This Nacho Mountain Destroys All Other Nachos
Sang Yoon's Asian-fusion restaurant doesn't call 'em wings (they're chicken lollipops), but don't be mistaken: they are crispy-fried, savory poultry, and you will want more as soon as you're done with your first order.
These fall-off-the-bone wings have gained a cult following thanks to a vinegar-based hot sauce that's basically served at the bottom of the order, so eating them's a bit more DIY than usual: dip, spin, eat, repeat.
This little Arts District hole-in-the-wall (in all honesty, it’s just a window out into the road) is only a little over a year old, and they have been absolutely slaying the fried chicken game. There are not nearly enough great soul food spots in LA which sweetens up their $10 dinner special -- a plate of their insanely tasty and expertly battered fried chicken wings with sides of mac, greens, and cornbread.
If you’re thinking this it’s yet another one of the establishments of the same-named spots in Silver Lake and Fairfax, think again: this is a completely different Charcoal, helmed by two-Michelin star chef Josiah Citrin, whose smoky grilled chicken wings with oregano, chili, and vinegar are perfectly finger-lickable, perfectly spicy, and well, just perfectly perfect.
The chef at this ultra-colorful Silver Lake Thai restaurant was named a Best New Chef by those fancy people at Food & Wine earlier this year, and though they name-checked one of his pork dishes in the magazine, it’d be a safe bet that his wings actually won them over and they were just embarrassed that they’re so good: they’re sweet, and salty, and sticky, and juicy, and OMG THEY’RE ALREADY GONE LET’S GET ANOTHER ORDER.
Look, if nobody else is gonna say it, we are: Wingstop is amazing. Stop confusing it with that dastardly Pizza Hut creation WingStreet, and just think about all these options -- every one of which is seemingly perfectly crispy-cooked and juicy and excellent: Original, Atomic, Mango Habanero, Cajun, Louisiana Rub, Hickory Smoked BBQ, Smoke9 (like a mesquite dry rub), Lemon Pepper, Garlic Parmesan, Hawaiian, or Teriyaki. OPTIONS, BOYS AND GIRLS!
Anybody who’s had Pok Pok in Portland or New York knows how lucky we are that they made their way down to us. You’ll quickly be a Pok Pok believer when you bite into their Vietnamese fish sauce wings (get ‘em spicy), marinated in house fish sauce, sugar, fried, and then tossed with caramelized Phu Quoc fish sauce and garlic.
It’s virtually impossible to order something bad at this bar arcade, whose food comes from the lauded Starry Kitchen team, but you’ll regret not getting either the Double-Fried Tamarind wings (with tamarind, garlic, and black pepper) or the Double-Fried Ginger wings (with gochujang/Korean pepper paste, rice vinegar, honey, and lemon). And after wings? Burgertime. Like, both literally, and you should get their burger, too.
The small-but-power-packed Jidori chicken wings at this gastropubby K-town beer hall are a menu highlight (also a menu highlight: everything on the menu); the pro tip is to go for the Volcano Chipotle, and wash it down with anything IPA. Good luck.
This flapper-centric dive's got four locations (Melrose, Glendale, Pasadena, and, um, Valencia?), with wings in mostly standard varieties (save the zesty lemon-pepper), and -- bonus! -- crazy-good Philly cheesesteaks.
The Lime Truck got its own brick and mortar four years ago, and they’ve been serving up next-level wings since then. The Spicy Sambal Wings are battered with spicy-lime-sambal sauce & sesame seeds, and their Chimmi Wings with chimichurri and chipotle-honey aioli (both garnished with green apple and lime), and both will ensure you forget hot wings for, like, at least as long as you’re eating them.
This Korean mini-chain makes mind-blowing wings: crisp-skinned numbers in honey, hot, or soy-garlic sauce, the latter of which you'll be tasting for days, though that's kind of not a bad thing.
The phrase "no frills" was invented for this standby cafe, which is all about serving up hot and BBQ wings the way tourists/transplants remember them from the East Coast (garlic parmesan is available for fancy-pants Angelenos/tourists and transplants pretending to be fancy-pants Angelenos). Bonus: you can get wings or drums only for just a buck-or-so-more.
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Wilder Shaw is a regular Thrillist contributor who has dreamed about wings more than once. Ask him which Button Mash wings he likes better on Twitter at @WilderShaw_ and Instagram at @wildershaw.
Jeff Miller is Thrillist's Senior City Editor for Los Angeles, and grew up in San Fernando Valley learning the ins and outs of negotiating traffic all over Los Angeles (Orange FTW!). When he's not eating delicious food/drinking delicious drinks/doing ridiculous things he's the band leader of Black Crystal Wolf Kids, the world's first indie-rock tribute band; you can also see his byline in publications like The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, and Relix.
1. Lukshon3238 Helms, Los Angeles
2. Ye Rustic Inn1831 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles
3. Comfort L.A.1110 E 7th St, Los Angeles
4. Charcoal Venice425 Washington Blvd, Marina Del Rey
5. Night + Market Song3322 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles
6. Wingstop2323 W Manchester Blvd, Inglewood
7. Pok Pok LA727 N Broadway, Los Angeles
8. Button Mash1391 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles
9. Beer Belly532 S Western; Koreatown, Los Angeles
10. Hot Wings Cafe7011 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles
11. TLT Food1116 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles
12. Kyochon Chicken3833 W 6th St, Los Angeles
13. California Wings Cafe1649 N Cahuenga Blvd, Los Angeles
Specializing in upscale Southeast Asian fare, Lukshon is celebrated Father's Office chef Sang Yoon's foray into casual fine dining. The menu is a delightful mix of modern takes on Asian classics like banh mi, pho, tea leaf salad, and steamed buns. The sleek space features a quintessential LA outdoor patio with a fire pit and walls made of walnut. Even if you're unsure about Southeast Asian food, Lukshon's specialities like spicy chicken pops and red rice with house-cured lamb belly will entice you into loyalty.
Located in a Los Feliz strip mall, this dive bar has gained a cult following for one thing: its legendary chicken wings. The crispy, fall-off-the-bone wings can thank their vinegar-based hot sauce (and cheap price tag) for their popularity. More than just a bar, Ye Rustic Inn also serves a full dinner menu of classic American food (chicken fried steak, meatloaf, chili-cheeseburgers) and solid, unfussy drinks. The sports bar-meets-tavern space hasn't changed much since opening in 1971, so expect retro wood-paneled walls and deep leather booths.
This little Arts District hole-in-the-wall (in all honesty, it’s more of a take-out window) is slaying the soul food game. The battered-then-fried chicken wings are insanely tasty, especially when served with obligatory sides of mac & cheese, collard greens, and cornbread. The seating amounts to a few tables in a back parking lot, but who cares about ambience when you’re consuming impossibly savory and crunchy fried food? Oh, and if you’re looking for some late-night eats, Comfort L.A. is open until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays.
Mélisse chef Josiah Citrin is behind this casual Venice eatery that focuses on modern comfort food. Inspired by backyard barbecues, Charcoal grills all its meat over open-flames -- either over charcoal or in the coals. The menu is split between hearty steaks and family-style vegetable dishes, plus a few tartare variations.
The second location of Chef Kris Yenbamroong's Night + Market, the cool and casual Song (which means two) continues the original restaurant's ode to Thai street food. The Silverlake spot serves all of Yenbamroong's cult classics, like the sweet and salty party wings, plus a revolving door of dishes exclusive to the location. The far-from-ordinary Northern Thai plates certainly aren't the Americanized cuisine you're used to in LA, so trust your gut and order whatever looks good. FYI: the fried chicken sandwich is a lunchtime hit.
Look, if nobody else is gonna say it, we will: Wingstop is amazing. Not to be confused with Pizza Hut creation WingStreet, this chicken chain specializes in perfectly crispy and juicy wings. The menu is simple: first you choose the number of wings you want then the flavor (atomic, mango habanero, cajun, Louisiana rub, the list goes on and on). Get a few sides and dips, then take your order to go and eat them as messily as you can.
Anyone who's eaten at Pok Pok in Portland or New York knows how lucky we are that Andy Ricker's insanely popular Thai restaurant made its way to LA. The bi-level Chinatown spot is spacious and casual, and includes a bar and outdoor seating plus plenty of festive tablecloths. The family-style menu is an eclectic display of Ricker's Northern Thai expertise, and you can expect plenty of fried meat dishes and spicy salads. Be sure to order the signature fish sauce wings -- they're based on a recipe from a Pok Pok Portland employee's home in Vietnam.
This Silverlake bar-arcade-restaurant nails it three ways with food, drink, and games. The Asian-leaning menu, crafted by the critically acclaimed Starry Kitchen duo, features double-fried chicken wings, rice and noodles dishes, and veggie small plates. The throwback games include Donkey Kong, pinball, and the old-school like.
Hidden in the back of a K-Town parking lot is this graffiti-covered beer bar-slash-restaurant. Beer Belly's self-described speciality is craft beer and crafty food, and the menu lives up to its eclectic promise. The excellent selection of local craft beers changes daily, and the food is bar bites-meets-county fair -- think double bacon mac & cheese, pork cheek chili cheese fries, and deep-fried Oreos. The Jidori hot wings are a power-packed delight if you're in the market for some of LA's best chicken wings (who isn't?). As for seating, there are plenty of tables inside but the outdoor beer garden is where it's at.
This no-frills mini-chain on Melrose serves up a wing-centric menu and plenty of sandwiches. Though crispy Buffalo-style wings are the obvious specialty, Hot Wings also doles out Philly cheesesteaks, gut-bomb deli sandwiches, and burgers. The bare bones space keeps things casual so you can, you know, concentrate on the blue-cheese hot wings waiting to be inhaled.
After winning The Great Food Truck Race, the dudes behind The Lime Truck opened up this brick-and-mortar counter-serve in Westwood (they also have another location in Irvine). They're still serving their vaguely Mexican menu of sandwiches, tacos, and fried food, and everything tastes wonderfully satisfying. On the weekend, the menu takes a turn for bottomless mimosa brunch with breakfast versions of tacos, quesadillas, burritos, and nachos.
This Korean mini chain specializes in fried chicken like you've never tasted before. The simple numbered menu features a fried whole chicken, rice bowls, and salad (both topped with chicken, of course), but you're really there for the mind-blowing wings, all of which are double-fried in canola oil. You should definitely get an order of the feverishly hot, signature soy garlic wings, but you'll also want an order of the extra-brittle sweet honey ones for full wing exposure. The basic strip mall outpost on W 6th Street is open until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays.
The phrase "no frills" was invented for this unassuming cafe in Hollywood. The sit-down diner-like spot serves up wings galore, as well as hamburgers and good ol' American sandwiches (tuna melts, Philly cheesesteaks, buffalo chicken). The wings come in 5,10, and 14 piece servings, but are also available in 50 and 75 piece platters. There are more than 10 sauces to choose from, including honey BBQ, garlic parmesan, and sweet and spicy.