If you're planning on snacking your way through the Super Bowl, there's a good chance that wings are on the menu. Americans will eat an estimated 1.45 billion of those portable little proteins during Kansas City and San Francisco's football faceoff, according to the National Chicken Council's 2024 Wing Report.
Wings' game day popularity can be traced back to the 1980s. That era's health-conscious food habits led to a strong demand for boneless-skinless chicken breasts, while wings became an inexpensive afterthought. But a new wave of sports bars had a solution for all those discarded wings: They fried them, sauced them and served them in large quantities for cheap. A beer-friendly snack that could easily feed a crowd was born.
Which brings us to today. The wing craze continues, and Twin Cities restaurants and bars are putting their own spins on the classic Buffalo- or barbecue-sauced drummies and flats. Whole wings, secret-recipe dry rubs, Korean ginger glaze, Szechuan peppercorn and porketta seasoning are all in the mix.
The Taste Team set out to try them all, from the storied classics like Monte Carlo to a brand-new entry from Revival. These are our favorite places to get wings right now in the Twin Cities.
Crunchy, crusty and fried
Chef Chris Her's menu at this Korean lounge on St. Paul's East Side is full of flavor-packed winners, like these adorably named "five cute wings." But cute isn't exactly the way we'd describe these mega drummies coated in a thick, twirly batter that looks almost like funnel cake (or, dare we say, brains), especially when stacked in a pile with a sticky sweet ginger glaze. Get the house gochujang on the side for dipping.
1124 Payne Av., St. Paul, juchestpaul.com
Khâluna/Gai Noi/Lat 14
Ann Ahmed's wings are simply iconic. At all three of her restaurants, the crispy basil wings arrive in a bowl, accompanied by crispy basil leaves and rings of jalapeño peppers that have also gotten a dunk in the fryer. Each bite of chicken is an equal blend of highly seasoned crust and juicy meat. The extra bits of veg add a bonus layer of flavor and heat, and the Lao seasoning blend on the exterior is a singular salty taste that lets us know these wings are the handiwork of a notable chef.
Lao Sze Chuan
Sending out an alert to spice fans: If you love a burn that's equal parts flavor and tingly heat, these are the wings you've been waiting for. Buried in a bed of dried chiles, Sichuan peppercorns, slices of fresh garlic and strands of scallion greens, digging for these drummies and flats is an interactive game of hunt and eat. The container is brimming with fresh ginger and those dried chiles, which infuse the wings. All that flavor clings to the exterior, giving the mouth a mammoth mix of spice: numbing, burning, tingly, peppery and more.
304 SE. Oak St., Mpls., 612-886-3906
These wings are so good that in Soul Lao's early days, fans would line up outside Sabrina Boualaphanh and Eric Phothisanh's black food truck and sell them out in record time. Now that the couple have opened a takeout restaurant in St. Paul's Sibley Plaza, our access to the wings is a little easier — but they're still worth queuing up for. Whole wings are double-fried for a crunchy exterior and then doused in a sauce that's funky, bright and garlicky with a tacky-sweet finish. Heat can be ordered at varying levels, but we strongly urge starting at regular. A little burn can be a good thing. Stop by for Wing Wednesday, when they come at a discount with a receipt from Wandering Leaf Brewery next door.
2465 W. 7th St., St. Paul, soullao.com
Judging by a basket of these beauties, there's no doubt in our minds that chickens descended from dinosaurs. These iconic wings eat like a meal. The famous spice blend comes from the late restaurant legend John Rimarcik, who told a tale of creating the nice-and-neat coating during a time where sloppy Buffalo sauce dominated the wing landscape. What the spices are exactly is a closely guarded secret. Cinnamon? Five-spice? Definitely sugar, onion and garlic powder. Whatever it is, our wing list wouldn't be complete without them.
219 3rd Av. N., Mpls., montecarlomn.com
Duke's on 7
The slightly sweet-spiced dry rub trend could not be contained to just one restaurant. Fans of Monte Carlo's famed wings had their own secret weapon over in Minnetonka, where Lone Spur Grill was known for its own version of dry rub wings with a proprietary seasoning heavy on baking spices like anise. When the Tex-Mex place closed, Duke's on 7 pulled some strings to get the recipe; Duke's executive chef had worked at the Lone Spur for decades and arranged a meeting with the former owner, Ali Mishkee, who agreed to sell the newer restaurant his spice blend. Mishkee died late last year, but his flavors live on. Duke's has been serving these enormous and utterly crisp-skinned "moppo" wings, with a signature yogurt curry sauce, on the side ever since.
15600 Hwy. 7, Minnetonka, dukeson7.com
Legend has it that restaurateur Art Song sold some 30 million chicken wings in his lifetime, thanks to his secret "miracle seasoning" containing a blend of 13 herbs and spices. He helped open a string of restaurants in the Twin Cities from the 1940s through 1980s, including the erstwhile Shorty & Wags, where his namesake wings' popularity took off. Today, you can still get the famous "Art Song's wings" at one place locally: St. Paul's Hickory Hut. That house of barbecue remains a shrine to Song, with intensely juicy-on-the-inside whole fried wings, with hint-of-sweet seasoned skin that crackles when you bite into it.
647 W. University Av., St. Paul, hickoryhutstpaul.com
Cardinal Restaurant and Bar
These might be the wing equivalent of a Tom Thumb mini-donut. These bites are deep-fried, forming a delightfully devourable crust that's dusted in a sweet, warming spice mix that conjures State Fair memories. We couldn't stop marveling at how much chicken flavor and tender meat come in such a tidy little package. Plan to order more than one basket if you're with friends — they disappear with alarming speed.
2920 E. 38th St., Mpls., cardinaltavern.com
Revival Smoked Meats
The newest wings to make this list, these whole wings from the Revival team are not smoked, as the just-opened Market at Malcolm Yards kiosk's name might indicate. But they are expertly prepared with a dill pickle dry rub for tanginess on a shatteringly crisp skin that encases a spectacularly moist interior.
501 30th Av. SE., Mpls., malcolmyards.market
A proper dry rub wing is a thing of beauty — and a ubiquitous dish in the barrooms of northern Minnesota's Iron Range. That's the inspiration for Tom Forti's Grand Avenue restaurant. Like those small-town bars he grew up with, the restaurant is cozy, the lights are kept dim at night, and there's usually a hockey game on. Best paired with a Hamm's, these reasonably sized drummies and flats are coated with a Cajun-leaning spice blend that has a bit of those aromatic dried herbs synonymous with porketta seasoning. And, of course, there is a generous pour of ranch on the side.
1085 Grand Av., St. Paul, ironrangermn.com
Frogtown wings will convince even the most skeptical of wing lovers that spicy peanut butter is a good thing. Named for the neighborhood not far from Blue Door's original (and now shuttered) location, these wings lean into Thai flavors with soy sauce, garlic, chiles and chunky Jif peanut butter. The result is a meaty bite with a burn that warms the lips on first contact.
3448 42nd Av. S., Mpls.; 1514 Como Av. SE., Mpls.; thebdp.com
Spring Street Tavern
This northeast Minneapolis neighborhood bar is revered for its wings, which are coated in a housemade blend of honey, hot sauce and barbecue sauce. For us indecisive ones, it's the best of both wing worlds (BBQ and Buffalo). Petite and beautifully coated in that sauce, these are the kind of wings you just want to keep eating.
355 NE. Monroe St., Mpls., springstreettavern.com
There's nothing fancy about a straight-up Buffalo-sauced wing — all the more important then, that they be done right. To us, that means juicy, chicken-y, and fully coated in sauce with that signature buttery-peppery burn. Everyone has a favorite; ours, currently, are from Bunny's, a Twin Cities fixture since 1933. Its surviving St. Louis Park location is just as packed as ever. And the wings? Finger-licking saucy and super moist, even after they turn cold — if you can get them to last that long.
5916 Excelsior Blvd., St. Louis Park, bunnysbarandgrill.com
These nicely spiced wings get props for being the only ones we tried that didn't come dressed in a variation of brown, orange or beige. Instead, Centro's saucy mole verde wings are a delectable shade of green. The chicken is marinated in a sauce made from garlic, lemongrass, pepitas and cilantro. The wings are baked, then fried to order, tossed in that zippy mole verde once again, and sprinkled with red-speckled Tajin. They're a sophisticated bite, and the perfect pairing to one of Centro's quenchable margs.
1414 NE. Quincy St., Mpls.; 2412 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls.; 750 S. Cleveland Av., St. Paul; centrompls.com
This bright, new game center has an impressive menu of foods built for one-handed eating between games of pickleball, bags, ax throwing, an arcade and karaoke. Even with all that going on, the wings are obviously getting some special attention. Smoking them renders the skin toasty and the interior juicy. Out of several flavors available, get the roasted garlic, a staff favorite. A pound of those wings comes sprinkled with crumbly Parmesan and is served with a side of even more sauce.
1721 W. County Road C, Roseville, smashpark.com
Why not take that wood-fired pizza oven and put it to all the uses? Red Rabbit's wings lean into the fresh Italian flavor of the restaurant, with just a bit of gentle herb seasoning, a good dousing of fresh lemon juice and the smoky aroma of a campfire. The Parmesan dipping sauce served alongside adds a touch of fatty oomph to an otherwise light chicken bite.
201 Washington Av. N., Mpls.; 788 Grand Av., St. Paul; redrabbitmn.com
This perennially busy Orpheum-adjacent pub is known for its convivial atmosphere, its "Scotch flavor" — and its deftly smoked, fall-off-the-bone tender wings. The sauces are all made in house, including a pungent Kentucky bourbon barbecue. But those meaty wings were so good, we'd eat them unadorned.
918 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., mackenziepub.com
You've never had wings like these
Bricksworth Beer Co.
It's the kind of genius that must have been dreamed up by someone in the throes of a serious attack of the munchies, someone stuck with an impossible choice: Eat wings or eat Doritos? The result is Bricksworth's Cool Ranch Dorito-dusted wings. They're coated in that distinctive tangy, tart corn chip flavor — making these wings built for best enjoyment alongside a cold beverage. Good thinking for a brewpub.
305 5th Av. N., Mpls.; 12257B Nicollet Av. S., Burnsville; bricksworthbeer.co
It's hard to choose from some 90 preparations at this Oakdale wings legend. The sauces are categorized by heat level with a hot section so hot, they're off limits to children. But if Scorpion King (spicy red curry with goat cheese and basil) and Brimstone ("BBQ from the center of the Earth") feel too aggressive, follow up with a wing from the sweet list. Our French toast wings were coated in maple syrup spiked with sweet cream, and dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon, for a chicken-and-waffles vibe that made perfect sense. Suddenly, peanut butter, chocolate, coconut and strawberry cream didn't seem so far-fetched for wings, either.
7129 N. 10th St., Oakdale, eatatdspot.com
Brunson's chef Torrance Beavers appreciates a wing with a little more meat on it. And that's why Brunson's famous chicken wings are actually chicken thighs. Despite this technicality, the dish works — especially with a dry-rub seasoning. It's a blend this side of sweet from a Cajun seasoning mix: deeply flavorful, salty, with just a tiny bit of brown sugar. Plus, all that dark meat remains moist and succulent, and it's a hearty serving. These are likely the best non-wing wings around.
956 Payne Av., St. Paul, brunsonspub.com