Second only to “where’s the best BBQ in Memphis?” is the debate over which of the city’s chicken wings reign supreme. With the combination of wing joints and sauce options near infinitum, it’s a hard question to answer, but here are the eight best places to start your own personal poultry quest.
Mosa is known for its delicious Chinese and Thai food, but some of the best wings in the city can also be found on the menu. The Rainbow Wings feature a Panang Curry dipping sauce that includes fresh lime, lemongrass, and panang curry. The curry is sweet, spicy, and tangy all at once. You CAN taste the rainbow. The sauce is served on the side so the wings stay nice and crisp, so what you do with the extra is up to you.
Ellwood’s specializes in smoked meats, and they have a serious fan base thanks to their BBQ, fish tacos, pizzas, hot dogs, sandwiches, and jerk wings. The whole wings are marinated for 24 hours in thyme, garlic, habanero, allspice and oregano. Then they're seasoned with sea salt, paprika, black pepper, white pepper, sugar, and chili powder, and smoked for 3 hours at 225 on pecan logs. Oh, and Ellwood’s is the only place where you can have your wings with a giant slice of pineapple.
Honey gold is the most popular flavor at Ching’s, but it's hard to pass up the challenge of the “suicide” option. Ching's also has its own special seasoning, found on the seasoned wings and French fries, and while the ingredients that are top secret, there are hints of curry, salt, and parsley. Other unique touches are the option to order a small croissant rather than a roll, the marinated carrots and celery that come on the side, and the Orange Mound Punch or G Street Punch -- fruit drinks amped up with extra sugar that form a perfectly sweet counterbalance to the salty wings.
Midtown & Downtown
It kind of makes sense that one of our best BBQ joints would also have some of the best wings. Central’s wings have a nice, smoky taste, and the meat easily falls off the bone. Raw wings are marinated in Louisiana hot sauce for one to two days before being smoked, chilled, and flash fried up to temp. The last step is to season them (wet, naked, jerked, dry spice, honey gold, or sweet heat). Some customers like to order the wings “muddy,” which means they come with a wet sauce and a dry rub. Those customers are friggin' smart.
Known for its super friendly staff and amazing chicken, Uncle Lou’s is definitely worth the drive. The sweet and spicy love sauce -- hot or mild -- is a perfect balance of flavor. There’s no fire to put out, so you can keep on eating wing after wing and it is great for dipping fries in. Don’t forget to add a honey-dipped biscuit to your order!
At Best Wings they certainly aim to please, letting customers choose to have their giant whole wings bathed in a number of sauces -- hot, mild, seasoned mild, honey-glazed, honey-glazed mild, barbecue, honey barbecue, lemon pepper, and regular salt and pepper. While mild sauce is the best seller, there are fans of every sauce. Those in the know recommend ordering half lemon pepper and half honey-glazed for the absolute perfect combination of sweet and spicy.
Oshi specializes in burgers and hot dogs, but the Rajun Asian Wings are a must try for wing lovers. Sesame seeds, nuts, and sprinkle of cilantro dress them up nicely. The feta mint dressing is a nice departure from the standard ranch or blue cheese, and serves as the perfect coolant.
The secret to these no-mess, no-burn wings is the perfect balance between Frank’s RedHot sauce and butter. Slider’s wings also are separated so they're easier to eat. The wings are fried, not battered, and then sauced. The simple, classic style is a winner, and sure to satisfy the strongest of wing cravings. Their motto is, “If you are going to get sticky fingers, we want you to get them sticky at Slider Inn.”
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1. Mosa Asian Bistro850 S White Station Rd, Memphis
2. Elwood's Shack4523 Summer Ave, Memphis
3. Ching's1264 Getwell Rd, Memphis
4. Central BBQ2249 Central Ave, Memphis
5. Uncle Lou's Fried Chicken3633 Millbranch Rd, Memphis
6. Best Wings of Memphis3995 Elvis Presley Blvd, Memphis
7. Oshi Burger Bar94 S Main St, Memphis
8. Slider Inn2117 Peabody Ave, Memphis
Memphis has a lot of affordable hot wing options, no doubt, but there's only one place for Rainbow Wings. They feature a panang curry, fresh lime, and lemongrass dipping sauce, which is a total game changer. The curry is sweet, spicy, and tangy all at once, and the wings are perfectly crispy.
Memphis is primarily a pork town, while brisket is generally more of a Texas thing. But you can find some good brisket in Memphis at Elwood's Shack. To take it to the next level get it served on a taco. You'll probably wonder why one taco costs $8 until you see the thing -- containing enough smoky meat for a jumbo sandwich covered with avocado, pico de gallo, fresh greens and sour cream all piled on top of a layer of melted cheese inside a crisped flour tortilla.
Honey gold is the most popular flavor at Ching’s but it is hard to pass up the challenge of the “suicide” option. Ching's also has its own special seasoning, found on the seasoned wings and French fries, with ingredients that are top secret, but there are hints of curry, salt, and parsley. Other unique touches are the option to order a small croissant rather than a roll, the marinated carrots and celery that come on the side, and the Orange Mound Punch or G Street Punch - fruit drinks are amped up with extra sugar, a perfectly sweet counterbalance to the salty wings.
You have to feel sorry for people who don't live in Memphis and can't simultaneously get their BBQ- and-nacho fix. Now standard on many menus, Central's nachos (along with its other BBQ dishes) are the best and biggest. The nachos are simple, but delicious. There's processed cheese topped with tangy BBQ sauce, perfectly smoked barbecue, and pickled jalapenos if you so choose. Pro tip: Central's house-made BBQ chips can be substituted for the standard-issue tortilla chips.
A man named Lou Martin opened the doors to Uncle Lou's Fried Chicken in 2001 to share his carefully honed family recipe for fried chicken, wings, and biscuits with Memphis, and the rest is history. Order your chicken fried with Sweet Spicy Love sauce or homestyle (which means very hot), then wash it all down with a 44oz "bucket" of Kool-Aid.
At Best Wings they certainly aim to please, letting customers choose to have their giant whole wings bathed in a number of sauces-- hot, mild, seasoned mild, honey-glazed, honey-glazed mild, barbecue, honey barbecue, lemon pepper, and regular salt and pepper. While mild sauce is the best seller, there are fans of every sauce. Those in the know recommend ordering half lemon pepper and half honey-glazed for the absolute perfect combination of sweet and spicy.
This is an upscale Asian-inspired burger diner and its Fathers Office burger is just one of several sophisticated, burger purist-angering options: a proper hand-formed Texas patty of black Angus beef, grilled to medium and topped with bacon, funky blue cheese, tangy onion jam, peppery arugula leaves, and a smear of earthy truffle aioli.
Memphians love patios almost as much as the beer they drink on them, and lucky for the Slider Inn in Midtown, it has both amenities in abundance. In addition to its daily specials, this neighborhood bar specializing in tiny burgers has a three-buck pint night on Tuesdays. With a kitchen open until 2am and a bar until 3am, it's the perfect end to a perfect evening. Bonus: it is apparently home to the "only Lobster Roll in the midsouth."