Food and Drink

The 8 Best Chicken Wings in Chicago

From classic Buffalo, BBQ, and Thai Chili to experimental batches drenched in offbeat sauces, here are our favorite flats and drumsticks.

The Fifty/50
The Fifty/50
The Fifty/50

Deep-fried chicken wings are the ultimate bar snack. Crispy, glistening skin with tender, juicy meat underneath, it’s the perfect canvas upon which Chicago’s most skilled culinary artisans paint their masterpieces. Whether they’re tossed in a meticulously balanced blend of dry spices or drenched in a spicy-sticky-sweet sauce, the humble chicken wing deserves to be celebrated as more than just a pacifier for rowdy football fans chugging domestic beer. (Though, admittedly, it is the perfect pacifier for rowdy football fans chugging domestic beer.)

We’ve collected eight Chicago restaurants that do the almighty chicken wing justice by transforming it into a work of gorgeous, mouthwatering art. What are you, some kind of philistine? Order up!

Information listed here may be subject to change depending on the developing situation with COVID-19’s Omicron variant. Please check for the latest updates available or contact each establishment directly for more info.

The Bird's Nest
The Bird’s Nest
The Bird’s Nest

Bird’s Nest Hot Wings from The Bird’s Nest

Lincoln Park
We’d be lying if we said that Bird’s Nest didn’t get extra points for its amazing logo featuring Woody Woodpecker smoking a cigar. Luckily, Bird’s Nest ably backs up those initial props by serving jumbo wings that many swear are the best in the city. We recommend opting for the Bird’s Nest Hot Sauce, but you really can’t go wrong with any of their styles.
How to order: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order takeout and delivery via Uber Eats and Postmates.

ROCKS northcenter
ROCKS northcenter
ROCKS northcenter

Buffalo Garlic Parmesan from Rocks Northcenter

North Center
Rocks may be better known for stellar burgers and a particularly delicious kegged Old Fashioned, but don’t sleep on their wings. The Buffalo Garlic Parmesan is a sure-fire hit, but the Angry wings offer a wonderful balance of spice and flavor for heat-seekers while the Bourbon BBQ wings are sticky, savory, sweet, and tasty. Order 20, toss in two different sauces, and make sure to add a bottled Old Fashioned to your order before checking out.
How to order: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order takeout and delivery online.

Wild Goose Bar & Grill
Wild Goose Bar & Grill
Wild Goose Bar & Grill

Wild Style Wings from Wild Goose

North Center
Wild is right. This North Center staple’s wings have won city-wide awards, and it’s for good reason. They’re huge and mouthwateringly crisp, no matter what sauce you go with (definitely try the Pad Thai). That alone would be enough to land them on this list, but if you truly want to take a trip to flavortown, order your wings “Wild Style” and they’ll come smothered with homemade ranch dressing, a secret house seasoning blend, and ribbons of nacho cheese-don’t you dare knock it until you try it.
How to order: Stop by for first come, first served seating, order takeout via Toast, or get delivery via GrubHub, DoorDash, and Uber Eats.

Dak - Korean Chicken Wings
Dak – Korean Chicken Wings
Dak – Korean Chicken Wings

Spicy Korean BBQ Wings from Dak

Edgewater
Not only is Dak one of Chicago’s best places for perfect, glassy, crispy Korean-style wings, it’s also one of the city’s top 50 restaurants overall, according to the venerable Chicago Magazine. Don’t overlook this family-owned- and -operated mainstay. If you’re ordering delivery, we recommend getting your wings naked with sauce on the side, tossing everything together when your food arrives to ensure maximum crispiness (AKA happiness).
How to order: Order takeout and delivery only via ChowNow, Grubhub, DoorDash, Postmates, and Uber Eats.

Mott St
Mott St
Mott St

Everything Wings from Mott St

Wicker Park
Bagels, shmagels. Head to this Asian-influenced Wicker Park gem from chef Edward Kim for a plate of jumbo wings coated in a soy-chili glaze, fried shallots, and sesame & poppy seeds with some tzatziki for dipping.
How to order: Reserve via Tock, order takeout via Toast, or get delivery via Grubhub and DoorDash.

Jake Melnick's Corner Tap
Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap
Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap

XXXX Hot Wings from Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap

River North
These wings are not for the faint of heart, thanks to a hearty dose of the world’s hottest peppers (habaneros, ghost peppers, scorpion peppers, and Carolina reapers). In case of emergency, Jake Melnick’s will provide some cooling agents to fan the flames in the form of ice cream, bread, and milk. And if you aren’t a big-time heat seeker, plenty of dialed-down varieties are on hand to cure what ails you. And-bonus-during the Olympics, Melnick’s is offering a bounty of wings themed after competing countries, complete with local beer pairings. The Canada package, featuring Sweet Maple BBQ wings and a frosty Labatt Blue is a clear standout here.
How to order: Reserve via OpenTable or order takeout and delivery via ChowNow.

The Fifty/50
The Fifty/50
The Fifty/50

Jumbo Wings from The Fifty/50

Wicker Park
Deep fried in peanut oil and coated in a four-pepper hot sauce that’s been roasted in-house and aged for two whole months, there’s no stopping these mighty drumsticks and flats. We won’t guilt trip you for throwing back your own family meal, a gut-busting deal spanning 24 wings, a bucket of beers, and a bottle of Jameson.
How to order: Reserve via Resy or order takeout and delivery online.

CRISP
CRISP
CRISP

Seoul Sassy Wings from Crisp

Lakeview East
If you’ve gotten this far in life and haven’t yet tasted Korean-style fried chicken, please, stop reading and order some stat. Here’s what to do: Go for three full wings tossed in the Seoul Sassy sauce (a subtly sweet ginger-garlic-soy blend spiked with secret spices) plus an addition three of the Plain Jane variety (sauceless wings that are shockingly crisp and flavorful thanks to a meticulous seasoning and marinating process). You’re welcome.
How to order: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order takeout and delivery online.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat.

Sam Greszes is a Chicago-based contributor for Thrillist.

Sean Cooley is a contributor for Thrillist.

Food and Drink

How Talking Terps Has Influenced Cannabis Hype Culture

The origins and optimism behind the cannabis brand that sells out drops within minutes. Canabis...

Photo courtesy of Buckle Your Brain
Photo courtesy of Buckle Your Brain
Photo courtesy of Buckle Your Brain

Many cannabis brands describe themselves as “lifestyle brands” and “cultural disruptors.” Few of them actually impact lifestyles or broader cultural trends. Only one of them has figurines up on Stock X right now.

“For OG Terp Crawford to be featured amongst Nike, Jordans, Supreme, BAPE, and PS5s is really sick,” says Hope Lord, co-founder of cannabis lifestyle brand Talking Terps. “Stock X is not taking everyone who makes a toy and putting it up there.”Between their psychedelic graphics, cannabis-adjacent accessories, and famous OG Terp Crawford figurine, Talking Terps has established a cult following amongst cannabis enthusiasts, hypebeasts, and beyond. On paper, it’s a lifestyle brand interested in both cannabis and psychedelics. In action, Talking Terps is an alternative universe that bridges the gaps between toy culture, cannabis culture, psychedelic culture, and American pop culture.

The brand was established as a concept in 2015 by Leor Feit aka Hope Lord, Flatbush Zombies member Antonio Lewis aka Zombie Juice, and Flatbush Zombies spiritual adviser Phil Annand aka PTA Haiti 3000. One year later, the phrase “talking terps” popped in a Flatbush Zombies song, referring to terpenes, a compound found in cannabis.

“We had a show at Red Rocks in Colorado,” Lord recalls. “I had a friend that was part of Blue River Terpenes who brought us the first sample of cannabis-derived terpenes. Then Juice and Erick made a song with it in the chorus.”

Talking Terps
Talking Terps
Talking Terps

Once Talking Terps emerged as a phrase, the graphics, accessories, apparel, events, and, of course, toys were soon to follow. By 2017, the phrase was spotted on one of Snoop Dogg’s t-shirts. In 2019, the concept of Terp Crawford was born, launching the brand towards the collectible toy game.

While the first Terp Crawford was technically a plush pillow, the first toy-named OG Terp Crawford-came in March 2020. The 6-inch tall vinyl sculpture of a humanized weed nug with a joint in his hand and a smile on his face is meant to embody everything Hope, Juice and PTA stand for.

“Our message is to love each other and be happy,” Lord says. “Tread lightly and disrupt nothing.”OG Terp Crawford drops sell out in actual seconds and resell on sites like Stock X for over double their retail price. More than a simple toy, he’s a figure that Talking Terps hopes will evolve into a full-on cartoon character.

“As time goes, the idea for Terp Crawford is for him to be a Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny type figure from our world that can cross over,” Lord says. “There should be no reason one day that Terp Crawford’s not throwing a football in some skit on Monday Night Football.”

That’s not just a high aspiration-the team is currently working with 3 Hearts Entertainment to develop a TV show around him. The goal is for Terp Crawford to go global and for Talking Terps to go meta. With their vast graphic library and club of TT enthusiasts, virtual collectibles like NFTs only make sense (though the team can’t let the terp out of the hat just yet).

“I can see Terp Crawford in Japan, speaking in Japanese on TV,” Lord muses. “Once we take him somewhere else, we could do big sculptures, like at KAWS level, maybe. I think we’ll get a TV show. I can’t speak too much on what we’re working on for the metaverse, but it’s got a lot of components. I can say that we’re building a whole new platform called the meta-forest.”

It’s safe to say there will be a sold-out waitlist to get into that forest.
Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat!

Danté Jordan is a freelance writer, video producer, and media consultant specializing in cannabis culture and education. Follow him on Instagram.

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