Philly is a big-time sports town. Two million people paraded down Broad Street after the Phils won the 2008 World Series – in a city that holds just 1.5 million. When you watch sports, you eat wings; thus, quick calculations suggest our city is all about wings–just think about the 20,000 people that attend our Wing Bowl each year. Here’s a look at a six spots that will leave you satiated…and reaching for the towelettes. – Suzanne Woods
Cavanaugh’s University City
119 S. 39th St
Philadelphia, PA 19104
This family-owned sports bar is an institution situated smack in the center of University City. Even alumni return often to revel in the nostalgia of their “wing nights” of yesteryear. They have a variety of sauces: bbq, tangy teriyaki, mild, hot, “3rd degree” or hot & honey. Tuesdays are the night to go, as they feature .35 cent wings from 4 till 12 a.m. Cav’s side wall is lined with coolers loaded with a nice selection of to go beer, too. And if cheap pitchers are your thing, they’ve got ‘em here as well.
City Tap House
3925 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104-3624
Philly’s finally got itself a mega-tap house, and that house is slow-cooking and dry-rubbing pounds and pounds of wings daily. The dozen are dry rubbed with 10 spices and are served with lightly dressed cucumbers and carrots as well as a house-made hybrid sauce of bleu cheese and ranch. The owners of Public House and Field House have finally stepped up their beer program with this newest effort, and veteran chef Al Paris has put together a beer-friendly menu of brick oven pizzas, innovative mussels and snacks that keep University City full of lip-smacking smiles.
529 North 20th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130
Frank’s Red Hot and loads of butter. That’s all you need to know about this neighborhood tavern’s wings. These scale on the larger side and are served with a housemade bleu cheese. The tavern itself is laden with character and characters, which create great conversation and an overall pleasant night out in the Art Museum area.
1116 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
When you talk wings in Philly, the conversation starts with this watering hole on Walnut that dates back to 1927. The wings here win city-wide awards almost every year. At Moriarty’s, there’s no wishing you got more sauced-up drums, because the whole wing is served.
Chef Mitch Prensky pays homage to the Pennsylvania Dutch with his birch beer wings. There are a mere three to an order, but they will be three of the best wings you’ve had all year. This South Street restaurant, which Prensky refers to as an “urban farmhouse,” has found its place on the gastronomic map of Philadelphia. And FYI, the brunch banana beignets are not to be missed either.
2010 was the year of the duck fat. Craft beer bar Varga is a major player, as Chef Evan Turney covers the wings in a duck fat that’s been infused with garlic, thyme, pink peppercorn, bayleaf and rosemary, and then he slow cooks them for nearly five hours. Here’s hoping the succulent confit doesn’t fall off the bone before it makes it into your mouth–they’re that good.