Straight Talk About Chicken Wings


While driving around St. Paul yesterday, a restaurant awning caught my eye: "Cora's Best Chicken Wings." "Best" was underlined. Normally this kind of gastronomic smacktalk would be merely intriguing, but coming hard on the heels of a column wherein I'd proclaimed Chelly's chicken wings the best in the Twin Cities, it was seriously disconcerting. What if Cora's wings were better?

Two wings cost a mere $1.82, a good price, if nothing else. But the result was lackluster. The sticky, burnt-caramel, Chinese-restaurant tasting glaze was relatively yummy, but it concealed the somewhat dried out and mediocre chicken flesh that most wings are built upon. These wings were not the "best." They were merely OK.

Happenstance (i.e. a sudden desire to browse Ax-Man Surplus) then brought me to JJ Fish & Chicken at 1647 University Ave. in St. Paul.

The wings from Fish & Chicken had a dry, almost sandy breading, but they were fried to order (and thus super hot) and relatively tender. The meat was moist, and the hot sauce that came with the wings had a nice, serious burn to it without being purely abusive. All in all: a contest with Chelly's, but a contest that Chelly's wins. It's hard not to favor Chelly's spice-laden breading, and its luxurious quality of chicken.

There are, undoubtedly, more wings out there to be tried, but for now... Chelly's stays atop the mountain, proud and victorious.