If any of you follow me on Twitter you know that I'm serious about my chicken wings. I grew up about 70 miles south of Buffalo, NY so from a young age I was molded into a wing eating machine. I've now lived in Columbus for eight years, and during that time I've come across some great places in the capital city area when it comes to chicken wings. I figured it would be selfish for me to keep all these places to myself for those that haven't heard of or been to these establishments. Just remember to always go bleu cheese with your wings. Friends don't let friends use ranch.
Best overall wing: Gallo's Tap Room, 5019 Olentangy River Road
Unless you knew it was there, it's very easy to miss Gallo's Tap Room. Tucked back in a plaza on the corner of Bethel and Olentangy River Road next to what before was a K-Mart and now is a bunch of new apartments, It wasn't until I moved off campus until I went there for the first time. I highly recommend giving this place a shot if you haven't already, as they have some of the meatiest wings in Columbus.
There are only six flavors on the menu, but Gallo's makes sure to do those six flavors very, very well. The hottest of the flavors offered is the cockfight (which uses srirachia peppers) and after that is the hot BBQ (which is just the cockfight flavor with a BBQ spin on it). From there slowly sliding down the hotness scale is the N.Y. Buffalo (my personal favorite), teriyaki wasabi, homemade BBQ, and garlic & herb. Not only do the wings at Gallo's have substantial size to them, but they also have the right amount of crispness and tenderness.
One word of warning about Gallo's is that their wings do take a little more time than other places to cook because they're made to order, but it is well worth the wait. The restaurant and kitchen were renovated in early May, but if anything the renovations only added to the sports bar feel that you'll get there. With a plethora of televisions, it'd be a great place to watch an Ohio State football game in the fall when the Buckeyes hit the road.
Best smoked wings: Smokehouse Brewing Company, 1130 Dublin Road
Until recently, I was a stranger to Smokehouse Brewing Company (formerly Barley's Smokehouse). But once I tried their wings, I can see why a number of people had recommended this place to me. The wings are house-smoked and then grilled, so you know that plenty of time and care has been given to these wings to make sure that those that consume them are beyond satisfied.
The smoking of the wings gives it a different spin from the rest of the wings on this list. Much like Gallo's, Smokehouse Brewing Company only has a few flavors of wings ranging from sweet KC to gates of hell, but with the wings being smoked they are already flavorful and juicy enough to stand alone. The flavor that the wings can be tossed in or given to you on the side just add to a great wing.
Located on Route 33 near Grandview, Smokehouse Brewing Company isn't too far from the campus area, so it could make for a good spot to grab some grub before some of the later Ohio State football or basketball games that are on the schedule. Also if wings aren't you thing (which I'm not sure why you'd be reading this) Smokehouse has plenty of other smoked offerings that will definitely please the taste buds.
Best wing on campus: Mad Mex, 1542 North High Street
During my years at Ohio State I spent many happy hours at Mad Mex, not only for their half price drafts, but also for their half price chicken wings. Not only do they have honey chipotle BBQ, classic buffalo, San Francisco, and southwestern flavors, but after that you can decide how hot of a wing you're looking for with their mild, wild, and insane styles of each wing. Another plus from Mad Mex is out of the places I've been to in Columbus they are the most generous with the bleu cheese. Not only does Mad Mex have great wings, but they also have a great patio if you're into sitting outside on a nice spring or summer day.
While I was skeptical at first about just how good that chicken wings from a mexican restaurant would be, I was pleasantly surprised after my first time trying them, and while I don't live quite as close to campus as I used to, I still make it down to Mad Mex a number of times a year to enjoy their wings. The ordering sizes may be a little quirky (choosing to go with 7 or 14 over the traditional 6 or 12), but it all works together. While tacos and burritos might be on your radar if you're heading there, next time try the wings, you won't regret it.
Hottest wing: Quaker Steak & Lube, 8500 Lyra Drive
No, no I'm not sending you to an oil change place for wings. I'm sure many of you have either been to Quaker Steak & Lube in the Polaris area, or at the least have driven by it. If the hottest of the hot wings are your thing, then Quaker Steak & Lube has you covered. Or in this case I guess I should say they have you sauced.
The Atomic Wings alone register in at 150,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units) which in itself is ridiculous, but Quaker Steak & Lube also offers up the Triple Atomic Wings that measure in at 500,000 SHU, which are perfect if you never want to taste anything ever again. How serious is the heat on these wings? if you want them you have to sign a release before eating them.
Best wing value: Yogi's Bar & Grill, 5857 Karric Square Drive & 3880 Hard Road
While the wings at Gallo's and Smokehouse are truly the class of Columbus, the wings at Yogi's are pretty good, but the major reasoning they are on this list is for their Sunday special. At both of their locations in the Dublin area on Sundays you can get 20 wings for just $10. A lot of places these days just 10 wings are nearing the $10 range, so when there is a chance to get double that for the same price you have to take it.
Now you're probably thinking, "if they are that cheap, they can't be any good", but you'd be wrong with that kind of reasoning. The wings are meaty, and there are plenty of different flavors to try with 11 different flavors on the menu. Can't decide on which flavor you'd like to tackle? Just split 'em and go 10 in one flavor and 10 in another. Another plus is there are plenty of TVs everywhere you look at both locations, so if you're a sports fan you definitely won't miss anything while devouring some delicious wings.
Best boneless wing: Wings Over Columbus, 1315 West Lane Avenue
I'll be honest, I'm not the biggest fan of boneless wings. To me boneless wings are essentially glorified chicken nuggets. Having said that, if there is one place in Columbus that does boneless wings right, it is Wings Over Columbus. With 23 flavors that range from sweet chili to cajun blackened to their afterburner hot wings, there is a flavor for everyone at Wings Over Columbus.
Another nice feature of Wings Over Columbus with their boneless wings is that they go by weight when offering their portions instead of the number of wings you'll get. I've noticed more and more restaurants start to do this, but I know that Wings Over Columbus has been doing this for years.
The only downside of Wings Over Columbus is that it is a take-out restaurant. Unlike the other places on this list, don't expect to go there and have a comfortable sit-down meal, but that shouldn't scare you away from giving it a shot if you haven't already. Also they do have delivery so if you live within the delivery area then you could have all of those delicious boneless wings without even having to leave the house.
Have any favorites that I have missed? Spread the word in the comments and I'll try to expand my wing game and try them out. Just don't tell us that you have found hidden gems like Buffalo Wild Wings or Roosters.