The Best Chicken Wings in America
Whether you like them spicy, sweet or both, here's where to get the best wings from coast to coast.
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Detroit: Jerk Wings at Grey Ghost
If you love Caribbean spices, you'll love the jerk wings at this Detroit locale. The wings are first bathed in a wet jerk marinade for 24 hours before being cooked for 12 hours. They are then grilled with a dry jerk seasoning — think flavors of allspice, ginger, garlic and chipotle — and served alongside an applewood-smoked blue cheese dressing.
Atlanta: Bourbon Barrel Peach Wings at Ladybird
This Atlanta restaurant is all about appealing to the urban explorer, with its vast outdoor space and indoor mess-hall look. The folks here may not take themselves too seriously, but they are definitely serious about their wings. The wings are first covered in their own house chicken rub with flavors of brown sugar, garlic and paprika, before they are put into the smoker with oak and cherry woods. The wings are then fried and tossed in a special bourbon-barrel peach sauce made with bourbon, house hot sauce, gochujang, Dr. Pepper and a local peach jam. They're topped with scallions and served with crudites and housemade blue cheese dressing.
Las Vegas: General Tso's Wings at Spago
Everyone loves a secret, off-menu dish; here, it's these wings. The new Spago, fountainside at the Bellagio, offers countertop dining and a chance to try the juicy wings that are tossed in a sweet and spicy garlic sauce before they are dished out with cilantro and scallions.
Atlanta: Smoked Wings at Sweet Auburn Barbecue
Wings are always a bonus at a barbecue spot, especially when they're cooked in the smoker. At this Atlanta joint, where Southern BBQ meets modern flavors, guests can enjoy their wings prepared in a traditional style with BBQ or Buffalo sauce, or try one of the more creative sauces, like coconut lemongrass or Wu Tang.
Detroit: Caramel Chicken Wings at Flowers of Vietnam
When George Azar opened his Vietnamese-inspired restaurant, he knew he needed a menu item that would gain his customers' trust, and decided on the chicken wing. Little did he know that the gooey, salty chicken wings he served would become the place's signature item. The wings are Korean-fried, enrobed in a caramel made from palm sugar and Red Boat fish sauce and served with a mayo sauce that includes a smattering of herbs used in other dishes on the menu. The herb-y sauce is a nice, light complement to the rich, flavorful wings that keep people coming back for more.
Charleston: Kung Pao Chicken Wings at The Grocery
This South Carolina spot takes a little Asian inspiration for its chicken wings. Chef-Owner Kevin Johnson cures the wings overnight and then confits them in a little duck fat to make them more tender. They are then dredged in rice flour and cornstarch and fried to a crisp before being tossed in a special housemade sauce. Before serving, they are topped with spicy peanuts that have been seasoned with togarashi, scallions and dried chiles.
Chicago: Everything Wings at Mott Street
Everything bagels may have started the "everything" craze, but these wings at Mott Street take the spice blend to a whole new level. The crisp wings are glazed with a sweet and spicy mix of soy, jaggery and dried chiles and topped with sesame and poppy seeds and fried shallots. To cool it all down, tzatziki is served on the side.
Austin: Hot Honey and Garlic Wings at Geraldine's
Happy hour is wing time at this Austin haunt, complete with live music and local fare. The chicken wings are the perfect mix of sweet, spicy and pungent — cooled down by the pickled watermelon rind served on the side.
Amherst, New York: Buffalo Wings at Duff's
Duff's contribution to the history of the Buffalo wing began in 1969, when founder Louise Duffney first served up chicken wings at this onetime tavern just north of Buffalo. From that point forward Duff's started selling around 20 pounds a week of what were later dubbed its "famous wings." Today the wings are tossed in a sauce customized to your preferred heat level — ranging from mild to mega-spicy — and served with the traditional sides of blue cheese, carrots and celery.
Nashville, Tennessee: Dixie Wings at Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint
Pat Martin may be known for his whole-hog cooking, but anything he cooks in the pit is pure West Tennessee BBQ magic. The wings are no exception. You can opt for any of six sauces, but a favorite is made naked with Martin's dry Dixie rub sprinkled on moist and juicy chicken wings — with perhaps a little Alabama White sauce on the side.
Los Angeles: Muay Thai Wings at Ayara Thai
Generations of family recipes have appeared at this authentic Thai restaurant in Los Angeles, now owned by the third generation. On the snacks menu is their famous wings — fried antibiotic-free chicken wings tossed with ingredients like curry, coconut milk, turmeric, fish sauce, lemongrass and garlic, and served up with their own tart Thai BBQ sauce.
Louisville, Kentucky: Dry Rub Wings at 8UP
This all-glass restaurant is a must for its sights and also for the food. The bar menu is where you'll find the chicken wings, which are tossed in 8UP's signature dry rub and topped with pickled celery and scallion. The kitchen here takes the classic ranch dressing side and elevates it with flavors of chipotle and lime — creating the perfect dipper for the wings.
Chicago: Seoul Sassy Wings at Crisp
Tucked away in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood is Crisp, an unassuming restaurant serving up stellar Korean-style fried chicken and wings. Although all of the sauce choices are worth a gander, neighbors flock here for the Seoul Sassy wings, a recipe that has been passed down over generations. The sauce is a sweet, sticky mess — in the best way — with flavors of ginger, soy and garlic.
Indianapolis: Hermanaki Wings at Ale Emporium
Sometimes it's all about the sauce on the wings, and that couldn't be truer at this Indianapolis haunt. A combination of its "Herman-style" secret sauce plus teriyaki became such a big hit that the joint copyrighted the name Hermanaki for it. You can choose from boneless or traditional wings and top them with this peppery, spicy and sweet wing sauce.