Buffalo Chicken Wraps: My Search for Midtown’s Best
Let’s face it. Buffalo chicken wraps are great. Back in college, my friends and I would visit the local dive bar for wings at least two nights a week, and ever since, I’ve had a deep appreciation for this thing we call “buffalo chicken.” Created upstate in Buffalo, Wikipedia describes the sauce as cayenne pepper hot sauce plus melted butter or margarine. When mixed with fried, breaded chicken and sharp, blue cheese, deliciousness is bound to ensue! Although not traditional, wraps are a convenient means of buffalo chicken consumption (it’s nice that the whole experience can be folded into a neat, handheld bundle) and they tend to be less messy than their sandwich counterparts. Over the course of the past week, I took it upon myself to try out several different buffalo chicken wraps around Midtown. I was actually a little surprised at how difficult it was to find these things for under $10, but in the end I managed to uncover four decent options.
Read my findings after the jump…
Lenny’s (in Rockefeller Center Concourse)
I’m not the hugest fan of Lenny’s, but I’ll admit that I’ve had a few enjoyable sandwiches here. I generally consider them to be a lesser version of Toasties, which I obviously adore, but one thing they’ve got on their menu that Toasties doesn’t? That’s right, a buffalo chicken wrap.
The wrap was a respectable size. The chicken cutlet was warm and notably fried, but also sort of bland. The buffalo sauce was there, but it seemed kind of like an afterthought, like it was poured from a bottle after everything else had already been put together. I appreciated the crumbled blue cheese, which I think is preferable to a blue cheese dressing, though I would have liked more of it. Yeah, blue cheese can be strong, but with this particular wrap, I appreciated the intense flavor that came with each bite.
After I ordered, I was asked if I wanted an extra side of buffalo sauce. I’m glad I said yes, as the wrap wasn’t quite as spicy as I wanted on its own. At $9.25 after tax, this buffalo chicken wrap may be my least favorite of the bunch. Everything was fine and good, but at that price, I was hoping to be wowed a little more. There had to be something with a better price to quality ratio.
Ranch 1 (46th Street between 5th and 6th)
I know, Ranch 1 is a big chain… but it was founded in NYC! Also, Zach seems to like it okay. The overall quality of this buffalo chicken wrap is certainly reflected in its $5.95 pre-tax price ($8.66 after tax with fries and a soda), but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
I really was surprised at how good this chicken was. I’d never been to Ranch 1 before, so I was expecting it to be mostly fast-food-like. However, this stuff here was the real deal. The chicken cutlet was hot and crispy and seemed like it had just been pulled out of a fryer. It tasted like real white meat and exceeded all expectations. Unfortunately, every other component of this wrap was lacking. For instance, was there any blue cheese on this thing at all? It looked like there were little specks here and there, but I literally couldn’t even taste it. Luckily, the wrap came with a choice of dipping sauce… blue cheese was clearly the most appropriate choice.
The lettuce and tomato had a generic, mass-produced quality to them and the buffalo sauce was thin and watery. I didn’t taste the sauce much while eating the wrap, but I’ll admit my mouth was burning just a bit after I had downed the whole thing. The fries were actually pretty fantastic, but are definitely not a necessary part of the buffalo chicken experience. They’re kind of like McDonald’s fries, but with a slightly more natural taste and a potato skin sort of look. Though, regardless of whether or not you order the combo meal, given the quality of the chicken, the value at Ranch 1 is the best on this list. If you’re looking for a buffalo chicken wrap that won’t hit the wallet too hard, look no further.
Certe (55th Street between 5th and 6th)
I love Certe. I really do. I love how their sandwiches are made to order, I love how fresh their ingredients are, and I love their creative monthly specials. Needless to say, I had pretty high expectations for this buffalo chicken wrap. They don’t have an official “buffalo chicken” on their menu, but I wasn’t questioned at all when I ordered a buffalo chicken wrap with lettuce, tomato and crumbled blue cheese.
All in all, Certe doesn’t disappoint. The lettuce and tomato tasted cool and fresh and the crumbles of blue cheese were plentiful, but not overpowering. Unlike Lenny’s and Ranch 1, the chicken was cut into smaller, nugget sized pieces. Instead of the buffalo sauce being poured on at the end, the chicken was soaked in the sauce and all pieces were evenly flavored. Bonus points for effort! Even still, I wouldn’t say the wrap was particularly spicy, though there was a much more noticeable kick to this one than the others.
My biggest beef with Certe’s buffalo chicken wrap was that the temperature just wasn’t very hot. I’m not sure how they store the buffalo chicken before it’s ordered, but by the time I sat down to eat it, there wasn’t a trace of steam or barely any heat left. Also, unlike the crispy stuff over at Ranch 1, the breading on this chicken was mostly soft. Really though, these are minor complaints – I enjoyed this one a lot. At $9.74, this is the most expensive buffalo chicken wrap I came across, but it does come with some tasty coleslaw and a pickle!
Treehaus (Corner of 51st Street and 3rd)
Back in February, Dan happened to enjoy a buffalo chicken wrap from Treehaus, but for the sake of comparison, I’d like to share my experience also. It really was very good.
Wrapped in tinfoil, this baby was served hot! The chicken was fried rather nicely, cut into neat strips and crispy as one would hope. The lettuce and tomato were fresh and the whole wrap was rather big and meaty. Unlike the others, this wrap had a touch of ranch dressing, which made it much creamier. I would have enjoyed the crumbled blue cheese plenty on its own, but the creamy ranch blend wasn’t at all a detriment.
Alas, there’s always something holding my meal back from undisputable greatness. This one had such a small amount of buffalo sauce, I hesitate to even call it a buffalo chicken wrap. Sure, there was some sauce on here, but it was absolutely not a focal point. This was more like a creamy, blue cheese and chicken cutlet wrap with just a touch of hot sauce for added flavor. Still, at $9.25 after tax, it’s a tasty, filling meal and it will leave you satisfied.
And there you have it… Midtown Lunchers, what do you think? Do you know where to find a great buffalo chicken wrap for under $10? I really did enjoy everything I tried, but I choose to believe that there may be something even better out there. I haven’t had every buffalo chicken wrap in the neighborhood just yet, but I’ve got a strong start, and I won’t stop until I find perfection.