Best Chicken Wings in the U.S.
Kung Pao Chicken Wings
Former Top Chef chef-testant Dale Talde tosses deep-fried chicken wings in a sweet and spicy kung pao-inspired sauce, tops them with chopped peanuts, cilantro and scallions, and serves them with buttermilk ranch sauce. The chef also serves a variation on classic Buffalo wings at Pork Slope, his new dive bar and comfort food joint. The wings are coated in rice flour, then deep-fried, sprinkled with cayenne pepper and tossed in a hot sauce made with smoked garlic, Sriracha, Frank’s RedHot, honey and butter.
Pok Pok; Portland, Oregon, and New York City
Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings
Chef Andy Ricker came up with the recipe for his amazing Thai chainlet’s crispy-tangy signature dish after trying fish sauce wings at a roadside stand in Saigon. He scribbled down his guess at the ingredients on a paper napkin, which he carried with him until the first Pok Pok opened. Ricker marinates the wings in fish sauce and palm sugar, then deep-fries them and tosses them in caramelized Phu Quoc fish sauce and garlic.
Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q; Alabama and North Carolina
Spicy Apricot Wings
Chef and partner Chris Lilly is a legend on the pro barbecue circuit, with multiple championship wins at the prestigious Memphis in May competition. He marinates his fantastic chicken wings in a spicy apricot sauce for about four hours before tossing them on the grill.
San Tung; San Francisco
“Real wings aficionados will know what I’m talking about when I say “dry-fried’ chicken wings. San Tung is a noisy and crowded Chinese restaurant where you invariably have to wait for a table. It offers dry and wet chicken wings. The dry are battered and deep fried with garlic, ginger and roasted red peppers; wet are battered, fried and sautéed in a spicy sauce of roasted red peppers, mushrooms, carrots and bamboo shoots. Get the dry ones.”
NOLA Restaurant; New Orleans
Miss Hay’s Stuffed Chicken Wings
Superstar chef Emeril Lagasse so dearly loved the wings a Vietnamese cook once made for him at NOLA that he put them on the restaurant’s menu in 2000 and hasn’t taken them off. The wings are stuffed with a mixture of ground pork, chopped shrimp, mushrooms, onions, celery, cilantro and fish sauce. After they’re baked, they’re dredged in flour and fried in peanut oil in a wok, then served with a garlicky homemade hoisin dipping sauce and jalapeños.
Anchor Bar; Buffalo, New York
Original Buffalo Chicken Wings
“This is the place that claims to have invented Buffalo wings, back in 1964. For anyone outside the Buffalo area, Anchor will mail its chicken anywhere in the US, in quantities from 50 to 250 wings; shipping is free. If you’re more of a do-it-yourself-up-to-a-certain-point person, you can order Anchor Bar sauces online, and prepare the wings yourself.”
17th Street BBQ; Murphysboro, Illinois, and Las Vegas
17th Street Wings
Barbecue legend Mike Mills is best known for his perfect baby back ribs seasoned with his signature Magic Dust, a secret blend of 18 herbs and spices with hints of garlic, paprika, mustard powder and a little sugar. He also employs the proprietary mix as a finishing touch on phenomenal chicken wings that are smoked over applewood, then grilled and tossed with a spicy house-made wing sauce. To top it off, they come with ranch or blue cheese dressing.
The Bazaar by José Andrés; Los Angeles
Boneless Mary’s Farm Buffalo Chicken Wings
Genius chef José Andrés reimagines classic Buffalo wings as an elegant appetizer at his stylish restaurant in the chaotic SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills. The wings are confit and deboned, then dredged in flour, pan-fried and dipped in a spicy demi-glace made with chicken broth, Tabasco and sugar. Topping the wings: blue cheese cream, compressed diced celery and celery sprouts.
The Source; Washington, DC
Crispy Chicken Wings with General Tso’s Chili Sauce
Scott Drewno heads this Wolfgang Puck restaurant, which takes up three floors of the Newseum, just off the Mall. The downstairs lounge serves Asian snacks including these superb chicken wings with house-made chile sauce. Drewno marinates the wings for at least eight hours in ginger, scallions, crushed red chile flakes and peanut oil. Next, the wings are lightly dredged in cornstarch, sautéed in peanut oil and tossed in the fantastically sweet and sticky sauce made with whole chile pods and chile sambal.
Alla Spina; Philadelphia
Italian Chicken Wings
The newest addition to chef Marc Vetri’s mini empire of fantastic Italian restaurants serves gastropub-style dishes, including incredible deep-fried chicken wings. The wings—dressed in a buttery sauce made with grated Parmesan cheese, fresh oregano and fresh lemon juice—are available on Sundays and during major sporting events.
Mission Chinese Food; San Francisco and New York City
Chongqing Chicken Wings
“When they’re first put down in front of you they look unassuming, like really crispy wings with little flecks of red chile,” says F&W’s restaurant editor, Kate Krader, about chef Danny Bowien’s incendiary wings. “But they have that kind of a dry, slow heat that’s just magnificent. They’re searing hot in a way that makes your mouth happy.” Instead of creating a crispy crust with flour, Bowien lightly poaches the wings then freezes them (which makes the skin expand) and deep-fries the frozen wings with beef tripe. He tosses the wings in a spice blend of Sichuan peppercorns, fennel, cumin and coriander, and serves them with dried red chiles, cilantro, scallions and sesame seeds.
Matthias Merges, the former chef at Charlie Trotter’s, owns this Japanese small plates restaurant, which earned a spot on F&W editor in chief Dana Cowin’s list of the best restaurants of 2012. Merges offers slowly braised chicken wings that are boned and stuffed with a mixture of ground chicken thigh meat, garlic, chile paste, Thai basil and Thai cilantro. The skewered wings are cooked over low-smoke Japanese white oak charcoal, and served with bonito salt and lime wedges. yusho-chicago.com
The Kettle Black; Brooklyn, New York
Buffalo City Wings
“This Brooklyn bar is a veritable United Nations of Buffalo wing flavors. Their 11 options include Grampa Nunzio's (buttery garlic and Parmesan cheese) and Luau (chunks of pineapple in plum BBQ sauce), although why you’re fooling around with anything other than the Buffalo City (their version of the original recipe) I don’t know.” kettleblackbar.com
Valley Kitchen at Carmel Valley Ranch; Carmel, California
Honey-Chile Chicken Wings
Bees from the ranch’s on-site apiary make the honey used in these wings’ sweet, sticky and salty soy-and-honey glaze. Chef Tim Wood avoids the deep fryer and opts to broil or grill the honey-chile chicken wings, which develops fantastic flavor.
Lukshon by Sang Yoon; Culver City, California
Spicy Chicken Pops
At his modern Southeast Asian follow-up to Father’s Office, chef Sang Yoon marinates wings in a mixture of ginger, garlic, scallions, onions, Chinese light soy sauce and kecap manis, an intense, dark, sweet Indonesian sauce. The marinated wings are dusted with flour, deep-fried twice in peanut oil and tossed in a sauce made with kecap manis and soy sauce, black vinegar, ginger, garlic, scallions and onions. The fantastically sticky wings are then finished with Yoon’s own spicy Sichuan salt.
Hot Sauce and Panko; San Francisco
“The go-to wings here are called Hiromi’s Katsu, panko-breaded with tonkatsu sauce. But you can’t go wrong with the triple-fried KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) or the Fiery Hot Fried Wings, coated with a house mix of ground chiles, black pepper and garlic. Heat freaks will be glad to know the place has a wall of hot sauces, including frightening ghost chile options." hotsauceandpanko.com
Duffy's Irish Pub; Washington, DC
“This pub has been making terrific wings for years, fried golden in peanut oil and served with just about any sauce you’d want on your wings. In a nod to Maryland, there’s an Old Bay-dry-rubbed option that you can eat while you watch the game on one of their 12 flat screens. If you’re not embarrassed to order chicken tenders on Super Bowl Sunday, you have that option at Duffy’s.”
Wing Wings; San Francisco
This Korean-inspired recipe is fiery and a little bit sweet. Co-owner Lisa Shin of Wing Wings in San Francisco also uses the versatile sauce as a marinade for pork and as a dip for cucumber spears.