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Inimitable chicken wings of Champaign-Urbana

I absolutely love wings. I am down for chicken wings anytime, anywhere. Champaign-Urbana has a lot of places to get chicken wings, and we’ve covered C-U chicken wings here, hereherehere, and here. Since my last wings list, three of the five places are no longer serving the wings. Crane Alley and Sakanaya did not put their wings back on the menu when they reopened, and sadly, Rumbergers is permanently closed.

I still love the gigantic wings from Wood N’ Hog and the saucy wings from Watson’s, but a woman cannot survive on just two favorite wings — at least, I can’t. I have been searching for more amazing wings around town, and while several places have wings on the menu, not all of the wings in town are remarkable. These five wings, however, are inimitable, so uniquely delicious that you need to try them.

Got a favorite chicken wing in town? Let me know in the comments or via email.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Smoked Chicken Wings | Black Dog

With my hair pulled back, hands washed, and a black tee to hide drips, I was ready for Black Dog’s smoked wings ($12.45). The wings came with a choice of any of Black Dog’s sauces either tossed or sauce on the side. I chose to toss mine in the hot Georgia peach — and get a side of regular Georgia peach ($0.50) because I love it. These six saucy wings were phenomenal. The skin-on, smoked chicken wings were tossed in the spicy-sweet barbeque sauce which had an awesome fiery sweetness. The best bites had charred bits of the skin with the sticky sauce; the crisped skin crumbled in my mouth like a smoky chip topped with peachy hot sauce. The chicken was tender and juicy with a barbeque smokiness. The hot Georgia peach had a masterful slow burn, but whatever your favorite Black Dog sauce is would be fantastic on these smoked wings.

These wings were served with celery and a choice of blue cheese or ranch on the side, and I chose ranch. The ranch was clearly made in house: drippy with diced herbs, and it was so freaking good that I put the cover on it and took the rest of it home for later. Last week, when I went for lunch, there was a wait; it reminded me of Black Dog’s Urbana location (still closed currently) where there was always a wait. While it is nice to be seated immediately, I was happy to see Black Dog so busy. 

Black Dog
320 N Chestnut
11 a.m. to 9 p.m., daily

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Korean Fried Wings | Masijta Grill

On the appetizer menu at Masijta Grill, there are Korean fried chicken wings ($13) with soy garlic sauce or spicy sauce ($1 extra). I ordered the wings with the spicy sauce; eight stunningly golden fried wings came on a paper tray with a sauce in a wide dipping bowl. The batter on the wings was an airy and crisp shell floating above the chicken, and the unsauced batter broke off in small chips, crunchy little flakes that were so yummy I ate every single one on my tray. The crunch on the exterior could handle being dunked in the sauce, and the bowl was big enough to cover half a wing with each dip. Fresh from the fryer, the chicken was served piping hot and so perfectly cooked that it was no struggle to eat every bit of juicy chicken and leave the bones clean.

The wings were simply flavored, but the sauce had incredible flavors of honey, soy, and garlic with little sesame seeds floating in it, too. It was a tasty sauce, but it was not really spicy to me, so if you are usually nervous to try something spicy, this might be the spicy sauce for you. Masijta’s dipping sauce, crunchy batter, and hot chicken made for a blissful bite. On the menu, there is also an option for Korean fried boneless chicken thighs if you want wings without the bones. You can order online for pick up, but I recommend taking an evening or a lunch to visit the Downtown Urbana restaurant because the fried chicken tastes so much better in person, the Korean adult beverages are good, and the vibe inside the restaurant is great.

Masijta Grill
202 N Race St
Tu+W 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Th-Sa 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Su 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Spicy Teriyaki Chicken Wings | San Maru

The wings from San Maru are unbelievable. I love these wings so much that I’ve written about them in a list of foods to try and ordered them to go countless times. I went for lunch at The Crossing restaurant and ordered the small spicy teriyaki chicken wings ($8.99) which came with six pieces of fried chicken in a generous toss of a made-in-house sauce. The portion was excellent for the price, and the chicken was tender and flavorful. The chicken itself was so good, but the sauce is what makes San Maru’s chicken wings so delicious. With red pepper flakes speckled in, the sauce was slightly sweet with a satisfying heat that soaked the fried chicken. The lingering spiciness was not overwhelming; it only made me want to eat more of the wings.

This price was insane for the taste: $9 for six wings in a sauce you can’t get anywhere but from San Maru’s kitchen. If you want more than six wings, the menu also offers ten wings for $12.99 and 20 wings for $24.99 with a choice of spicy teriyaki or regular teriyaki. Order online or stop in to the Champaign restaurant for a meal.

San Maru
2504 Village Green Pl
T-Sa 11 a.m. to 2:30 + 4 to 8:30 p.m.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Stango’s Chicken Wings | Stango Cuisine

My god, these wings were amazing. They’re not an app at Stango Cuisine; the chicken wings are one of the seven entrees at the Zambian restaurant in Urbana. Stango’s chicken wings ($11.39) come with fries or a choice of two sides. My order came with six wings, three flats and three drums, twice-fried and covered in the most amazing sauce. The menu said the chicken was marinated in a house-blend of seasonings before frying, and I could taste the developed flavors in the meat. The skin was still crunchy even under the thick red sauce. Big tastes of garlic and ginger dominated the sauce’s flavor in the best way. The wings were intensely flavorful, not spicy, and such a wonderfully messy meal. You’ll want to have extra napkins for these wings.

Honestly, it’s no surprise that these wings are so tasty because everything I’ve ordered from Stango has been great. I love the beef pies, chicken curry with nshima, plantains, Emma’s platter, beignets, and now I’m hungry for some more Stango Cuisine. You can order online here for pick up or delivery or make a table reservation. The next time you order at Stango, you really need to try these wings.

Stango Cuisine
140 Lincoln Square
T-Sa 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Macaroni-Stuffed Wings | The Stuft Bird

On Fourth Street in Champaign, you can get macaroni-stuffed wings at The Stuft Bird. I ordered six of these unique wings; the breaded and fried macaroni-stuffed wings meal ($13) which came with fries, a piece of white bread, and a can of Faygo pop. I added an extra plain Jane wing ($1.75) to my online order and picked up my order at the porch beside the parked food truck. I love macaroni and cheese, and I really love wings, so this wing is obviously a favorite of mine.

The six wings were actually more like 12 wings because each of the six wings were the jumbo wings with the drum and flat connected. That’s a lot of chicken (and fries!) for $13.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Well salted and super crispy, the outside was just the beginning of delish: the inside had so much chicken and just as much mac. I’m not sure how he does it, but the chicken had a big pocket of creamy macaroni and cheese under the skin. The crunchy batter with the cheesy mac tasted like macaroni topped with breadcrumbs or when fried chicken is beside macaroni on a plate. This wing was brilliant. I loved dipping the fries in the barbeque sauce that came with my meal; it was a tangy and sweet sauce — maybe it was made with a little bit of Faygo? 

The Stuft Bird food truck is parked at the corner of University Avenue and Fourth, and you should order online in advance for pick up. You can set the time and date, so if you really want to plan ahead, you can schedule your pick up order for the same day or up to a week and a half in advance.

The Stuft Bird
104 N Fourth St
W-Sa 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Su 11 a.m. 6 p.m.

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.

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