CINCINNATI -- Last year, I went on an insane three-day journey to find the best chicken wings in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.
I drove north, east, west and south, sampling wings from 15 area restaurants and bars. I still occasionally experience meat sweats thinking about it.
Since then, new eateries have opened and people have told me about other places I should've visited. Because I care more about others than my own health, here's a slightly shorter sequel to last year's list. (Why shorter? Because my cholesterol is a real situation.)
This is my gift to you, wings lovers -- enjoy.
Smoke Justis serves two types of wings. The first is dry-rubbed, smoked, flash-fried and served with a side of Frank's hot sauce and ranch or blue cheese. These savory wings definitely put the "smoke" in this Covington sports bar's name. Their more traditional cousins are Buffalo wings tossed in Frank's hot sauce and butter.
Fans of Dickmann's Sports Cafe should recognize these wings -- the same owner also operates Smoke Justis.
A pound of wings for $11. Smoke Justis, 302 Court St., Covington.
The Pony offers Buffalo-style wings tossed in mild, medium, hot or barbecue sauces. The wings at the Pony are fried and then finished on the grill. I got a single order of wings with the medium Buffalo sauce. Each was slathered in sauce, with crispy skin on the outside and juicy meat underneath.
Ten wings for $12; 20 for $20. The Pony, 1346 Main St., Over-the-Rhine.
The Hi-Mark offers a little bit of everything. Wing options include dry rub, garlic pepper lime, Eli's BBQ sauce, bourbon barbecue, spicy Buffalo and classic Buffalo styles. I tried the dry-rubbed wings. Unlike other seasoning rubs, which tend to be a bit spicy, the Hi-Mark's rub was sweet and salty. The wings' skin also was crisp, and I found it hard not to devour the entire order in five minutes.
Six wings for $9; 12 for $15. The Hi-Mark, 3229 Riverside Drive, East End.
If breakfast wings ever become a thing, thank Renegade Grille. I ordered the maple-and-bacon-glazed wings at the eatery, which is located inside Listermann Brewing in Evanston. The sticky fried wings came coated with a sweet syrup and real chunks of bacon. Renegade also offers other interesting wing flavors, including sweet/hot Asian chili and honey wasabi sauces.
About a pound of wings for $8. Renegade Grille, 1621 Dana Ave., Evanston.
Somehow, I forgot to include O'Bryon's on last year's list of wing places, and fans of the O'Bryonville bar let me know. I rectified the oversight this go-around with six of the bar's wings tossed in spicy garlic sauce. The wings were meaty and definitely delivered the garlic. Bonus: The sides of ranch and blue cheese dressing were thick and delicious. O'Bryon's is a quintessential neighborhood pub for wings.
Six wings for $6.50; 12 for $13. O'Bryon's Bar and Grill, 1998 Madison Road, O'Bryonville.
Dilly may not serve the biggest wings but they are mighty tasty. The smoked in-house wings I ate were cooked to perfection, and the spicy garlic sauce my waitress recommended had just enough kick. Other sauce options include Buffalo, bourbon barbecue, cherry sweet chili, Parmesan garlic and Thai peanut.
Six wings for $7; 12 for $12. Dilly Bistro, Bar & Bottle Shop, 6818 Wooster Pike, Mariemont.
Habits Cafe is another one of those neighborhood places with a reputation for good bar food and drinks. The cafe's menu boasts the "best damn chicken wings, period." That claim may be up for debate, but its Buffalo-style wings coated in medium sauce were really good. The wings weren't drowning in sauce or overcooked, and they're a worthy addition to this wings list.
Ten wings for $8.95. Habits Cafe, 3036 Madison Road, Oakley.
What's your favorite place to get wings?
We all have strong feelings about which place makes the best chicken wings. Share your favorite wing joints on the Cincinnati food and drink group on Facebook.