On the Road Eats: Best Game Day Wings
Head straight to these FN-approved game-day spots for championship-worthy wings around the country. With tempting flavors like barbecue, Buffalo, an outrageously spicy "Ring of Fire" level and beyond, we've got every type of wing you could wish for during the biggest game of the year.
Bad Boyz Bistro — Bedford, Pa.
A spicy stop on the Outrageous Food hot wings tour, this Bedford bistro specializes in bringing the heat, from the 911 hot sauce to the jalapeno-laced Thermo Nuclear level to the terrifying Hellraiser wings that are slathered in a super-thick sauce that "would scald the devil himself." The owner is so serious about his sauce that he hired an official taster for each batch of the blisteringly hot Hellraiser. This fire-starting sauce begins with the 911 level as the base and builds on that heat with a six-pepper chile powder, whole habaneros and ghost chiles, and pure capsaicin extracts for a flavor that's so hot it will leave you "light-headed." If the big game inspires your inner daredevil, we advise ordering these wings during halftime when you're free to take a long break with a cool glass of milk.
Super Wings NY — Brooklyn
For a taste of the Caribbean in the heart of Crown Heights, order up this joint's Trini-Tamarind chicken wings, which have earned the prestigious title of "the best wings in Brooklyn." Located in one of the largest Caribbean communities in the area, these specialty wings deliver authentic island spice with a 24-hour marinade full of fresh herbs and super-hot Scotch bonnet peppers. Bobby Flay was so impressed with the exotic flavors that he challenged the owner to a hot wing Throwdown and learned how to make the Trini-Tamarind sauce that includes a special Caribbean herb, chadon benit (similar to cilantro), habanero pepper and tart tamarind. One secret he couldn't uncover is the formula for the house "lava sauce," a creamy, spicy dip that accompanies every wing on the menu. Sauce secrets aside, Bobby praised the award-winning wings, saying that you can "taste the flavor right down to the bone." With a hefty dose of heat and a hint of fruitiness, these wings are just right for easing into the big game.
The Smoke Joint — Brooklyn
Two buddies started this barbecue shack in Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood, where traditional methods and varying regional styles combine to form big city flavor. They prove their poultry prowess with their succulent Brooklyn Wings, a "funkified" version of the upstate classic Buffalo wing that Guy tried on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The wings are hit with a 77-spice dry rub that features Spanish paprika, cumin and cayenne before they're hickory smoked for hours and finished off in the fryer. Once fried and crispy, the wings are tossed in the house "hollapeno" sauce that boasts a fiery blend of chipotle peppers, sambal and a spice market's worth of seasonings. With enough heat to make you "holla" out loud, the "killer sauce" has just the right hint of sweetness on the side that Guy claimed these wings made him want to sit on the porch and enjoy a whole batch by himself.
Anchor Bar — Buffalo
Known as the "birthplace of the Buffalo wing" since 1964, this upstate New York institution was the setting for a hot wing Throwdown between Bobby Flay and "the wing king" Drew Cerza. A hometown hero, Drew founded the National Chicken Wing Festival and is seriously passionate about his wings, which are fried naked without a dredge and tossed in a bourbon-brown sugar barbecue sauce that's spiked with ancho chiles and honey for spicy sweetness. Served with the traditional blue cheese dressing and celery sticks, Drew's juicy jumbo wings proved that Buffalo still knows best when it comes to its namesake dish. Anchor Bar offers its famous specialty in mild, medium, hot and "suicidal" heat, and the eatery even ships frozen wings all over the country to make your game-day setup even easier.
Jake Melnick's Corner Tap — Chicago
Voted the best hot wings at Chicago's WingFest, the crispy chicken wings at this Windy City taproom will really make you sweat. While the menu features approachable flavors like Poncho's Garlic and Cayenne, traditional Buffalo and a monthly seasonal special, the most famous are the XXX wings. Beyond spicy, these "angry" wings are so hot that if you're brave enough to order them, you'll be rewarded with your picture on Jake's Wall of Flame and a complimentary fire hat. The red XXX wing sauce is made with the "king daddy of all peppers," the ghost pepper, which is 400 times hotter than a jalapeno. Troy Johnson attempted to eat just one of these wings on Crave and compared the experience to "a kick in the mouth." So if you're a fearless heat seeker, slap on your fire hat and order the XXX platter while enjoying the game on one of the 22 televisions surrounding the bar. Or take your game-day experience to new heights by renting out the bar's keg room and patio for a private tailgate with a side of nuclear-level hot wings.
The Jug Handle Inn — Cinnaminson, NJ
For half-price wings during the week and a host of flavorful sauces to choose from, Aaron McCargo Jr. always heads to The Jug Handle. On The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Aaron claims he could eat these wings "seven days a week" and as early as breakfast time for their "amazing crunch" that withstands even the heaviest sauce. Flavors range from barbecue to hot honey to Buffalo garlic, but Aaron recommends the fiery Buffalo Bald Eagle Wings, which are so hot you'll surely shed some tears while eating them. Coated in a super-secret hot sauce, these wings are "not made for wimps," but if you need a brew to cool you down, you've come to the right place. With 60 types of bottled beer available and televisions lining the walls, this sports bar is outfitted with everything you'll need during the big game, including a pool table and shuffleboard to pass the time during commercials.
CK's Wings-n-Things — Johnstown, Pa.
As the name suggests, this Pennsylvania hot spot puts out plenty of wings — 1,330 flavor varieties in total. Choose from combinations like bacon-cheddar or honey-garlic ranch, or get weird with chocolate s'mores, pumpkin pie or Fruity Pebble-crusted wings. After you've skimmed through the mind-blowing menu, decide if you're game to take on the hottest wing of all: the Nuclear Hell 2. Tom Pizzica faced the heat on Outrageous Food but managed only one bite of this lip-numbing flavor that requires you to sign a waiver before digging in. Those who have tried it describe this wing as "violent," and it certainly has the spicy credentials to back it up. First, a jumbo wing is injected three times with capsaicin extract for pure heat, then it's hit with nitro powder (the hottest spice powder in the world), and finally it's dusted with finely ground habaneros for a hellish finish. The good news is, once the hottest wing is behind you, there are still 1,229 more flavors to try.
Beer Belly — Los Angeles
The owner of this Koreatown brew pub admits to being obsessed with his rotating lineup of craft beers, but it's the blend of "good American and hearty comfort food" that brings in the regulars. Serving up sweet Honey Dijon & Cilantro, Buffalo Blue and super-spicy Volcano Chipotle chicken wings, the kitchen provides plenty of savory bites to pair with your beer flight. Guy tried the fiery Volcano Chipotle wings on Triple D and loved the saucy combination of adobo and Sriracha with applewood liquid smoke and a house-made blue cheese dressing. As he said, these perfectly cooked wings "come on with a bang" but end with a rich wealth of flavor and nicely tender, moist meat. The locals say it's easy to spend hours at Beer Belly enjoying the endless craft beer options and inventive wings, which means it's a prime location to settle down for the long haul and take in the biggest game of all.
Ronnie's Ribs, Wings & Other Things — Richmond, Va.
Chicken wings get the slow-cooked, smoked treatment at this barbecue trailer that's located in a closed-down gas station parking lot. The 20-foot smoker is nicknamed "Big Red" and churns out hickory wood-smoked barbecue like pulled pork, jumbo wings and other Southern-style favorites with grill master Ronnie at the wheel. On The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Chef Delilah Winder guarantees that the shack's smoky 'cue "will blow you away," especially the meaty and tender wings that are marinated in Italian herbs and spices before hitting the smoker. These wings have been known to draw a crowd, which means you'll need to order a big haul for the most important game of the year. Luckily, Ronnie offers mobile catering and even ships his wings to every corner of the country, so you can savor the smoke wherever your game-day shindig takes you.
710 Grille — San Pedro, Calif.
This California grill is the area's headquarters for hot wings, stirring up six heat levels of sauce from the mild "Safe" to the terrifyingly spicy "Ring of Fire." Featured on Outrageous Food, these famously fiery wings start with a "mouthful of flavor" but end with a spicy explosion that makes grown men cry. The freshly fried wings are dusted with fiendishly hot habanero and ghost chile pepper powders, then doused with a sizzling vinegar sauce laced with more ghost chile and three types of chile extracts, the hottest of which tops out at 5 million Scoville units. Put them all together and you've got a prescription for peppery pain in San Pedro. You can face this fearsome edible challenge while enjoying the game on the Grille's big-screen TVs, or take a load of wings to your tailgate to teach your friends the true meaning of heat. Just be sure to keep some cold beverages around in case of a wing-related emergency.
Wing Dome — Seattle
Turn up the game-time heat by visiting the "home of the burn," otherwise known as the Wing Dome, where you'll find tongue-numbing fried wings that are straight "from the face of the sun." Roger Mooking and Aarón Sánchez tested these nuclear nibbles in the 7-Alarm Challenge, when they attempted to devour seven of the sweat-inducing wings in just seven minutes. The explosive sauce of cayenne, chile flakes, jalapeno, horseradish and habanero peppers had them waving the white flag in mere minutes, as they quickly ordered the "recovery kit," an ice cream sandwich and two ice-cold glasses of milk. Before you sacrifice your taste buds to a similarly spicy fate, be sure to try out Wing Dome's less-incendiary flavors, like Thai Sweet Chile or Triple Garlic, and ease your way through the heat spectrum to avoid tearing up during your team's touchdown.
Oohh's & Aahh's Restaurant — Washington, D.C.
This tiny carryout counter is best known for serving up soul food favorites like its famous fried wings (both chicken and turkey), which are guaranteed to elicit the restaurant's namesake sounds from customers. A hometown haunt for many D.C. football players during the off-season, this joint turns out multiple flavors of the best-selling wings, like classic Buffalo, barbecue, lemon pepper and teriyaki. The tangy lemon pepper wings are dredged in well-seasoned flour and sauced in a homemade lemon and herb blend that's spiked with hot sauce. With a "sultry" flavor and perfect "crunch to meat ratio," Guy suggested they start bottling their sauce for the flawlessly fried wings during his Triple D visit. Praised as the place "where good food and good people meet," this is the best spot in D.C. to load up on heaps of wings and soul food fixins for a game-day feast.
For more FN-approved destinations, check out Food Network On the Road.