Chicago buffalo wing battle

As many food enthusiasts/people with a pulse/David Letterman (COLBERT???) know there is a top ten list for everything and anything under the sun. So we figured hell, let’s make our own. We’re starting with buffalo wings. Because buffalo is both a delicious wing flavor as well as epic “OH MY GOD WHY DID I EVER SAY YES TO THIS?” drinking game.

Chicago buffalo wing battle.

(WORK IN PROGRESS) We learned quickly that we are wing purists. Spicy Asian garlic, garlic parmesan, Caribbean jerk,  BBQ???? Who the hell knows? It’s NOT buffalo sauce. Buffalo wings should be:

  • Classic buffalo goodness. Vinegary “tingling sides of your tongue” and spicy-to-a-point sauce.
  • NO breading. It’s soggy nastiness.
  • Super crispy. Filled with hot juices that make you say “uff da.”
  • Fall off the bone succulent. Done and done.
  • Chunky bleu cheese dressing and crisp celery stalks.

LET THE BATTLE BEGIN!! (Cue Mortal Kombat theme music)

Current standings: The Harding Tavern > Frontier > Fifty/50

Our barometer is 50-cent wings at McNamaras. They meet all of the above criteria, but do not excel in any particular category. Good all around wings. AND A DEAL!!

The Harding Tavern

Harding Tavern Wings

 

  • Price: $7 for roughly 8 wings. Each wing costs less than a dollar!
  • Sauce: Tangy, buffaloey goodness. Nicely balanced. Not swimming in dressing. They’re from a chicken, not a duck.
  • Breading: Not breaded. +1
  • Crispiness: 8.5/10. Skin was great but they added shaved carrots to the wings which was surprisingly delightful.
  • Juiciness: 9/10 – These were fantastic. Properly cooked with a nice crispy skin and soft juicy chicken underneath
  • Chunky Bleu Cheese: This one was a little different. Rather than having dressing on the side there were bleu cheese crumbles on top. Side of dressing was an option but we were intrigued and decided to go sans dressing on this one.
  • Would we have gone to Mac’s? Nope! Good flavor, crispy and the price point was spot on. Good experience.

 

Frontier

What’s unique about the wings at Frontier is that they’re “lollipop wings,” which makes them classy.

 
 

  • Price: $12 for five large, lollipop wings.
  • Sauce: Delicious, thick, Frank’s red-hot style sauce. The downside: There wasn’t enough of it. I get that this is place that emphasizes meats of all kinds, though, and that this is a riff on standard bar wings, and thus understand the drizzle over drowning.
  • Breading: They were breaded, which normally would be a bad thing, but in this case with a cornmeal breading, it worked. Well.
  • Crispiness: 10/10
  • Juiciness: 9/10
  • Chunky bleu cheese: We got it. And it was homemade.
  • Would we have rather gone to Mac’s? NOPE!

50/Fifty

  • Price: $11 for eight wings.
  • Sauce: Too spicy yet also strangely sweet. Honey sweet at first, then felt like burning, with little flavor to back it up.
  • Breading: They were breaded. -1.
  • Crispiness: 5/10
  • Juiciness: 9/10
  • Chunky bleu cheese: We got it.
  • Would we have rather gone to Mac’s? Yes.

Bottom Line: We checked this place out because we found it on several best wing lists. It unfortunately did not live up to the hype. It was super busy due to the hawks game, but the fried pickles and onion rings were delicious, so that’s no excuse. This came down to the breading and sauce.

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