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The Ultimate Philly Buffalo Wing String

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  • rbarr Feb 10, 2010 04:35 AM

My boys and I live for great wings, and sadly the Philly area is pretty weak in this department. To be great, a wing must be:

1. Very crispy without being breaded
2. Have a great FLAVORED sauce, preferably with multiple heat options, including a true scorcher
3. Not too big, not too small
4. A quality blue cheese dip, extra points for carrots

We rate each category 1 to 5 (though we often cheat and use half points for high scores).

We've tried all the Philly usual suspects, and all are pretty lacking when compared to the gold standard, Jeremiah’s in Rochester, NY.

The best we have found is The Artful Dodger, though we always order them extra crispy. 5 for crisp, 4 for sauce, 5 for size (the crispy wing tip puts them over the top), 4.5 for dip (they have carrots)

Other favorites?

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  1. Have you been to the Jughandle Inn in Cinnaminson, NJ? I've been to Buffalo and IMO the Jug is better than anything Buffalo can offer. In fact I left Buffalo very disappointed.

    Their bald eagle wings certainly meet your "true scorcher" criteria.

    4 Replies
    1. re: mitchh

      I'm a big fan of the wings at Union Jack's Manayunk location. Perfectly cooked and really yummy, spicy sauce.

      1. re: hinx

        Capone's East Norriton. Choice of sauces with an awesome beer selection to pair with it.

      2. re: mitchh

        I went to the Jughandle after driving by it over 100 times, what surprised me were the live chickens walking around in the parkng lot! The order did take a while to arrive as stated on the menu. The wings were indeed very good and indeed spicy.

        1. re: discndav

          Do they slaughter their own birds?? If that is even legal.

      3. A bit off the beaten path but Mesquito Grill in Doylestown. My favorite wings, and I do some work in Buffalo (I'm a Duff's guy in Buffalo, but still not as good as Mesquito Grill). I'll also second the Jug Handle.

        1. My two favorites (and I am by no means an aficionado) are Moriarty's and North Third. Have you tried them? The service at North 3rd is consistently bad, but their wings are pretty dedlicious

          1. never had the wings at the artful dodger but that is sure to change come june when italy repeats as world cup champs. :) but i digress....

            i know that this is slightly out of your target, but the roasted chicken wings at the reading terminal are worthy of meeting your taste buds. they are not hot wings, but they can be crispy, but the sauce is served on the side and the flavor is just awesome. this isn't to be added to your list as a competitor, but if you are a overall lover of the wing then you should try them out. so damned good, another post got me thinking about them today.

            3 Replies
            1. re: mazza3

              Are those wings in the RTM from Dienner's?

              1. re: Philly Ray

                yes, right behind the dutch eating place.

              2. re: mazza3

                I finally tried the wings from Dienner's today after seeing recs on this board and I loved them. They are not bar style wings in the least and do not match any of the OP's qualifications but they were awesome. They don't even need sauce, there is so much chickeny goodness going on in those wings.

              3. I second Moriarty's (though I only know Center City) and though I have had plenty of wing disappointments (my last was Royal Tavern's), I was not aware Philadelphia was so weak in this department. I spent a year in Minnesota and all there is to do in the winter there is go to bars and eat bar food and I don't remember all the wings there to be to my taste, either. Aren't wings like pizza, each person has their own ideal based on the type they are used to?

                2 Replies
                1. re: brescd01

                  Moriarity's definitley has good wings. IMO the Jug is the gold standard in the area, but Moriarity's is a nice alternative without going over the bridge.

                  1. re: brescd01

                    I'll definitely second Moriarty's as having pretty good wings. I'm still unsure if I like them served as the full wing (drumstick and wing in one!), but they have a good flavor and plenty of bang for the buck.

                    I'm also a really big fan of Fergie's Pete's Wings (they're always on the specials menu as Pete's something). They don't fit all of OP's qualifications, but have a great flavor and crispness.

                  2. Try McGillin's at 1310 Drury St. in Center City. Drury St. is in between Sansom St. and Chestnut St.. For those looking for other types of bar food they serve great sheppard's pie and meatloaf, too.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: artgary

                      McGillin's are some of my favorites. Extra points for the carrots and the service on what reminds me of old lunchtrays from elementary school.

                    2. It is perhaps a little fancier than the places you have described, but check out London Grill at 23rd-ish and Fairmount. Their wings are pretty spectacular.

                      1. My favorite wings are probably from St. Stephen's Green. The worst wings I've ever had were from Tangier, but it could have been just an off batch. Although, friends have said the same thing.

                        1. THe Jug is our next spot to try. A little out of our way, but great wings are well worth the trip. I think the comment that different people like different types of wings is valid, but that is why a sauce selection is key.....and if they aren's crisp without being breaded, they simply are not worth eating as far as I'm concerned.

                          Have to add Union Jack and Mesquito to the must try list. Been years since I had the wings at London, will have to give them another shot.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: rbarr

                            we were at the Jughandle yesterday for wings, and they were excellent (as always).

                            1. re: rbarr

                              Ditto on Union Jack's (Glenside), especially since they have an excellent beer selection & an nice back deck for better weather. The General Davis, on Street Road has good wings as well, as does Phil's (Blue Bell). Hubby and I both like ours seasoned lightly, then fried crispy. He likes sauce that will strip paint off your car, so we usually get a medium hot as a compromise, with suicide on the side.

                              When my son went to school in western PA, we found that they don't cut their wings -- drum & flat are still together -- and they bread then fry. Makes for a big "wing". They were good, but not what I'm jonesin' for when I think Buffalo Wings. They also dip 'em in ranch dressing.

                              1. re: rbarr

                                We finally made it to the Jug Handle. What a disapointment. The wings were breaded, and while the sauces were tasty (we had extra hot and bald eagle) there is just no way around the fact that a breaded wing just isn't a true wing. As an aside, while I would sit in a sewer to eat a quality wing, the Jug's bathroom was the worst I've ever seen!!

                                The search continues.

                                Next stop is Union Jack and/or Mesquito. I also heard about another place in South NJ from a guy in upstate NY who knows great wings. I will get the name and post it.

                                1. re: rbarr

                                  I have not been to the JH since it changed hands. I have heard the wings are not very good anymore.

                              2. I had very good wings at the Wishing Well recently, and they are only $0.25 during Phillies games. I was expecting small, overcooked wings but these were nicely sized and very juicy. Someone in the kitchen is definitely paying attention.

                                1. You already mentioned Union Jack's wings which solid and they have a nice beer selection too if you're a beer drinker.

                                  If you're up that way, you're only about 3 miles from Tavern on the Hill in Chestnut Hill which is one of my favorites. You can order the wings extra crispy or extra hot, they're a nice size without being too huge, and the blue cheese dressing is homemade with carrots and celery. My favorite part about their wings is that the sauce is a bit different from a standard buffalo sauce, sometimes I find buffalo sauce to be overly vinegary but theirs isn't.

                                  A couple months ago my one friend and I did a "wing tour" where we hit Union Jack's, Tavern on the Hill, and McMenamin's, and had wings and an IPAs at each. (Actually we had a few IPAs at McMenamin's since we were in walking distance from home at that point!)

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: mikerichi

                                    I go to the Jug every now and then and always love their wings. They have not changed with the change in ownership. Why would they? As a new owner wouldn't you keep what makes your place famous the same? The wing snobs may have an aneurysm about this but I really think PJ Whelihans has some of the best wings I've ever had (and I've had a lot so don't give me the "oh then you've never had real wings" line). They are very meaty, the sauces are good, and the blue cheese is nice and chunky.