There are certain absolutes that should be included in any basic dating profile, among them whether or not you want children, and if you prefer drumettes or flats.
Chicken wing lovers can be intensely discriminating when it comes to wing preparation, sauce, rub and condiments. Below is a guide that should cover all the bases: 11 places offering wings worthy of your stained shirts and fingers. We’re still in the middle of a pandemic, so please check with the restaurants for availability before ordering.
(And by the way, boneless wing eaters need not apply or swipe.)
Artur Kasabyan and his brothers are Kobe Bryant fans. When they weres creating sauces for the wings at their Valley Glen restaurant Bird Box, they decided to make one to honor their favorite Laker. The Black Mamba is in the Buffalo sauce family, but it’s about two notches hotter and thicker than your average wing sauce. That’s because Kasabyan adds fresh Carolina Reaper peppers to the mix for an extra kick that leaves a lingering dry heat long after you’ve cleaned the bones.
12460 Oxnard St., Valley Glen, (818) 446-6881, eatbirdbox.com
The charred lime that accompanies your order of wings is an integral part of the dish, not just a pretty garnish. The citrus-brined fried chicken is excellent on its own, with a delicate crunch that holds up under the light glaze of kecap manis, but a squeeze of lime sharpens the flavors, bringing them into focus and helping to punctuate the sweet soy and Thai chiles.
67 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena, (626) 795-5702, bonekettle.com
Brooklyn Ave Pizza Co.
Chef Mario Christerna is making a wing for every persuasion and occasion at his new Boyle Heights restaurant, Brooklyn Ave. Pizza Co. The menu includes the classic Buffalo and sweet chile wings, lemon pepper wings with fine curls of lemon zest, mole-coated wings and habanero barbecue wings. The wood-fired wings are charred and smoky, drizzled with a cilantro herb gremolata. But our favorite might be the Flaming Hot Cheetos wings, coated in Hot Cheetos dust and topped with globs of nacho cheese. They allow me to channel my inner coed — the one who used to eat Flamin’ Hot Cheetos with chopsticks (didn’t want to stain my fingers) while guzzling a Snapple on my way home from class. I miss that girl.
2706 E. Cesar E. Chavez Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 968-1106, brooklynavepizzaco.com
Bulgolgi Hut, the once-bustling Korean barbecue restaurant in Koreatown, launched a fried chicken business last summer. It was one of the many pivots the restaurant has made to survive during the pandemic, including offering Korean barbecue kits and bento boxes. The chicken here is fried perfectly, with each wing encased in a force field of crunch. But while most soy garlic wings are heavy on the soy, and tend to lean sweet, the wings at Chicken Hut are delightfully pungent with garlic. You will smell, but you will like it.
3600 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 100C, Los Angeles, (213) 388-1988, chickenhutla.com
The wings from Comfort LA resist getting soggy, even after an hour in a takeout box. The skin remains nubby and brittle, with an ethereal crunch. But what makes these wings so addictive is a healthy shake of the restaurant’s signature spice blend, which tastes of dried rosemary, chile, sugar and green onion. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself dabbing at every last bit of seasoning in the bottom of the box.
1110 E. 7th St., Los Angeles, (213) 537-0844; and 902 N. La Brea Ave., Inglewood, (424) 702-5138; eatcomfortla.com
The wings at Zach Pollack’s Italian restaurant are stained a menacing red. They are doused in what the chef has dubbed Zach’s Red Hot, a play on the classic wing sauce, only much, much better. Imagine a more intense Frank’s Red Hot but with a fruity zing from fresh chiles rather than vinegar. Pollack also decided to give the traditional blue cheese dressing dip an update. He serves his wings alongside a cup of creamy Gorgonzola sauce.
2100 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 908-5211, cosabuona.com
If your love for Lay’s sour cream and onion potato chips is as passionate as your love for wings, Furai is the place for you. This Korean restaurant will dust its chicken with a variety of flavored powders one might normally find on potato chips, including sour cream and onion, garlic Parmesan, cheddar, Buffalo and barbecue. The powders are offered as an option for the larger pieces of chicken, but if you ask nicely, they will make it rain cheese powder on your wings. The fine powder settles into the crannies created by the chicken’s ragged, crisp coating, giving each bite the sensation of tipping your head back, holding up a bag of chips and emptying every last crumb into your mouth.
Go Go Bird
Chef Brandon Kida is making a style of chicken unique to Los Angeles for his new pop-up called Go Go Bird. Kida makes a cross between Nashville hot chicken and Sichuan Chongqing chicken, with a marinade that highlights white soy, kombu and koji. The wings are dredged and fried, with a craggy coating and an airy crunch. They get their deep rust color from Kida’s signature chile oil, which also produces a toasted chile flavor and that familiar mala numbing sensation.
1550 N. El Centro, Hollywood, (323) 396-9400, go-go-bird.com
The wings at this Central-Alameda soul food restaurant are for fried chicken purists. They are full wings (drumette and flats attached) accompanied by two sides (be sure one of them is the collard greens) and a cornbread muffin. This is straightforward, excellent chicken, made using Alice Ragland, a.k.a. Granny’s, recipe. The chicken is marinated overnight in seasoning salt, dredged in flour and then fried.
5440 S. Central Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 231-2141
The blazing-red chicken wings at Kim Prince’s Nashville hot chicken restaurant should be required eating. If you’ve never been to Nashville and you want to try hot chicken, this is the place. The wings are about the size of a baseball, dredged and fried until beautifully crisp and saturated with hot oil and spices. Choose your heat level wisely. The medium might bring a tear to your eye, while the hot will smack you right in the face (in a good way).
4070 Marlton Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 792-4835, hotvillechicken.com
My Chinese mother recognized the smell of the chicken wings from Needle in Silver Lake before I opened the box. “Are those soy sauce chicken?” she asked. She said they reminded her of the soy sauce chicken wings her grandmother made frequently when she was a child, and that they were just as good. Chef Ryan Wong’s wings are distinctly aromatic with notes of star anise and fennel. The skin is soft and slick like Hainan chicken but colored a deep brown from the soy-intensive sauce that infiltrates the skin, meat and bones. If you grew up eating something similar, you will find these wings instantly comforting. And if you didn’t, now is a good time to start.
3827 W. Sunset Blvd. #C, Los Angeles, needlela.com