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 such 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 12 great spots for chicken wings in Austin.
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 - with an already-limited selection of flavors during normal times - is even more pared-down now, with just buffalo mild, buffalo hot, and Franklin Barbecue. 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. They’re located on East 11th St, near I-35.
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.
The oak-smoked wings at the barbecue spot Stiles Switch in Brentwood 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.
Wingzup looks kind of like a generic sports bar from the outside. It’s tucked away in a strip mall next to the Hancock H-E-B, and there are more TVs than you can count lining the walls. Finding wings at a sports bar isn’t much of a surprise. The only surprise is just how well they do them. 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 dining room at the Korean restaurant Charm BBQ Chicken in north Austin is closed at the moment - so they’re not doing barbecue and instead sticking to takeout of classics like bulgogi, bibimbap, and fried chicken. The chicken wings 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. They’ll even sell you plastic deli containers full of draft beer.
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 - or you can get plain fried wings with waffles. 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. They’re located near West Anderson and Burnet.
Green Mesquite BBQ
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. They currently have two locations in Austin - the original off Barton Springs, and a second in the Southpark Meadows shopping center.
Chi’Lantro is probably best-known for their kimchi fries that kicked them to stardom when they first opened their food truck back in 2010. Now, they’ve got 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?
Hold Out Brewing opened during the pandemic but has already started drawing attention for their excellent burger and their fried fish sandwich. And the streak only continues, because they also make some of our favorite wings in town. The wings here 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. They’re located in Clarksville, next to sister restaurant, Better Half.
Tommy Want Wingy
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, given their original Rainey St location. They’ve since expanded, now with a second location at Cosmic Coffee near 290 and South Congress.
The north Lamar restaurant SeoulJu Korean Kitchen & Bar and their cloud kitchen sibling at Kitchen United are serving some great fried chicken wings. Since they’re battered and fried twice, they come crispy, and there are sauces like buffalo, habanero, and garlic-parmesan, as well as a spicy garlic fish sauce that’s served on the side for dipping.