12 best spots for chicken wings, ranked
Dive bars usually aren’t known for their food. Cheap drinks, stiff pours and dim lighting that makes everybody in the building look 10 percent more attractive than they actually are is more de rigueur at a dive. But at Rustic, things are different. Walk in at any time of day and you’ll see most—if not all—tables sporting a big plate of wings. Though a classic Buffalo sauce is all they offer, they’ve perfected it. Get your wings extra crispy and with extra veggies, and let go of all shame: The ample portion of sauce is just dying to get all over your face and hands. But once you dive into the tender, crunchy, spicy, tangy and vinegary experience that is a plate of Ye Rustic Inn wings, none of that will matter to you. All that will matter are the juicy, hot and steamy morsels in front of you.
Thai food generally reserves the right to kick your ass with fiery chilies—especially at any Night + Market establishment, be it in Venice, WeHo or Silver Lake—but the wings are quite sweet, and a full-on master class in nailing the salty-sweet combo. In fact, when your mouth is on fire from the rest of the meal, you may end up grabbing the wings to help cool things down.
The last remnants of Nguyen Tran’s Starry Kitchen are alive and well at Button Mash, the Echo Park bar meets arcade meets gastropub. By far one of the most fun places to eat in L.A., Button Mash’s excellent, vintage-leaning cabinet collection stacks up nicely to the strong beer list and an even stronger menu of Asian-influenced bites. And, you guessed it, the highlight of this menu is three different types of double-fried wings. Between the sweet tamarind flavor, the salty garlic option and the spicy “tangy,” it would be impossible for us to pick a favorite—we guess you’ll just have to order all three.
At some point, somebody’s told you that Howlin’ Ray’s fried chicken is the best fried chicken in L.A. It’s certainly the spiciest, and the tender, juicy chicken hiding underneath the Nashville-style cayenne- and paprika-based crust is extremely difficult to beat. It’s not just tenders and sandwiches though, as Howlin’ also throws their magic all over wings, too. As we all know, meat tastes best when it’s eaten off the bone—you need these wings.
In a city full of sports bars slinging generic wings everywhere you look, most start to look and taste exactly the same. This isn’t the case at the Greyhound, one of Highland Park’s most reliable sports spots. With wings served in 18 different flavors—among them garlic parm, cherry bomb, and chili con limón—it’s safe to say you most definitely won’t get bored. The fact that they’re delicious doesn’t hurt, either.
At Comfort LA, it’s right there in the name: You’re here for comfort food. The Downtown soul food pop-up–turned–brick-and-mortar is a huge hit, thanks in no small part to their expertly-fried chicken wings. The dinner special will get you five wings, two sides and cornbread—and at $12, it’s one of the neighborhood’s best values.
Leave it to Zach Pollack to keep the hits coming at Cosa Buona. The Alimento chef’s casual-but-secretly-upscale Italian restaurant is a crucial part of the Echo Park dining scene for a reason, and there are many people who consider Cosa Buona’s wings to be the best in L.A. This is most certainly due to the sauce, dubbed “Zach’s Red Hot,” which is essentially an even better version of Frank’s. The next time you want pizza and wings, you know where to go.
Don’t worry about the fact that Lukshon calls them spicy chicken “pops,” because they’re still everything you’re searching for in a chicken wing. The Culver City Asian-fusion destination owes a lot of their following to these Indonesian-inspired wings, which remain as popular as ever. They’re spicy, salty and the perfect accompaniment to nearly everything on the menu.
By now there should be no doubt in your mind that L.A. is a wing town, but even so, it can be hard to find great wings of the not-fried persuasion. This is where Charcoal comes in, with smoky, grilled wings topped with oregano, chili and vinegar. In a town dominated by Asian or Buffalo-style fried wings, the BBQ-inspired, herbal flavor of Charcoal’s might be just what you need.
Beer Belly’s made a name for itself as one of Koreatown’s best places for bar bites, and in an area laden with sports bars, it stands out in a big way. There’s not much better to pair with a pint from their excellent beer list than the Jidori chicken wings, served in any of their four styles (honey-cilantro, buffalo blue, brown sugar hot, and chipotle volcano). For the quality and portion size, $13.50 is already a steal—but during happy hour, you’d have to be out of your mind to skip a $6 half order.
In addition to housing great restaurants in the corners of unassuming strip malls—one of L.A.’s great hallmarks—we also specialize in tasty food served out of a literal hole in a wall. Hot Gai Chicken is a perfect example, serving spicy Thai fried chicken out of a walk-up window at music venue the Hi Hat. The menu is small and focused, built almost exclusively around getting fried chicken into your hands—though papaya salad, sticky rice and a vegan-chicken option are also available. Don’t consider taking a bite of a wing without the sweet chili or peanut dipping sauces, either.
KyoChon may not be the most trendy or groundbreaking wing spot, but they paved the way for a lot of the Korean fried-chicken craze and any list of great L.A. fried chicken without them would just be wrong. The double-fried crispiness and three saccharine-leaning flavors—soy garlic, hot-and-sweet and honey—really can’t be found anywhere else. Plus, the 2am closing time makes KyoChon an elite landing zone for fourth meal. It’s always important to keep them in the rotation.