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Chicken Wings Make Their Mark on Local Menus

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Restaurants specializing in wings could soon outnumber barbecue restaurants in Memphis and maybe even churches. Wings are seemingly everywhere, sneaking their way onto the menus of all types of restaurants.

Central BBQ

"Wings are one of my top sellers," says Craig Blondis, owner of Central BBQ. Blondis never intended to have wings on the menu, but one or two customers bugged him in the early days to give wings a try. Blondis made them one day, and the next day one of his customers ordered 200 and had them delivered to his office. "That's how it took off," Blondis says. "It was never my intention. I was just goofing around. Now our wings have been voted the best three or four times."

They have a nice, smoky taste, and the meat easily falls off the bone. Blondis says he marinates raw wings in Louisiana hot sauce for one to two days before smoking them for an hour or two. Then he chills them and flash fries them. The last step is to season them — wet, naked, jerked, dry spice, honey gold, or sweet heat.

Some customers like to order the wings "muddy," which means they come with a wet sauce and a dry rub. The most common muddy combination is a traditional wet Buffalo sauce with the hot rub, but customers also request the sweet heat with the jerk rub on top.

Sweet heat on its own is also a popular choice. It's the honey gold sauce with the addition of habanero and Chinese red peppers. "You get the sweet up front and the heat on the back end," Blondis explains. It has a nice Asian flair to it, and the sauce sticks to your fingers in such a way that you may consider eating them too.

A half order comes with three wings ($5.99) and full orders six ($9.99).

Slider Inn

Wings are a popular menu item at Slider Inn because they are good for sharing and go well with football games, general manager Jesse Keenan says.

The wings are fried unbattered and then sauced. The sauce is very simple and classic. "We use Frank's hot sauce and butter, but we have our own special ratio," he says. "Everyone absolutely loves our sauce. It has a heat to it, but the butter mellows it out so it doesn't finish super hot."

I don't know if it is due to the perfect ratio of butter and hot sauce, but Slider's sauce seems to soak into skin, coating the wings perfectly, delivering the full-on Buffalo flavor without too much mess. However, Keenan says that their motto is, "If you are going to get sticky fingers, we want you to get them sticky at Slider Inn."

A half order of six wings is $6.99 and a full order of 12 is $12.99, but Slider is running a 50 cent wing special through Super Bowl Sunday.

Mosa Asian Bistro

Mosa may not be the first place you think of when it comes to wings, but if you are looking for something a little different, it should be. They've had a Sriracha style for about three months now and debuted the Rainbow Wings last month.

The Rainbow Wings feature a panang curry dipping sauce, which is a game changer. Owner Michelle Pao Levine says the sauce is the same sauce as in their Rainbow Panang Curry dish. "It's a super special sauce because of all the amazing ingredients we use: fresh lime, lemongrass, and panang curry, to name a few," she says. The curry is sweet, spicy, and tangy all at once. It seriously brings your tongue to life. The wings are considered a special order item, so they do take a little longer to prepare — about 10 minutes per order. Customers can dip them in the sauce or slather them at will. (I recommend the latter.)

An order of four is $5, and an order of six is $6.50.

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