Little else is more important (to me) than finding — and devouring — all the delicious chicken wings in Champaign-Urbana. Ever since the pandemic took Sakanaya’s and Crane Alley’s wings away, I have been continually searching for more C-U wings to love. Last year, I wrote about five places for inimitable wings around C-U: Black Dog, Masijta Grill, San Maru, Stango Cuisine, and The Stuft Bird; all amazing wings that aren’t like others in town. If you have a favorite chicken wing that isn’t included in these lists, do tell.
All five of my latest wing obsessions are from Champaign-Urbana restaurants that have been around for awhile. From Billy Barooz in Champaign to Windy City Express in Urbana, here are five more delicious chicken wings in Champaign-Urbana.
Jerry-Style Buffalo Wings︱Billy Barooz
Billy Barooz’s appetizer menu has something called Jerry-style wings. What’s Jerry-style? Fried, sauced wings that get thrown on the grill for extra crispiness, presumably by someone named Jerry. Wings come in orders of 10 or 20 with four sauce options: mild buffalo, hot buffalo, barbecue, and jerk. I ordered 10 Jerry-style wings ($16), half with hot buffalo sauce and half with barbecue.
Topped with pickled jalapeños, the hot buffalo wings were spicy for sure — the tasty kind of spicy that made me want to chug cold beer. I loved the heat, and I especially loved the char on the outside: so very crispy but not burnt. The five barbecue wings were also scorched on the grill, but the thicker sauce gave the exterior a stickier, softer texture than the hot buffalo wings; they were still good. Visit the the laid-back restaurant and bar in Champaign or make a reservation for a table online to try these Jerry-style crisped up wings.
2521 Village Place
Su-Th 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
F+Sa 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Wednesday Wings︱Boomerang’s Bar & Grill
Boomerang’s Wednesday wing special is an insane deal: chicken wings for only 45 cents each! Though the price is incredible, the best part was that these wings were absolutely delicious. There are 10 flavor options, and you can mix and match. I ordered eight wings ($3.60) with four different flavors: Parmesan garlic, mild, teriyaki, and something called a stinger (a spicy, breaded wing). The Parmesan garlic wings came dripping in butter, and it was love at first sight. The buttery, garlicky taste was awesome, and I will be getting much more of these salty, butter-soaked wings next time. The mild wings had a great barbecue flavor with a little kick, and the made-in-house teriyaki sauce was deliciously salty. The two stinger wings were excellent as well: juicy and well seasoned.
Boomerang’s 45 cent wing deal is only available on Wednesdays for lunch. There are plenty of tables inside the Urbana bar, which is convenient since the special is dine-in only.
Boomerang’s Bar & Grill
1309 E Washington St
M-F 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sa 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Smoked Chicken Wings︱Po’ Boys
At Po’ Boys in Urbana, I ordered six smoked chicken wings ($13.50), and they were so good that I regretted not getting the 10 wing option. The meat on these wings were so tender that the chicken practically fell off the bone. The seasonings on the skin tasted great, and the chicken was infused with a delicious smokiness. For the sauce, I chose the barbecue mix (half hot/half mild), which came on the side in a little cup. I drizzled some on top of the wings, and the tangy barbecue sauce’s peppery sweetness complemented the smoky chicken well.
202 E University
W-Su 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Mole Wings︱Maize at The Station
This mole wings appetizer ($17) is new to the menu at Maize at The Station. Ten fried chicken wings were bathed in mole sauce with a sesame seed sprinkle. The housemade mole sauce had a satisfying spice level, and the juicy chicken effortlessly separated from the bone. The dominant flavor of the mole was a delicious ancho chili flavor; the sauce wasn’t too heavy on chocolate flavor which I liked. The smoky sweetness and spiciness were on point. I haven’t seen these wings as an option for online ordering, but the mole wings are available for dine in at Maize at The Station.
During weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m., Maize has a happy hour special where all appetizers — including these mole wings — plus draft beer, wine, and sangria are half off, so if you want these ten mole wings for only $8.50, that’s the time to go.
Maize Mexican Grill
100 N Chestnut
M-F 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sa 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Su 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Chicken Wings︱Windy City Express
Lastly, Windy City Express’ four jumbo wings ($6.99) had the drums and flats connected, served on a pile of seasoned fries. These battered wings were fried to golden brown and dusted with the same salty lemon seasoning as the fries. Crunchy batter encased hot chicken that just slid off the bone. I loved this basket of fried food covered in lemon salt. Service was fast, the price was cheap, and it tasted great.
There are tables inside the casual restaurant, or you can order via the drive-through window just off University Avenue in Urbana.
Windy City Express
410 N Race Street
M-Th 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
F 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Sa 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.