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Tommy, August 23 2021

THE Best Smoked Wings

“Who has the best wings?” 

It’s a question we get every single day when we meet new Wingaddicts. “It’s an impossible question to answer,” is the only way to honestly reply. Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. Or the “wing-holder” in this case. Stay with me . . . 

In addition to the fact that there are different sizes of wings and hundreds of different flavors, there are also (and this is the big one) different cooking techniques. Deep frying is the most-common method for cooking wings, but you can also grill wings, bake in a conventional oven, use an air fryer, bake in a high-heat pizza oven, cook on a wok or stovetop skillet, or you can smoke those wings. Again, all a matter of personal preference. We, personally, love them all!

In our Facebook “Wingaddicts Community” this weekend, Paige Heredia asked the group “Where are the best smoked wings in Connecticut?" Now there’s a question we can get excited about!

First off, let’s pay tribute to all of our home pit masters out there who fire up their own smokers. I personally have used a Traeger for years but don’t have the patience to use it often. Last summer I did smoked wings for the first time Fireball Whisky Wings and they were amazing!

But I’d rather leave it to the pros. Following is a list of places where The Wingaddicts have filmed episodes and dined on smoked wings - professionally done. This is, withouth question, the most comprehensive list of smoked wing joints in CT.

Reid’s BBQ in Derby was a stop I made by myself back at the very beginning of the pandemic in May 2020. I had to order by phone, stay in the parking lot, and my order was brought out to me by fully masked employees. I only had the xx that day, but it was so good that I had to return with our Wingchef Ryan and Doni The Cleaner for another go round. Owner Kevin Reid treated us to some of the absolute best wings any of us has ever had. We ate Smoked Habanero, Carolina BBQ, BBQ Jerk, Buffalo, and Honey BBQ. We won’t go so far to say that they were THE best smoked wings we’ve had. But we’ve never had any that were better. (See what I did there?)

Last summer we were contacted by The Hartford Courant to be featured in a story for their Sunday edition. For their photographer’s convenience we picked out a place closer to Harford. We discovered Beachland Smoke in West Hartford. This little gem is one of three restaurants owned by Chip Kohn, including Beachland Tavern and Rockledge Grille. We were treated to Buffalo, Bourbon BBQ, Carolina Mustard, and Kitchen Sink and every single flavor was a solid 10-out-of-10. It is our understanding that the other two spots prepare their wings the same way.

Hindsight BBQ in Waterbury, is the first spot we had wings smoked Texas style on a giant XXX-gallon smoker. The wing presentation was worthy of a full-color magazine spread and they tasted every bit as perfect as they looked. We had Bama White BBQ, Honey Buffalo, House BBQ, and Sticky. But as good as the wings were (and they were amazeballs) I’ve been back five times since and have found myself ordering everything else on the menu instead. This place is the bomb and I'm ashamed to admit my new addiction to Texas Twinkies and brisket tacos.

We don’t play very far ahead when we choose a Wingaddicts destination. Sometimes we decide while we’re in the car. So when we went to Knuckleheads in Wallingford, we missed owner Anthony Morgillo who was at a friend’s funeral. We destroyed six amazing wing flavors (deep fried), only to learn that they sometimes serve smoked wings on the “specials” menu. If we had given more notice (which we will next time) we would have tried their smoked wings. We have it on good authority that they're slamming!

Scooter’s Bar and Grill in New Milford, like Hindsight, is a brand new restaurant that opened during the 2020 pandemic. Formerly 1st and 10 Sports Cafe on Rt 7, these guys serve four flavors of wings smoked out back. We ate them all, of course (BBQ, Shmokin', Sweet Heat, and Slow Death) and these wings were on point!

Artisanal Burger Company (ABC) is not a place you’d normally think about going for wings. I’d known about this place for a while but never even considered looking on the menu. But after some recommendations from Wingaddicts around Manchester, we checked it out. We ate Buffalo, Sweet Chili and also Pastrami Dry Rub wings. Excellent.

Big Franks BBQ in Watertown/Waterbury is a place I’ve stopped at in a pinch to grab a brisket sandwich or something fast over the years. Under new ownership recently, this place serves a million different food items. While they don’t get super fancy with flavors (not many BBQ joints do) they do smoke their wings and they do offer the traditionals. We had Buffalo, Hot BBQ, Sweet Chili, Golden BBQ and Garlic Parm and then brisket for desert.

HooDoo Brown’s is probably the most-popular BBQ joint in all of Connecticut and rightly so. For five or six years, this spot on Rt 7 has been packing them in and drawing national attention. I stopped in at the beginning of Wingaddicts last year. Their huge menu started with “wings” right at the top. They only had two flavors on the menu, Buffalo and Citrus Bourbon Teriyaki, and I got them both. They were as good as it gets. And I’m happy to see that they’ve upped their wing game to include more flavors (BBQ, Garlic Parm and Rajun Cajun). It’s time to get back there for a proper episode with all three of us. Can’t wait.

If I stood on the roof of Wingchef Ryan’s apartment in Southington, I could hit a golf ball into the Que Whiskey Kitchen parking lot with a short iron. Well, if I kept my head down. The best way for me to describe this place is that it’s an upscale BBQ joint with and amazing food and alcohol menu. They have wings, but actually they have “wing.” One wing on this menu, but it’s a Togarochi Smoked house wing and it’s superb. Wings are no more than an afterthought there.

Smokin’ With Chris in Southington is another popular BBQ joint in the state. Excellent in every way, we shot an episode there last summer and enjoyed six flavors of wings. However, while their wood smoking pit fills the center of town like a beautiful inssence all day long, they do NOT smoke their wings there. They’re great, but they’re deep fried the traditional way.

The Wingaddicts have never done an episode there, but Virgil’s Real Barbeque in New York City has, for years, been one of my favorite stops in the Big Apple. They have a smoked wing there that I’m pretty sure is on the menu in Heaven. They serve full wings (drum, flat, and tips) that are more of a meal than an appetizer. My favorite wings of all time before starting Wingaddicts. I haven’t been back since, but it will be very interesting when I return (7,000 wings later).

Following are some other spots in Connecticut who serve smoked wings, that we haven’t made visits to yet. I stress the word “yet.” You can click on the restaurant name to view their websites.

Taino Smokehouse in Middletown and now (a new location) in Meriden, has quickly earned a reputation for being a top-notch BBQ venue featuring a 20-foot brownstone wood fired grill. Craft Barbecue and wood fire cooking is the main focus. Their wings are smoked and then fried for crisp and served in Cajun Dry Rub, Coconut Curry, Buffalo, Honey Sweet Chili, and BBQ. The Middletown location has an outdoor patio that accomodates 400 people.

Woods Pit  in Bantam, was the first Mexican Restaurant in Litchfield County back in the early 80's before it's owner "Woodie" took an extended trip south to learn the art of authentic Pit BBQ. He returned and converted Woods Pit into the first Pit BBQ spot in the county. On this menu, "BBQ WINGS" are stamped as "Woodie's personal favorite" and are cooked in the pit and served with ranch dressing in BBQ, Honey BBQ, BBQ Medium, Honey Medium, Hot, and Hot & Honey. This looks like a cool place to eat.

Wire Mill Saloon and BBQ  in Georgetown off Route 7 is an historical, family-run business which slow cooks its meats 8-16 hours every day using cherry, oak, and apple wood to enhance flavor and create the pinkish smoke ring on the outer edge of the meat. Its smoked wings appear on the menu as "Robin's Smoked Wings" and again as "Traditional Wings" which are deep fried. Their classic homemade sauces include Classic, Honey, Chipotle, White, and Vinegar.

Ricky D’s Rib Shack  in New Haven is the creation of Ricky D Evans who went out, earned a degree in business management, and then got quickly burned out in corporate America. He started his own food truck in New Haven before finally opening up his restaurant there in 2016. He's open for lunch and dinner six days a week and fits 32 people comfortably. Ricky has a full BBQ menu and his wing flavors include BBQ, Buffalo, and Dry Rub. 

Main Street Pint & Plate in Bristol has an interesting menu. I wasn't able to find much about this place's history, but they do have six flavors of smoked wings and they were recommended by members of our Wingaddicts Community. I would be down for trying out Mango Chipotle, Brown Sugar BBQ, Dirty Steve, Buffalo, Garlic Parm Dry Rub, and BBQ Dry Rub. Wings up!

Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ makes this blog because they have four CT locations including Hartford, New Haven, Windsor, and South Windsor in addition to another spot in Asheville, North Carolina. I've never been to a Bear's BBQ but have heard things (good and bad). The menu looks awesome, but wings don't seem to be the star of the show. In fact, they're listed as simply "Wings" in a box that also includes "Moink Balls" (smoked bacon wrapped meatballs) and "Bear Balls" (Mac & Cheese, Pulled Pork & Cornbread. Battered, fried, topped with cheese sauce and bacon). Umm. Yeah. I assume the wings are available in any of the house sauces, but I don't see a list of sauces on the menu.

Darryl and Cassandra Thomas, both from BBQ families, made the plunge into opening their dream BBQ restaurant and one week later Connecticut shut down restaurants with the pandemic scare. Still Thomas’ Smokey Pit Stop was born on Middle Turnpike West in Manchester, and persevered through it all. Formerly a food truck business, the Thomas couple has brought serious BBQ to Manchester including their smoked wings which are seasoned with Pit Master's rub, smoked with cherry wood and lightly coated with a carmelized glaze of "Pit Stop Sauce." They also offer Jerk Wings generously seasoned with Caribbean spices and smoked on cherry wood for that authentic jerk flavor.

The Cue  in Danbury is the creation of Chef Joseph Yorio, a Culinary Arts graduate from Johnson & Wales. Starting out as a small catering company back in 2012 using a 6-foot smoker. In 2016 they brought in a 24-foot smoker and opened The Cue Restaurant as a unique approach to contemporary BBQ. Offering up an upscale dining experience, Chef Joe serves smoked wings in Original, Dry Rub, Habanero, Sweet & Pungent, Truffle Parm, and Smoked Maple BBQ. 

Walrus Alley in Westport claims to be the winner of "Best BBQ in CT" every single year from 2014-2021. We're not sure what entity presented that award, but we aren't doubting it either. Their menu offers smoked wings, fried then tossed with chipotle honey, Alabama white, walrus bbq, dry jerk rub, or Tennessee hot. They also offer live music and recommend reservations. It looks like a fun place to hang out.

When Pigs Fly South,  in Sharon sounds like a must-visit location in the northwest corner of the state. Chef (and owner) Bennett Chinn is a culinary artist who opened this Southern Style BBQ and Soul Food joint and has an impressive history. In addition to a menu that would make any BBQ lover's mouth water, this one also has Louisianna cuisine like crab cake po'boy sandwiches, seafood gumbo, shrimp and grits, and jambalaya. In our best interest, though, it also includes "Our delicious slow smoked chicken wings in Our Sauce (Hot, Medium, Mild), Traditional BBQ Sauce, or Our Hot Pink Sauce (a combination of our Hot Sauce, White, and Traditional BBQ Sauces)." I don't know about you, but that sounds like a winner to me!

Joey C’s Roadhouse in Milford is a family friendly Tex-Mex restaurant on the Boston Post Road in Milford. They serve "Hot Wing" with a chouse of Zesty BBQ, Classic Buffalo, Spicy Chipotle BBQ, Herb Garlic Parm, Asian Fusion, or the infamous XXX Roadhouse Roasted Habanero XXX! Full disclosure, I could not confirm that these wings are actually "smoked wings." But just that last flavor makes it worth a visit no matter what! If you're set on smoked wings, though, I'd call and ask. I was too lazy today. 

The Cookhouse in New Milford has been a staple in that community for decades. In fact, my wife and I went there to scout out our wedding band in 1992. I don't think I've been back since that night, but I'm still happily married, the band was great, and they DO have some smoked wings on that menu! In fact, they offer multiple flavors including Cajun Dry, Mango Hab, Honey BBQ, Garlic Parm, Mild BBQ, Hot BBQ, Scary BBQ, Chef's Sauce, and Buffalo. 

Black-Eyed Sally’s in Hartford is a classic live music venue that serves authentic southern cuisine with a "House of Blues" feel to it. In a 100-year-old buidling with time-worn wood floors, southern folk art, and blues memorabilia you can also find "WINGS" as the very first choice on the menu in Memphis Dry Rub, BBQ, or Nashville Hot. Again, I was not able to confirm that they actually smoke their wings there. But they do have smoked menu items, so I might assume. Again, if its important just call and ask! I say go no matter what! We will!

We would be remisce if we didn’t recognize the one recommendation we did receive from Murphysboro, Illinois. If you’re in the neighborhood, check out Pat’s BBQ and tell them David Roseland and The Wingaddicts sent you!

Did we miss YOUR favorite smoked wing joint? Let us know! We'll get over there asap!!

Wings up!

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