Cuisine Scene: Wings
Chicken wings are so well-loved, so deliciously popular, it would seem they could not be improved upon. But, in Long Beach, a town so well-loved, so deliciously popular for expanding culinary possibilities, there are lots of places daring to bring their own take to what a wing can taste like – mango, sriracha, curry. Here are a few of those places – some new, some legendary – that you’d do well to try when you’re thinking of wingin’ it.
Lots of things leap to mind when you think of Legends: the fact it was the country’s first sports bar or that it has more than 30 HD TVs and two massive projection screens – 240- and 326-inches. And then there are their wings which are, well, legendary. Legends’ (5236 E. Second St.) not only has wings that define the dish for many people, but also features a wide selection ranging from original buffalo to lemon pepper to Thai sweet chili, BBQ, habanero-BBQ, sea salt and pepper and cajun. You’ll have a delicious time deciding.
This North Long Beach hot spot goes in big on wings. How big? They not only offer Buffalo sauce but Spicy Elephant sauce! Shlap Muan (2150 E South St) – Khmer for chicken wing – has a lot of interesting features to its menu. Its wet and dry sauces range from orange habanero (wet) to Cambodian Dirt, i.e. lemongrass pepper, (dry). They have meal deals that include wings, rice, fried egg and salad. And then there’s the Elvis, featuring wok-tossed wings that come out tasting sweet and smokey with a caramel finish.
Many devotees of this ultra-cool downtown eatery and hangout wouldn’t consider it a well-spent BO-beau (144 Pine Ave.) kind of evening if it didn’t start by ordering two appetizers for the table: brussel sprouts with house-cured pancetta and balsamic glaze, and buffalo wings prepared with sublime sriracha butter and served with an equally amazing white truffle ranch dressing. Does it get any better than enjoying those items with one of BO-beau’s many beer offerings on its stunning, outdoor, second story deck? Nope.
PIKE RESTAURANT AND BAR
This Retro Row stalwart is owned by former Social Distortion drummer Chris Reece–rumored to have given Retro Row its name. Fittingly, its wings are rather old school: classic Buffalo as well as a house BBQ. Still, Pike Bar (1836 E. Fourth St.), which is celebrating 20 years at its location at Fourth Street and Hermosa Avenue, also offers a unique and popular veggie take: Buffalo Cauliflower Wings. Whatever you decide on, pair it with one of Pike Bar’s voluminous beer offerings – drafts range from hard-bitten Pabst Blue Ribbon to sweet sounding Smog City Snuggle Bug Sour.
EL BARRIO CANTINA
This relatively new spot has made a quick name for itself by offering innovative takes on old favorites, for instance, their pork belly breakfast burrito. Add to that very interesting list their Spicy Alitas, whole chicken wings that come prepared with butter, lime, salsa piquin and are served with a yummy yuzu aioli. Now, be advised, El Barrio Cantina (1731 E. Fourth St.) doesn’t just serve delicious, savory, spicy wings, they serve WINGS, i.e. quite large, like two or three times normal sized wings and with all the flavor to match..
When wings are pretty much your reason for being, it’s not surprising that you’d offer the kind of selection that SoCal Wings (1800 Atlantic Ave.) does. More than 20 wet wing varieties featuring the likes of mango tango, chili garlic soy, red curry, etc. That and more than a half dozen dry rubs – garlic parmesan, jalapeno pepper, etc. – as well as six dipping sauces. Looking for a topper? Try their SoCal Fries where chicken wings lie atop fries, cheese, ranch, green onions and your choice of wing sauce.