For many people, the cooling weather and turning leaves of autumn mean football season is underway. For me, football season is an excuse to eat hot, spicy, delicious chicken wings every weekend – and for that I'll even put up with cheering for my hopeless hometown team, the Detroit Lions.
Though I try and try, I just can't get the crispy chicken skin and hot, tangy sauce perfected in my home kitchen, so I've tested many a sports bar to satisfy my wing craving. Here are my favorites:
Wings really should be paired with a cold, crisp pint of beer, and you'll find the best of both at the Wooden Nickel, a charming little dive bar on the main drag in downtown Hillsborough. It's an everybody-knows-your-name kind of pub, but the wings are well worth the trip even if you're from Raleigh or Durham. I usually get half Nickel Hot wings (Be warned: these are NOT for the "faint of heat"), half Andy's BBQ. The sauces, as well as the ranch and bleu cheese dressings for dipping, are homemade and delicious. Get there early on Tuesdays for half-priced wing night – the bar is quite small and seats fill up quickly.
If you're the sort of person who believes pizza and wings go hand in hand, let me recommend The Point in Raleigh. While you're waiting for a wood-fired pie, dive into an order of jumbo wings with a side of cool, refreshing bleu cheese dressing. The dressing has huge chunks of cheese, and the wings are large, meaty and crisp, never soggy, with just the right amount of sauce. The kitchen can make the wings just as spicy or mild as you desire.
With two locations in Raleigh and one in Wake Forest, Buffalo Brothers is an old reliable spot for wings. Fried, grilled or boneless, with a variety of sauces and flavors, there are wings for everyone! They also have a buffalo wing dip on the appetizer menu that features three different types of cheese. I think that's all I need to say about that.
This is another North Carolina staple for wings. I like them grilled because they still somehow manage to get them super crispy, without all the guilt that comes with frying. They're generous with homemade dressings, celery and carrots, and prices are lower than at several other sports bar chains. Ten wings run about $8.
This is a great option for adventurous wing eaters who want to stray from the traditional buffalo sauce. They've got lemon pepper, teriyaki, garlic parmesan and zesty ranch, plus a few other creatively named varieties I've yet to try. Hot Lips, Miami Madness and Knock Your Block Off wings – I'm coming for all of you soon. This is another great place to hit on Tuesday, when wings are only 25 cents each!
Tell us what you think. Where are the best places to get wings this football season?