There’s a reason we haven’t done a wings story.
Wings are, to put it mildly, everywhere — so many restaurants have them that it’s impossible to try them all. In addition, opinions on wings are like those on pizza — everyone prefers a different kind.
With that being said, we both love wings and often order them when we’re out. In fact, without knowing it, we each started notes files listing great ones we’ve tried, but neither of us quite knew what to do with the information.
And here’s the thing: We agree on a lot in general, but our criteria for what makes great wings are different. We’ll explain below, but our lists just didn’t align, and we decided that was OK.
So, with the admission that we haven’t tried every wing in the metro area, here are some we really, really like, just in time for your football-season enjoyment. Most of these places offer takeout, and wings are the perfect game-day food.
As always, feel free to tell us where we should order wings next by emailing email@example.com. It’s a challenge we’d love to take on.
I love a good dry rub — plenty of flavor, but less mess. I prefer that the wings be cut into flats and drummies for the same reason. I feel like with whole wings I get sauce or spices all over my face. That being said, there are always exceptions to the rule. Some sauces are so good I had to include them. Also, to give credit where it’s due, my favorite wings of all are my brother-in-law Ryan’s smoked wings, which we all beg for at every family gathering.
My mom loves wings, so when we had a little staycation in Stillwater recently, we were sure to pop into Feller so she could try these smoky, dry-rubbed beauties. They are crisp, juicy and large, and the rub has plenty of flavor without being too salty. They come with a smoky ranch that just drives the smoke point home.
$12, 402 S. Main St., Stillwater; 651-571-3501; fellerrestaurant.com
Inver Grove Brewing
I am a big fan of this relatively new brewpub in the southern metro. The beer is good, the food is good, and they have a large-ish patio. We like to drop by and have a few appetizers and a beer for dinner, and their dry-rub wings often hit the spot. Juicy, perfectly spiced and crisp, they’re great on their own, but my husband and I also like that you get both ranch and blue cheese dressing with them.
$11, 9051 Buchanan Trail, Inver Grove Heights; 651-370-1565; igbrewing.com
Although the menu at this St. Paul institution has been severely pared down since the pandemic began, there are still wings on the menu. Though the prep on them changes often, I’m usually a fan of their wings, and this iteration — crisp wings tossed in a sticky-spicy-earthy Korean sauce — is no exception.
$16, 374 Selby Ave., St. Paul; 651-224-5715; wafrost.com
Though the restaurant continues to evolve, which is honestly a good thing in this environment, the food at this Lowertown spot has been consistently great. The wings — there are three versions, but we are obsessed with the hot honey butter — are really worth a visit in and of themselves. Sticky, nutty, herbaceous and downright addictive, they come with house-made ranch dressing, which always scores bonus points with me.
$11, 275 E. Fourth St., St. Paul; 763-290-8431; justusmn.com
The majority of the time, Jess and I align with our tastes in food. But when it comes to chicken wings, I lean toward a whole wing with the drumette, wingnette and tip still intact. I often find this preparation to be juicier and love that intact wings are still piping hot when served. Like Jess, I also prefer a dry rub on my wing and also will make exceptions to my whole wing preference for memorable, delicious wings of any variety.
My favorite wings in the Twin Cities, the dry rub that is my favorite of all time. The “Beijing Style” wings have delicious earthy notes of Asian spices that we like to debate every time — are we detecting five spice, cumin and curry or all three or not quite sure? The perfect crackle of the wings when you sink your teeth into the skin and the juiciness of the chicken bring it home. Matching the wings with a Monte Carlo classic martini is a home run.
$16, 219 N. Third Ave., Minneapolis; 612-333-5900; montecarlomn.com
Taste of Rondo Bar & Grill
The best new addition to the great wings I’ve tried all year. Whole wings with the drumette, wingnette and tip still intact lends itself to a juicy, piping hot wing. Then there’s the crisp coating and a house blend that is just the right amount of everything.
Available in six-, eight- or 10-piece orders. 976 Concordia Ave., St. Paul; 651-348-2615; tasteofrondostp.com
I wasn’t expecting this to become one of my favorite wings around when I was on this contemporary Asian eatery’s well-heated patio on a recent evening ( if you’re looking for a place to dine outdoors and want to stay warm, this is highly recommended). I was craving some of my other favorite dishes here from chef/owner Ann Ahmed, such as the Nam Khao sticky rice lettuce cups and the Thai Basil Duck, but one crunchy bite of the tempura fried Basil Wings was a game-changer. The layers of flavors included salty, sour/citrusy as well as some pepperiness and heat, thanks to ingredients such as Thai basil and fried jalapenos. Oh, and I can’t even begin to describe the great-tasting signature dry rub. So much going on. So much to love.
$13, 8815 Seventh Ave. N., Golden Valley; 763-400-7910; lat14.com
This casual St. Paul spot along University Avenue has a cult following for its wings, and I recently discovered why. The wings are kept simple, just a nice execution of perfectly crisp and juicy piping-hot whole wings. We liked the simple straightforward seasoning that also came with it. The one thing we would change is the seasoning on the wings in our order was overpowering. Perhaps it was just our particular order — next time, we’ll ask for an order light on the seasoning. Place your order online for pickup.
$10 (3 whole wings), $12 (5); $21 (12), $26 (18) and $28 (24). 647 University Ave. W., St. Paul; 651-224-9464; hickoryhutstpaul.com
WE BOTH LOVE
These are wings we both have tried and loved.
Just like you don’t expect a great burger from DeGidio’s, wings might not be the first thing you order at a classic Italian red-sauce joint, but you really ought to re-think both of those things as we discovered when we bellied up to the bar one day. The dry-rub wings are meaty, juicy, crisp and perfectly seasoned. Oh, and they come with celery sticks and a pretty sizable bowl of ranch or blue cheese for those who like extra. (We’ll discuss that fantastic burger another time.)
$13, 425 W. Seventh St., St. Paul; 651- 291-7105; degidios.com
We just love how crisp these wings are, and the balanced, not-too-spicy rub is probably our favorite of the bunch. Nancy says these are wings she could take home to her mom — nicely coated, juicy and seasoned in a way that’s not overpowering. Jess’ husband is obsessed with them. Basically, if you’re a fan of wings, they’re a must-try.
$12, 1085 Grand Ave., St. Paul; 651-487-1913; ironrangermn.com
The nice-looking beauties with charred grill marks are as delicious as they look, and juicy with an awesome crispy flavor that only a wood grill can render. We weren’t hating the Italian herb marinade on it, either. Order it as an individual appetizer, or better yet, get a Game Day pack, as we did recently, that comes with a dozen Wood Grilled Wings and other fun appetizer bites.
$12, two locations, including 788 Grand Ave., St. Paul; 651-444-5995; redrabbitmn.com
Last but the opposite of least, we both agree that these are our favorite wings around. The bright red-orange Korean Chili Dry Rub wings are crispy, crunchy and coated with an awesome blend of spices that includes chili flakes that give off some welcome heat. A house-made lava sauce offers just the right amount of sour to complement the flavors going on with the wings, while a house-made, and utterly delicious, buttermilk ranch cools things down.
$13, 1096 Grand Ave., St. Paul; 651-289-4990; thelexmn.com
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