ATXGuide

The Best Chicken Wings In Austin

15 great spots to get some chicken wings around town.

For many people, chicken wings are associated with bar snacks and football games. But to us, they’re weekday evenings, date nights, picnics, and maybe even a quick breakfast in a pinch. They’re small and portable, great for just about any event, and they can make you feel like a giant eating a tiny drumstick.

Fortunately, Austin is home to a wide range of flavors and styles—from hot, Korean-fried wings to smoked barbecue—that it’s difficult to ever tire of them. We can’t give you wings—this isn’t a Red Bull commercial—but we can definitely tell you where to find them. Here are 15 great spots for chicken wings in Austin.


The Spots

Most people probably know Delray Cafe as “that little food truck outside of Nickel City,” and while it’s technically correct, it’s really not giving enough credit to the folks slinging some of our favorite sliders and wings in town. The wing menu only leaves you with a few options—buffalo mild, buffalo hot, barbecue, and lemon pepper—but our not-very-scientific poll of five friends told us that roughly four out of five people would have ordered one of those flavors anyway. Wings here are sold by the pound. If, like us, you’re not much of a chicken mathematician, that’s about six wings per pound. At Delray, they’re not trying to do anything fancy. Just simple wings, done well.


photo credit: Raphael Brion

Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew imageoverride image
8.5

Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew

$$$$(512) 380-9199
Hours:TUESDAY11:00AM to 9:00PM

The oak-smoked wings at the barbecue spot Stiles Switch are flash-fried and then tossed in one of their sauces—either Alabama white, buffalo, or honey barbecue. These used to only be a special available on Sundays—to go with pro football games. And that’s exactly what they’re aiming to be: classic sports bar-style wings, with the requisite ranch for dipping and some celery sticks for good measure. Lucky for you though, because these wings are now available six days a week.


Gossip Shack has a few locations across the Austin area—in the Mueller area, near the Domain, and in Pflugerville—making it super easy to get some of their excellent wings. The wings here are perfectly crispy on the outside, and juicy on the inside, but the real reason we keep coming back here is for the flavors. They have pretty much all of your standard wing offerings—like lemon pepper, garlic parmesan, and jalapeno ranch—as well as a full menu of signature flavors. Our favorite is the CPR—a dry rub made up of Cajun, parmesan, and ranch seasonings that manages to hit just about every point on the flavor spectrum all at once.


Tucked in a strip mall next to the Hancock H-E-B, Wingzup looks kind of like a generic sports bar from the outside. Finding wings here isn’t much of a surprise, but finding out how well they do them sure is. The sauce and dry rub menu reminded us a bit of Austin wing mini-chain Pluckers—with similar flavors displayed on a color-coded, sliding scale of spice. But the wings here come in six different styles—original, grilled, smoked, golden (marinated then fried), country (battered then fried), and boneless (if you even consider those wings). We usually go with the original, grilled, or smoked, but you can mix and match styles and flavors for just a few extra dollars.


The chicken wings at the Korean restaurant Charm are some of the best we’ve ever had, the battered and fried kind that results in a craggly and shatteringly crispy coating, even when it’s dressed in a sauce. Speaking of sauces, there’s a variety of them, but our favorite was the sweet and spicy yangnyeom sauce.


The Rolling Rooster makes some of the best chicken and waffles in town, and the chicken wings here are just as good. There are the hot wings that come in a variety of classic flavors—like garlic parm, lemon pepper, and buffalo. We’re fans of the wings with waffles, because it somehow makes us feel like we’re eating a more balanced meal. Whatever choice you make, you’ll be met with some perfectly-fried wings, and some incredibly juicy chicken. They currently have two locations in Austin - one on the East Side, and the other near MoPac and Wells Branch Parkway.


Hi Wings makes some of the best, intensely-crispy, Korean fried chicken wings in town. The menu here is, as you could probably guess, all about chicken. You can get whole chickens, thighs, drumsticks, tenders, and, of course, wings. The wings here come naked or battered, but you’re definitely going to want to try the latter here if you’re going for ultra-crispy. Our favorites are the honey garlic parmesan and the sweet-and-spicy, but there’s over a dozen sauces and dry rubs to choose from.


Green Mesquite has been around since the late ‘80s, so it’s fair to say they’ve had some time to figure things out. The focus here is barbecue—something they do very well—but you’re not reading a barbecue guide right now. Here the wings are smoked, and tossed in a tangy barbecue sauce, with just enough heat to make it a little fun. And the smoke flavor really makes it all the way through the wings. There are three  locations: the original off Barton Springs, one in the Southpark Meadows shopping center, and one in San Marcos.


photo credit: Nicolai McCrary

Chi'Lantro review image

Chi'lantro

$$$$

Chi’Lantro is probably best-known for their kimchi fries that catapulted them to popularity when they first opened their food truck back in 2010, but now there are multiple locations across the city, so you’re never too far from their Korean-Mexican fusion food. That includes their Korean fried chicken wings that are double-fried for a little extra crispiness, then doused in a sweet-and-spicy “Gangnam sauce” and topped with sesame seeds. They’ve only got one flavor, but when it hits all the right notes, why bother with more?


The wings at Hold Out Brewing are brined and fried, then tossed in “tatanka sauce” which is basically their house buffalo. And if you have a favorite in the ranch vs bleu cheese debate, Hold Out’s miso ranch would like to submit itself for consideration.


The chicken wings at CM Smokehouse  spend some time on the smoker, followed by a quick dip in the fryer before getting tossed in one of their sauces (we like the white barbecue sauce), resulting in some large wings that are really tender with a crispy outside. And if chicken wings aren’t really your thing (first off, why are you reading this?), they’ve also got smoked cauliflower and baby back rib “wings.”


Sazan is primarily a ramen restaurant, but you’d be doing yourself a great disservice if you didn’t also order their “indomitable” chicken wings. The wings are fried and then seasoned with a salty, spicy, and umami-laden curry rub—with the crispy skin reminiscent of a Dorito. We wish there were  indomitable wing-flavored Doritos, but we’ll just stick with the wings, for now.


In a lot of ways, The Cavalier is the perfect neighborhood pub, with plenty of parking, cheap drinks, and, perhaps most importantly, excellent wings. The wings at Cavalier are some of the biggest we’ve encountered—we asked if they came from a turkey, but they said no— and with some fun sauces like Twisted Tea BBQ and Jamaican Jerk, you can keep coming back to work your way through them all. We usually end up with the Korean BBQ—they’re sweet and sticky in all the right ways, with nice crispy edges that make them almost fun to eat.


Umami-rich and spicy, the chicken wings at the Laotian food truck SXSE are some of our favorites in town. First they’re marinated in fish sauce, dried lemongrass, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Then they’re fried naked until crispy, dressed in an absolutely delicious caramel fish sauce, and then topped with fried garlic and chili flakes. The caramel fish sauce is so good you’ll probably want to a little bottle of it to walk around with.


There’s a good chance you’re already familiar with the wings at the Tavern. Their signature “white wings” are of the boneless variety—bacon wrapped and jalapeno stuffed—but this isn’t a boneless wing guide (so we can only say unofficially that these should be part of your order as well). Fortunately their classic wings are just as good—juicy on the inside with a crispy, almost-charred exterior tossed in everything from lemon pepper to ghost pepper. They’ve also got over 30 TVs inside, making this a great spot to come and watch some sports to accompany your wings.


The wings at Tommy Want Wingy have developed an almost cult-like following in Austin, with people clamoring for their distinct, frenched chicken wings. There’s no debate about flats vs drums here—all the wings start as a drumette before being cleaned into a lollipop-like shape with a little bone handle. It makes them easy to eat, which probably comes in handy when you’ve got the munchies after a long night out. There are two locations: one at Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden, the other at Rainey St.


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