The Stuft Bird is new in town, and the concept is genius. Stuffing things inside of fried chicken wings is so unexpected and unlike anything else in town — or anywhere I’ve been for fried chicken. According to their website, this family-owned business was established in 2019 shortly after the owner of The Stuft Bird was introduced to the process of stuffing chicken wings with various ingredients by childhood friends.
Honestly, this food concept is a dream come true for me. I love wings, and I like foods that are innovative and fresh like this. I set out to try some stuffed wings and sides.
I found The Stuft Bird’s silver food truck parked in a drive next to this building just off the corner of Fourth and University in Champaign, but order pick up is in the attached porch at 104 Fourth Street.
Parking is only available on one side of the street, so make sure you arrive to the establishment going northbound on Fourth Street. The parking on the street is free, and I was told that it’s okay to park in the driveway as well.
I placed my online order in the morning (I’m a planner, and I like to plan my dinner, so I can get excited all day), and I picked it up at dinnertime. The chef was friendly and nice to chat with as he gathered my order.
The first time I went, I ordered two meals: three macaroni-stuffed wings and a drink ($11.25) and three stuffed wings with fries and drink ($9).
The meals each had three full wings (drums and flats still connected) stuffed with macaroni and cheese and a side plus a Faygo soda (choice of orange, grape, lime, or red pop). I really enjoyed the Faygo sodas with The Stuft Bird’s salty food, and I think it’s a great pairing. The sodas are super sugary and very much dyed to a highly satured color — but damn if Faygo pop doesn’t go well with wings and fries.
I wrote about the macaroni stuffed wings in December, and I still dream about them. They are wildly addictive, and I think you need more than three macaroni-stuffed wings because it is just not enough. The fried wings were stuffed with creamy macaroni and cheese. How? I’m not sure, but I don’t care because they were crazy good.
The wings had a lot of macaroni inside them. The macaroni was cheesy and soft, all under the same crunchy, salty skin as the tender chicken. Each bite of this wing had warm chicken paired with velvety mac, sprinkled with crunchy crumbles of the crust. The salty exterior elevated the flavor of both the macaroni filling and chicken. The outer coating isn’t thick; it’s not really a battered wing, more like a crispy, seasoned breading. I’m not complaining: the outside was just as delicious as the inside.
The first time I tried the food from The Stuft Bird, the fries were these long, smooth fries. They were incredible and still hot when I got home. They had lots of seasoning on them with salty and slight sweetness. I’m not sure what exactly was in the mix, but it was layered flavors for sure.
The second time I ordered from The Stuft Bird, I ordered a six wing meal with a side and drink, a plain jane wing meal, and a side of the macaroni.
The fries were not the same as my last visit, but the macaroni, seasoned wings, Faygo, and the dusting on the fries themselves were the same.
The six wing meal ($12.50) came with my choice of wing-filling (I chose dirty rice), fries, and a can of Faygo. There was no option for ordering less than six wings. When I ordered previously, there were choices of three, four, five, ten, or twenty wings, but as of this past Saturday, those options were unavailable. The only options when I ordered were the six wing meal, naked wings a la carte, sides, and drink.
The choices for the wing stuffing are slim: only mac-n-cheese or dirty rice. There is a third option available: turkey and dressing stuffed wings, but I learned at my pickup that the turkey and dressing option is only available on Sunday — and, alas, I was picking up on a Saturday.
Holy cow, this dirty rice stuffed wing was incredible. The wing had the same phenomenal seasoning on the exterior with well-cooked chicken and a ton of dirty rice stuffed in there, too. The rice was soft, short grain rice with tiny crumbles of ground beef. The amount of rice inside these fried chicken wings was plentiful, probably 50:50 ratio of rice to chicken; this is basically a meal inside a wing. The rice was plump and balanced the crumbly, salty golden brown skin in texture and flavor. The wings came with a good portion of seasoned fries (which were crinkle cut fries this time) that were really tasty and a cold can of grape Faygo.
I wanted to try the naked wing option (just one because now I prefer my wings stuffed), and I ordered the Plain Jane wing meal ($3.25) which included fries and a can of Faygo. The wing was as huge as the other wings I ate from The Stuft Bird, but this one has no filling, just meaty, flavorful chicken. The seasoning on the fried skin was the same as the stuffed wings: thin breading with bits of corn meal and really yummy.
The Plain Jane wings are available a la carte for $1.75 each if you don’t want the fries and soda for an additional $1.50.
Lastly, I tried a side of Shan’s Famous mac-n-cheese ($2.99). I am pleased to report that it was the same rad macaroni and cheesy flavors as the macaroni I had before as a side and stuffed inside the wings from my first visit. This macaroni had a big cheese taste with strong peppery notes. Some bites with red pepper dusting were fabulously spicy.
I found all of the food I tried to be well-seasoned and full of flavor. There is nothing bland about the food The Stuft Bird puts out, and I’m here for all the salty goodness they want to cook. The wings are not your regular bar wings; these are gigantic wings with both flats and drums attached, so when you order six wings from The Stuft Bird, you’re getting a dozen flats and drums, stuffed with good stuff. This is a new establishment in C-U, but it could be a weekend staple for sure.
Here’s a look at the menu postered to the silver food truck on Fourth Street.
You can also check out the menu online here. Place your order for pick-up or delivery. You can even schedule your order for later that day or a few days in advance.
The Stuft Bird is also participating in Restaurant Week 2021, so be sure to check them out.
The Stuft Bird
104 N Fourth Street
W-Sa 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Su 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.