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Chicken wings go hand in hand with lots of things. If I'm watching any type of sport on TV at any Cleveland bar - you best believe that all 10 of my fingers are covered in sticky, spicy goodness.
Let's talk sauce. The saying, "It's the little things that really matter" can most certainly apply to chicken wings (says the food blogger.) There really isn't a bad wing flavor, is there? I like them all… classic buffalo, BBQ, sweet chili, garlic parm… and now I'm starving. No matter the wing flavor, I always am sure to ask for one or two sides of ranch dipping sauce. In my opinion, wings and ranch is the best combo since PB&J.
There's a certain type of person you have to eat chicken wings with:
A) Someone who likes the similar flavors.
B) Someone who prefers to eat the opposite type of wing as you.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, then good for you. You're not picky and/or difficult to eat with. That being said, are you a one or two boned wing kind of person? (I like the wings with two bones better because I think the meat is less dry.) Lucky for me, my favorite person to eat wings with is my boyfriend who just so happens to like the opposite type of wing. Also, he's not a ranch hog - not sure things would work out if he was.
Anyways, enough in-depth ranting about my chicken wing obsession. Here are my FAVORITE places to eat chicken wings - the best in Cleveland.
Riverwood Cafe (Lakewood)
I'm a West-sider and if you are too, you know that Riverwood is quite the Lakewood dive. Colored Christmas lights strung above the bar, a scary clown-like thing above the entrance (that you probably won't notice until your 30th time there), pool tables and an old-school cigarette machine (which I have unplugged in order to charge my cell phone plenty of times..shh.) Riverwood has great bar food and tons of chicken wing flavors, but the best flavor wing I've ever tasted in Cleveland would be their infamous "sweet heat" sauce. My friends literally make fun of me for how often I eat them - whether it's at the bar or ordering two-dozen for pick up. The flavor is very similar to a Thai sweet chili sauce, but there's something about it that makes it better than the rest - they are also fairly spicy. I've met the chef who makes the sauce plenty of times but I still haven't gotten the recipe out of him yet. Stay tuned.
City Tap (Cleveland)
The first thing you need to know about City Tap is that their wings are in fact breaded and deep-fried… YUM. My first time eating there was about a year ago - I randomly stopped in while there was a Cavs game on. I can't vouch for the other flavors (because I'm so in love with the first one I tried that I have yet to order another flavor.) The pineapple habanero wing sauce is insanely delicious - there is bit more spice than sweet but that's just fine by me since ranch always has my back when it comes to that sort of deal.
The Greenhouse Tavern (Cleveland)
Not entirely sure how much I need to convince you that these are some of the best wings ever; Thrillist, Huffington Post, The Cooking Channel and others have let everyone know just fine. Let me try and put the experience of eating these confit wings into words: super soft and tender, fall-right-off-the-bone chicken wing meat with flavors of lime, scallion, jalapeno and fresh garlic. James Beard Award winner Chef Jonathan Sawyer has turned chicken wings gourmet in the best way possible.
ZZ's Big Top (Avon)
This bar sits on a random corner of my hometown, Avon, and is even smaller and grungier than the bar I previously mentioned, Riverwood. Typically, it's full of regulars. I never actually go there to drink or hang out but my family has been picking up wings from there for years. Might I suggest the "Bang-a-rang" flavor, pretty sure it's some sort of combination of hot and BBQ sauce and I CAN NEVER GET ENOUGH OF IT.
Jammy Buggars (Lakewood)
"On Thursdays, we eat wings" - because they only cost 25 cents each at Jammy Buggars. WARNING: No doggy bags allowed, sigh. But honestly, if you've ever reheated wings.. You know that they are much better the first time they are served. My favorite flavor at Jammy Buggars is the "West Side" sauce. West side sauce is JB's version of buffalo and it is insanely delicious. The wings are also larger than average and super juicy, so that's always good.
Where are your favorite places to eat wings in The Land? Please comment below and share your recommendations - I'm always down for a chicken wing or ten.
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