Boasting an arsenal of over 17 different flavors of “hand-spun wings,” all your classic barroom appetizers, a massive selection of domestic, import and craft brews and upwards of 67 television screens, Buffalo Wild Wings (3501 Zafarano Drive, 471-3353) is breaking the traditional Santa Fe—green chile, hippie, art nerds—stereotype and bringing some mainstream, sports fanatic, A-type American fun to your dining experience.
"Our motto is wings, beers, sports," one of Buffalo Wild Wing's managers Jacob Baugher tells SFR over the hum of voices and clattering of beer glasses. "It's a family-friendly sports bar, so you can bring the whole family here. Mom and Dad get the sports. Kids get play ports—there's games we have for them, they can watch TV. It's overall a great place for the whole family."
By "play port" Baugher is referring to interactive video trivia (and poker for the adults) that Buffalo Wild Wings patrons can play as they eat or drink. To add to the fun, in the corner sits an arcade-style hunting game complete with plastic rifles. Intermittently, a moose pops up on screen and is zeroed into the crosshairs.
The walls are dripping with all things sport. Everywhere you see memorabilia including framed football and baseball jerseys, a news bulletin-style ticker posting sports highlights and a promotional cutout of World Cup soccer players. Even the wait staff is adorned in football-jersey-inspired shirts. In every direction the bright, colorful glow from flat screen TVs shimmers with uniformed athletes swinging bats or hockey sticks. One TV is showing a mixed martial arts fight, and a group of construction workers, knocking back a few tall, amber, frothy beers after a day on the job, whistle and wince as the two men on the TV pummel each other.
"There's not really any sports bars up here," Baugher says, referring to Santa Fe's lack of joints specifically catered to getting your buddies together and watching the game. "When we first opened—from what I hear—it was huge. We did massive amounts of sales and it's been steady."
For all the effort that goes into making Buffalo Wild Wings a fun place to hang out, just as much effort goes into distinguishing the food from your run-of-the-mill pub grub.
"We have all our signature sauces…then we have our limited-time sauces," Baugher says as he gives the rundown on Buffalo Wild Wings' wing collection. "Right now we have Wicked Wasabi." Wing prices range from snack size at $6.79 and $8.99 for boneless, to a large over 20-piece set at $19.99. "It really outdoes any other place when it comes to sauces. Other places might have six or seven sauces. We have 17 all the time," Baugher explains. "It goes from sweet to stupid hot. So, anything in between that you can think of, we've got it all."
One of these sauce options is the Asian Zing, which tastes how it sounds, a mixture of sweet, teriyaki-like flavor and a crunchy outer coat that makes each bite go pop when you sink your teeth into it. Several seconds later, just when the sweet flavor is fading, a spicy aftertaste hits the tongue and the hand automatically reaches for a cold one. The sweet BBQ wings have that classic flavor and taste cleaner than expected—especially because many Santa Feans are accustomed to getting their wing fix from Dominos.
Baugher suggests the thin crust flatbreads as an underrated and unknown alternative to the more traditional items bookending the Buffalo Wild Wings menu, like Build-Your-Own Beefy Burger starting at $9.99. However, the flatbread looks sort of like a glorified pizza, and the addition of celery bits to the Buffalo Chicken Flatbread ($8.79) doesn't help its case.
As disappointing as the flatbread may be, the wings and vibe make up for it tenfold. With its bright lights and flashy, engaging décor, Buffalo Wild Wings feels more like a holiday barbecue party than a bar. So, grab your date, grab your buddies or grab your kids, and head on down to catch some delicious eats, flashy digs and great entertainment at Santa Fe's new and foremost hub for televised sporting events.