Food & Drink

Chicago's best chicken wings, as picked by 10 local food writers

Published On 08/15/2014 Published On 08/15/2014
Mike Gebert
Thrillist
The Fifty/50
Facebook/LilliesQ
Great Sea Chinese Restaurant
Flickr/Bing
Flickr/jeffreyw
Flickr/Isaac Wedin
Flickr/stu_spivack
Flickr/Isaac Wedin
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1. Dak 1104 W Granville, Chicago, IL 60660 (Edgewater)

Dak takes its name from the Korean word for “chicken,” a nod to its specialty: delicately crisped wings. Food is made to order, so it’s guaranteed to be fresh, and portion sizes are generous. Though it’s fast-foodish, Dak makes you feel right at home with wood and tile accents in a contemporary setting. Try the wings, wings and more wings. Indulge in as many mild or spicy sauces you can handle.

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2. The Fifty/50 2047 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60622 (Wicker Park)

The 50's a tri-level sports temple serving gluttonous fare like in-house smoked meats (ribs, pulled pork, wings), mac 'n' cheese toppable with everything from chicken to chili, and the "Double-Secret Probation"-esque "Triple Secret:" a tri-meat fatburger with a classified recipe.

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3. Lillie's Q 1856 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (Wicker Park)

LQ's a patio-abetted 60-seat temple of slow-n-low BBQ, decked with butcher's hooks outfitted with Edison bulbs, tables made from reclaimed barn boards, and seriously delicious barbecue-style smoked, fired-up meat. We think that Lillie's serves up the best BBQ in Chicago, and locals agree.

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4. Great Sea Chinese Restaurant 3254 W Lawrence Ave, Chicago, IL 60625 (Albany Park)

Located in Albany Park, Great Sea is known for having some of the best wings in the Chicago area. The wings come in lollipop form, and the Gampongee Chicken (hot and spicy) ones are a must have.

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5. Crisp 2940 N Broadway, Chicago, IL 60657 (Lakeview)

Objectively speaking, the only thing better than a fried chicken wing is a jumbo fried chicken wing, which explains why the not-so-jumbo Crisp -- a Korean counter-serve in Lakeview -- is always packed. Everyone wants a taste of those juicy, jumbo Sassy Seoul wings (the sauce is just a garlic-sesame-soy glaze, but Sassy Seoul is more fun to say). There are other sauces, and also other Korean comfort dishes like kimchee and bibimbap-like Buddha Bowls, but those jumbo wings are unequivocally the main event (it’s called Crisp for a reason). It’s BYOB, so be sure to bring something that pairs well with sass.

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6. Barn & Company 950 W Wrightwood Ave, Chicago, IL 60614 (Lincoln Park)

B&C serves up some of the best wings, burgers, and BBQ in Chicago, in an appropriately decorated joint full of wood from a barn.

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7. Bird's Nest 2500 N Southport Ave, Chicago, IL 60614 (Lincoln Park)

This modest Lincoln Park sports bar is known for its amazing chicken wings, which are only 45 cents on Thursday and Sunday nights. The drink specials are also notable, with offerings of seven to nine dollar pitchers.

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8. Carriage House 1700 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60622 (Wicker Park)

Carriage House brings the internationally-tinged flavors of regional South Carolina to Wicker Park. A portion of the menu is dedicated to bold, interpretations of select traditional dishes, a broad collection of spirits, and family-inspired meals. This restaurant tempts you to stay for a long, Southern minute.

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9. Jake Melnick's Corner Tap 41 E Superior St, Chicago, IL 60611 (River North)

Jake Melnick's Corner Tap is a beer bar in River North, Chicago that's serving up some killer hot wings and other bar foods.

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10. Cactus Bar & Grill 404 S Wells St, Chicago, IL 60607 (Loop)

Cactus, located in The Loop, is great for happy hour drinks and wings. Tuesday night specials include one dollar pints and five dollar pitchers.

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11. Mott St 1401 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (Wicker Park)

Tucked away in an unassuming red brick storefront in Wicker Park, this vaguely Asian restaurant from the Ruxbin crew serves an eclectic menu of family-style plates inspired by the comfort food cravings of the restaurant team. Mott St truly does cook up a little bit of everything, from steamed pork dumplings and soy-glazed wings to congee and udon. If small plates aren't for you (we get it, sometimes you just want an entrée all to yourself), then perhaps the double chuck patty Mott Burger is. The restaurant's communal tables fit all too well with the tapas-like menu.

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12. Old Town Social 455 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60610 (Old Town)

Old Town Social is setting out to seamlessly infuse turn-of-the-century elegance into its classic neighborhood bar confines. The upscale, spacious, high-ceiling'ed gastropub is as good a place to watch the game as it is to enjoy a nice dinner out on the town. Nestle up to the marble bar top for front row seats to the flat screens, cozy into the front room's fireplace and sip on signature cocktails, gather a group and dine on a slew of contemporary American share plates (don't skip the mac 'n cheese), and stop by the vintage shoe shine station on your way out, of course.

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13. Toons Bar & Grill 3857 N Southport , Chicago, IL 60613 (Lakeview)

They serve smoked-up slabs of regionally appropriate BBQ during game days at Toons, which the Jayhawk alum owner says makes the place smell like a tailgate outside Arrowhead (hopefully not during the 2008 season, because if a tailgate smells, and nobody is there to smell it, does it really smell at all?).

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14. Cafe Orient 33 4829 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60625 (Albany Park)

Cafe Orient 33 is a neighborhood favorite. This informal, family-run Japanese-Korean spot in Albany Park is BYBO and offers some of the crispiest, most delicious wings in the city. The supremely flavorful sweet and spicy wings are a must, as is the Bibimbap. You’ll for sure get your dollar’s worth of taste. The place is warm and welcoming with high ceilings and soft yellow interior, and the family is very sweet.

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15. Emerald Isle Bar and Grill 6686 N Northwest Hwy, Chicago, IL 60631 (Edison Park)

This Edison Park Irish Pub/sports bar boasts a laid-back environment and plenty of cheap drinks, but their main draw is their buffalo chicken wings, offered at 50 cents a pop.

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16. Frontier 1072 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60642

It may not be the final frontier, but with ice-taps pouring 16 traditional and seasonal brews, a meat heavy menu featuring specialty sausages, steaks, and "Animal Service", flat screen TVs, and a beer garden, you won't need to explore any further. Allied: Ready yourself for Animal Service with some Smith & Forge, the hard cider that's built strong -- built from Apples and built to Refresh.

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17. The Harding Tavern 2732 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Logan Square)

Amidst the Logan Square boom and located in the old Harding Theater, this American pub fare joint is serving up seriously unique 'tails and scorching, juicy burgs.

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18. Joong Boo Market 3333 N Kimball Ave, Chicago, IL 60618 (Avondale)

This hot spot is one part supermarket, one part fast-food Korean restaurant. The Avondale market is packed floor-to-ceiling with the all of the best Korean products, including housewares and kitchen utensils. Come to shop, and stay for the chicken wings and pork wang dumplings, served in the back of the market. For years, it’s been one of Chicago’s best kept secrets for good, inexpensive eats.

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19. Spicy Thai Lao 5357 State Rd., Burbank, IL 60459

The exceptionally flavorful Thai-Style Chicken Wings are a definite must-have at this Burbank spot, known for being the only place in the area that serves Lao food.

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20. Take Me Out 1502 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608 (Pilsen)

Take Me Out is a Chinese... well, take-out restaurant and wing palace that serves up some of the finest "hotties" (seriously, that's what they call their wings) in all of Chicago.

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21. Union Sushi & Barbeque Bar 230 W Erie St, Chicago, IL 60654 (River North)

A towering two-level sushi bar with graffiti-covered concrete walls and a custom-made Robata grill, Union's Sushi-Wabi-vet chef's using said flame to work up prosciutto-wrapped scallops and garlic-soy lamb, while also kicking out noodle creations.

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