Chicken wings are messy but so good — the perfect finger food. The only problem: it might be difficult to focus on the game when you’re trying to decide which dipping sauce to choose from.
Sports fans have long sought out the chicken wing as the consummate bar food while watching the Patriots or the Red Sox or whichever team is on the giant plasma television at your local bar. Thanks to Hippo readers, wing fans now have a guide to the best wings in New Hampshire.
Thirty years ago, chicken wings were basically throwaway items and generally the cheapest part of the chicken, said Kevin Cornish, owner of KC’s Rib Shack in Manchester. That’s certainly changed. Today, people are serious about wings.
“It’s just an awesome snack,” Cornish said. “I mean, how can you not like chicken wings?”
So order a draft and a basket of wings, and a whole lot of napkins — it’s game time.
1. Billy's Sports Bar & Grill 34 Tarrytown Road, Manchester, 622-3644, billyssportsbar.com
The wings are jumbo-sized at Billy’s. They’re juicy and they’re plump. “You can get them anyway you want them,” said owner Billy LaBerge. The wings are fresh and the cooks at Billy’s might take a little longer preparing your wings, but it’s worth it, LaBerge said. Have them as buffalo wings, honey barbecue, plain or with Jamaican jerk seasoning. Another favorite is the double dip, which was actually discovered by accident: the wings are cooked, then hit with buffalo sauce, and sent back to the fryolater. “The sauce just goes right into the meat,” LaBerge said.
2. KC's Rib Shack 837 Second St., Manchester, 627-7427, ribshack.net
If you’ve got room for an appetizer, the wings are a big draw at KC’s. Wings are fried to order and tossed with whatever sauce people want, including barbecue, honey barbecue, buffalo and Jamaican jerk. “Jerk wings are definitely our best seller,” said owner Kevin Cornish. The jerk wings feature an interesting mix of spices: “It’s just more flavors than you could possibly imagine going in a million different directions,” Cornish said. Cornish recently added a couple new flavors, including a spicy Caribbean wing, and peanut butter and jelly wings — that’s right. “Once they try them, there’s just a little heat and then the salty peanut butter and you’ve still got the grape jelly for sweetness,” Cornish said. “That’s definitely a good wing.” KC’s also offers 357 wings, which are incredibly hot (weapons of ass destruction, Cornish said) and which waitresses try to talk patrons out of ordering. People actually have to sign a waiver before being served. Still, they are popular. “I nearly killed myself coming up with the recipe,” Cornish said. “I don’t know why anyone would order these things.”
3. Tandy's Top Shelf 1 Eagle Square, Concord, 856-7614
It’s pretty simple at Tandy’s: “We use the largest chicken wings we can find,” said chef Dave Angus. “It’s a good, quality, jumbo wing.” But, Angus said, the most enticing part is the 14 flavors people can choose from, including buffalo, lemon pepper, barbecue, honey mustard, maple bacon, teriyaki, chipotle lime, sweet chili and sweet and sour. “We go through a lot of wings,” Angus said. Tandy’s also features a super hot option. “A lot of people like to torture themselves, and I’m happy to accommodate them,” Angus said. Patrons can pick a dipping sauce. Angus said people like to mix and match.
4. 603 Sports Bar & Lounge 14 W. Hollis St., Nashua, 821-5260
Your taste buds will probably be watering as you consider the 17 flavors of wings the 603 Lounge offers. Wings are deep fried to order and tossed with whatever sauce patrons want. Traditional flavors, like barbecue or buffalo sauce, are tempting, as are cajun, garlic parmesan and teriyaki. “They are very popular,” said co-owner Kevin Stevens. Stevens should know; he’s the one making the wings. He estimated he goes through 200 to 250 pounds of wings each Sunday.
5. The Pasta Loft Restaurant 241 Union Square, Milford, 672-2270, pastaloft.com
On Sundays, with wings costing 50 cents apiece, the Pasta Loft goes through about 400 pounds of wings, which breaks down to about 3,500 to 4,000 wings in the one day, said owner Terry Connor. Hearing how the wings are prepared, it seems to make sense: wings are deep fried and then sauteed in a special house buffalo sauce. “They’re big, plump, meaty wings,” Connor said, adding patrons can get boneless wings as well. “It’s the best deal in town,” Connor said.
6. Cactus Jack’s of Manchester 782 S. Willow St., Manchester, 627-8600, go2cjs.com
Patrons have long enjoyed the food at Cactus Jack’s and T-Bones, which are managed by the Great NH Restaurants, and the wings are a fan favorite. Choose your sauce wisely at Cactus Jack’s: tangy buffalo, chipotle barbecue, maple citrus, tiki style or Jamaican jerk.
7. The Farm Bar & Grille 1181 Elm St., Manchester, 641-3276, farmbargrille.com
The Farm’s oversized wings are a big-time pleaser. Picking a sauce could be a problem though. Patrons have so many choices. It’s a good thing The Farm let’s people mix and match. Maybe you can’t decide if you want to try sweet chile or homemade barbecue. “We’ll let you split an order,” said assistant chef Mike Lemelin. “We can toss them in anything. The flavor is definitely there.” People gravitate to the traditional buffalo, while some are tempted by the Atomic sauce, which is extra spicy. “We aim to please,” Lemelin said.
8. Boondock's Tavern and Country Grill 487 S. Stark Highway, Weare, 529-0901, boondockstavernnh.com
John Ramsey, the general manager at Boondock’s, prefers wings without breading. That way, the wings get extra crispy when they’re fried up, he said. Well, that’s how patrons enjoy the wings at Boondock’s. Of course, the wings are slathered in the sauce of your choice. A fan favorite and Boondock’s signature wing is the triple play. Wings are deep-fried, coated in a combination of sweet and tangy, spicy and barbecue sauces, then grilled and topped with fresh garlic. “People travel [here] for that,” Ramsey said.
9. T-Bones of Bedford 25 S. River Road, Bedford, 641-6100, t-bones.com
Customers flock to T-Bones for its tasty offerings, including the wings. Choose your sauce: tangy buffalo, chipotle barbecue, maple citrus, tiki style or Jamaican jerk.
10. Ignite Bar & Grille 100 Hanover St., Manchester, 644-0064, ignitebng.com
How do wings coated in garlic, lemon, pepper, and cajun seasoning sound? The Bayou wings are extremely popular at Ignite, said head chef Shawn Wilson. “They are phenomenal,” Wilson said. Aside from the Bayou wings, patrons can order wings however they want. Wilson said customers appreciate the sizable order of a dozen wings, too.