When you think about a great chicken wing, you imagine one that’s juicy, full of flavor, and has the perfect amount of crunch when you take a bite. Maybe the wing is so well-seasoned, there’s no need for anything else. But sometimes it’s paired with a sauce that’s so good it will make you want to flip the tables over.
Whatever kind of wing you’re in the mood for, you’ll find it on this list. From Korean lollipop wings to crunchy jumbo wings doused in mild sauce, here are 14 of our favorites around the city.
You can’t have a “best chicken wing” list without Crisp. They are known for their Korean jumbo wings, and they are good. Located in Northhalsted (formally Boystown), Crisp is always busy. They have four flavors to choose from, and, because they’re all great, the decision is hard. That said, I always pick the sweet, Seoul Sassy sauce. Now say that 5 times fast.
As its name suggests, this tasty wing joint is located in Bronzeville. Bronzeville Wingz provides the neighborhood with crispy, flavorful wings tossed in unique and delicious sauces - like gold butter BBQ, Ginger BBQ, and our personal favorite, strawberry BBQ. It’s fruity with a little bit of heat and complements the savory chicken perfectly.
This Chinese restaurant has an extensive food menu, but they’re best known for their lollipop wings. And for good reason - they’re incredible, and what you should be getting every time you come here. Based on your heat preference, you can choose regular, extra, or no heat. But there are no wrong choices - whatever spice level you choose you can count on flavor that will explode in your mouth.
Chicago does not play when it comes to jerk chicken. We have so many great spots that if a restaurant wants to compete, the chicken must be grilled to perfection, and have the right amount of spice. Soule’s jerk chicken wings pass every test. This soul food restaurant in West Town serves Creole-inspired recipes that were passed down to the chef from her mother, and thankfully, now the delicious food is passed down to us. It’s also worth noting that this spot is BYOB.
Come to Jake Melnick’s in River North for the wings, and stay... to eat more wings. They’re crispy and plump, with flavors like firecracker, Buffalo, and whiskey BBQ - which is made with whiskey and bacon. So, no explanation needed for why that last one happens to be my favorite.
Named for the chef’s grandmother, Cleo’s brings a Creole flair to Bronzeville. And this Southern restaurant has some of the best chicken wings in Chicago. Order the “sauced six” - a six-piece wing dinner that comes with three incredible sauces (mango habanero, sweet red chili, and spiced bourbon), two sides, and one of their famous gold corn muffins. You can also get the wings a la carte, but trust me, you shouldn’t. I do know the muffin man, and he is hanging out at Cleo’s.
I was floored after trying the wings at Output in West Town. I was expecting the typical, slightly boring wings you normally find at sports bars. Instead, every flavor was a knockout. In particular the savory lemon pepper, and the roasted garlic BBQ. They’re so flavorful that extra dipping sauces are unnecessary. In fact, don’t even finish reading this guide, get up and go there now. Just step over me when you get there.
Bird’s Nest In Lakeview is another bar with sleeper-hit chicken wings. Each wing is meaty and juicy, and has wonderfully crunchy bits. Order them with the Birds Nest hot sauce (which is perfectly peppery), and you have a perfect drinking snack.
Landbirds is a small, counter-service spot in Logan Square specializing in Korean lollipop wings. Each wing is meaty, and a perfect combination of spicy and sweet. There are four levels of heat to choose from: mild, medium, tiger, and spicy tiger. This restaurant is BYOB, but keep in mind, dine-in space is limited.
Ms. T’s in Lakeview has some of the tastiest, full-flavored chicken that I’ve ever eaten. It’s crunchy, savory, and delicious on its own, but adding the incredible mild sauce takes it to another level. Right now they’re only open for takeout and delivery, and you must order online.
Founded by Harold Pierce in 1950, Harold’s is one of the most famous fried chicken chains in Chicago. And with a crispy, beautiful brown coating drizzled with their famous mild sauce, Harold’s wings are a Chicago staple. Even Chance the Rapper had a Harold’s-themed cake for his birthday, and dropped a line about it in his song, “Everything’s Good.” While people have their “favorite” Harold’s to rave about (and their least favorite to complain about), there are enough locations around the city you can easily find a Harold’s to call your own.
This business has blessed the homes of Chicagoans with great smells and delicious food since 1963. Historically in competition with Harold’s, Uncle Remus has its own unique style. The chicken is double-coated with their seasoned batter, deep-fried to crunchy perfection, and then dressed with their sweet and tangy mild sauce.
The wings at Woodies are air-dried, slow-smoked, and double-fried. That careful preparation makes them very tasty, but it’s their long list of delicious sauces that earns them a place on this list. You’ll find flavors like cheesy garlic, Nashville hot, Chimichurri, or Korean BBQ, and you can order them regular, grilled, or boneless. They are open for takeout, and outdoor or indoor dining.
Fifty/50 in Wicker Park is a fun bar with great food. The large space has three floors, two bars, and plenty of TVs. You can order their jumbo wings fried or applewood-smoked, and dressed in either spicy garlic, BBQ, honey orange teriyaki, or (our favorite) Buffalo. Four types of peppers are roasted for three months to make the perfect hot sauce, and it’s delicious.
JJ Fish & Chicken
This staple has been around since 1982. The wings are tender, juicy, and fried a perfect golden brown every time. I’m so thankful that the recipe has never changed, and whenever I get a craving for JJs, I just head on over and grab a “10piecewingwithsaltpepperlemonpeppermildsauce.” Yes, you have to order it just like that.