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Where to Find Stellar Wings in the Twin Cities

From sweet honey barbecue to fiery buffalo, here’s where to find everyone’s favorite game-day snack

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Game day or not, the demand for good wings never wavers. Juicy and handheld, wings are an excellent vessel for flavor — and though they’re messier than the average knife-and-fork chicken dinner, there are few better ways to eat chicken. From sweet honey barbecue to fiery buffalo sauce, here’s a trail of places around the Twin Cities to get a wing fix.

Note that these restaurants are listed geographically.

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Soul Lao

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When Soul Lao, the St. Paul-based food truck known for its pork belly baguette sandwiches, red curry-topped branzino, and fiery khaopoon, opened a permanent location at Sibley Plaza, owners Sabrina Boualaphanh and Eric Phothisanh’s new menu smartly kept its hugely popular O.G. wings. Huge, double-fried, and based on the wings that Phothisanh’s grandmother made, they are as good as it gets.

Bull's Horn Food and Drink

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There are few better neighborhood spots for a draft beer and a basket of wings. Bull’s Horn keeps it simple, serving its wings with either a classic dry rub or buffalo sauce. (Don’t sleep on the dill-brined fried chicken, either.)

Cedar Inn

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Cedar Inn has satisfied wing aficionados far and wide since its 1942 debut. The vibe inside is equal parts neighborhood sports bar and tavern. Known for its jumbo buffalo wings — some call them “pterodactyl wings” — Cedar Inn slathers its wings with a choice of six sauces and three dry rubs. A mix of the hot buffalo and Asian sticky sauces gives a powerful punch of flavor.

Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub

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Northbound Brewpub & Smokehouse is known for its applewood-smoked wings, which are tossed in sauces ranging from an Alabama white — made with mayonnaise, vinegar, and spices — to a finely tuned apricot chipotle, which expertly blends sweetness with a little smoke.

Smoke in the Pit

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Smoke in the Pit, a circa 1998 barbecue spot on Chicago Avenue, serves beautifully smoked chicken wings. Pair an order with a slab of ribs and sides like mac and cheese and baked beans. When the weather’s nice, head to nearby Powderhorn Park for a picnic — for the time being, Smoke in the Pit is takeout only.

D-Spot has a huge, inventive list of scratch-made sauces and dry-rubs. True spice hounds should opt for the fiery Seizonsha or Scorpion King wings, but there are many other choices for the less bold — like the Lalapalooza, made with lavender and peppercorn, or the Canadian, made with bourbon and brown sugar.

HmongTown Marketplace

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Find some fantastic stuffed chicken wings at the food court in HmongTown Marketplace. Crammed with bean thread noodles, herbs, and ground meat, these wings are reassembled into a meaty masterpiece. Drizzle them with chili sauce to add some heat.

Gai Noi

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A successor to chef Ann Ahmed’s restaurants Khâluna, Lat14, and Lemongrass, Gai Noi’s menu is expansive, including three kinds of larb, creamy, tomato-rich khao soi, and simple, curry-coated panang spaghetti. On the stellar snacks section are three kinds of habit-forming wings: tempura-fried and served with a side of sweet chili sauce; wings tossed in habanero sauce and topped with cilantro, scallions, onions, and red bell pepper; and perhaps the most popular, crispy basil wings coated in a dry rub and topped with jalapeños.

Juche is an Eastside standout, an intimate lounge serving some of the Cities’ finest Korean fare. In addition to a bulgogi-marinated burger; crispy mackerel fillet in a spicy seafood sauce; and “mac n’ chi,” pairing creamy mac and cheese with butter-fried kimchi, Juche makes some of the best new wings to be found in the area. Fried to perfection and coated in sweet ginger, spicy barbecue, or gochujang sauce, they come five to an order, so you’ll probably want to try all three. The kitchen stays open until midnight.

WENDY'S HOUSE OF SOUL, INC.

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Wendy’s House of Soul serves some fantastic wings. If you’re in the mood for sauce, choose between the barbecue, the jerky jerk, and the hot. But don’t skip the dry rubs: Wendy serves a lemon pepper, a ranch, a Rebel, and a house dry rub called SOULWINGS. For brunch, make it a plate of chicken and waffles. Note that as of early January, Wendy’s House of Soul is relocating — keep an eye on Instagram for the announcement of a new location in North Minneapolis opening on January 16.

Runyon's

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Located near the Warehouse District in downtown Minneapolis, Runyon’s was one of the first local restaurants to introduce buffalo wings to its menu in 1984. Patrons from all walks of life pull up to Runyon’s bar stools and tables, whether they’re sports fans catching a game at Target Field or art lovers leaving the latest play or concert downtown. The walls are decorated with historic photos of Minneapolis.

The Monte Carlo

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A downtown Minneapolis institution since 1906, the Monte Carlo is a historic time capsule — the l decor emulates old-school supper clubs and steak houses. But the wings steal the show: Served “Beijing-style,” they’re packed with spices, but served without sauce. Swap the standard carrots and celery for the grilled asparagus or broccoli spears, which make an excellent pairing.

Ray J's American Grill

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This cozy Northeast sports bar is a haven for wing lovers seeking refuge from busy downtown Minneapolis. Ray J’s is known for its jumbo wings, which cater to tame and adventurous taste buds alike. Instead of the bleu cheese or ranch that accompanies the wings, ask for Ray J’s homemade garlic sauce to add some zing. (That said, Ray J’s blue cheese is homemade.)

Bonchon

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Bonchon’s chicken wings are double-fried in a light batter with a choice of soy garlic, spicy, or half-and-half sauce. They’re crispy without being greasy, and densely flavorful. Add a side of kimchi for a little added kick.

Tooties On Lowry

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A family-owned restaurant since 1988, Tootie’s is filled with dive bar memorabilia, from pool tables to arcade games and pinball machines. Tootie’s stellar wings are served in huge portions with a plethora of dry rub and sauce options, from a traditional five-spice dry rub to a chili plum sauce.

Soul Lao

When Soul Lao, the St. Paul-based food truck known for its pork belly baguette sandwiches, red curry-topped branzino, and fiery khaopoon, opened a permanent location at Sibley Plaza, owners Sabrina Boualaphanh and Eric Phothisanh’s new menu smartly kept its hugely popular O.G. wings. Huge, double-fried, and based on the wings that Phothisanh’s grandmother made, they are as good as it gets.

Bull's Horn Food and Drink

There are few better neighborhood spots for a draft beer and a basket of wings. Bull’s Horn keeps it simple, serving its wings with either a classic dry rub or buffalo sauce. (Don’t sleep on the dill-brined fried chicken, either.)

Cedar Inn

Cedar Inn has satisfied wing aficionados far and wide since its 1942 debut. The vibe inside is equal parts neighborhood sports bar and tavern. Known for its jumbo buffalo wings — some call them “pterodactyl wings” — Cedar Inn slathers its wings with a choice of six sauces and three dry rubs. A mix of the hot buffalo and Asian sticky sauces gives a powerful punch of flavor.

Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub

Northbound Brewpub & Smokehouse is known for its applewood-smoked wings, which are tossed in sauces ranging from an Alabama white — made with mayonnaise, vinegar, and spices — to a finely tuned apricot chipotle, which expertly blends sweetness with a little smoke.

Smoke in the Pit

Smoke in the Pit, a circa 1998 barbecue spot on Chicago Avenue, serves beautifully smoked chicken wings. Pair an order with a slab of ribs and sides like mac and cheese and baked beans. When the weather’s nice, head to nearby Powderhorn Park for a picnic — for the time being, Smoke in the Pit is takeout only.

D-Spot

D-Spot has a huge, inventive list of scratch-made sauces and dry-rubs. True spice hounds should opt for the fiery Seizonsha or Scorpion King wings, but there are many other choices for the less bold — like the Lalapalooza, made with lavender and peppercorn, or the Canadian, made with bourbon and brown sugar.

HmongTown Marketplace

Find some fantastic stuffed chicken wings at the food court in HmongTown Marketplace. Crammed with bean thread noodles, herbs, and ground meat, these wings are reassembled into a meaty masterpiece. Drizzle them with chili sauce to add some heat.

Gai Noi

A successor to chef Ann Ahmed’s restaurants Khâluna, Lat14, and Lemongrass, Gai Noi’s menu is expansive, including three kinds of larb, creamy, tomato-rich khao soi, and simple, curry-coated panang spaghetti. On the stellar snacks section are three kinds of habit-forming wings: tempura-fried and served with a side of sweet chili sauce; wings tossed in habanero sauce and topped with cilantro, scallions, onions, and red bell pepper; and perhaps the most popular, crispy basil wings coated in a dry rub and topped with jalapeños.

Juche

Juche is an Eastside standout, an intimate lounge serving some of the Cities’ finest Korean fare. In addition to a bulgogi-marinated burger; crispy mackerel fillet in a spicy seafood sauce; and “mac n’ chi,” pairing creamy mac and cheese with butter-fried kimchi, Juche makes some of the best new wings to be found in the area. Fried to perfection and coated in sweet ginger, spicy barbecue, or gochujang sauce, they come five to an order, so you’ll probably want to try all three. The kitchen stays open until midnight.

WENDY'S HOUSE OF SOUL, INC.

Wendy’s House of Soul serves some fantastic wings. If you’re in the mood for sauce, choose between the barbecue, the jerky jerk, and the hot. But don’t skip the dry rubs: Wendy serves a lemon pepper, a ranch, a Rebel, and a house dry rub called SOULWINGS. For brunch, make it a plate of chicken and waffles. Note that as of early January, Wendy’s House of Soul is relocating — keep an eye on Instagram for the announcement of a new location in North Minneapolis opening on January 16.

Runyon's

Located near the Warehouse District in downtown Minneapolis, Runyon’s was one of the first local restaurants to introduce buffalo wings to its menu in 1984. Patrons from all walks of life pull up to Runyon’s bar stools and tables, whether they’re sports fans catching a game at Target Field or art lovers leaving the latest play or concert downtown. The walls are decorated with historic photos of Minneapolis.

The Monte Carlo

A downtown Minneapolis institution since 1906, the Monte Carlo is a historic time capsule — the l decor emulates old-school supper clubs and steak houses. But the wings steal the show: Served “Beijing-style,” they’re packed with spices, but served without sauce. Swap the standard carrots and celery for the grilled asparagus or broccoli spears, which make an excellent pairing.

Ray J's American Grill

This cozy Northeast sports bar is a haven for wing lovers seeking refuge from busy downtown Minneapolis. Ray J’s is known for its jumbo wings, which cater to tame and adventurous taste buds alike. Instead of the bleu cheese or ranch that accompanies the wings, ask for Ray J’s homemade garlic sauce to add some zing. (That said, Ray J’s blue cheese is homemade.)

Bonchon

Bonchon’s chicken wings are double-fried in a light batter with a choice of soy garlic, spicy, or half-and-half sauce. They’re crispy without being greasy, and densely flavorful. Add a side of kimchi for a little added kick.

Tooties On Lowry

A family-owned restaurant since 1988, Tootie’s is filled with dive bar memorabilia, from pool tables to arcade games and pinball machines. Tootie’s stellar wings are served in huge portions with a plethora of dry rub and sauce options, from a traditional five-spice dry rub to a chili plum sauce.

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