Football season is upon us once again, and nothing screams "sports" quite like chicken wings. (OK, and beer.) Like any food with a cult following of diehard fans, there are many different ideas about where the chicken wing might have originated.
Some say they are the creation of Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York, where owners Frank and Teressa Bellissimo were the first to deep fry frozen chicken wings, then toss them in a cayenne hot sauce before serving. Another claim suggests a man named John Young served breaded chicken wings in his special "mambo sauce" at his Buffalo restaurant, John Young's Wings n' Things, in the mid-'60s.
Whether they're breaded and fried, tossed in fat-laden sauce, or fired in a coal oven, eating chicken wings is the best way to watch the game. Here are our picks for the best wings in South Florida.
1. Wings Plus.
Many go by this name, but there's only one original. If you've been doing something for 30 years, chances are you're pretty good at it by now. Wings Plus in Fort Lauderdale has been since 1984, and it remains one of the best restaurants in Broward County for good chicken wings to this day. The family-owned spot only purchases the best fresh wings (fresh, never frozen) and fries them in a health-conscious blend of corn and canola oil. It's about as healthy as deep-frying can get. Although the staff here already prides itself on the base, the icing on the cake is the sauce. They offer standard variations of mild, medium, and hot, as well as special flavors like Thai chili, habanero hot, and hibachi. 87 W. Prospect Rd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-771-9877; wingsplusfortlauderdale.com.
2. Tarks of Dania Beach.
Courtesy of Tarks of Dania Beach
When it comes to serving the best of the best, longevity is key. This Dania Beach institution has been shucking seafood and frying wings for close to half a century. Meaty drums and flats can be ordered to whatever level of spice you can handle; "Terminator" will have you breaking into sweats. While you can't go wrong with the classic sauces, the garlic is where it's at. These crisp little morsels come coated in little specs of pungent cloves and a glistening glaze of sauce. No, you won't be sweating with these by the time you leave — but you'll probably smell kind of fresh. 1317 S. Federal Hwy., Dania Beach; 954-925-8275.
3. Bru's Room.
Despite multiple locations and a "chain" restaurant status, there's no denying: Bru's Room wings are pretty much as close to chicken wing nirvana as you're going to get in South Florida. Offered in a variety of flavors, these award-winning chicken legs get the accolades for a reason, they're impeccably fried and sauced to perfection. You can't go wrong with any selection, but we suggest simply grilled wings topped with fresh minced garlic for those who like to keep it simple. Of course, the hard-core wing eaters only say "yes" to the "triple threat," a heavenly combination of their three most popular sauces — barbecue, sweet 'n' tangy, and standard hot sauce — smothered over wings that are fried, grilled, then finished with a garnishing of that fresh-minced garlic. Multiple locations; brusroom.com.
4. Wings n' Things.
Courtesy of Wings N Things
One of South Florida's most beloved wing joints, this Pompano Beach establishment has the ultimate local following. A true dive, it's not garnering fans for its outward appearance; it just makes a damned good chicken wing, and that's what it's all about. Owner Eddie Hauck is a Buffalo native, and he's serious about his sauce. He doesn't use the same old hot sauce and butter blend you'll find at most South Florida spots. His is a unique blend of ingredients about as close as you can get to the real deal from the city of Buffalo itself — and you don't have to experience a polar vortex to try it out. Multiple locations. wingsnthingspompano.com.
5. Thirsty Turtle Seagrill.
Courtesy of Thirsty Turtle
After a long day at the beach, there's no better place to stop than this casual, neighborhood-type spot in a strip mall just steps from the sand and surf. Known for their seafood and sports bar-like atmosphere, the wings just so happen to be some of the best in the county. Here, you get them one way: well done. And there's only one type of sauce — a delectable house blend of honey, butter, garlic, and spices — but you can order them in hot, medium, and mild, depending on personal preference. So grab a seat indoors or out, shoot a few rounds of pool, pound back a few beers, and have some finger-licking good wings while you're at it. 13981 U.S. Hwy. 1, Juno Beach; 561-627-8991; thirstyturtlefl.com.