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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.