You’ll spend the better part of a week going through every online guide Philadelphia has for cheesesteaks and hoagies. And rightfully so, they’re our flagship sandwiches of which we have an abundance of and we do them really well. They’re delicious, simple, and you can think of at least five places who’s behalf you’re willing to argue for to the death in terms of which one is “the best.”
In all fairness, there’s no point for me to write another list of cheesesteak joints for the internet because 1) No matter which places I mention, I’ll be bombarded with countless comments and emails that’ll be, in so many well-thought-out and “tactful” words, telling me how wrong I am to include them and not include whatever your favorite place is, and 2) It’ll just get buried in the ether of the web under everyone else who claims they know more than you about cheesesteaks and hoagies. Frankly, it’s just getting a little boring and not something I intend on discussing in terms of how fast our city’s food scene is evolving.
That’s not to say that you guys won’t fight me tooth & nail about any other topic like, say, buffalo wings. It’s Philadelphia (on the internet, no less). We have an opinion about anything, and as long as it’s contradictory to whatever yours is, it’s a correct one. Because fuck you.
That’s not to say that I’m the first to write a list of awesome places to get Wings in Philadelphia, because I’m definitely not. It’s just a food of which I have an extensive knowledge of and feel as if there’s plenty of room for my two cents on the matter. What I hope you notice, though, is the variety of styles there are for wings featured on this list, which can certainly set me apart from some of the other wings lists in Philly. If you’re looking for a list of buffalo wings that all resemble each other with the same old presentation of meat, sauce, celery, carrots, and blue cheese, this list isn’t for you.
So here is, in no particular order, a list of restaurants in Philly that have wings good enough for a food pornographer like myself to spread the gospel of.
1) Moriarty’s Pub
For the traditionalist who’s just looking for a simple, no-bullshit plate of hot wings, Moriarty’s Pub in Center City is the place I recommend to anyone. In fact, I’ve known one or two unfortunate souls who have NEVER had their W-cards swiped before for one reason or another and were smart enough to heed my advice to make sure that their first time is indeed a special and intimate one with someone who will nurture them, like Moriarty’s.
(I’m serious. I’ve actually known someone who wasn’t even a vegetarian and, up until recently, NEVER ate buffalo wings before. Needless to say, we’re not the closest of friends and I wish nothing but horrible things on him.)
Considering that you get 8-10 full wings when you order (which, if you think about it, comes to 16-20 regular wings, by most standards), the price tag of $10.79 alone is enough to lead you in to the Center City pub. But what really gets me is how they make them. Over the past 8+ years I’ve been coming to Moriarty’s, they’re wings have consistently been crisped to perfection; not too hard, not too soft, which makes an ideal texture for the buffalo sauce to stick to the wing without drying too quickly.
Moriarty’s is located at 1116 Walnut Street in Center City. You can see the rest of their menu at moriartyspub.com.
1040 N. American Street, Suite #1101, Northern Liberties
Like the rest of their menu, Suppa has managed to put a refreshing spin on typical american comfort food such as their jumbo wings. If you’re looking for a little sweet with your savory, try their Cherry Tamarind jumbo wings.
What I really love about these wings is their perfect layer of breading which gives them a satisfying crunch as well as holds an awesome amount of their house-made cherry tamarind sauce, making them extra saucy, sloppy, and sticky. It goes without saying that these wings aren’t for pussies and their moist towelettes. Don’t be afraid to get messy.
3) Cosmi’s Deli
Cosmi’s Deli in South Philly is traditionally known for their cheesesteaks and other sandwiches, but getting an order of their wings has become more or less a favorite pastime of mine whenever I visit friends in South Philly to watch the game. They come in a few different styles, but as someone who likes his wings with just a little extra kick, they’re extra-hot wings hit the spot (they’re not the hottest wings, mind you. They just have a great heat level without sacrificing flavor). The wings also come with a light breading on the outside so make sure you eat them as quickly as possible when you order so they don’t get too soft. As for their “foodporn appeal” you’ll just have to trust me on it because I couldn’t find a good enough photo of their wings for the life of me.
4) El Camino Real
In a city where great BBQ joints come a dime a dozen, El Camino Real has set themselves apart from the usual suspects by bringing a smokey Tex Mex flavor to their menu. They’ve also proven themselves as forward thinkers with their “Pig Wings” made with pork instead of chicken… I’ll give you a second to take that in.
Before you adjust the tent you just pitched at your work desk, let me reiterate. Yes, these wings are made with pork. I have no idea how they make them so well as I’m not well versed in witchcraft and sorcery, but I can tell you that these wings are as delicious as they look. Tender, smokey meat I assume is cut from the shank, smothered in sauce that falls off the bone by just blowing on it like a dandelion. With all due respect to classic chicken wings, I think I speak for most people when I say that these need to be more readily available in Philadelphia.
El Camino Real is located at 1040 N. 2nd Street in Northern Liberties, across the street from The Piazza. You can see the rest of their menu at elcaminophilly.com or by following them on Instagram and Twitter @ElCaminoPhilly.
5) Lloyd Whiskey Bar
I wasn’t kidding when I said that this wasn’t going to be your average wing guide. Although these things I’m about to mention resemble the overall essence of buffalo wings, they simply aren’t. I just love them so much that I needed a reason to talk about them and this time is as good as any to bring them up.
Although Lloyd Whiskey Bar’s selling point to Philly’s general public is their stellar collection of uncommon and variously aged whiskey and spirits (not to mention they’re subtle, almost subliminal homages to my favorite movie, The Shining), they’re food menu is equally unique in terms of introducing their patrons to new and, dare I say, unusual things. Case and point: their fried Buffalo duck skins.
Crispy. Fatty. Fucking. Duck skins.
At first, you’re going to want to try them Buffalo styled, which makes sense, but don’t be scared to try it in their optional white southern BBQ style either. They both resemble the texture and novelty of wings, but with the orgasmic taste of duck and without the inconvenience of bones. Either way you’re going to accomplish something truly awesome by eating them.
Remember those childhood pipe dreams you’d have after going to KFC where you wished you could eat a bucket of just the skins (or was that just me)? Well, this is, by far, a much better, more perverted version of that dream being that you’re an adult now with a more mature pallet and that you’re able to have a fine, aged whiskey with it as well. And you should strive to achieve that dream by any means necessary.
Duck skins not adventurous enough for you? Don’t be scared, because they also have the very-wing-like fried frogs legs, if you’re feeling extra frisky (pictured below).
(It should also be mentioned that Lloyd has actual wings on their menu as well, and they’re also delicious.)
Lloyd Whiskey Bar is located at 529 East Girard Avenue in Fishtown. You can see more of their menu and special events (like their Quinten-Tarantino-themed “Brunch Fiction”) at LloydWhiskeyBar.com or by following them on Instagram @LloydWhiskey.
6) Eulogy Belgian Tavern
I can eat extremely spicy food just as much as the next guy. I’m even sure there’s a picture of me somewhere on the internet taken right after I bit into a raw Carolina Reaper pepper that’ll prove my statement. But unlike some of my friends, I have a threshold for what I actually think tastes good after a certain heat level.
Fortunately though, Eulogy’s “Bat Out Of Hell” wings sits perfectly on that threshold of flavor and heat.
I usually make it to about two or three of these babies before I start the obligatory mouth-breathing accompanied by profuse sweating from more orifices in my face than I’d like to admit. Most reasonable people would maybe advise me to stop eating them at that point, or at the very least slow down. But I can’t. And I won’t. The sauce on these wings packs so much flavor with it’s heat that you can’t just call it quits. You just have to keep calm, enjoy the flavor, and eat through the pain.
Eulogy Belgian Tavern is located at 136 Chestnut Street in Old City. You can check out their full menu at EulogyBar.com.
7) Bonchon Chicken
Bonchon chicken has been a setting up shop in various cities across the country for some time now, but it wasn’t until about two years ago that they came to Chinatown in Philly and brought us their take on Korean fried chicken. If you’ve never had Korean fried chicken, kindly do me a favor and click out of this website, draw a cold bath, turn on some Tom Waits, and contemplate who you are as a person.
Bonchon’s wings are on the larger side due to their breading, which is what makes them so delicious. They come in two flavors of soy garlic and spicy, bot of which can be handled by even a laymen to Korean spice. The combination of crunch from the breading, tender meat, and tangy bite from the sauce makes for a concoction of texture to be reckoned with. I also assume you can get them without sauce, but I think that’s considered a felony in Philadelphia, so don’t bother.
There are so many more places to get stellar wings in Philly, and I’d be remiss if I neglected some of them. So do yourself a favor and try these places out (if you haven’t already) before I post the 2nd installment (yes, there’s plenty more). As always, follow me on Instagram and Twitter @PhillyFoodporn to see what’s delicious in Philly right now or to chime in on the topic of awesome wings in Philly.