The "South Central Trail" consists of thirteen wing spots from the center of the state in Meriden on down to the Milford and New Haven shoreline. The three big "commonly known" names on the list include Archie Moore's, Hard Hat and CJ Sparrow but this trail is populated with "hidden gems" that are all Wingaddicts Approved!
If you'd like a video preview, just click on the wing photos below to see the Wingaddicts visit and learn more about each restaurant! The actual restaurant websites are linked to the names on each profile as well.
As you eat your way through our awesome wing state, please be sure to log into the Wingaddicts App, go to the restaurant's profile page, snap a wing pic, and leave a short review! You'll earn 1,500 rewards points on the "Leaderboard" (found in the Library section) and your wing stop will be registered towards the Trail Challenge!
If you've already been to any of the spots on the trail and still have your wing photo, go to the app and add it in. That counts!
We had been hearing things about the wings at Jerry's Pizza in Middletown but weren't super motivated to try them out because the name sounded like your every-day pizza joint. Boy were we wrong about that! In addition to being THE restaurant responsible for actually bringing NY-style pizza to Connecticut, this family-run establishment serves up outstanding wings! Carmela Schiano and her son Antonio Lockwood have 30 flavors on their wing menu including some we promise you've never tried. We only managed to eat eight flavors in our visit and we are anxious to get back in there for more. We guarantee you'll love Jerry's.
One of THE first taprooms in the state to launch the craft beer boom, Eli Cannons in Middletown was ultimately taken over by Rocco LaMonica who started there as a dishwasher, met and married Aubry (who was a server there) and carried on the tradition. It's a good-time drinking bar with a dozen traditional wing flavors to pick from. Two in the pool was a buffalo/bbq combo that we enjoyed. Their "Lava Sauce" is an eat-at-your-own-risk option. It's hot.
If you're looking for wings in Meriden, this is the spot. John and Sandy Arnold's spot is a classic local dive bar with pool tables, dart boards, breakfast, lunch and dinner and 15 award-winning wings on the menu! It might be hard to resist that lobster roll, but we recommend the Sweet Chili Raspberry wings. After all, wings are the new caviar! The motto on the wall says "There are no strangers here. Only friends we haven't met yet."
We always get a little bit nervous when we visit a place with "Pizza" in the name. SO many pizza spots just use bottled wing sauces and throw frozen wings on the menu just to have them. Not at this spot. No way! Owners Rita Halkias and Dimitri Magriplis took this place over from Rita's father and expanded on what was already a local treasure. The restaurant's motto is "PHILOXENA" which means hospitality, love and welcome. And you feel that there. There are craft beers and signature cocktails, an amazing menu, ridiculous pizza (of course) and a wing list with 20 flavors to pick from. Please eat responsibly. We couldn't move for days.
You might drive right past this classic local dive bar without even knowing. Heck, we were trying to get their multiple times and had to turn around every time. But it's SOOOO worth it. Sparrow's has an excellent menu, live music at night, Karaoke and Trivia, and puts out some of our favorite wings. Owners John and Tara Miller, as well as the patrons, will make you feel like a regular. Be sure to try the Jerk wings which are, by all accounts, the best we've ever had. This spot is featured on RELAPSE and in the Wingaddicts Hall of Fame.
In it's brand new location in the center of Wallingford, Knuckleheads is something special when it comes to the wing game. Owner Anthony Morgillo does some creative things with his flavors, does smoked wings periodically and even offers "Pig Wings" and Duck Wings which are a must-try. They're wings, after all. But those chicken wings are where we focus. They come in 15 different flavors (and some interesting ones) and you can get them naked with sauce on the side as well. Wash them down with one of 20 beers on tap. We think the Glazed & Infused wing was special. There's a Coconut Curry, Habanero Jerk, and that Smoke & Fire Dry Rub will satisfy the heat lovers out there!
One of Hamden's finest dive bars, owned by Dave DiNicola, this place is almost a step back in time. You'll love the sports and music memorabilia all over the walls and you'll definitely love the award-winning wings. Though the half-dozen flavors on the menu are the basics, you won't be disappointed. The Screamin' Demon wings are some of the most-solid spicy wings around and you'll want one of the 16 beers on tap.
Ahh, the CT originator of the "Doob Style" wings! John Acanfora took over this North Haven watering hole and turned it into a legendary local destination. The wings at Hard Hat are "to LIVE for" and you'll need to order more than just one flavor. The Doob Style Buffalo is other worldy and the Lemon Pepper is one of the best we've encountered. Hard Hat has additional locations in Wallingford (Hard Hat 2), and Durham. Get you some! This spot is on the ballot for Wingaddicts Hall of Fame induction in 2023!
What can you say about Archie Moore's. Owner Bob Fuchs took over this hundred-year-old bar in New Haven and turned it into Connecticut's first-ever restaurant to serve our beloved chicken wings. In other words, Archie's is CT's version of Anchor Bar. You can't go wrong with the traditional Buffalo Wings at Archies, but we suggest you venture into a few of the other flavors as well. You won't find dozens of flavors here, but they instead choose to do a few flavors extremely well. There are also Archie Moore's locations in Wallingford, Milford, Fairfield and Branford. Another Hall of Famer.
With four Connecticut locations (New Haven, Hartford, Windsor and South Windsor) and three in North Carolina as well, this place - owned by Jamie McDonald - is an all out barbecue smokehouse paradise. Everything about this place is awesome. The wings are wood smoked, slow and low, Kansas City style and come in six mouth-watering flavors which include Bear's three bottled BBQ sauces like KC Sweet BBQ, Texas Pepper and Grizzly Ghost Pepper BBQ (all available to go)! We ate them all.
Right on the Post Road in Orange, this place is one of the area's most fun party bars. With TV's, live music, and electric nightlife, OAH has an extensive menu of all the pub-fare you'd expect. Owner Jim Hassenmayer also has 15 wing flavors on the menu including one of our favorite Cajun Dry Rubs.
Different than any other spot on the trail, Papa's is a Southern/Caribbean fusion takeout restaurant in East Haven. The wings are floured and breaded in owner James Green's proprietary mixture and deep fried to perfection (naked "non-breaded" also available) in 24 different flavors. This comfort food-lover's dream also has insane Hush Puppies, Jamaican Beef Patties and other amazing side items. We do promise that you've never had wings like these anywhere. Not anywhere.
Of all the spots on the wing trail, GG's in Milford is an outlier. Why? Because the food in this Italian pizza restaurant - run by the Pastorok brothers, George & Greg - is so ridiculously good that no normal person would ever think of ordering wings here. Thank God we don't have any "normal" people reading this. GG's has five delicious flavors that you can ask for cooked the traditional way (oil fried) or cooked in the wood-fired pizza oven. We loved every one of them but the Garlic Herb was simply not from this world. (PS, take home a pizza).
Tommy Wyatt is co-founder of Wingaddicts and author of “Under the Wingfluence” for Wingaddicts.com.
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