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Dish Wed May 28 2014
This city is sad over hot dogs, so I thought it would be a good time to distract that sadness with wings.
I know, I know, so four months ago. But when you sit down, close your eyes and imagine that juicy, buffalo sauce-smeared chicken goodness, your teeth biting into all that is good and right in the land of food you can eat with your hands, you stand up and say, "Yes, wings do still matter and I'd like mine teriyaki-ed and lollipop-ed!"
I love me a good, solid wing. I never used to be this way -- I was a hummus girl, I drank pinot grigio, I ate burgers once a month. And then the polar vortex happened along with craft beer, and I've never been the same.
Luckily, I was able to go beyond the normal spots at this year's Wingfest, which is wing love at its finest, to find a few notable wings that are not getting their due.
Barn & Co.
There's a traditional sloppy wing and then there's a wing you can take home to mama, and Barn & Co. (950 W. Wrightwood Ave.) does a good job with the latter as well as the heat, bringing sophistication to fire with their "Get Rubbed Fire" wing. It's more jerk than classic wing if you're one of those "buffalo sauce is from Buffalo" purists, but if you like a solid miniature drumstick with kick, give these a try.
The sign at this place (235 N. Ashland Ave.) is a picture of a big cobra, so I've stayed away, afraid of what lurked behind the dark exterior. But you have to get behind the door to appreciate the food, particularly the wings, that is happening at this joint. Cobra's wings are smoked over a mixture of apple and cherry wood for three and a half hours, fried to a crisp, and then tossed in one of their housemade BBQ sauces or their uniquely sweet Buffalo sauce. The smoke comes through nicely, and like most of the crowd walking through the door, they are also very meaty, too.
Honey Butter Fried Chicken
I've never had the fried chicken at HBFC (3361 N. Elston Ave.), but their sweet chili wing makes me think I should finally recreate the post-church Sunday lunches of my youth and give them a visit. These subtle yet delicious wings are first oven roasted, then fried to a crisp and tossed in a sauce of red onion, pickle juice, rice vinegar, honey, chili flake, and butter, and topped with fresh mint and scallion. These wings venture from the traditional approach, so you won't find any raging heat here, but they take wing appreciation to a whole new level.
And for when you just want it hot and nasty, go to Timothy O'Toole's (622 N. Fairbanks Ct.). This wing won't let you down.
Great Sea Chinese Restaurant
I don't have personal experience, but according to a non-scientific panel and word on the street, these are some pretty good wings. And you can also get your daily dose of green tea with them.