Food & Drink

The 12 Best Wings in Houston

Published On 02/11/2015 Published On 02/11/2015
Julie Soefer Photography

Everyone loves them some wings, but turn off "Band on the Run" for a damn minute, will you? This is important. Here are 12 Houston chicken wings that fly above the rest, in all of their juicy, crunchy, sticky, tangy, sweet, and spicy glory.

The Hay Merchant

If you’d like your PB&J in chicken-wing-form, look no further than this Montrose wunderkind. Also do so if you like your Vietnamese fish sauce and spicy Korean BBQ in chicken-wing-form, because those versions are also good as hell.



Every morsel of these blackened and charred birds get coated in a mix of lemon, oil, fresh straight-from-the-garden basil, and dark-roasted jalapeños that build heat with every tactfully greasy bite. They may be high-class, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be licking them off your fingers, crowded restaurant or not.

Beaver’s Washington
Spice-rubbed, meaty, and doused in things like "The Flaming Lips" hot sauce, these crunchy-but-not-overdone wings are the definition of craveable.

Thanh Phuong Restaurant

Thanh Phuong Restaurant

Fish sauce and chicken wings go together like peanut butter and jelly. Make your way to this Pearland Vietnamese standby that does the classic nuoc mam-style of fowl just right. Just make sure you pack some wet naps.

Pluckers Wing Bar


Classic sports bar wings up the ante with major swagger at this Austin import, which somehow manages to be pretty good, despite the fact that it's Austin bred. Available bone-in and boneless (as any true Buffalo wangz should be), you can also get them drenched in 20 different sauces -- from sweet and sticky "Dr. Pepper," to you’re-about-to-burn-the-crap-out-of-your-tongue "Fire in the Hole."

The Chicken Ranch

There’s sambal honey, barbecue, and tangy fish sauce; but its the classic Johnny Cash, Buffalo-style hot wings that rule the roost at this Southern-style chicken shack. Also, the buttermilk biscuits. They also have some of the ruling power in said roost.

Mad For Chicken

Dak & Bop

Museum District
Approximate amount of time it will take you to get these wings from the time you order: 30 minutes. Approximate amount of time it will take you to eat them: 30 seconds. These twice-fried Korean-style wings -- which you can and should get coated in sweet soy-garlic sauce, intensely hot & spicy sauce, or both -- are easily some of the crispest bird in town.

Bonfire Wings

Bonfire Wings

Multiple locations
Whether you go sauceless with the spicy Creole-fried, or go full monty with the Cajun mojo-style, these ridiculously good Louisiana-inspired chicken wings may just convince you to leave the Inner Loop. 

Sticky's Chicken

Sticky’s Chicken

Multiple locations
Find this roaming chicken truck to get a taste of what may just be the stickiest birds around. Each wickedly crisp wing gets coated in a slightly sweet, slightly hot glaze that is so good you don’t even need to dip it into the spicy mayo on the side, but you should, because that’s delicious, too.

Katz's Deli & Bar

Leave it up to a NY-style Jewish deli to nail the classic Buffalo-style wing. The wings are expertly fried; coated in a hot, buttery, and tangy sauce; and served with a so-not-kosher, gloriously chunky blue cheese dressing.


The Breakfast Klub

Because when the city’s most badass fried-joint makes wings and grits, you get the city’s most badass fried-joint’s wings and grits.


Max’s Wine Dive

These daily-butchered wings soak in jalapeño-infused buttermilk for 36 hours. We repeat: jalapeño buttermilk. 36 hours. Crack the thick, craggly coating to find the juiciest, most tender chicken in town, which you can get both drizzled with chipotle honey at happy hour OR served with legit maple syrup & griddled corncakes/maple-glazed doughnuts during brunch.

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1. The Hay Merchant / Underbelly 1100 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006 (Montrose)

A joint venture, The Hay Merchant and Underbelly operate separately but are attached via a butchering room that’s fit to hold a whole hog, a cow, and other large, meat-bearing animals. Hay Merchant, a craft beer bar, boasts 75 draft beers that range in style from cask-conditioned American porters to sour and funky wild ales. Underbelly, the more upscale of the two, is a restaurant and wine bar serving up juicy burgers and meats, like roasted pig’s head and smoked brisket. No matter how adventurous your palate, consider pairing your dish with one of the aged barleywines on tap.

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2. Coltivare Pizza & Garden 3320 White Oak Dr, Houston, TX 77007

From Revival Market's Ryan Pera & Morgan Weber, Coltivare is a seasonally-inspired eatery that puts a fresh spin on traditional Italian foodstuffs. Think small plates & charcuterie, whole-roasted fish, pastas, and wood-fired pies. The kitchen picks every bit of fruit, veg, and greenery straight from its 3,000sqft garden. They don’t take reservations, so you’ll need to elbow your way to the bar and sip on a few of Weber’s classically inspired tinctures while you wait for your table.

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3. Beaver's 2310 Decatur St, Houston, TX 77007

Although this Sixth Ward BBQ spot offers top notch ribs and brisket, it has two main attractions: the first is a smoky queso (made with smoked asadero cheese, green chillis, and pico de gallo), while the second is a bacon omelette biscuit: an expertly crafted cheese omelette stacked with copious amounts of bacon and sausage with a chipotle honey and cream gravy blanket. Other menu items include Southern-style fare like fried pickles, barbacoa empanadas, and creative mac 'n' cheese.

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4. Thanh Phuong Restaurant 3236 East Broadway St, Pearland, TX 77581 (Pearland)

This Pearland Vietnamese standby does the classic nuoc mam-style of fowl just right. Just make sure you pack some wet naps.

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5. Pluckers 1400 Shepherd Dr, Houston, TX 77007

Few things in this world don't taste better fried, and if anyone knows this, it’s Houston’s Pluckers. Here, fried pickles are as popular as fried mac and cheese, which is still as popular as the Frachos (nachos that swap out tortilla chips for waffle fries). Pluckers is made for wing kings; available both bone-in and boneless, wings can be drenched in 20 different sauces -- from sweet and sticky "Dr. Pepper," to your-tongue-is-ablaze "Fire in the Hole" (yes, you will get placed on the Wall of Flame if you eat 25 of these). Not into wings? Pluck you.

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6. The Chicken Ranch 6500 N Main St, Houston, TX 77009

Good-as-hell fried chicken, Johnny Cash chicken wings, and crispy fried chicken livers are allllll on the menu at this Southern-style chicken shack. As are the city’s most heavenly buttermilk biscuits, which you should definitely, definitely get.

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7. Dak & Bop 1801 Binz St Ste 120, Houston, TX 77004

Twice-fried, seriously crisp Korean fried chicken is the name of the game at this Park Binz spot. Co-owner Jason Cho trained under NYC’s Mad For Chicken before opening up this shop (which is a separate entity but shares some recipes). The chicken’s good plain, but we suggest getting it smothered in soy-garlic or hot-and-spicy sauce.

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8. Katz's Deli & Bar 616 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006 (Montrose)

This old-school deli, open 24/7, won't disappoint. If you can get matzo ball soup, man-sized Reubens, and chocolate egg creams at 4am, YOU DO.

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9. The Breakfast Klub 3711 Travis St, Houston, TX 77002

This Fourth Ward breakfast spot has some of the best fried chicken in Houston. They even give you the option of fried catfish (and waffles OR GRITS!). Plus, every once in a while there is a clown that makes you balloon animals while you wait in line. Real talk.

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10. MAX's Wine Dive 4720 Washington Ave, Houston, TX 77007 (Washington)

At Max’s Wine Dive, dining is a celebration. The exposed brick-walled joint, lit dimly by track lights and the glow of a green jukebox, boasts a buzzy energy that will spark your night. Embrace all the joys of Texas cuisine at Max’s: Get your hands on Nacho Mama’s Oysters on wontons with garlic aioli, then order a plate full of bison sliders topped with lip-puckering house-made pickles, ketchup, and grilled onions. At this point, you’ve already made the decision to stuff yourself silly, so add the fried egg sandwich to your order: three gooey eggs, a giant pile of applewood smoked bacon with melted Gruyere, a smear of black truffle aioli, and huge slices of buttery bread keeping it all safe inside.



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