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The Six: Chicken Wings

Whether it’s Wingettes, Tips, Drumettes or Flats, Columbus is a melting pot for different varieties of chicken wings. While some pay homage to traditional buffalo roots, others traverse wildly new paths unique to their own cooking style and flavors. Check it out, as we break down (and grub on) the Top Six Best Chicken Wing spots in the city.”

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Chicken Wings

Whether it’s Wingettes, Tips, Drumettes or Flats, Columbus is a melting pot for different varieties of chicken wings. While some pay homage to traditional buffalo roots, others traverse wildly new paths unique to their own cooking style and flavors. Check it out, as we break down (and grub on) the Top Six Best Chicken Wing spots in the city.

 #6  O’Reillys – “Best Hidden Wing”

It’s really difficult to have a breaded, fried wing that holds flavor and is still juicy as hell, but O’Reilly’s kitchen wizardry somehow pulls it all off.

O’Reilly’s is an extremely chill, hole-in-the-wall spot that serves as a casual neighborhood hangout for many locals. Seriously, their off the grid location sits quietly on the corner of Olentangy St. and High St. at the start of Clintonville. It’s literally a spot you’ve passed a thousand times, but never realized a restaurant sits there.

While their storefront may be a little quiet, their wing game is certainly not. It’s difficult to describe, but it’s a working class, blue-collar kinda wing – hearty in size, full of flavor, great for the price, and tastes good as hell. Not to be overlooked, they also feature the standard selection of sauces and execute each to perfection.

If you feel like stepping away from your standard restaurant selections, you can’t go wrong with a 12-spot of chicken wings from O’Reilly’s…and make sure you get a little “Scott’s Style” sauce on the side.

O’Reillys - “Best Hidden Wing”

2822 N High St,
Columbus, OH 43202
(614) 262-6343

 #5  Thurman’s “Most Underrated Wing”

We all know that when you decide to eat at Thurman’s, you’re headed there to order a monstrous burger and voluntarily send yourself into a beef-induced, food coma – but the real food OG’s know that it’s the wing game that really flips the script here.

The Thurman Café, located at 183 Thurman Ave has been a landmark in German Village since 1942, and has been dishing out delicious burgers and wings ever since.

As a Columbus-food staple point, this spot is known for pushing out huge portions, and the jumbo hot wings are par for the course – literally, these are giant, whole wings, complete with all the bells and whistles. You’re going to need like 72 napkins and a little bit of strength to break through these bad boys, but no pain is no gain.

The sauce selection is decent, and it elevates these chicken wings to a higher level too, but our recommendation is to nab some of that 151 sauce…it’s dumb good.

If you’re hitting up Thurman’s, make sure to pay homage to the burger, but don’t let the wings slip past you.

The Thurman Cafe “Most Underrated Wing”

183 Thurman Ave
Columbus, OH 43206
(614) 443-157

 #4  HCT “Most Craved Wings”

Since their crowd-funded inception back in 2014, Hot Chicken Takeover has come into the fold as a heavyweight contender in the Columbus, chicken wing realm – earning the award for “Best Food Truck in Columbus” in 2015 and 2016.

Specializing in the style of Nashville hot chicken, these wings are a disgustingly good combination of unique Tennessee flavors with the fast, casual dining experience many American’s have become accustomed to.

Their menu features fours distinct types of chicken: “Cold”, “Warm”, “Hot” and the insatiably scorching, “Holy” flavor(s) – each as insanely good as the last.

Simply put, if you love Tennessee hot chicken there is literally no better spot in town. Be warned though, the heat is real, and will bite you back, just as heavy as you bite into the chicken.

HCT “Most Craved Wings”

Easton, Clintonville, North Market

 #3  Roosters “Most Recognizable Wings”

While this restaurant may have the look and feel of other “typical” chicken franchises, the quality of wing and the range of insanely good sauces keep Rooster’s away from the fluff and stereotypes that are often associated with chain restaurants.

Rooster’s first opened its doors in 1988, and has secured a spot in Columbus as one of the go-to eateries around town, especially for those seeking good chicken wings.

On a daily basis, Rooster’s produces a damn good, traditional chicken wing that enthusiasts should not overlook. Combining this with the wide-variety of bangin’ sauces, eaters are spoiled for choice with every mouth-watering combo they seek out. Just make sure to keep “Carolina Gold” as a first-round pick in your personal sauce draft.

Nevertheless, you can have a clean conscious recommending this spot to out-of-towners and locals alike. The chicken wings are just that good.

Roosters “Most Recognizable Wing”

10+ Central Ohio Locations

 #2  Barley’s “Best Unconventional Wings”

We’re big fans of sipping local craft brew, and we’re even bigger fans of restaurants that can cook some bomb ass wings – fortunately for our stomachs, Barley’s is a top-shelf contender for both.

Posted up across from the Columbus Convention Center, this very chill spot has some of the best wings in the entire city. Char-grilled to perfection these chicken wings shy away from traditional buffalo roots in favor of their own unconventional style.

Seriously, the char on these wings will smack your taste buds so hard that you’ll start to question all those other wing joints you once loved. Couple this with their unique sauce selection, and you’ve got a recipe for a full stomach and a long nap.

If you’re looking to get away from tradition, the unconventional route is the only way to go… and Barley’s is leading that charge.

Barley’s “Best Unconventional Wing”

467 N High St
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 228-2537

 #1  Press Grill “Best Traditional Wings”

When it comes to a chicken wing true to its heritage, there is simply no better spot in Columbus than the Short North’s Press Grill. Period.

A, sort-of, reigning champ of chicken wings sitting quietly at the top, looking down upon all others who stake their claim as the “best in town”.

This traditional wing holds all the key components of a great hot wing: the sauce, the crunch, the consistency, and the chew. With no glitter or gold, no quirky catchy-phrases or over-zealous hype, the Press silently leads all others in the chicken wing arena.

A champion-caliber wing designed for wing enthusiasts, by wing enthusiasts. The Press Grill should be a go-to in your chicken wing Rolodex. Do not make the mistake of overlooking this spot.

Press Grill “Best Traditional Wing”

741 N High St
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 298-1014

Tastebuds614 is a purely, scientific algorithm forged from a mixture of stale craft beer, cold pizza crust, dad jokes, and heavy naps on the couch. When we find time away from our normal 9 to 5 jobs, we often leave the house in droves, storming nearby restaurants and liquidating them of their chicken wings and blue cheese dressing. We often find ourselves in comatose while watching Chopped and Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives for hours on end - not knowing how we got there. We can hurl pizza crusts at small moving objects with deadly accuracy, and while on vacation in Canada, we successfully negotiated with a group of burglars who had seized a small bakery.

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Restaurant Review: El Lugar and Alpine bring Spanish, German tapas to German Village

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Displayed proudly along the wall behind El Lugar’s bar are rows and rows of canned seafood—not the ingredient of choice one might expect from an upscale tapas and pinchos restaurant, located in a city with a culinary scene that typically fawns over either traditional American, or fresh and local food. Nevertheless, the Espinaler cans of tuna, razor shells, and cockles reside there like a dare for those with adventurous enough appetites to try some of the finest seafood in the world. 

Photos by Julian Foglietti

El Lugar is a shared effort by co-owners Enis and A.J. Ndreu and Elidon Hizmo to bring new and authentic European flavors to Columbus. Their two new restaurants, El Lugar and Alpine, sit next door to one another and provide different, yet complementary experiences of Spanish and German cuisines. One side boasts a more family-friendly selection of meats, cheeses and hearty vegetables, while the other is fresh Mediterranean flavors of citrus and seafood. Both share an intriguing selection of signature cocktails. 

In contrast to El Lugar, Alpine features cuisine that showcases flavors from across Germany. Nicholas Paxton, the executive chef at both restaurants who was tasked with transforming the owners’ vision into menus, is neither German nor originally familiar with German food, so he brought in consultants more familiar with the region to help develop the recipes. “I love the authenticity that we provide here on the Alpine side,” Paxton said. “There’s a broad spectrum of what German food can be.”

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Alpine is continuing the tradition of authentic regional food that has helped characterize German Village, where it and El Lugar are located. The two restaurants replaced Juergen’s Bakery, a community staple that provided Columbus with Bavarian-style fare for 50 years. Co-owner A.J. Ndreu said they’d been looking for a spot in the area to open up another German restaurant (they also own Wurst und Bier in Worthington), so when the opportunity presented itself, they jumped.

“I used to buy all my pastries from Rosemarie [Keidel, Juergen’s Bakery’s owner],” A.J. Ndreu said. 

“We just connected and she’s like, ‘I’d love for you to take over and make a German restaurant out of it.’ ”

With that, he and his cousin launched into bringing to life their concepts for German and tapas restaurants, which they’d been developing for a decade.

One of the most instrumental sources of inspiration for A.J. has been traveling around Europe. He lived in France, where he fell in love with French food. But once he experienced all the different ways Spanish cuisine used seafood, beef and pork, he was convinced otherwise. “I thought French food was the best cuisine in the world until I started going to Spain.”

The simplicity of Spanish food is a challenge for Paxton, who says his tendency when developing a recipe is to mess with its components. Spanish cuisine, in contrast, consists of ingredients that can speak for themselves; all Paxton has to do, he says, is figure out how they work together and wait for inspiration to hit.

Back in 2008, Anthony Bourdain traveled to Catalonia for his show “No Reservations” to explore the same flavors that intrigued Ndreu and Paxton. At a little bar about half an hour outside of Barcelona, Bourdain tried Espinaler’s canned seafood, and asked, “How can any chef do better for you than that?” Ndreu was captivated.

“I was like, ‘What the hell is he talking about? It’s canned,’ ” Ndreu puzzled. “So […] I went, and I was amazed. It’s unbelievable. It’s some of the best seafood I ever ate.”

After that, A.J. spent years trying to find a way to bring Espinaler’s products to Ohio, and he finally uncovered an opportunity in El Lugar. But besides the seafood, El Lugar also features Vermut Lacuesta—not the vermouth used for lining a martini glass, but a wine-like drink to be enjoyed on its own or in a cocktail. It also offers the Spanish serrano and ibérico hams, which can be cured for years. The more expensive of the two, ibérico ham comes from black pigs fed an acorn diet and can take up to five years to reach peak flavor.

Next door, Alpine’s menu describes dishes like leberkäse (a meatloaf) and wurstteller (a selection of sausages). Diners can also order raclette, available by the scrape, over any meal. But not forgetting that it’s still in the United States, Alpine offers a handful of American classics during happy hour. These include mini cheeseburger sliders, tater tots with beer cheese dip, and fried chicken wings, among others. 

Alpine and El Lugar present their guests with foreign foods that encourage diners to explore the culinary diversity of Europe. Portion sizes, particularly at El Lugar, may be a bit smaller, but Paxton hopes Columbus diners will recognize the value in great, unique-tasting food and finding excellence in unexpected places.

“We don’t want you to fill up on it. We want you to taste some amazing flavors that nobody else is doing,” Paxton said.

Alpine and El Lugar are located at 525 S 4th St. in German Village. Find out about Alpine at alpine614.com and El Lugar at ellugar614.com.

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They’ll be nothing to wine about at these 9 local wineries

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Everyone knows that Columbus is a craft beer city, but fortunately for those who never got acclimated to the yeasty drink, there’s wine. We may not have the best climate for grape growing, but these nine wineries around Columbus are breaking down barriers and serving up delicious bottles to vino lovers.

Camelot Cellars Winery | 901 Oak St, Columbus

Camelot Cellars, an award-winning Urban Boutique Winery, handcrafts all their own wines sourcing premier juices from vineyards all over the world. Offerings include retail wines by the bottle, wine tastings, flights, and event spaces.

Via Vecchia Winery | 2050 S High St, Columbus

This family-owned, urban winery is tucked away off a private lane and hosts 7700 square feet of exclusive venue space. With original exposed brick archways, wood ceiling beams and limestone walls, every experience is sure to be unforgettable.

Wyandotte Winery | 4640 Wyandotte Dr, Columbus

Wyandotte Winery is the first and oldest winery in Central Ohio, conveniently located just miles from Easton Town Center. With wines made from Ohio grapes and a beautiful patio to enjoy them on, you’re sure to enjoy your experience at Wyandotte Winery.

Signature Wines | 3816 April Ln, Columbus

Unlike many urban wineries, Signature Wines makes wines predominantly from whole grapes  and juices brought into Columbus from predominately California and Ohio using traditional, small scale winemaking techniques.  Stop into the Winery to enjoy a glass of wine in a comfortable atmosphere.

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Hidden Lakes Winery | 650 Winchester Pike, Canal Winchester

Hidden Lakes offers a delightful selection of house-made, award-winning wines and unique craft beers. Along with beverages, enjoy food from the newly-updated kitchen while taking in the scenic lakeside view.

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant | 4230 The Strand, Columbus

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants celebrates moments that matter with chef-crafted food, award-winning wines, and life-long friendships. Outstanding wine, modern fare, Napa-inspiring tasting room: Cooper’s Hawk.

Good Vibes Winery | 2 S State St, Westerville

Good Vibes Winery is an urban winery located in Uptown Westerville, offering guests a wine experience, bistro samplings, and a beautiful environment to be enjoyed by friends and family.

Plum Run Winery | 3946 Broadway, Grove City

Plum Run Winery is a family-owned winery focusing on small batches of quality wines made from locally sourced fruit. A 3-acre vineyard located five miles south of the winery provides many of the grapes for the estate wines. Stop by and enjoy the wine and hospitality!

Powell Village Winery | 50 Liberty St, Powell

As one of the first wine négociants in Ohio, Powell Village Winery sources, blends, and produces small lots of high quality vinifera wines from America’s notable grape-growing regions. From bold & dry to sweet & fruity, they strive to create a diverse range of distinct wines for every taste.

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Tuttle Mall getting a lot sweeter thanks to 2 newcomers

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Malls have changed a lot over the years. Remember Waldenbooks? Was KB Toys your go-to as a kid? Heck, even Sears will soon be nothing more than a memory.

While mall establishments are frequently lost to the sands of time, it’s rare that you see a former retailer return to a mall it’s already vacated once. Well brace yourselves, sweets fans, because a gooey, sugar-frosted favorite is making a comeback at Tuttle Mall.

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Of course we’re talking Cinnabon, which was last in operation at Tuttle some years ago, and is now listed as “coming soon” on the mall’s directory. But wait! As tempting as it will be to fill up on cinnamon rolls after this long absence, you’ll want to save room for this other coming attraction: it seems Duck Donuts is also setting up shop in Tuttle.

Hop on the treadmill and give your dentist a heads-up, mall lovers—sweets are back at Tuttle in a big way!

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