CINCINNATI – If Sunday's Super Bowl game between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams has you dreaming of wings, these are the best places to make that dream come true.
It doesn't take a special sporting event to get me to visit the Oak Tavern and chow down on some wings. This Oakley institution serves some of the best slow-smoked, grilled and dry-rubbed chicken wings in the region. They're also served with off-the-chart dipping sauces such as Carolina gold barbecue, Memphis sweet and Jamaican Me Crazy.
My one piece of advice for Super Bowl Sunday: Show up early. The Oak Tavern will definitely be packed with people wanting to watch the game.
Five wings for $6.95; 10 for $11.95; 20 for $21.95; 50 for $49.95. Oak Tavern, 3089 Madison Road, Oakley.
I have a confession to make: I don't visit the West Side of Cincinnati as much as I should. When I do, however, I always find myself at Wild Mike's. Since opening in 1994, Wild Mike's has elevated Buffalo-style wings to an art form. Those wings come slathered in your choice of one of seven sauces and five levels of heat. The true magic of Wild Mike's wings is the fact they remain crisp down to the last bite.
It's unlikely you'll be able to place a bulk order of wings to go for Sunday's game, but all three Wild Mike's locations will be open with TVs tuned in that day. You and your friends can order up to 50 wings to munch there.
Eight wings for $8.99; 12 for $11.99; 16 for $15.99; 24 for $22.99; 50 for $43.99. Three locations.
A relative newcomer to the Queen City wings scene, the Hi-Mark is upping its Super Bowl game this year. The Columbia Tusculum bar offers dry-rub, garlic pepper lime, Eli's BBQ sauce, bourbon barbecue, spicy Buffalo and classic Buffalo-style wing options.
For something a little different, I recommend trying the dry-rubbed wings, which are more sweet and salty than spicy. This Super Bowl Sunday, the Hi-Mark is prepared to serve up giant orders of wings for you and your friends. There will also be complimentary snacks and happy hour drink specials.
The Hi-Mark, 3229 Riverside Drive, East End.
If you haven't been to Knockback Nat's yet, why not? This Downtown sports bar's wings are dry-rubbed, smoked and then grilled. As Knockback regulars will attest, the wings are so good they don't need sauce, but you can order sauces (there are six) on the side to dip them in. Be prepared to step up to the bar to order your wings (there's no table service) and make new friends (the place is usually packed).
Don't worry, though, there are plenty of TVs on which to watch the game.
Eight wings for $9.95; 12 for $13.95; 16 for $17.95. Knockback Nat's, 10 W. Seventh St., Downtown.
Dickmann's is a classic sports bar in Northern Kentucky with plenty of TV screens and seating. It's not surprising that the cafe's deep-fried wings smothered in your choice of mild, original or hot sauce are delicious. The bar offers lots of seating and up to 25 wings in a single order.
Five for $5,50; 10 for $9.50; 15 for $13.50; 20 for $16.50; 25 for $19.50. Dickmann's Sports Cafe, 479 Orphanage Road, Fort Wright.
The wings at Barleycorn's are deep-fried, tossed in sauce and deep-fried again for a magical experience. I'd recommend ordering the chunky, house-made blue cheese too. Each Barleycorn location also has plenty of seating and TV tune to the game for the perfect Super Bowl Sunday experience.
Small order for $7.50; Large order for $13.50. Three locations.
Out of all of the bigger wings and rings franchises in Greater Cincinnati, Buffalo Wings & Rings is my favorite of its kind. The medium-heat Buffalo sauce is a bit thicker than the sauce at other eateries, which is fine by me. You can ask for "extra wet" wings, meaning more sauce for you. (There are 12 options on the menu.) There are also plenty locations throughout the region where you know you'll get the same quality of food, service and seating while Sunday's big game.
Five wings for $6.79; 10 for $11.79; 15 for $16.49; 20 for $20.99. Multiple locations.
O'Bryon's Bar and Grill's wings are meaty, the sauces are tasty and their breading delivers the garlic. Bonus: The sides of ranch and blue cheese dressing are thick and delicious. O'Bryon's is a quintessential neighborhood pub for wings and Super Bowl watching. Since I put together last year's list, the owners opened a second location at 736 Washington Ave. in Newport.
Six wings for $6.50; 12 for $13. O'Bryon's Bar and Grill, 1998 Madison Road, O'Bryonville.