Chicago, arguably the king of sports cities, home of the Cubs, the White Sox, the Bears, and the Bulls, has a culinary background to better facilitate sports-watching. There’s Chicago-style hot dogs for games at Wrigley Field, deep dish pizza for pre-game greasing and wings from any number of the top-shelf sports bars around town for the football season. From upscale and funky fusion to corner pick-up, Chi-town’s got it all, and they’ve got it good. Got a game coming up? Don’t forget to place your order with these masters of flight.
It’s a good thing that Belly Shack doesn’t have any TVs on the wall, because these wings are a show stealer. Those who know the work of Chef Bill Kim know that he’s not a dude who gets caught up in tradition, whether it means topping a hot dog with egg noodles and pickled green papayas, or a meatball with with rice noodles and mint. His wings are less adventurous but still unique. Served every Sunday during football season, Belly Shack serves mega-crispy rice flour-battered jumbo wings battered in rice flour, coated in a spicy barbecue sauce made with red curry paste, ginger, garlic and lemongrass. It’s served alongside another twist on an American classic: homemade jalapeño-cheddar cornbread and warm potato salad with bacon and scallions. Pre-gaming never tasted so delicious.
For a Korean/American fusion joint that is just as known for their healthy veggie Buddha Bowls as their jumbo-sized chicken wings, Crisp knew exactly what they were going for when they named themselves. Lightly breaded, ultra-crispy on the outside and moist and juicy on the inside, Crisp tosses their wings in a subtly sweet ginger soy sauce for their Sassy Wings or a classic buffalo sauce. Available for delivery or BYOB-encouraged sit-down, this neighborhood joint is quickly becoming a Chicago treasure.
Photo via their official FB page.
Buffalo Joe’s has been an Evanston staple for game day revelers and Northwestern students on a study break. While the menu is replete with some barbecue options, fish and chips, gumbo and other greasy spoon fare, most diners just know it by their wings and waffle fries. Regulars will be regulars, and Buff Joe’s regulars cling faithfully to their mild, spicy, suicide or BBQ single orders, double orders or party pans, especially with a side of cheddar waffle fries, smothered with gooey orange cheddar sauce. Regulars also know to bring cash every time, as the place doesn’t accept cards.
People who find themselves in the casual leather booths at Monti’s sipping some dank and delicious blue concoction out of a jug do it because (a) Riot Juice is the bomb and (b) the cheese steak is pretty much the most on-point rendition of this Philly classic anywhere west of Lake Erie. However, their much underrated wings need to be thrown some props. Plump and juicy, visibly fresh and with the option of plain or housemade Buffalo, nuclear, or the delectably tangy lemon wild oregano sauce, these wings go great on their own or as a starter for their hyper-faithful hoagies. Located in Ravenswood and more sportsbar than resto, Monti’s is a hub for Philly expats cheering on the Flyers (their Game Day specials include free wings with a large pizza and $2 domestic beers) or just people who love a little richly flavored meat.
"The King of the Hot Wing in Chicago" (as hyped at the Chicago Wingfest for two years, ABC’s "Nightline" and "Last Call With Carson Daly), Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap has their own "Wall of Flame," dedicated to intrepid eaters who like to get hot and heavy. Made with the Trinidad Scorpion Pepper, the official "World’s Hottest Pepper," these wings are preceded with a waiver form and followed immediately by a "cool down" plate of a shot of milk, a scoop of ice cream, bread, sour cream, orange slices and a few more surprises. For wing fans who aren’t quite ready to dive into the deep, Jake’s also makes traditional buffalo wings, super hot made with roasted Habanero, poncho’s (wood grilled with garlic and cayenne marinade) and a wing of the month which introduces a different flavor every month.