff's claims their heritage back to '69, so they are definitely one of the early adopters.
We haven't covered wings in the RJG to date. Mrs. RJG considers it a snack food, not a meal, so it's hard to generate excitement on the local front. But given the heritage of Duff's, I dragged her along kicking and screaming, as I really wanted to see what the fuss is all about. And it's a full service restaurant, with a nice selection of beer on tap (basic, but wide), and not just a To-Go only place as many wings' restaurants tend to be.
We decided on 5 wings "medium" heat, a cheeseburger, and a Greek salad. Now Duff's makes quite a production that their "medium" is hot, their "medium hot" is very hot, and their "hot" is very, very hot. And it appears they have a "super hot", and even a "death" sauce if you want to keep going with this. Now you know the RJG and his heat tolerance: It's very high. But wings are different... mainly because I've built tolerance on my tongue. With wings, it's your lips that will feel the impact. So with that in mind, and that I was sharing with the lovely Mrs. RJG, we stuck with Medium. It definitely had a kick, so I could see why they provide the disclaimers. Perhaps they overdo the warnings just a tad, but we have to keep in mind the chain is based in Buffalo where tastebuds are generally milder than ours.
For anyone that is crazy about wings, you already know that most places offer all sorts of flavors beyond "Buffalo". Duff's does not. It's all various heat levels on a similar recipe. For what they do, it's very good. I'm not sure there's much else they can offer here, beyond their basic formula. To me, I didn't notice anything radically different than other Buffalo wings I've had in the past. I suppose I could up the ante on the heat, and I just might when I go alone. Mrs. RJG would just roll her eyes at me, knowing I'm just trying to be a he-man, with all that unnecessary verbal jabbing that every married man understands.
Given the above circumstances, I knew it would be best to just sample the wings and then go for some traditional lunch items. Mrs. RJG went for the Greek salad, which was pretty good, with a nice tasting dressing. She felt they should have used a fresher lettuce like romaine rather than iceberg. And they have romaine for their Caesar salads, so it would be easy to substitute. I had the cheeseburger, which comes with two 4 oz patties. I thought it was excellent, well cooked and seasoned, with a nicely toasted bun. It's probably a bit too much meat for the bun size, but for those of you out there where the term "too much meat" cannot possibly exist, then you'll be happy. I also had a Fireman's #4 ale to wash it down with.
I'd like to see Duff's make it, unlike the fate that befell its three predecessors. It's unique to have a place like this here in Texas. Apparently folks from Buffalo, who now live anywhere in Texas, are making a beeline here - since it's a heck of a lot closer than Western New York! They also have a few interesting items on the menu, most notably a fried bologna sandwich, that I most certainly will try someday.
They just opened two weeks ago. Give them a try at least once!