photo credit: Kim Kovacik
The Best Chicken Wings In Chicago
From Korean lollipop chicken to crunchy jumbo wings doused in mild sauce, here are 20 of the best chicken wings in Chicago.
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 20 of our favorites around the city.
This small counter-service spot in Uptown is at the center of a venn diagram that you didn’t know existed: old-timey gangsters and chicken wings. And while we’re not entirely sure what Sopranos posters and pictures of Al Capone have to do with chicken wings, Badabing has some great ones. They’re marinated overnight in savory spices, ensuring that they’re loaded with flavor even without sauce. But despite already being embedded with flavor, you should still order these wings slathered in one of their 14 delicious sauces, like standard buffalo, garlic parmesan, or their signature sweet and spicy Al Capone sauce.
Great Sea Chinese Restaurant
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.
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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.
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, we always pick the sweet, Seoul Sassy sauce. Now say that 5 times fast.
Oiistar is one of the best ramen spots in Chicago. But divert your ramen-hungry eyes from the noodles and broth on the menu and order their fried garlic sambal chicken. These jumbo wings have a fantastic breading that’s so crispy, each bite can be heard over all the noodle slurping happening at this busy spot. Plus, it’s topped with a spicy, umami-packed sauce and almond pieces that add a hint of nuttiness.
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.
photo credit: Kim Kovacik
Khmai Cambodian Fine Dining
Khmai is a fantastic Cambodian restaurant in Rogers Park. The rotating menu is full of stews, grilled meats, and rice dishes, but one of their must-orders is their slab morn ang. These wings are not only juicy and tender, but they also come with a fantastic tamarind sauce that has an incredible balance of sweet and tart. We wish the sauce had a bottomless option, but at least you can ask for some extra on the side for dipping.
Jake Melnick's Corner Tap
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 our favorite.
This Belmont Cragin counter-service spot has an eclectic menu with everything from burgers to pasta, but the wings are why we come here. Each one is juicy and crispy, and a perfect blank canvas for sauces like classic BBQ or the Belmont Cragin—a zesty garlic buffalo sauce with just enough kick. But our favorite one is pineapple express. It has a great fruity sweetness while still having enough heat for spice lovers courtesy of some habanero.
Harold's Chicken Shack
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.
If our experience snacking on Nine Bar’s mapo waffle fries and pork katsu sandwich has taught us anything, it’s that this speakeasy in Chinatown could give a Masterclass in how to fry things. Their General Jones wings are no exception. These come out piping hot, extra crispy, and with plenty of tender meat. And despite having a generous coating of a great tangy, sweet, and spicy sauce, these wings never get soggy.
The Cholula honey wings from Mother’s Ruin in Avondale are the ideal marriage of sweet and spicy. And not only are they so tender that the meat effortlessly comes off the bone, but it takes even less effort to finish an entire order. These aren’t too spicy, but if you want to cool things down, we recommend getting one of their refreshing slushy cocktails.
This sit-down restaurant in Logan Square comes from the same team behind Mott St. and has a similar menu full of great Asian-inspired food. And one of the highlights at Second Generation is their everything wings. As the name suggests, these fried wings get a generous sprinkling of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, fried shallots, and even some red chilis for a little extra spice. This multi-textured edible confetti sticks perfectly to the sweet and savory soy glaze, and the wings get an added layer of flavor when you dip them into their tzatziki sauce.
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.
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 us, you shouldn’t. We do know the muffin man, and he is hanging out at Cleo’s.
We were floored after trying the wings at Output in West Town. We expected 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.
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.
This staple has been around since 1982. The wings are tender, juicy, and fried a perfect golden brown every time. The recipe has never changed, so whenever you get a craving for JJs, just head on over and grab a “10piecewingwithsaltpepperlemonpeppermildsauce.” Yes, you have to order it just like that.