Eating chicken wings could be considered a sport. There's an art to nibbling every morsel of chicken from the bone, and licking every bit of sauce off your fingers takes stamina, and a palate of steel.
For the legions of wing fans in Los Angeles (there's an Instagram account devoted to girls eating wings @girlseatingwings), we've compiled a list of seven of this town's great chicken wings. We know there are more. If you have suggestions, please let us know. You can never have enough wings.
Get your plastic bibs and napkins ready.
Barney's Beanery: If you want the classic hot wing, there's no shortage of choices. From Wing Stop to Hot Wings Cafe to Big Wangs, there's a Buffalo wing for everyone. But the hot Buffalo wings at Barney's Beanery are a notch above the rest. The sauce is tart, vinegary, spicy, and just thick enough to create a nice even coating on the wings. And whether you're eating your first, or 24th wing, the skin keeps its crisp texture beneath the sauce. You can also order the wings with sweet chile sauce and BBQ. Multiple locations, www.barneysbeanery.com.
Brilliantshine: Beware, these are actual full-size chicken wings, not the drumettes and wingettes you may be expecting when you order wings. You'll need to use two hands. The sauce is made with gochujang, the Korean condiment made with fermented soybeans, glutinous rice, chile and salt. It's mixed with honey, which creates a subtle, slow heat that really resonates only after you've finished the entire plate. And underneath the wings, a bed of sauteed kale (yes, kale), which you'll use to sop up all the leftover sauce. 522 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 451-0045, www.thebrilliantshine.com.
Goldie's: If Kettle Chips' salt and pepper-flavored chips with ridges were a cast iron skillet full of chicken wings, these would be it. These wings celebrate the classic flavor combination with a coating that's salty, with a dry heat from the peppercorns. These wings need no sauce, but they come with a side of "lemon and mayonnaise," which translates to a dip that's part ranch dressing, part vinegar-based hot sauce, with a kick of tart lemon. An odd mix, but you'll probably end up drinking the sauce. 8422 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, (323) 677-2470, www.goldiesla.com.
Hyperion Public: Blueberries and chicken wings don't go together. That's what I found myself saying when a friend suggested we try the chicken wings with blueberry sauce on a recent trip to Hyperion Public in Silver Lake. And yet somehow, they do. These chicken wings are smothered in a deep purple sauce flecked with pieces of blueberry skins. It's just sweet enough (think dipping your bacon in maple syrup) and by the end of the bowl, you'll be wondering why you don't put blueberry sauce on everything. 2538 Hyperion Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 761-6440, www.hyperionpublic.com.
Kyochon: If it's after midnight and you've been drinking — and singing Celine Dion songs at a karaoke bar with your friends — definitely get your own wings. Do not share. Don't even think about it. That first bite is like water on a desert island, and you'll slap at anything that comes in between you and the next wing. The original soy garlic is a salty mix of pungent garlic and sticky soy sauce, and the skin is so crisp it almost shatters. This place gets bonus points for its Salsal chicken strips, which feature a puffed rice coating. Multiple locations, www.kyochon.com.my.
OB Bear: The spicy hot wings at this Korean pub (more like dive bar) may be the messiest wings in Los Angeles. They're shiny, glistening, almost lacquer-ish sweet, but have really fiery chile sauce covering every inch of chicken on the plate. And this place doesn't want you to go hungry, so expect to feed a small army with just one order. The wings are fried twice, for extra crunch, and each order comes with cubes of pickled daikon and a cabbage slaw topped with a ladle-full of Thousand Island dressing. Don't be surprised if halfway through dinner you start dunking your chicken in the pink salad dressing in an effort to keep your tongue from catching on fire. 3002 W. 7th St., Los Angeles, (213) 480-4910.
Hot n Sweet Chicken: These are mini pieces of perfectly coated fried chicken, bathed in a sweet and spicy soy garlic sauce. Double and sometimes triple layers of crisp coating on each wing create a multi-level crunch factor you won't get with wings anywhere else. And on multiple occasions, we've witnessed individuals attacking plates of wings by themselves. This could be because they don't want anyone to witness the sauce on their face, fingers and hair — or because they simply don't want to share. 48 E. Huntington Dr., Arcadia, (626) 445-6300, www.hotnsweetchicken.com.
Do I have sauce on my face? Follow me on Twitter @Jenn_Harris_