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Chicken Wings in Detroit?

  • k

Looking for suggestions for Metro Detroit chicken wings. All ideas welcomed.

IMHO, BW3 is usually Ok, but never much more than Ok, and sometimes depending on location a lot less.

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  1. I was more than a little bit impressed with the chicken wings I had at Pizzeria Biga (now Bigalora) in Southfield. Surprisingly good, but not exactly a plethora of choices for saucing, if that's what you're after. The wings themselves, though? Very, very good, or at least they were when I had them.

    1. Sweetwater Tavern, on Congress, just east of downtown. In Detroit, proper.

      Overwhelmingly positive reviews from all over the internet. I agree!

      7 Replies
      1. re: RedTop

        Sweetwater also has a suburban outpost - northbound NW Hwy, north of 12 Mile.

        1. re: RedTop

          Sweetwater is very good. However, if you like to try different sauces on your wings, it's their way or the highway—one sauce only. Another good choice in Detroit: Union Street (which is on Woodward): Rasta Wings.

          1. re: Jim M

            Jim, by that "one sauce", are you meaning the bleu cheese stuff that comes with the celery, or something else?

            1. re: boagman

              No, I mean what's on the wings themselves—I think it's a marinade of some kind.

            2. re: Jim M

              I'm fine with one sauce. Sounds like Sweetwater is worth a try.


              1. re: Jim M

                So I finally tried these things tonight. Went to Sweetwater Express in Southfield on Northwestern Highway because I was just plain curious. It should be noted up front that I'm not crazy about buffalo-style sauces (or, basically, anything that's got a major vinegar base to it). It's *not* the spice level...that, I can handle pretty easily. It's the bitterness of the vinegar that can get to me and basically ruin a perfectly good piece of meat. The picture of those wings was certainly a draw, though...they do look different than most others do.

                So I get there and order, and am told they'll be ready in 10 minutes. A full 20 minutes later, I receive my wings. I don't want to be the idiot who takes fried food home and then tests it out after it's been sitting in the car, but there's no place to sit and eat the wings there. It should also be noted that a side item is included with the wings, in my case roasted redskin potatoes. Oddly, if you want fries as a side, there's an up charge, and if you want seasoned fries, there's a greater up charge still. Odd, that. Nonetheless, my redskins were included for the original price of $8.95 ($9.50 out the door for 10 wings and a side, with choice of bleu cheese or ranch, and a couple pieces of celery).

                So as to try them in prime time, I opened the box and had one of the drumettes on the spot. My reaction:

                HATED it. It was actually kind of repulsive. I ate most of it, but didn't chew to the bone (a cardinal sin, in my book), and was immediately severely annoyed that I'd spent almost $10 to give these things a whirl. In fact, *the whole trip home* was nothing but a grumblefest of me moaning about that very idea. So. Stinking. Vinegary. Just awful.

                So as I drive, I'm kind of determined to try and get back some of my investment. I'm going to eat what I can, throw the rest away, and come on here and call you Sweetwater Tavern lovers a bunch of liars, crazy people, or both. That's $10 I'm *never* going to get back, and it's MY OWN STUPID FAULT FOR LISTENING TO YOU PEOPLE.

                I get home, having eaten most of the redskins in the car at red lights (not bad, really, but nothing revolutionary, that's for sure), and I'm ready to do battle with these awful wings that I paid $10 for...and I'm going to *hate* them. And a funny thing happened:

                They got better. Now, I'm not suddenly saying that they're turning my world upside-down. No, no they're not, but for the life of me, they've gone from "I freaking *hate* these things" to "Hmm. These aren't half-bad" territory. This kind of change in so short a timeframe is *underheard of* for me. It's very, very strange territory.

                I have no idea why it is, but it is. I don't know if it's because they had more time to rest, if it's because they cooled down temperature-wise a bit, whatever. It's my first time with them. What I do know is this: I didn't have any trouble eating another half dozen or so when I got home, and put the last few in the fridge, and just ate one not two minutes ago...and it was fine. It had a spicy character and undertone that served it quite well. The crusty outer skin is, in fact, pretty interesting. The spiciness level is very nice, with only a slight after burn in the mouth, which is most welcome with me.

                Now, understand: I'm not rushing out to have these things again, since they're still vinegar-based chicken wings. They're not my favorite type of chicken at all. Even I have to admit that they've got a little something special once they've rested properly, though. Even when refrigerated, they're pretty good. Even with a little ranch on them, which is also weird for me.

                So, yeah. Sweetwater. I'm somewhat conflicted on the wings based on the whole trial, but they're not going uneaten, I'll tell you that. Rarely have I been this confused by one dish, but I'm kind of glad it ended up this way, rather than the reverse.

                I guess I can recommend that people give 'em a shot. I'm hardly the expert, but in the end, they're pretty good. Not my favorite wings preparation, but I no longer think that I threw $10 down the toilet, which I was absolutely *certain* was the case originally.

                I guess I really do learn something new every day.

                1. re: boagman

                  Funny. I have never tried the takeout place, only the one downtown, where they probably do sit for a bit before the waitress brings them out.

            3. I really don't know if it is possible to find any worse wings than BW 3, so if you like them there you should have no problem at any bar.

              In Clarkston, I like Mr B's wings, but not much else is better than ok.
              Also, the Clarkston tap has good wings.
              And Greg's Gourmet baked, not fried. Great Caesar salad as well.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Markcron

                Most of the local bars I've tried Wings at are not worth having again.

                There is a local honky tonk place on Michigan Avenue near I-275, Club Canton, that sometimes has wings that are really good. They are fresh not frozen, they marinade them overnight, and are served with a few different sauces.

                The only problem is they are not on the regular menu, only available as an occasional special.

              2. At BW3 I have to ask for my wings well done so the skin is crispy. Otherwise you get rubbery skin. I do like the Mango Habenero sauce, but I wouldn't go to BW3 to get the best anything =)

                1. Does it have to be Buffalo Wings? I like Chicken Shack, in general. Several locations throughout Metro Detroit.
                  There's a Hurricane Wings on Northwestern. I don't think it could be any worse than BW-3's.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Fibber McGee

                    "There's a Hurricane Wings on Northwestern. I don't think it could be any worse than BW-3's."

                    That is so hilariously *not* an endorsement. ;) I stinking *love* backhanded compliments. Smooth as three-day-old whiskey. ;)

                    1. re: boagman

                      Admittedly, I have not been to Hurricane Wings. But it seems as the wing prices go higher at BW-3's, the wings themselves have been getting smaller. I am all about trying new places, though.

                      1. re: boagman

                        BW3 has some benefits, the wide variety of sauces are good, the beer is cold, and the service is attentive. The wings are just not that good, IMO.

                        1. re: Ken H

                          100% agreement. I have some close friends who are regulars at one near me, so if I want to meet up with them, that's one they choose when it's their turn. The benefits you mention make it not worth an argument, I just make sure I grab a bite elsewhere or stick to the sandwiches.

                      2. re: Fibber McGee

                        Nope. Just looking for better than average wings.

                        I've had Chicken Shack before but never tried the wings. I think their chicken is good. For broasted chicken I used to like Mr. Chicken in Redford, but haven't had it for years. There is another broasted place I like, but I can't remember it at the moment.....

                      3. Rated number one in the state by many review sites and blogs,,,you have not had the Very Best until you try Sweetwater Tavern Wings that are marinaded over night and then deep fried to a blacken look and oh my the taste you'll find no where else,,,don't ask it's a secret.

                        1 Reply
                        1. We only go Downtown to the decades old Sweetwater Tavern that'e always packed with Happy customers enjoying there Famous Wings and Ribs,, a true Detroit Classic meeting spot for sporting events and more. The dozens of folks I've taken there over the years are all regulars like me. You must visit the real deal original I say. They come from all over the nation and Canada as the thousand of Great Reviews on many sites,,, see the reviews on Trip Advisor that shows the thoughts of folks from all around the world,,, get downtown then you be the judge,,,, http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserRe...

                          1. The best wings for my money are on the appetizer menu at Bad Brads BBQ, which now has 3 locations. Their wings are large and meaty they come 4 to an order and are whole, the drum, flat and tip. The menu says one pound so these are 1/4 pound wings, not like the Cornish Hens that BW3 serves. Why these are so good is they first smoke them then fry them to order, no breading just the taste of a nicely smoked wing. You sauce them yourself with one of their 7 sauces.

                            The bonus is it's an appetizer so you can plow through some great BBQ as well.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: firestalker

                              Bad Brads. I so wanted to like that place, but the sickness I got afterwards as a result of eating there has kept it off the list of places I'd go back to. I remember the experience itself being fine...and the aftermath akin to The Judgment.

                              I just can't go there again. Same with The Rattlesnake Club in Detroit, and El Patio in Waterford. Never again.