Chicken Wings and Ketchup

The chicken wing has long since earned its place in American culinary lore, going from the oft-overlooked and rejected part of the bird (via Concord Monitor) to a celebrated treat that graces pub menus and five-star dining restaurants alike. For many, it all starts with the Buffalo wing. According to Time, the iconic recipe — deep-fried, then slathered in Frank’s hot sauce and butter — was developed in Buffalo, New York, a former Rust Belt town that’s morphed into a cultural and foodie destination near the Canadian border.

Since the inception of the Buffalo wing in 1964, plenty of other variations on the flapper have become part of the culinary landscape including Asian-style, BBQ, and even cheese-topped preparations. So whether you like flats or drums, classic Buffalo-style or an innovative spin, there’s a wing out there that will warm your heart. From the East Coast to Alaska, restaurants are stepping up their wing game and putting some genuinely delicious dishes on their menus. Here are some of the best options you can find across the U.S.

Bar Bill Tavern: Sicilian wings

plate of parmesan Sicilian Wings

Hailing from Buffalo, New York, Bar Bill Tavern serves up local classics such as beef on weck along with some seriously scrumptious wings. Urban-dwellers regularly make the journey to the Southtowns (there is a location in East Aurora and another in Clarence) for a plate of piping hot plate of wings served with traditional celery and carrot sticks. Although you can certainly get conventional hot wings at Bar Bill Tavern (this is Buffalo, after all), its Sicilian wings are a cut above the rest. Doused in tangy Italian dressing and sprinkled with parmesan cheese, these wings are a celebration of all of your favorite flavors.

The secret to Bar Bill Tavern’s success might just lay in its wing preparation. According to Bar and Restaurant, the team at Bar Bill Tavern only uses fresh wings rather than frozen ones. They also brush on the sauce so that each wing gets a generous amount. Delicious!

17th Street Barbecue: 17ST wings

Plate of  17ST Chicken Wings

Illinois-based 17th Street Barbecue is cranking out some fantastic wings that bear the name of the restaurant, which has locations in Murphysboro and Marion. 17ST wings are first smoked and then grilled to perfection before being smothered in plenty of yummy wing sauce. What makes these wings stand out is the intense hit of smoke, tang, and sweetness — the use of applewood chips and a generous sprinkle of garlic salt help the cause. Thanks to the spot-on grilling recipe, the wings are crisp and fresh before they hit the sauce, ensuring that they never get too soggy.

To eat them correctly, leave the fork and knife behind. Instead, dunk these meaty gems in bleu cheese or ranch dressing with your bare hands. You’ll get to savor every sauce-coated bite with a cooling hit of the creamy dips to temper the spice. It’s no wonder that 17th Street Barbecue made these wings one of its trademark menu items.

Crisp: Seoul Sassy wings

plate of Seoul Sassy Wings

If you’re looking for a sweet and sassy wing to delight your palate, Chicago, Illinois is the place to go. Crisp proves once and for all that a superb wing doesn’t have to be slathered in a traditional Buffalo-style sauce. Instead, it can take some cues from South Korea with a sweet and flavorful twist. Seoul Sassy wings prove this, thanks to their tasty sauce that’s been a sacred family recipe for generations.

You won’t get too much spice off these wings, but you really don’t need it; a host of robust spices can fill in the blanks. Every bite is packed with ginger, garlic, and tons of soy sauce. Sprinkle on some fresh green onions, and you have a kaleidoscope of delicious flavors and textures. For guilt-free dining, pair your Seoul Sassy wings with one of Crisp’s veggie-packed Buddha Bowls. You can’t go wrong with that!

Flanigan’s Seafood Bar and Grill: Medium wings

plate of wings with curly fires

Flanigan’s Seafood Bar and Grill has 23 locations across South Florida. With a casual and welcoming vibe, good beer selection, and great menu, the chain brings the heat and flavor, especially when it comes to its wings which are some of the best in the Sunshine State. Although you can get wings hot, medium, BBQ, or mild, it’s the medium wings that really make us stand up and pay attention. These wings are juicy perfection with a subtle balance of spice and a fantastic sauce consistency.

Dip them in bleu cheese for the ultimate contrast of spicy wing and cool creamy decadence. You can also get some crudité to round off your meal — carrots are always great though it’s tough to beat a celery and buffalo wings pairing. One of the best aspects of Flanigan’s is that you can order for one or make it a party with the restaurant’s massive wing platters.

East Coast Wings + Grill: Honey garlic wings

Honey Garlic Wings with bleu cheese

If you’re in the southern or eastern parts of the United States, you don’t have to go that far to find a fantastic wing. East Coast Wings + Grill offers plenty of pub fare, comfort food classics, and of course, tons of wing options. Although the wings are exceptional for various reasons, one of the biggest ones (literally) is their impressive size. Expect huge, plump flats and drumsticks, oozing with your favorite sauce and served sizzling hot and ready to devour.

Take the honey garlic wings. These wings are a great alternative to five-alarm-fire flavors. The sweetness of the honey plays extra nicely with the chicken, and a touch of garlic gives them the perfect bite. Plus, East Coast Wings + Grill locations have plenty of on-site televisions, so you can catch the game while you scarf down an order or four of Honey Garlic Wings.

Pluckers Wing Bar: Chili lime dry rub wings

Chili Lime Dry Rub Wings with celery

The best wings don’t have to be dripping in sauce. Pluckers Wing Bar, with locations all over the Lonestar State and one in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, takes advantage of some tasty dry rubs that won’t have you wiping your fingers every three seconds. The chili lime dry rub wings are the perfect example, marrying the ultra-compatible flavors of bright lime, sea salt, and spicy chili into one mega-flavorful, decadent, sauceless wing.

Since Pluckers originated in Texas, it’s no surprise that its wings are larger than life too. Expect mammoth, meaty wings that are enough for a meal all on their own. Sharing is encouraged but certainly not required at Pluckers, and with plenty of flavors on the menu, you can always order more. Also, this Texan chain offers regular specials and happy hours, so you can get your fill without draining your wallet.

Wing Doozy: Original Doozy dry rub boneless wings

Original Doozy Dry Rub Boneless Wings

West Michigan’s Wing Doozy prides itself on serving fresh, generously-sized wings with all of the traditional fixins, but if you want to opt for something outside the wing box, try the boneless bites. Wing Doozy’s boneless wings are 100% white meat chicken breast and coated with the same beautiful blend of spices and sauces that you can get with the traditional wings. While some wing connoisseurs will scoff at the idea of boneless wings, Wing Doozy does them right by making sure that the flavor is on point.

The dry rub boneless wings are a fine example of this. Although the seasoning imparts many flavors, you won’t be stuck with messy hands (at least not too messy) or a big bowl of bones. Plus, you can savor the whole entire "wing." Pair them with a basket of fries or battered onion rings, and you’ll have a great meal!

Wing Factory: Lemon pepper wings

Lemon Pepper Wings on paper

Bright and flavor-forward, the lemon pepper wings from Atlanta, Georgia’s Wing Factory strike all the right familiar flavor notes while still delighting your taste buds with a bit of the unexpected. Lemon and pepper are traditional flavors for chicken breast entrees, so they’re naturally delicious on chicken wings, too, especially when coating that crispy fried chicken skin. If you’re looking for a milder alternative to spicy wings, this option is a great bet, especially when paired with a cup of bleu cheese and veggies.

Combine those amazing chicken wings with a friendly, accommodating staff plus a laid-back atmosphere, and you have a winning combination. Wing Factory also has plenty of big-screen televisions and plenty of mouthwatering sides to go along with your wings. The tots and fries are great, or you can simply go with celery and carrot sticks if you want to do the healthier thing.

Mott Street: Everything wings

Everything Wings and beer

For a higher-end wing experience that won’t disappoint, get to Mott Street in Chicago, Illinois. The everything wings are, well, pretty much everything. Even though these wings are prepared with multiple ingredients, the end product is balanced to perfection, fusing traditional chicken wing flavor with a Korean twist. The process starts with properly crisp chicken wings touched with soy glaze and topped with shallots, poppy and sesame seeds, and plenty of chilies. A word of warning: The wings are a spice powerhouse, but not to worry; Mott Street serves them with a side of cooling tzatziki to take the edge off.

The combination of creamy tzatziki, crispy wings, crunchy shallots, and spices is a study in different flavors and textures, so these wings are nothing short of exciting. Plus, the wings themselves are enormous, and each plate is reasonably enough for a full meal. So pair them with an ice-cold beer and let the party commence.

Gabriel’s Gate Restaurant: Classic hot wings

plate of Classic Hot Wings and crudite

Another wing superstar hailing from Buffalo, New York, Gabriel’s Gate is a Western New York institution famous for its mammoth burgers and saucy plates of traditional wings. If you want to stick with tradition, try the restaurant’s classic hot wings which are served with a generous side of bleu cheese, carrots, and celery. While you can technically get ranch with your wings in Buffalo, bleu cheese is the preferred condiment. It cuts through the spice on the wings and gives you a satisfying finish.

The classic hot wings are buttery, spicy, and intensely flavorful. If you crave a little more heat in your diet, you can always get them "suicide hot." Just be warned; Buffalonians don’t play around when it comes to their iconic food. It’s always better to get your wings milder and then turn up the heat if you need more spice.

House of Wings: Spicy ranch wings

Spicy Ranch Wings  and fries

It’s no surprise what the house specialty is at Miami, Florida’s House of Wings. The restaurant offers more than 60 different flavors of its namesake, ranging from the super spicy to the wild and whimsical. It is tough to choose a single standout, but the spicy ranch wings are a highlight thanks to the brilliant balance of the cool dressing with House of Wings’ signature spice blend. One of the other reasons why these wings are so exceptional is because they proudly feature ranch, not bleu cheese, as their base. It’s a fun twist on a classic, and House of Wings does it exceptionally well.

Pair your spicy ranch wings with some yellow rice or freshly-seasoned french fries for a complete meal. House of Wings consistently delivers both on unique flavors and generous portions. Sample some of its signature offerings, and you’ll understand why owner Musaddiq Muhammad goes by the nickname "King of Poultry."

Wing King: Mango habanero wings

Mango Habanero Wings

Those who want a fruit-forward twist along with fiery heat will love Wing King’s mango habanero wings. These bright, amber-colored beauties pair cooling, tropical mango with one of the hottest chile peppers on the planet for a fun combo that will make wing lovers sigh in contentment. Wing King specializes in unique flavors and styles, offering Las Vegas diners some 100 sauces and flavors to choose from, ranging from the traditional to the deliciously out there. All of them are tried and tested and designed to please even the pickiest of palates.

Although the mango habanero wings are dripping in robust, intense sauce, it still works well with the chicken. You’ll enjoy perfectly fried wings, juicy chicken meat, spice, and fruit in every single nibble. Be prepared to get your hands dirty because these wings are messy. But take one bite, and you’ll understand why it’s all completely worth it.

Supreme Hot Wings: Honey hot wings

Honey Hot Wings

Supreme Hot Wings is one of the top places to get great chicken wings in the South, which says a lot. If there’s one thing that the good people at this Memphis, Tennessee restaurant know how to do, it’s to balance heat and sweet in remarkable ways that will leave you completely satisfied. Take its honey hot wings, for example. These wings lead with plenty of honey flavor and finish with a spicy kick. The honey pairs well with crispy wings and moist chicken, and the spice wraps it all together beautifully.

These are excellent wings for people who like their spice a little more reserved but don’t want to go with plain or mild wings. They’re also an excellent alternative to more one-note varieties, and great for gameday binging because you can eat a lot of them without reaching for your Altoids. Add fries and the beverage of your choice, and you’re good to go.

Three Dollar Cafe: Dry boneless wings

Dry Boneless Wings and fries

Georgia’s Three Dollar Cafe might be locally famous for its coffee and friendly service, but this gem has another trick up its sleeve: great wings. The mini-chain serves up big, generous plates of both boneless and traditional wings, mixed with seemingly any sauce or rub that you can imagine. The dry boneless wings are a great dine-in or take-away option. They’re a true crowd-pleaser, crisped to perfection, and seasoned with a flavorful dry-rub spice blend that’s mild while still packed with taste.

Dry Boneless Wings are delicious and appropriate for almost everyone. While certain wing varieties might be too hot or "out there," Three Dollar Cafe hits the universal sweet spot with juicy, white meat chicken, a crispy exterior, and a tasty dry rub. Get them with bleu cheese, ranch, and celery, or go all out and order a mammoth plate of fries to savor alongside your wings.

Anchor Bar: Original Buffalo wings

Anchor bar original Buffalo Wings

Anchor Bar is where the Buffalo chicken wing was first hatched, so you know that it has the ultimate recipe down pat. Although the story is different depending on who you ask, Buffalonians generally accept that their beloved wings were the product of a happy culinary accident. According to the National Chicken Council, owner Theresa Bellissimo whipped up the very first batch of Buffalo wings for her hungry son. She fried them, tossed them with some butter and spice, and served them with bleu cheese and celery. A legend was born.

Today, you can visit the original Anchor Bar in Buffalo (there are additional outlets across the U.S. and Canada) and taste the wing that started it all. Each batch is deep-fried, slathered in a buttery, spicy sauce, and served with a cup of bleu cheese, just like Mama Bellissimo made them all those years ago.

2 Fat Guys American Grill: Garlic butter wings

Garlic Butter Wings

Hockessin, Delaware’s 2 Fat Guys American Grill is a dine-in or take-out place with a welcoming vibe and a menu of American comfort food favorites. If you’re looking for the classics done right, this place has got you covered, especially when it comes to its wings. The restaurant specializes in big old plates of wings dripping with different sauces and served hot and fresh to order. Stop by around happy hour for deals on wings and suds, or bring the whole family for a great dining experience.

The garlic butter wings, in particular, are something to write home about. It all starts with plump chicken wings, deep-fries them, and then adds all of the finishing touches. The wings are bathed in a rich buttery sauce infused with tons of garlic. It’s a fantastic accompaniment to the chicken and crisp, fried skin. Vegetarians can swap out regular wings for carrot ones and still get the same great flavor; meat-free.

Ayara Thai: Muay Thai wings

basket of Muay Thai Wings

Ayara Thai’s aptly-named Muay Thai wings pack a serious flavor punch thanks to a generous dose of the Los Angeles eatery’s special barbecue sauce. The restaurant specializes in Thai cuisine and homemade recipes. Ayara also prides itself on using high-quality ingredients and fine-tuning its generationally passed-on recipes to perfection. Although the Muay Thai wings are pretty simple — jumbo wings that are deep-fried and coated in a barbecue glaze — they have a profound depth of flavor that is hard to match. As far as that sauce, you know right away that what you’re tasting is not the bottled stuff!

These wings serve as a great snack, light meal, or an excellent prelude to some of Ayara’s famous dishes. If you’re still hungry, dig into a satisfying bowl of tom yum soup or a hearty, spicy curry. Virtually anything you try at Ayara Thai is bound to be pretty darn fantastic.

Hot Sauce and Panko To Go: Korean fried wings

Korean Fried Wings

Hot Sauce and Panko to Go is another Californian restaurant making big waves in the wing business. Located in San Francisco, the restaurant serves traditional varieties of wings like Buffalo and barbecue, but the Korean fried wings are the order of choice. Although Hot Sauce and Panko to Go specializes in an iconic bar food, it doesn’t skimp on the presentation. Every batch of wings is made fresh to order, sauced evenly, and presented beautifully. The Korean fried wings get a little extra pizzazz from a light glaze of gochujang sauce and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

It’s the gochujang sauce that takes these wings into orbit. It’s tangy, sweet, and just a little spicy, hitting all the right flavor notes. Order your wings with a side of potato wedges or fries for an unforgettable meal that will leave you hungry for more.

Ace Eat Serve: Tiger wings

Tiger Wings

Ace Eat Serve out of Denver, Colorado, is a clever eatery with a vast patio and game room. The atmosphere is fun and funky; it’s a nice place to stop in and grab a pint, sake, or homemade soda. It’s also known for one of its signature menu items: Tiger wings. It’s no secret that citrus and chili work beautifully together, especially on wings, but Ace Eat Serve puts its own spin on the classic combo.

Tiger Sauce, the secret weapon for creating the perfect wing, is a hot and bright blend of chilis, lemongrass, and salt. With sweet and fiery notes, these wings strike the perfect balance. They’re also unusual without being too unfamiliar to fans of classic wing flavors. You’ll get the notes of citrus and heat but in a refreshing and interesting way. And if spicy isn’t your thing, good news: Tiger wings are rated at the bottom of Ace Eat Serve’s heat scale.

907 Wingman: Korean Zing wings

Korean Zing wings

For some of the best chicken wings in the country, you have to actually leave the continental United States and fly north, way north. Anchorage, Alaska’s 907 Wingman, is a great place to get hot wings in the coldest state in the union. Although all of its wing varieties are very tasty, we have a soft spot for Korean Zing. These succulent, massive wings get topped with tangy and spicy Korean Zing glaze, then chives and sesame seeds. The flavors are spot-on, and the different textures make these wings even more memorable. They’re fun to eat.

Pick up your Korean Zing wings in a personal 10-pack, or go big with 40 or 50 wing orders. It’s perfect for sharing. You can also get your Korean Zing fix with boneless wings. Then, grab some extra bleu cheese, carrots, and celery, and you have a crowd-pleasing, comfort food meal.

Wogies: Krazy Buffalo wings

Krazy Wings

Buffalo might be world-famous for its wings, but New York City is no slouch in the wing department either. The Krazy Buffalo wings at Wogies in the West Village are not for the faint of heart or people who like to play it safe in the spice department. These are scorching, with a fantastic buttery chili-spiked sauce that you’ll want to chow down on even if your eyes are watering — which they will be. Fortunately, you can get your wings with dipping sauce to cool things down a bit, and Wogies has a decent beer selection to help put out the fire in your mouth too.

If that much spice sounds too, well crazy, you can always go a level down and order the hot or medium wings. You’ll get a good amount of sauce, some heat, and plenty of juicy drums and flats to chew on.

J Timothy’s Taverne: Dirt Wings

plate of Dirt Wings

J. Timothy’s Taverne in Plainville, Connecticut, is a fun little eatery in a historic building that’s been serving hungry locals for years. Although you can find plenty of delicious dishes on its menu, many people flock here for one specific thing; chicken wings. You can certainly get conventional chicken wings at J. Timothy’s Taverne, and they’re bound to be delicious, but if you’re on the prowl for something new, exciting, and mouthwatering, try the Dirt Wings.

Dirt Wings are a J. Timothy’s Taverne specialty, the end-product of a detailed and specific process that yields super flavorful and crispy wings. Basically, the chefs sauce and fry each wing twice. The double treatment seals in the original sauce, making them super succulent and delicious. As the story goes, the wings got their name from a long-time patron who’d always request that his wings get the double-dip.

Buffalo Wild Wings: Boneless Buffalo wings

Boneless Wings

You don’t have to look too far to find a Buffalo Wild Wings near you. With locations across the county, you can get your fix of sports, beers, and of course- plenty of different wings, with tons of different sauces to choose from. You can even pick up a bottle of Buffalo Wild Wings’ finest and take it home with you. Although the chain’s bone-in wings and sauces are stellar, the Buffalo boneless wings deserve a special nod.

If your boneless wings look a little beefier than they did before, that’s because they are. According to Food Business News, the breading is fine-tuned to perfection, and the wings are much larger thanks to a 2019 menu upgrade. So enjoy your juicy Buffalo boneless wings plain with a cup of bleu cheese, or, if you’re really hungry, add a side of cheese curds and onion rings.

HaiSous: Caramelized fish sauce wings

bowl of Caramelized Fish Sauce Wings

If you’ve never considered the eclectic combination of fish sauce and chicken wings, HaiSous is here to set the record straight and open up a whole new flavor world to you. Hailing from Chicago, Illinois, the Vietnamese specialist serves caramelized fish sauce wings that are a thing of beauty. They have a robust, meaty, sweet flavor that will have you ordering your second batch while you’re still chowing down on the first. The presentation is beautiful: Flats and drums are stacked high and sprinkled with shallots and garlic; but this dish offers far more than a great Instagram pic.

The sauce nails that coveted umami flavor. It’s intense while not too overpowering, and each wing is perfectly coated. You’ll get the proper meat to sauce ratio every time, enjoying layers upon layers of flavor. If there was ever a haute cuisine chicken wing, HaiSous’ caramelized fish sauce wings are it.

Charcoal Venice: Smoky grilled chicken wings

bowl of Smokey Grilled Chicken Wings

Venice, California has plenty of high-end, exciting dining options, but if you’re in the mood for stellar wings, there’s only one spot to go. Charcoal serves up posh comfort food in style, cooking everything over an open flame. The result is tasty, fresh food that has a distinct smokiness and flavor to it. Since Charcoal has one preferred cooking method, there’s no way that the restaurant is deep-frying wings. Instead, the smoky grilled chicken wings are cooked perfectly and topped with bright vinegar, chilis, and oregano.

It’s a simple preparation, but one that definitely works. The vinegar adds tang to the succulent meat, and the chilis give the wings a little kick. If you’ve only ever experienced deep-fried wings, you should give the grilled variety a try. Not only are they super tasty, but grilled wings are also a little bit kinder to your waistline, so indulge!