Lords of the wings
February 1st, 2013
11:00 AM ET
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Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.

It’s Super Bowl time, and chicken wing statistics from the The National Chicken Council are flying around fast and furious.

  • If you’re determined to lay 1.23 billion chicken wings end-to-end, you’ll find that they stretch from the Niners' Candlestick Park in San Francisco to Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium 27 times.
  • In a poll, more wings fans preferred ranch dressing on the side than blue cheese. Ranch gets 57 percent of the vote; blue cheese is at a shockingly low 35 percent.

But, it’s time to stop talking about chicken wings and start eating. Here are six places to find some excellent ones.

The Jug Handle Inn (Cinnaminson, New Jersey)
The top Philly wings spot isn’t actually in Philadelphia; it’s a few miles away in New Jersey. The Jug Handle has plenty of sauce options for its wings: garlic, BBQ, honey, honey BBQ, hot honey, extra hot, Buffalo garlic or the super-spicy Bald Eagle version (“How do you think the eagle lost his feathers?” is the menu’s description of the heat level). Patrons are asked to be patient, as their wings are made to order and designed for serious wing-aholics. We should also note blue cheese and celery cost extra. For non-wing lovers, there’s a huge bar menu of other not-so-healthy snacks, like fried ravioli and South Philly pizza, topped with steak and American cheese.

Hot Sauce and Panko (San Francisco, California)
If Hot Sauce and Panko needed a reason to exist, it has found one in Super Bowl XLVII. “The Niners Will Win, It is Foreseen,” claims its website, which also goes into exacting detail on scheduling the pickup time of your wing order, and serving them at home. (Keep them warm in a 200 degree oven, and then “Wing away. Or pretend you’re gnawing at some Raven appendages.”) The big decision is the preparation. The go-to is "Hiromi’s Katsu," panko-breaded wings 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.

Duffy’s Irish Pub (Washington, D.C.)
Local Ravens fans know that Baltimore is more focused on crab cakes than chicken wings (though the wings at the city’s Hooters get high marks). But in nearby D.C., Duffy’s pub has been making terrific wings for years, fried golden in peanut oil and served with just about any sauce you’d want. In a nod to Maryland, there’s an Old Bay-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.

Fire On the Mountain (Portland, Oregon)
This super popular wing joint, which has three locations in Portland, gets its wings from free-range chickens. They’re fried crispy, then tossed in the sauce of your choice. The spice levels are mild, medium, hot, extra hot or El Jefe. Anyone attempting and surviving the El Jefe Challenge (15 El Jefe wings in 3.5 minutes, no ranch or blue cheese dressing and only one napkin ) wins an El Jefe Survivor T-shirt. This being Portland, they’ve also got Portland Wings aka vegan nuggets. In 2011, FOTM reportedly sold more than 20,000 chicken wings for take-out.

Winking Lizard Tavern (Cleveland, Ohio)
Winking Lizard has single-handedly raised the wings game in northeastern Ohio, where they have 14 locations. They offer 16 sauce options for their jumbo wings, ranging in spice level from plain (no sauce) to 911 and Magma (“911 times two!! May cause blistering of the tongue & esophagus”). The sauces are conveniently arranged on the menu next to a heat thermometer so you can rank them in terms of heat degree: Spicy Sesame (hot chili sauce, honey, soy sauce and toasted sesame seeds) is not as blisteringly hot as Spicy Garlic. You also have the option of blue cheese or ranch dressing on the side.

Max’s Wine Dive (Houston, Texas)
The best wings in Houston aren’t at a down-and-dirty sports bar, they’re at a wine bar. At Max’s, wings are “butchered” daily; they’re available with chipotle honey during Happy Hour and Reverse Happy Hour (the last two hours they’re open) or on top of their gargantuan cornbread griddle cakes with maple syrup at brunch. The wings are buttermilk-marinated and deep-fried “slow and low,” as is their signature fried chicken. Max’s slogan is “Fried chicken and Champagne? ... Why the hell not?!”

More from Food & Wine:

Best Chicken Wings in the US

Delicious Chicken Wing Recipes

Best Burgers in the US

Best Pizza Place in the US

Ultimate Super Bowl Recipes

© 2011 American Express Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Filed under: Bite • Content Partner • Events • Food and Wine • Holidays • Restaurants • Sports • Super Bowl • Tailgating

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soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Denise504

    I love my chicken wings just well seasoned and fried, NO sauce, sitting on the same table with my GUMBO, POTATO SALAD, LAY'S CHIPS, COKES, ROOT BEERS, FINGER SANDWICHES and BAKED SPAGHETTI......Love my New Orleans culture as long as I stay under 135lbs....... Enjoy everyone all that is on your tables today.

    February 3, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
  2. Tammy

    I too was disappointed to see that Anchor Bar in Buffalo was not on this list. As a native Buffalonian, I am personally wounded. However, I should note that the wings at Duff's, in Amherst NY (a Buffalo suburb) are equally superb.

    February 2, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
  3. Zane

    Hot wings are ridiculously overpriced. Just a few years ago, restaurants would throw away chicken wings as waste. Now, many places are charging more than $1 a wing.

    I'm making my own chicken this year: Boneless chicken breasts seasoned with extra virgin olive oil and Italian salad dressing, then grilled to perfection. They're tastier and cheaper than wings. And there are no messy bones to discard!

    February 2, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  4. GiGi Eats Celebrities

    I really don't foresee myself taking part in this chicken fiasco on Sunday.

    February 1, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • Georgee

      And still nobody cares.

      February 4, 2013 at 6:58 am |
  5. RRD

    WHAT???? Where is the Anchor Bar in this list?? The HOME of the chicken wing that everyone has come to love!! Not fair posting!!

    February 1, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
  6. Stimpy

    Hot Sauce and Panko in SF has been a great addition to our neighborhood. Glad they got a mention!

    February 1, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      I just heard of them the other day on the 49ers.com forum. Weird coincidence.

      February 1, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
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