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(01/27/09)

These Are A Few of My Favorite Wings (2009)

The Super Bowl is still a full five days away, but it's never too early to start thinking about the number one football food: wings. Here's a list of my dozen favorite wings available at barbecue joints in Boston, New York and everywhere in between. There's a good variety of styles and cooking methods represented here, but to make the main list, the wings need to be smoked. As with all lists, I'm only calling these my favorites, nothing more. What's "best" is up to you.

 

1. RUB, NYC
These wings have it all going on: smoked, then deep fried, then tossed in an exotic, pungent sauce that hints of Asian and Buffalo but lets the smoke do the talking. The wings are one of the few things you can get at RUB delivered to the table with sauce already applied, and it works. www.rubbbq.com

 

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2. Hill Country, NYC
Usually available only on weekends, Hill Country's wings are everything you want in an unsauced wing: a sweet smoky impartment from post oak, liberal use of rub (different from what gets used on the other meats), crisp skin and tender, addictively flavorful meat. This is such a close second that I should call them 1a. www.hillcountryny.com

 

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3. Big Bubba's BBQ, Uncasville CT
These good-sized wings are tough to describe, because I think I ordered them unsauced each time I had them. There's no doubting that they're smoked, and the rub gets more than equal billing here. www.bigbubbasbbq.com

 

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4. Chili Head BBQ, W. Bridgewater MA
The largest wing I have ever hoisted is smoked for 8 hours, lightly fried and tossed in one of several sauce options: "Buffalo" (a thick, mildly spicy brown sauce that's not quite Buffalo, but good), "Diablo" (much, much hotter than you think) and some recently-added varieties such as honey mustard, teriaki, tequila and wasabi ginger. www.chiliheadbbq.com

 

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5. SoulFire, Allston MA
If you like your wings to pack just a little more sweet than heat, SoulFire's spicy honey wings are what you're looking for. These smoked-then-fried wings bear crispy skin and a perfect coating of tangy goodness. I don't order these as often as they warrant, because I'm so smitten with SoulFire's Southern fried wings that they're my defacto first course. www.soulfirebbq.com

 

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6. Firefly's, 3 suburban Boston locations
This is a smoked-then-grilled variety with a light honey-cayenne glaze. Their doneness, crispness and smoke level vary greatly, but the consistently good remoulade is the perfect base for additions from their wall of hot sauces. The chile-lime vinaigrette offered as a salad dressing is my top secret wing topping here. www.fireflysbbq.com

 

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7. Dinosaur, NYC
The wings here get almost as much mention as the 'cue itself. They're plump, smoked and available with one of several of Dinosaur's popular sauces. I recommend Wango Tango, which is a starting point from which to up the ante using their other hot sauces. These wings are good, but the lack of crispness here on two visits cost them a few places in the standings. www.dinosaurbarbque.com/nyc/index.html

 

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8. High Street Grill, N. Andover MA
A three-month-old newcomer to the BBQ scene, High Street introduced smoked wings only within the last few weeks, and the one plate I tried recently nailed the smoky flavor, nailed the crispy skin and didn't go too crazy with the sauce. This is yet another "Buffalo" option that's not really Buffalo, though the flavor was good and the butter was noticeable. www.25high.net

 

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9. Virgil's, NYC
The joint that gets no respect gets my respect for their wings, whose bulk smokiness and heat are all in play. The sauce also offers a light hit of citrus, which is intriguing at first but can overstay its welcome if you're having more than a couple. These are another example that would rank higher if the skin were crispier, but they're very good.
www.virgilsbbq.com

 

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10. Swingbelly's, Long Beach NY

Impressive girth, crispness and a very noticeable smokiness mark these wings, which are available sauced or with dry rub only. Either way, the smokiness and flavorful rub shine through. www.swingbellysbbq.com

 

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11. United BBQ, Providence RI
This two-month-old newcomer has fashioned a wing that's a separated-at-birth version of the SoulFire wing. It's smoked, fried and tossed in a sauce that supplies sweet first, heat second, while letting the subtle smoke peek through. www.unitedbbq.com

 

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12. Ruby's Famous BBQ Joint , East Meadow NY
Just one month old, Ruby's hasn't been around long enough to call itself famous, but the smoked wings here have an unusually high rub-to-meat ratio and are as tender as you'll ever find. Lack of crispness hurt this one too, but there's some potential here. www.rubysfamousbbqjoint.com

 

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Honorable mention:


East Coast Grill, Cambridge MA
Conceived several Hell Nights ago, the "Wings of Ass Destruction" are an on-again, off-again menu item that packs some serious heat along with serious flavor. If you're with a group, sharing a bunch of appetizers, make sure to try these last. You might not be able to taste the remaining appetizers otherwise. www.eastcoastgrill.net

Goody Cole's Smokehouse, Brentwood NH
Offered briefly last winter, Goody's wings were among the very best I've ever had, supplying a good balance of smoke, heat and other flavors that hold a summit at the ever-elusive crispy skin. I'm hoping they make a return appearance for the Super Bowl. www.goodycoles.com
 

Wildwood, NYC
Now these are fried, not smoked, but their dry rub version provides a nice taste sensation to balance the heaviness of the wing itself. I find these superior to the sauced choices. www.brguestrestaurants.com/restaurants/wildwood_bbq/index.php

Smoke Joint, Brooklyn NY
These are a nice workmanlike rendition that are well executed, with crisp skin and a tasty sweet sauce that has some pop. I'm not sure if they're smoked, but they're good. www.thesmokejoint.com

Uncle Pete's, Revere MA
These wings are fried and tossed in a sauce that's called "Buffalo" but is much closer to General Gau. They're sweeter than they are hot (though both elements are there) and they're always slightly crisp.  www.unclepetes.com

 

 

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