Few foods taste better on Super Bowl Sunday than a messy pile of chicken wings. Whether they come slathered in barbecue sauce or flaming buffalo, everyone seems to have a favorite. And each time a new sports bar opens, it hopes to convert you to its take on wings. If you're tempted to try something new this weekend, we've done a little research for you, tasting the wings at 5 new sports bars (In order from best to blah):
1. The Anthem
1725 W. Division St., 773-687-4804
This Wicker Park throwback spot from the team behind Bangers & Lace put the focus on big screens and calorie bomb comfort food. Don’t visit on a diet.
Look: The "Drumettes" are French-cut (aka "lollipop" wings) meaning a huge hunk of meat and a semi sauce-free holding experience.
Sauce: You can choose either a spicy Asian barbecue or buffalo sauce (made with Cholula Hot Sauce), or just ask for a half-order of each. The spicy barbecue ended up being the hands-down favorite, but both types had a fantastic chicken-to-sauce ratio and left us completely stuffed.
Price: 6 for $9, 12 for $16 or 20 for $20
2. The Ogden
1659 W. Ogden Ave., 312-226-1888
A menu with options such as chicken fat ranch popcorn, egg and white anchovy crostini and steak tartare seems to support the claim that this is a "chef-driven" sports spot. And with a location within walking distance of United Center, it's sure to be a popular pre and post-game spot in the coming months.
Look: There was an audible gasp and short burst of giggles when these arrived at our table. The bar's "Grilled Turkey Wings" are actually renaissance faire-sized legs. Ask for a fork.
Sauce: These oversized babies come fully slathered in a mild buffalo sauce. But with so much meat per bone, it's hard for the flavor to really sink in. By the end, it was a rip-and-dip meat situation. The real winner on the plate came in the blue cheese celery root slaw on the side. Delicious.
Price: $10 for two
3. Standard Bar/Grill
1332 N. Milwaukee, 773-904-8615
If this Wicker Park spot looks packed, don't panic. You can usually find plenty of spare seating (and a second bar) upstairs with flatscreens for everyone.
Look: Yup, they're wings.
Sauce: With a choice between Thai peanut ginger, classic buffalo or Jameson chipotle barbecue sauces, we opted, naturally, for the Jameson. Sticky sweet with just a little kick, the sauce was great if you're looking for a barbecue wing. The one downfall: No mixing sauces. If you want to try each kind, you'll need three orders.
Price: $8 for 8
4. The Scout Waterhouse + Kitchen
1301 S. Wabash Ave., 312-705-0595
The Scout has quickly become one of those see-and-be-seen upscale sports spots where you tend to see more heels than jerseys. Get there before 9 p.m. if you're hoping to sit down without a wait.
Look: Hate to say it again, but wings are sometimes just wings. Nothing too special here, but regularly priced at less than $1 a piece, it's the best deal out of the bunch.
Sauce: Buffalo or barbecue, the choice is yours. The buffalo isn't going to be hot enough to satisfy most wing nuts, but you can always ask for hot sauce. We would have hoped for a meatier wing, but at least they weren't drowning in sauce.
Price: $9 for 10
5. Linkin House
2142 N. Clybourn, 773-857-1111
The former home of "The Pitch" is back as another three-level sports spot. If the wings are doing it for you, there's always a burger topped with Nutella … or kimchee.
Look: Average bar wing. Not too meaty, overly sauced.
Sauce: Plenty of choices here, though most skew toward the Chinese food variety: Sweet and sour, sweet chili, General Tso's, orange chicken, red hot or extra hot. Always looking for variety, we tried the sweet chili. Even though the tougher-than-tough wings had obviously been a bit too long in the fryer, the sauce wasn't bad. But the flavor left me wanted a side of steamed rice, not a side of ranch dressing.
Price: $8 for 8-12 (depending on the size of the wings)