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Anchor Bar-style Buffalo wings at Jimmy's Old Town Tavern.
Anchor Bar-style Buffalo wings at Jimmy's Old Town Tavern.
Warren Rojas / Eater DC

20 Killer Chicken Wings Around D.C.

Feast on the king of finger foods

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Anchor Bar-style Buffalo wings at Jimmy's Old Town Tavern.
| Warren Rojas / Eater DC

Drums. Flats. Fried. Grilled. Naked. Sauced.

There is a plethora of ways to enjoy chicken wings these days. About the only thing that's up for debate any more is exactly how many meaty specimens are required for any given snacking session. (Six? A dozen? Eleventy billion?)

Polishing off mounds of wings is considered de rigueur at any worthwhile tailgating event/football watching engagement. Friendly cooking contests can veer into blood sport as fierce competitors attempt to outdo one another with insanely spicy preparations (ghost pepper roulette, anyone?).

The original Buffalo-style wing, awash in Frank's RedHot and melted butter, remains a crowd-pleaser. But decades of imitation and innovation have elevated the flame-throwing bird to new heights, which in D.C. means variations like the Korean-fried wings from Bonchon and Kochix, cumin-glazed wings at Maketto, and crunchy lemon pepper wings at Oohs and Aahs. Newcomers like Chiko and BBQ Chicken are also worth a splurge.

So, grab a cold one. And ready some wet naps. Because things are about to get (deliciously) messy.

Updated by Adele O'Donnell.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Nando's Peri-Peri (Multiple Locations)

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Everything here is marinated for 24 hours in the signature peri-peri pepper sauce, so any additional saucing is very much gravy. That said, an order of the “hot” wings rarely disappoints, revealing attractively seared bird enrobed in earthy sauce with a sting that is immediate and long lasting. All-you-can-eat frozen yogurt ($2.95) is a brilliant palate cleanse.

Photo by Warren Rojas / Eater DC

Jimmy's Old Town Tavern

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This temple to all things Buffalo does its wings mild, medium, hot or suicidal. Each order of gut-busting delights is split evenly between drums and flats, all dripping in a blaze orange blend of butter, vinegar and cayenne spice. Thick, rich blue cheese serves as the ideal cooling agent.

Photo by Warren Rojas / Eater DC

Meridian Pint

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There are plenty of folks who remain loyal to the traditional Buffalo-style wings served here. (“They are super reliable,” bar staff maintain.) Live a little and try the honey-Sriracha version. The chicken is plump, the sauce is sticky, and each bite floods the mouth with garlic, onion and slow-building heating elements.

Photo by Warren Rojas / Eater DC

Federalist Pig

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Other smoked meats might beckon at veteran pitmaster Rob Sonderman's barbecue spot in Adams Morgan, but don't miss the dry-rubbed chicken wings here.

Smoke and Barrel

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Slow-and-low smoking crisps the skin and seals in the juiciness of the signature wings. The dry rub, built upon generous amounts of cayenne pepper, onion powder and salt, works wonders on the wood-infused meat. House hot sauce imparts a vinegary character while chipotle-honey butter starts sweet before revealing creeper heat.

Photo by Warren Rojas / Eater DC

Duffy's Irish Pub

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Arguably D.C.'s most famous wings, Duffy's version leans traditional, fried in peanut oil and served with a choice of sauces.

Photo: Duffy's Irish Pub

Oohh’s and Aahh’s

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The soul food standby fixes wings as either appetizer of entrée (accompanied by two sides), finishing its fried chicken in traditional Buffalo sauce, teriyaki, barbecue or lemon pepper. The barbecue sauce has more in common with mumbo sauce than any hickory-spiked solution, displaying flashes of sweet, sour and rosemary. Lemon pepper kicks things up a notch, escorting the featured bird into irresistibly tart territory.

Photo by Warren Rojas / Eater DC

Kyirisan

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Chef Tim Ma's take on the bar staple are seasoned with creme fraiche, oyster sauce, and chili paste at his Shaw restaurant.

Kyirisan DC wings Gourmet wings at Kyirisan. Photo: Kyirisan

Crisp Kitchen and Bar

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Nashville hot wings are a thing of beauty, summoning hunks of well-seasoned bird that with notes of garlic, paprika and other fire starters. A companion dipping sauce (much airier than standard ranch dressing) expertly extinguishes the flame while housemade pickle chips zap the taste buds with sour.

Kochix spoils chicken lovers with full-size drumsticks that are as delicious as they are eye-catching. The cooked-to-order chicken is double-fried and can be doctored with soy garlic sauce (sweet and savory), honey spicy sauce (jelly-like consistency) or hot honey spicy sauce (the residual after burn is intoxicating).

Photo: Kochix

Chicken and Whiskey

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Choose a preferred wing spice level at 14th Street’s new Chicken and Whiskey, a Peruvian chicken restaurant/whiskey bar. There are three sauce options for the house chicken wings: not-so-spicy mango-guayaba barbecue sauce, a spicy house sauce, and the spiciest tomate de arbol barbecue sauce.

Photo: Chicken and Whiskey

Honeysuckle

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A highlight of Honeysuckle's bar menu has to be the twice-fried, sweet-and-sour wings that glisten with a "kentuckyaki" glaze.

Photo: Honeysuckle

Maketto

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Crispy chicken wings with cumin glaze are the on-again-off-again bar snack that eats like a meal. Full-sized drums and carefully trimmed flats are slathered in spicy-sweet sauce, dusted with crushed peanuts and parked atop a bowl of steamed rice studded with toasted nuts and crispy crust.

Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

The Hamilton

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Wing aficionados treat the cavernous, multi-tier establishment like a neighborhood carry out, strolling right up to the main bar and requesting hand-held treats to go. District wings emerge liberally breaded, sprinkled with scallions and sporting a drizzle of the house mumbo sauce (an additional serving of the sweet-and-sour stunner rides shotgun), all nestled on a bed of fries.

Photo by Warren Rojas / Eater DC

BBQ Chicken

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South Korean chain BBQ Chicken is inching closer to the city with a new outpost that opened in Falls Church in August. It’s known for its olive oil-fried chicken and also a sweet-and-spicy secret Sauce.

BBQ Chicken VA wings Photo: BBQ Chicken

Whitlow's on Wilson

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This D.C. transplant honors its District roots with a special “mambo” presentation that should be very familiar to wing aficionados. The iconic sauce strikes the same sweet-and-spicy notes as other’s mumbo sauce with the added kick of finely chopped bits of fresh bell pepper. The chicken isn't too shabby, either.

Photo by Warren Rojas / Eater DC

Double-fried chicken wings are on the menu every day at Chiko, the buzzy new Barracks Row eatery from Mandu co-founder Danny Lee, The Source alum Scott Drewno, and Matchbox Food Group co-founder Drew Kim. But make it there on Wings Wednesday and try a sampler of four flavors: dry-spiced, spicy soy glazed, upstate Buffalo style, and mumbo. A bucket of PBRs is also on special that night, which is so logical.

Photo: Chiko

Bonchon Chicken (Multiple Locations)

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The fearless leader of the Korean fried chicken movement continues to win over the hearts and minds of Washingtonians by dishing out phenomenally crispy, double fried chicken parts (the crackling flesh is killer) shellacked with garlic and soy. A complimentary side of pickled radish combats the extra spicy coating.

Photo; Bonchon Chicken

Glory Days Grill (Multiple Locations)

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This hometown hangout traffics in fried, grilled and boneless wings. Saucing options range from classic (hot) to experimental (Korean doppelganger employs soy, sesame and ginger). Signature glory wings produce chicken brushed in a lip-smacking, honey-tinged glaze. Regional homage yields bird cloaked in buttery, crab-spiced goodness.

Photo: Glory Days Grill

Hard Times Cafe (Multiple Locations)

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The purveyor of Frito pie and 5-way chili mac also doles out flame-grilled wings by the pound. Sweet red chili sauce introduces itself with a kiss of honey then ignites a fire in the belly. The chili-lime preparation packs a citrusy punch; bonus squeeze of fresh line staves off scurvy and ups the acidity of each mouthful.

Photo by Warren Rojas / Eater DC

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Nando's Peri-Peri (Multiple Locations)

Photo by Warren Rojas / Eater DC

Everything here is marinated for 24 hours in the signature peri-peri pepper sauce, so any additional saucing is very much gravy. That said, an order of the “hot” wings rarely disappoints, revealing attractively seared bird enrobed in earthy sauce with a sting that is immediate and long lasting. All-you-can-eat frozen yogurt ($2.95) is a brilliant palate cleanse.

Photo by Warren Rojas / Eater DC

Jimmy's Old Town Tavern

Photo by Warren Rojas / Eater DC

This temple to all things Buffalo does its wings mild, medium, hot or suicidal. Each order of gut-busting delights is split evenly between drums and flats, all dripping in a blaze orange blend of butter, vinegar and cayenne spice. Thick, rich blue cheese serves as the ideal cooling agent.

Photo by Warren Rojas / Eater DC

Meridian Pint

Photo by Warren Rojas / Eater DC

There are plenty of folks who remain loyal to the traditional Buffalo-style wings served here. (“They are super reliable,” bar staff maintain.) Live a little and try the honey-Sriracha version. The chicken is plump, the sauce is sticky, and each bite floods the mouth with garlic, onion and slow-building heating elements.

Photo by Warren Rojas / Eater DC

Federalist Pig

Other smoked meats might beckon at veteran pitmaster Rob Sonderman's barbecue spot in Adams Morgan, but don't miss the dry-rubbed chicken wings here.

Smoke and Barrel

Photo by Warren Rojas / Eater DC

Slow-and-low smoking crisps the skin and seals in the juiciness of the signature wings. The dry rub, built upon generous amounts of cayenne pepper, onion powder and salt, works wonders on the wood-infused meat. House hot sauce imparts a vinegary character while chipotle-honey butter starts sweet before revealing creeper heat.

Photo by Warren Rojas / Eater DC

Duffy's Irish Pub

Photo: Duffy's Irish Pub

Arguably D.C.'s most famous wings, Duffy's version leans traditional, fried in peanut oil and served with a choice of sauces.

Photo: Duffy's Irish Pub

Oohh’s and Aahh’s

Photo by Warren Rojas / Eater DC

The soul food standby fixes wings as either appetizer of entrée (accompanied by two sides), finishing its fried chicken in traditional Buffalo sauce, teriyaki, barbecue or lemon pepper. The barbecue sauce has more in common with mumbo sauce than any hickory-spiked solution, displaying flashes of sweet, sour and rosemary. Lemon pepper kicks things up a notch, escorting the featured bird into irresistibly tart territory.

Photo by Warren Rojas / Eater DC

Kyirisan

Kyirisan DC wings Gourmet wings at Kyirisan. Photo: Kyirisan

Chef Tim Ma's take on the bar staple are seasoned with creme fraiche, oyster sauce, and chili paste at his Shaw restaurant.

Kyirisan DC wings Gourmet wings at Kyirisan. Photo: Kyirisan

Crisp Kitchen and Bar

Nashville hot wings are a thing of beauty, summoning hunks of well-seasoned bird that with notes of garlic, paprika and other fire starters. A companion dipping sauce (much airier than standard ranch dressing) expertly extinguishes the flame while housemade pickle chips zap the taste buds with sour.

Kochix

Photo: Kochix

Kochix spoils chicken lovers with full-size drumsticks that are as delicious as they are eye-catching. The cooked-to-order chicken is double-fried and can be doctored with soy garlic sauce (sweet and savory), honey spicy sauce (jelly-like consistency) or hot honey spicy sauce (the residual after burn is intoxicating).

Photo: Kochix

Chicken and Whiskey

Photo: Chicken and Whiskey

Choose a preferred wing spice level at 14th Street’s new Chicken and Whiskey, a Peruvian chicken restaurant/whiskey bar. There are three sauce options for the house chicken wings: not-so-spicy mango-guayaba barbecue sauce, a spicy house sauce, and the spiciest tomate de arbol barbecue sauce.

Photo: Chicken and Whiskey

Honeysuckle