Chicago's Best Chicken Wings
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Wings and the Super Bowl go together like eggnog and Christmas. Which is why now is an appropriate time to round up some of the best wings in Chicago, so you can feast your way around the city preparing for the big game. From classic wings to newfangled, here are some of the best.
Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap: Chicken wings are the bread and butter at this River North fixture. Sure you can go the traditional route with buffalo wings, or heat things up with a super-hot version with roasted habanero. There's also an even hotter one called XXX, which has habanero, ghost peppers and scorpion peppers — the latter is frequently regarded as the world’s hottest. Something especially unique though are the PB&J wings, a style that features Thai peanut glaze and raspberry-chipotle jelly for a bit of salty, sweet and mildly spicy.
Old Town Social: From the mini hot dogs to the warm pretzels, Old Town Social is Mecca for upscale bar snacks. Another fine example? Those wings. Here, they're served pleasantly crispy with buffalo ranch sauce and blue cheese, but the best order is the spicy duck wings. These plump, meaty little nuggets boast a bit of mellow heat from harissa. They come with cucumber-mint raita to balance out the spice.
Crisp: When it comes to crispy chicken, aptly dubbed Crisp is one of the best go-tos in Chicago. From spicy to sticky sweet, the Korean-style chicken at this crowd-pleasing Lakeview spot is addictive no matter how you order it. Plain Jane is a good start for purists or those looking to dodge the heat; they're fried in secret batter until succulent and tender. Seoul Sassy is another popular choice, leaning on the sweeter side with a glaze of ginger, soy and garlic.
Publican Anker: When the team behind the renowned Publican do chicken wings, you can bet they’ll be incredible. Indeed, at Publican Anker, chicken wings are a prime appetizer. Crispy and crunchy in every bite, the wings are heaped with pungent flavors like basil, burnt chiles and yogurt.
Kimski: A Korean-Polish fusion restaurant in Bridgeport is an unassuming spot for some of the best — and most unique — wings in town. Dubbed “Kopo Wangs,” these saucy suckers are smoked before they’re fried, enriching each juicy bite with heady aroma. Served with sweet and spicy sauce, a quick dunk is all it takes to achieve that perfect balance of tang and smoke.
The Fifty/50: The most popular bar in Chicago for wings, The Fifty/50 offers the finger-licking stuff in a handful of different presentations. You can get them breaded, boneless breaded or smoked, each one keeping things fairly classic and solidly delicious. The smoked version is especially tasty, as the chicken is brined in a maple-cinnamon bath before getting smoked over applewood before and served with a fragrant bourbon barbecue sauce.
R.J. Grunts: Another popular holdover for all-American chicken wings is R.J. Grunts, a Lincoln Park institution with a particular penchant for nostalgic comfort foods. The family-friendly eatery has four classic options on hand, from your staple buffalo wings and tangy barbecue wings to super hot buffalo for those looking to crank the heat up a notch.