The chicken wing contains multitudes.
Be it dressed up with smoke and spice, fried until crispy, or tossed in tangy, nuclear orange Buffalo sauce, there’s no wrong way to wing.
This Thursday, July 29 is National Chicken Wing Day, a day to celebrate one of the world’s favorite finger foods.
Due to the pandemic and supply chain issues, chicken wing prices are often higher these days, more than twice what they were at the beginning of the year, fetching around $150 for a 40-pound box.
That means chicken wing prices have gone up at some favorite wing shops. Mark Dundas of Heavenly Buffaloes in Durham said his popular wing shack and restaurants ate the higher costs for more than a year, expecting the price to fall. When it never did, he said wing prices had to go up too.
“We tried to maintain our pricing for as long as we could,” Dundas said. “We had to put prices up to make it viable for us to sell chicken wings.”
Heavenly Buffaloes and some other popular wing restaurants also put chicken thighs on the menu. Dundas recommends going with a dry rub instead of sauce to keep the chicken skin crispy.
“The thighs rejuvenated our wing business,” Dundas said. “They’re not going away.”
Whether it’s thighs for now or wings forever, here are some of the Triangle’s top spots for chicken wings.
518 E. Williams St., Apex. 919-387-0082 or apexwings.com
The peak of good winging, perhaps? The list of sauces is long and complex at this popular Apex wing shop, but spice lovers will find their hands full.
525 E. Broad St., Fuquay Varina. 919-557-7675 or aviatorbrew.com/smokehouse
Aviator has built an empire of beer, barbecue and pizza in Fuquay-Varina. Perhaps the wings deserve a spot of their own, smoked and then fried.
705 Willard St., Durham. 919-902-0520 or boricuasoul.com
The wings at this Durham spot on the American Tobacco campus blend fruit and spice, flavored with jerk seasoning or “Guava lava.”
Five locations in Wake County. buffalobrothers.com
This Wake County wing shop has roots in Buffalo, the birthplace of the classic chicken wing.
530 Foster St., Suite 130, Durham. 919-682-9235 or dameschickenwaffles.com
There’s a balance to chicken and waffles, the sweet with the salty and plenty of room for spice. But these wings can stand on their own — with or without a waffle.
1807 W. Markham Ave., Durham. 919-237-2358 or heavenlybuffaloes.com
2816 Erwin Road, Suite 205, Durham. 919-797-2456
407 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill. 919-914-6717
What began as a shack is now a chicken wing empire. Heavenly Buffaloes used to draw wing fans from all over the Triangle to Durham, then it added a Chapel Hill location. And during the pandemic it expanded again, adding a second Durham location. The long list of sauces can be mixed, but know that anything hotter than “hot” really means it. All locations are giving our free beer coozies for National Chicken Wing Day.
1053 E. Whitaker Mill Road, Suite 111, Raleigh. 919-301-8900 or hummingbirdraleigh.com
Since day one, this Raleigh brunch star has had its garam masala rubbed wings on the menu, now served with togarashi ranch and lime butter. Let’s hope they never leave.
311 Holland St., Ste. B, Durham. 919-908-9332 or m-restaurants.com/m-kokko
This is the hidden-away restaurant everyone knows about. The “KFC,” or Korean fried chicken wings, have a lot to do with that, coming in garlic soy or spicy and as crispy a wing as you’ll find anywhere.
2815 Brentwood Road, Raleigh. 919-876-1969
This Korean restaurant gets its wings extra crispy with two dips in the fryer. Sauces include soy and ginger and “Old Fashioned” which is what most Korean fried chicken fans will recognize for its blend of heat and sweet.
335 W. Main St., Durham. 919-797-0413 or viceroydurham.com
The Jeera wings at this downtown Durham Indian restaurant are rubbed with cumin and roasted until crispy. When they say “hot” they mean it, but that searing ache from the spice won’t be enough to keep you from reaching for another wing. Then another.
113 N. Churton St., Hillsborough. 919-932-0134 or thewnp.com
Due to the chicken wing shortage, one of the Triangle’s busiest spots for wings has pivoted to fried chicken. That fried chicken can be tossed in any of the Wooden Nickel’s sauces or dry rubs — and should hit the spot until the wings return this fall, owners say.
8322 Chapel Hill Road, Cary. 919-380-7737 or woodysportstavern.com
Wings are what Woody’s does best, and the bone-in baskets at this Cary sports bar are routinely named among the favorites in the entire Triangle. Sauces include takes on the classics, like buffalo and sweet barbecue, but look for dry rubs like Old Bay and a blackened Chipotle on the grilled wings.
4600 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd., Suite 26, Durham. 984-219-7555 or zwelis.com
There’s only one kind of wing at Zweli’s, a grilled, flame-kissed Piri Piri version that likely won’t have you looking elsewhere.