Opinion - Food
6:02 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Ranked: The Fort’s Tastiest Wings

The wings at Tower Bar and Grill took a top spot on Amber Recker's list because of the special rubs available and the option to order them grilled.
The wings at Tower Bar and Grill took a top spot on Amber Recker's list because of the special rubs available and the option to order them grilled.
Credit Amber Recker / for WBOI News

For years, I’ve listened to people debate about which Fort Wayne restaurant serves the best wings, so I did some crowdsourcing to identify the top spots and set out to try them myself. Based on hundreds of responses on Twitter and Facebook, I narrowed the list to the most popular five.

So which place do I think has the best wings? Here are my reviews.


#5- Peanuts Food and Spirits
Marketplace of Canterbury, Fort Wayne

Of the places I tried, Peanuts comes in at the bottom of the pack. While the wings were adequate and I enjoyed the sauces, the ambiance and service left much to be desired.

Wings: The nicely-sized wings were served up crispy and juicy. Order them naked with sauce on the side to get the full experience.

Sauces:

  • Hot Sauce- Tasty without being hot for hot’s sake, with a nice vinegar finish.
  • Hot BBQ- Smoky and sweet, it complemented the wings well.
  • Honey Garlic- A nice blend of salty and sweet, with a slight kick at the end.
  • Dangerous Ranch- Dangerously hot, but I was pleasantly surprised with the unique flavor composition and underlying ranch taste.
  • Asian- A sweet and sour based sauce with way too much sweet.

Specials: 40 cent wings every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

Ambiance: If you like dark dive bars, this place is for you. Personally, I found it a bit depressing, especially during the day.

Service: We sat at the bar and arrived right when it opened, so service was prompt, but not friendly.
 

Kaysan's 5th Down came in at #4. While the wings were good, the ambiance and service speed left something to be desired.
Kaysan's 5th Down came in at #4. While the wings were good, the ambiance and service speed left something to be desired.
Credit Amber Recker / for WBOI News

#4- Kaysan’s 5th Down
5830 Challenger Parkway
918 Woodland Plaza Run

Just like with Peanuts, the ambiance is dragging this one down. Though it isn’t dark and grimy, I am not a fan of bars tucked into strip malls, and the place feels more like a billiards hall than a place to eat. The wings were adequate, the sauces were fine, and the service was friendly, albeit slow, but I was not wowed.

Wings: If I had my eyes closed, these wings could have been the same wings served at Peanuts. They were adequately sized and came out of the kitchen piping hot, crispy and juicy.

Sauces:

  • Medium Buffalo- Just the right amount of heat with a nice smoky, vinegar finish.
  • Honey- a sweet and tangy sauce with a little heat, but a nice complement to the juicy wings.
  • Golden Glow- A honey mustard based sauce with a kick.

Specials: 40 cent wings every Monday.

Ambiance: While the place is big and open, it lacks any type of consistent décor or theme. I think it is trying to be a sports bar, but it has no real personality.

Service: Friendly but slow. There were only five people in the place when I went and it took over 30 minutes to get our wings.

 

The quality of the meat and selection of sauces lifted Buffalo Wings and Ribs to the #3 spot.
The quality of the meat and selection of sauces lifted Buffalo Wings and Ribs to the #3 spot.
Credit Amber Recker / for WBOI News

# 3- Buffalo Wings & Ribs
4636 Coldwater Road
6439 W. Jefferson Blvd.

Sifting through the feedback I received on social media, Buffalo Wings & Ribs was often lauded as the absolute best, but I have to admit I was skeptical. Like Kaysan’s, it’s a sports-themed restaurant in a strip mall. It had its work cut out for it, but I was pleasantly surprised by the interesting selection of sauces and the quality of the wings, launching it above both Peanuts and Kaysan’s.

Wings: Big, meaty, crispy and juicy wings with a nice mix of drums and flats.

Sauces:

  • Hot garlic- Super hot and vinegary.
  • Teriyaki- Way too salty with not enough teriyaki flavor.
  • Honey BBQ- Overly sweet with not enough BBQ flavor.
  • Cajun Inferno- Unbearably hot with little flavor to redeem it.
  • Shanghai Red- Sweet and spicy with hints of ginger.

Specials: All you can eat wings for $15.99 every Wednesday.

Ambiance: Typical strip mall feel with little personality. Dining room was pretty dirty when we went, but it’s fine for a quick meal.

Service: Service was quick but indifferent. The server didn’t take much interest beyond taking our order.​

 

#2 Acme Bar and Grill

1105 East State Blvd.

I’ll be honest; I headed into this challenge favoring ACME since I’ve had their wings before. They are unique because they are smoked for several hours before serving, giving them a deep, smoky flavor that locks in the moisture.

Wings: Smoky, meaty and juicy. They are so tender they fall right off the bone. These wings rock.  Order them naked to avoid the extra breading.

Sauces:

  • Orange Ginger- A sweet and spicy citrus infused sauce.
  • Medium Buffalo- The perfect hot sauce; not too hot and full of flavor.
  • Hot BBQ- a little hotter than medium buffalo with a mesquite BBQ flavor.

Specials: 50 cent wings every Monday.

Ambiance: The quintessential neighborhood bar, adorned with local artwork, an original tin ceiling, and a hardwood antique bar.

Service: While friendly, it is not always prompt. Sit at the bar if you are in a hurry.
 

Tower Bar and Grill takes the crown for Fort Wayne's best wings. The option for special rubs - like the Fajita Grill rub pictured - helped make Tower the runaway winner.
Tower Bar and Grill takes the crown for Fort Wayne's best wings. The option for special rubs - like the Fajita Grill rub pictured - helped make Tower the runaway winner.
Credit Amber Recker / for WBOI News

#1 Tower Bar and Grill
2403 W. State Blvd.

The hands-down winner in my book. Tower received just as much hubbub as Buffalo Wings and Ribs as I was gathering recommendations for which places to visit, and it did not disappoint. The option to have the wings grilled propelled it to the top, not to mention the special rubs available.

Wings: Tender, juicy, and flavorful.

Sauces:

  • Extra Hot- Prepared in house with ten peppers, it packs a big punch, but it is flavorful as well.
  • Tower Grill- This one is a rub and it’s amazing; tangy with just the right amount of heat.
  • Fajita Grill- Also a rub and it tastes just like a fajita; spicy, salty and tangy.
  • Chipotle Citrus BBQ- very sweet with a smoky chipotle flavor.
  • Mild- Despite its name, it actually carries some heat, with a well-balanced vinegar flavor.
  • Hot teriyaki- Not too sweet or salty, simply a well balance Asian flavor.
  • Teriyaki- solid teriyaki flavor with a bit too much fish sauce.

Specials: 50 cent wings every Wednesday and Saturday.

Ambiance: A cozy blue-collar neighborhood bar.

Service: Friendly and knowledgeable staff. It was busy when we went, but the server was patient and attentive.

 

Bottom Line

WBOI food columnist Amber Recker.
WBOI food columnist Amber Recker.
Credit Courtesy / Amber Recker

If you are a wing lover, you definitely live in the right city. Fort Wayne has more than a few options for spectacular wings.
 

Amber Recker is the Director of Marketing at PUNCH Films and co-owner of The Ginger Kitchen, makers of locally-sourced gourmet ice cream.

Opinions expressed in this column are those of the individual writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the staff, management or board of Northeast Indiana Public Radio. If you want to join the conversation, head over to our Facebook page and comment on the post featuring this column.