Where to Get the Best Chicken Wings in Boston

By Jacqueline Cain
09/29/2022
Picco / Credit: Brian Samuels Photography

Spicy, crunchy, inexpensive, and shareable, chicken wings might just be the ultimate bar food. No matter if they’re fried, roasted, or grilled; coated with a dry rub or tossed in sauce, these bone-in bites are universally welcome alongside a cold pint of beer. Since pretty much every kitchen-equipped bar in Boston has chicken wings on their menu, how do you find the top of the flock? You order chicken wings wherever you go. At least, that’s what we did. Behold, nine top spots for the best chicken wings in Boston.

The Smoke Shop BBQ

Credit: Chris McIntosh / C. McIntosh Photo

The Smoke Shop BBQ’s pork ribs may have earned first place at a national pit-smoking competition once, but at its Boston-area locations (Kendall Square, Fort Point, Assembly Row, Harvard Square, and Hub Hall), it’s the chicken wings that really steal the show. Rightly called the Famous Wings on the menu, these smoky, candied morsels are sweetened with agave and kicked up just a bit with a secret blend of pit spices. For a spicier take, try the habanero and brown butter-coated Hot Wings. 

Buff's Pub

Credit: Chris McIntosh

Buff’s Pub isn’t even in the city (it’s in the nearby suburb of Newton), but for decades, this old-school bar has been the leading answer to the constant question of where to find the best chicken wings in Boston. Buff’s legions of fans are not wrong: Crispy and tender, we particularly love the sweet-heat treat of Buff’s Honey Hot Wings, but classic Buffalo style is always a good choice; after all, the place is named for it. When you’re craving wings and beers, give this low-key local favorite a try.

Lincoln Tavern and Restaurant

Credit: Brian Samuels Photography

South Boston’s go-to bar for football Sundays, casual private events, and everything in between, Lincoln Tavern and Restaurant does crowd-pleasing cuisine with a deft touch on its wood-fired grill. The Spicy Wings are one of the menu’s day-one stunners, flame-crisped and falling off the bone. Paired with celery and a cooling blue cheese dip, they are an elemental version of the requisite bar food. In true Lincoln fashion, too, they are there whenever we need them, from everyday brunch to the late-night menu.

Coreanos

Coreanos | The Best Fried Chicken in Boston
Credit: Brian Samuels Photography

Korean fried chicken is a unique take on one of the world’s favorite foods: It’s traditionally double-fried and tossed in sauce, so it stays crispy while getting finger-licking sticky. Though Coreanos in Allston isn’t a traditional Korean restaurant—it deals in fusion food like Bulgogi Tacos, Kimchi Quesadillas, and big piles of cheesy, egg-topped Kimchi Fritas—the menu’s Korean Fried Chicken is true to form: fried wings that are flavorful and succulent. We love the sweet-and-spicy Yum Yang and Soy Garlic versions.

Credit: Chris McIntosh

As the follow-up to Harvard Square’s Alden & Harlow and Waypoint, chef Michael Scelfo decided to make “a love letter to bar food we all know and love, with our own personal spin on it,” he said at the time of Longfellow Bar’s opening. The wings at this cocktail bar feature only the “flat,” or the easy-to-eat middle section (no drumsticks). With a spicy, slightly sweet and woody flavor profile and paired with “dill pickled celery” and tangy blue cheese dressing, Hickory Smoked Wing Flats completely reinvent the basic Buffalo wing. 

Credit: Brian Samuels Photography

The name of this place nods to the party-ready comfort foods that this South End favorite has perfected over the years as the “pizza and ice cream company.” But wing fanatics shouldn’t overlook the humble version at Picco: Dry Rubbed Chicken Wings are oven-roasted, so each well-seasoned piece is more like a bite of savory, soul-warming rotisserie chicken than any deep-fried bar snack. Served with a side of creamy blue cheese dressing, these tasty wings get the party started for us every time. 

Mahaniyom

Credit: Brian Samuels Photography

Mahaniyom is one of Greater Boston’s ultimate destinations for Thai food, but at its core, the tiny Brookline Village spot is meant to be a welcoming, neighborhood bar. So along with excellent cocktails, it also makes some special chicken wings. A little bit hidden on the menu—look for Kai Tod Had Yai—these wings should not be missed. The southern Thai style of fried chicken starts with an aromatic brine and yields a shatteringly crisp crust. It’s addictive on its own, but when topped with umami fried shallots and served with a sweet chili dipping sauce, we can’t get enough. 

Suya Joint

Credit: Chris McIntosh

The love of chicken wings is universal, as this Nigerian restaurant shows. The Spicy Suya Wings at Suya Joint hit the craveable notes of the standard bar snack, with a fiery hint of West African flair: Fried then smothered in a rich sauce featuring onions, sauteed red peppers, and an ample addition of fruity habanero pepper. Grab a seat at this Roxbury bar to try them along with jollof rice and a cooling cocktail like the Suya Joint Painkiller, full of Pusser’s Rum, cream of coconut, and pineapple and orange juices. 

Shine Square Pub

Credit: Chris McIntosh

Spacious, dark, and pretty raucous during sporting events, Shine Square Pub in Cambridge is a prime place to watch a game and share some wings. The streamlined menu is full of pick-your-flavor possibilities for chicken wings, including dry rubs like Old Bay seasoning, chipotle-cinnamon, and garlic parm. There are also sauced wing options, such as barbecue, Buffalo, chipotle-citrus, sweet chili, and the ominously named Chernobyl (HOT). You really can’t go wrong with whatever your crew chooses: Each order comes with a half-dozen moist and meaty morsels.

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