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The Fifty/50 wings
Photograph: Sarah Zelman courtesy The Fifty/50

Where to find the best chicken wings in Chicago

Get your hands dirty with the crispiest, sauciest chicken wings in Chicago.

By Morgan Olsen
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When wing cravings hit, they hit hard. There's no substitute for fried, saucy poultry, which is why it's important to have your favorite supplier on speed dial. The best chicken wings in Chicago are shatteringly crisp, wonderfully meaty and lacquered in tangy sauce that'll have you licking your fingers clean. And don't forget the ranch dressing! There's no denying that wings are one of the greatest cheap eats in Chicago—whether you're ordering weekend delivery or watching the big game at one of the best bars in Chicago. Ready to cover your hands and face in hot buffalo sauce? Let's dig into the best chicken wings in Chicago.

RECOMMENDED: Discover more of the best restaurants in Chicago

The best chicken wings in Chicago

Great Sea Restaurant wings
Photograph: Morgan Olsen

1. Great Sea Restaurant

Restaurants Albany Park

No wing aficionado's bucket list is complete without a trip to Albany Park to hit up this cash-only Chinese-Korean restaurant, which specializes in spicy lollipop chicken wings. Sure, there are plenty of other menu items to choose from (including cha chiang mein and Szechuan pork), but there's a good chance that your fellow diners are here for the lip-tingling fried chicken. Choose your heat level (regular, extra or none) and prepare to have your taste buds blown away and your other go-to wing spot usurped.

Mott St. wings
Photograph: Casey VanderStel

2. Mott St.

Restaurants Pan-Asian River West/West Town

The Everything Wings at Mott St. are, without a doubt, one of Chicago's most iconic eats. Requiring both hands (and a pile of Wet-Naps), the comically large jumbo wings are glazed in sweet soy-jaggery sauce before they're showered in Everything seasoning, dried chilis and crispy shallots. A side of cooling tzatziki sauce for dunking is a refreshing alternative to heavy ranch dressing.

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Cleo's Southern Cuisine
Photograph: Kristen Harper

3. Cleo’s Southern Cuisine

Restaurants Soul and southern American Grand Boulevard

Named for chef-owner Kristen Harper's late grandmother, Cleo's puts a modern Creole twist on classic Southern eats in the heart of Bronzeville. The wings are no exception—they're expertly seasoned, battered and fried to crispy golden perfection. Upgrade your order when you ask for the Southern Gent, which finds six wings piled atop a fluffy waffle; the whole thing is drizzled with sweet syrup and dusted in powdered sugar. Now that's a delicious way to start the day.

Crisp.Venue.jpg
Photograph: Martha Williams

4. Crisp

Restaurants Korean Lake View

This tiny chicken joint in Lakeview is constantly buzzing, and for good reason. The chicken is fresh, of good quality, and comes slathered in three different sauces: a sticky barbecue, a hot sauce–laced Buffalo and a sesame-soy glaze dubbed “Seoul Sassy.” Can't decide? You can order five wings at a time, making it all too easy to mix and match.

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The Fifty/50 wings
Photograph: Sarah Zelman courtesy The Fifty/50

5. The Fifty/50

Bars Sports Bars Ukrainian Village

Many Chicagoans have relished at least one late night at this Wicker Park sports bar. The key to curbing your hangover is a 10-piece order of wings. Get them bone-in or boneless, then pick a sauce: There's classic buffalo, spicy garlic, honey orange teriyaki or smoky BBQ. Or go classic—the house hot sauce brandishes a blend of four peppers and is aged for at least eight weeks before it's served to guests.

Dak.venue.jpg
Photograph: Martha Williams

6. Dak

Restaurants Korean Edgewater

There's a reason a full roll of paper towels tops every table in this mod chicken shack: The signature Korean-style chicken wings are enormous, saucy, sticky and hopelessly messy. They are also hopelessly delicious, so order double the amount you normally would to ensure you've got enough to go around. A tip, if we may: Wings drenched in soy-garlic "Dak sauce" are more craveable than those in the spicier—but less interesting—barbecue sauce.

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7. Landbirds

Restaurants Logan Square

At this tiny Logan Square restaurant, lollipop chicken wings are the star of the show (Alexa, play "Lollipop" by the Chordettes). Joking aside, these handhelds are deliciously meaty and wonderfully addictive. But what really sets them apart is the sauce that owner Eddie Lee makes fresh daily. It's available in three flavors—mild, medium, Tiger and Spicy Tiger—and coats every centimeter of the expertly fried morsels to ensure the right sauce-to-poultry ratio every time.

HaiSous
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

8. HaiSous

Restaurants Vietnamese Lower West Side

Thai Dang's take on fried chicken is one of the most addictive in Chicago. Lacquered in caramelized fish sauce and Thai chili heat, these ginormous wings are lightly fried and perfectly juicy. Plus, Dang serves them over a bed of fries to catch the delicious drippings as you nosh.

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JakeMelnicks.Venue.jpg
Photograph: Nicole Radja

9. Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap

Bars Sports Bars River North

In Chicago, chicken wings are synonymous with Jake Melnick's, a laid-back River North sports bar that boasts a trophy case full of "best of" honors. The kitchen tosses drums and flats in a variety of sauces that range from buffalo and barbecue to super hot, which gets a serious kick from roasted habaneros. Look out for limited-edition flavors, too, like space truffle, a sweet and sour truffle sauce with hints of lemon zest and black pepper.

Ms. T's Southern Fried Chicken
Photograph: @chicagofoodscene courtesy Ms. T's Southern Fried Chicken

10. Ms. T's Southern Fried Chicken

Restaurants Soul and southern American Lake View

Tia Tanner's Lakeview stahlwart is situated a block west of the lakefront, making it a stellar option for refueling after a day on the water. The menu is rife with hits, but the two hands-down most popular dishes are the fried chicken and the crispy catfish, both of which can be smothered in hot sauce. Lucky for you, Ms. T offers several combo meals that allow you to dabble in land and sea. The catfish and wings bundle is a great place to start and comes loaded up with white bread and fries.

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Bronzeville Wings
Photograph: Courtesy Bronzeville Wings

11. Bronzeville Wings

Restaurants Grand Boulevard

The menu at this Bronzeville favorite is expansive, but there are just three decisions you'll need to make before you place your order: Chicken or seafood? Naked or battered? And, perhaps most importantly: Which sauce? (There are 30 to choose from.) You can't go wrong with a 10-piece order, which nets you two sauces. Heat fiends can ignite their taste buds with bangin' buffalo, mango habanero and spicy garlic, while tamer palates will get a kick out of the ginger barbecue or honey mustard sauces.

12. Soulé

Restaurants Soul and southern American River West/West Town

Soulé owner and chef Bridgette Flagg comes from a long line of great cooks—both her mother and grandmother were culinary heroes of their communities. It's no wonder, then, that Flagg has made it her mission to connect Chicagoans with soul food. If it's your first time here, the jumbo wings are a great place to start. Available in jerk or BBQ jerk, these massive morsels are loaded with great flavor, a kiss of heat and a hint of smoke. Just how we like 'em.

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Mini Mott, Mott, Burger, Wings, logan square
Photograph: Morgan Olsen

13. Mini Mott

Restaurants Logan Square

Sometimes we crave the jumbo wings at Mott St. (No. 2 on this list), but we're not hungry enough to demolish an entire order. That's where Mini Mott, the restaurant's sister spot in Logan Square, comes in handy. Here, a smaller order of drums and flats are coated in the same sweet-savory sauce and sprinkled with Everything seasoning, dried chilis and fried shallots. The Hangry wings are equally delicious and arrive slathered in sambal butter that's spiked with ginger, lemongrass, garlic and jalapeño.

14. Output

Bars Sports Bars River West/West Town

There are few sports bars in the country that can hold a candle to Output's laundry list of wing sauces. Diners can choose from bone-in or boneless morsels that are bowl-spun in 14 different toppings. Go mild with lemon pepper, teriyaki and roasted garlic BBQ, or crank up the heat with spicy mango ghost pepper.

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15. Chicago Wings Around the World

Restaurants Loop

Like its name suggests, Chicago Wings Around the World aims to send diners globetrotting with its menu of 31 sauces, which range from buffalo and honey jerk to parmesan garlic and teriyaki. Orders range from 6 to 100 wings, so there's a good chance that you can try several sauces if you're feeling indecisive.

We're Winging It at Cebu
Photograph: Courtesy Cebu

16. We’re Winging It (at Cebu)

Restaurants Filipino Wicker Park

The folks behind this Filipino restaurant do a lot of things very well (including lumpia, pork tocino and gambas), but their tamarind chicken wings have become a fast favorite among loyal customers. This new-ish spinoff spotlights the beloved menu item and shows off a range of other Asian-inspired wing sauces, like soy-calamansi, sambal BBQ and mango-habanero. Each order includes a side of rice, but there's no harm in tossing in an order of seasoned fries.

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17. Uncle Remus

Restaurants Soul and southern American Austin

With four locations scattered around the city and the suburbs, Uncle Remus has established itself as a fried chicken destination in Chicago. But not many residents realize that the restaurant's roots trace all the way back to 1963, when Gus and Mary Rickette opened G & G Chicken Shack in West Garfield Park. The concept has changed names and locations over the past six decades, but the quality of the chicken remains. These days, wings can be ordered by the piece and customers can specify exactly how they want it served (i.e. half hot/half mild or plain chicken with mild sauce on the fries). You can try it every which way, but we love the simplicity of Uncle Remus's mild sauce.

Still hungry?

Lucy's fried chicken
Photograph: Tim McCoy

Where to find the best fried chicken in Chicago

Restaurants

Wet-Naps at the ready! The tastiest fried chicken Chicago has to offer is easier to find than ever before. Sink your teeth into crispy poultry at old-school haunts and some of the top new Chicago restaurants. Whether you like it doused in Nashville-style hot sauce that makes your taste bud tingle or you prefer sweet and tangy barbecue sauce, there's something on this list for everyone.

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