Best Chicken Wings from Orlando, Florida to Portland, Oregon
July 29th is National Chicken Wing Day which prompted me to search through a hundred million food photos in search of the best chicken wings to share on Instagram. I realized I’ve had some pretty epic wings and couldn’t just share one. If you happen to visit Orlando, Florida or Portland, Oregon – my two hometowns – then here’s my favorite Must Eat Chicken Wings from Coast to Coast.
Although the original chicken wings, created in 1964 by Teressa Bellissimo of The Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York are coated with spicy Buffalo sauce made of butter and red hot sauce, the wings I’ve selected below have a more unique Southern, Latin and Asian flare. Enjoy!
Cask & Larder – Orlando, Florida
A must stop for foodies flying through Orlando International Airport is Cask & Larder. The local collaboration between Chefs James and Julie Petrakis of The Swine Restaurant Group (Ravenous Pig, Cask & Larder, The Polite Pig) and Master Concession Air, one of the top creators of unique dining concepts in airports around the world. The eatery has been named one of the best airport local regional dining experiences in the country by USA Today’s 10Best. Most everything on the menu is made from scratch on site, rare for airport restaurants. The Hot Wings are meaty and coated with Chef Chris Shreve’s sticky sauce, a blend of gochujang Korean red chili paste and an assortment of secret spices. Then drizzled with Alabama white sauce for that true Southern touch. Defying definition they are not overly spicy but do have a touch of heat that creeps up on you. They have a touch of sweetness and spice but are not Asian flavored despite the use of Asian seasonings. Pair them with one of Cask & Larder’s local craft brews, like the refreshing C&L Lone Palm Golden Ale.
Chicken and Guns – Portland, Oregon
Tucked in the corner of the popular South East Portland street cart hub known as “Cartopia” you will find Chicken and Guns. Their Latin style chicken wings roasted over mesquite and oak wood fire are gigantic, with the drum and wing together. Served with fresh and flavorful sweet aji amarillo chili sauce and a spicy habanero carrot sauce. The wings are intensely seasoned and offer a nice crisp, smoky dry char contrasted by dipping in the sweet and spicy sauces. Order 6 or 12 if you have plenty of friends to share with. Cartopia is one of the coolest cart pods in Portland as it offers a tented area with picnic tables in the center for you to enjoy the variety of vendors from pizza to burgers to crepes to fries to wings. Their Summer movie nights are not to be missed.
Domu – Orlando, Florida
The Japanese / Asian fusion restaurant by chef Sonny Nguyen has made its mark in The City Beautiful for killer ramen, recognized nationally as best in the State. Their not quite Korean style wings rank high too! (Probably my top favorites although that spot changes depending on which coast I’m in.) The batter is a secret, but the result is like candy. A hard crunchy shell coated in a sweet, salty, tangy sauce with a bit of heat that creeps up on you before you get a chance to utter a word of utter shock and awe.
Hale Pele – Portland, Oregon
Along Broadway in the North East area of Portland, blink and you will walk or drive right by the “House of the Volcano Goddess” – Hale Pele – named one of the Best Tiki Bars in America. Their exotic cocktails with stunning presentations (some are flaming!) will transport you on a journey through Polynesia. The kitschy, dimly lit space could easily fall into the trap of too much theming but the high quality of their cocktails, including an extensive illustrated menu which may take you 20 minutes to study and appropriately paired selection of Asian small plates feature the appropriate finger licking bites to encourage drinking, socializing and escaping reality through food and drink. Their Sweet Chili Wings were perfectly crispy, sticky, sweet and spicy. Pair it with “Three Dots and Dash” or “Hummingbird Fizz” cocktails. Of course, no Tiki experience is complete without the sounds of a fiery volcano in the distance. Hale Pele delivers.
Han Oak – Portland, Oregon
Dining at Han Oak in Portland Oregon was a foodie bucket list experience I recently crossed off the list. Named Best Restaurant in Portland in 2017, the quaint space which doubles as the chef’s home is tucked in the back of a parking lot hidden from view. Dining on rustic wood tables in the backyard, I was not sure what to expect. Korean Wings in a Korean-American restaurant are expected, yet chef Peter Cho’s wings were far from what I imagined. Incredibly crispy, dry rubbed and perfectly seasoned wings, they fell off the bone juicy and tender. A stand out as part of his 11 plates tasting menu. Paired with the refreshing “Wait for It” rum slushie cocktail or a Korean lager. This restaurant is worthy of your Must Eat List and ranks one of the most memorable dining experiences I’ve ever had. I can certainly agree with Food & Wine Magazine who named Cho one of the best New Chef’s of 2017. I can’t wait to return to Portland and dine at Han Oak to see what else Peter Cho has up is sleeve.
Hawkers Asian Street Fare – Orlando, Florida
This Asian street food eatery created by four friends who loved to travel is an Orlando locals favorite serving up one of the best wings in town. Featured in Food & Wine Magazine “12 Places to Stay, Eat & Shop in Orlando”, Hawker’s Asian Street Fare started with a tiny space in the colorful Mills 50 District and now boasts 8 locations in Florida and the southeast US. Hawker Wings come dry or battered with choice of sauce or rub: Thai chili, Hainanese, honey sriracha, chuan jerk, five spice, or spring onion ginger. I enjoyed the Korean twice fried wings with garlic gochujang sauce, peanuts and sesame. The crunch of the crushed peanuts on top was a great contrast to the sticky messy sauce. Pair with one of the inventive asian flare cocktails such as the Gin Rickshaw or a Sapporo. Happy Hour including late night hours is not to be missed.
Pho.Com – Gresham, Oregon
This unassuming Vietnamese restaurant in the charming Main Street area of Gresham, Oregon (near Portland) has wing game. Despite the name, they don’t have a website (gasp!) What they do have is some darn good pho, Vietnamese noodles and wings. Crispy and sticky with loads of flavor from the homemade fish sauce. Those averse to spicy foods, will like the mild heat. I discovered this place, which opened in September of 2018, purely by chance but it won’t be my last visit. The clean and nicely decorated space and loads of positive Google and Yelp reviews inspired me to enter. The food convinced me to stay.
Pok Pok & Whiskey Soda Lounge – Portland, Oregon
Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings at Pok Pok are likely the most well known chicken wings in Portland, Oregon. James Beard Award winner, chef-owner Andy Ricker first tried fish sauce wings at a roadside stand in Saigon, scribbled down his guess at the ingredients on a paper napkin and carried it with him until he opened the popular South East Portland eatery. His neighbor Ich “Ike” Truong helped him perfect the wing recipe which has been shared on Food & Wine Magazine and admired by millions. Ricker describes the wings as “umami bombs.” They are complex and spectacular. A mix of crispy, sweet, salty, spicy. The kind of wings you sweat through the heat but can’t stop eating. If the wait is too long at Pok Pok, head across the street to their satellite bar location Whiskey Soda Lounge where the wings can be enjoyed with one of many whiskey cocktails and beers.
What restaurant serves your favorite chicken wings? Please share in the comments as I’m always looking to add new favorites to my Must Eat List.
Go celebrate National Chicken Wing Day or any day with friends and #MakeSomedayHappen one bite, sip and trip at a time!