The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 5 Wings

For the next 20 weeks, we'll be rounding up the runners-up to our 2011 Best of Houston® winners. In many categories, picking each year's winner is no easy task. We'll be spotlighting 20 of those categories, in which the winner had hefty competition from other Houston bars and restaurants.

Today, we chose to spotlight wings as the topic for this week's Rest of the Best post. And this plaintive letter from reader Shivam P. is why:

I was just wondering if you've found any places for great chicken wings. I've lived in Houston nearly all my life and sad to say the best wing's I've had so far are from Wingstop. Though they are good wings, I would think one of the fattest cities in America would have more to show in the chicken wing department than a restaurant chain. If you could give any recommendations I would love to try them out!

Shivam, have we got some wings for you.

5. Soma Sushi

These extra-crispy wings are only served at the bar, unfortunately. But they're splendid as a happy hour treat, where $5 or so will get you a plate piled high with the Korean-style fried chicken wings in a sweet and spicy sauce that begs to be licked off every finger when you're done.

4. Thanh Phuong

Thanh Phuong -- the best reason to drive to Pearland, along with Killen's -- serves its chicken wings in two different sauces: a garlic-butter sauce and a killer caramelized fish sauce. It's the latter that we're in love with, tasting like the love child of brown butter and caramelized sugar with just a salty, briny hint of the fish sauce underneath.

3. Party Fowl

These wings are on the run: Party Fowl is (so far) the city's only wing-centric food truck. And its popular chicken-and-waffle wings helped the truck win our recent Wingtoberfest throwdown, along with some help from the maple death sauce on the waffle-breaded wings and co-owner Lyle Bento's donning of a giant chicken suit. Try not to grin when you're eating wings from these guys.

2. Little Bitty Burger Barn

LBBB makes classic Buffalo wings that capture all the authenticity of the sports bar-style favorite without the cheesy sports bar atmosphere. But it does its customers one better than that, too, offering its wings in a variety of sauces from a sticky-sweet mango Thai chili to a wish-you-were-dead Nitro that's not for the faint of heart or tongue.

1. Xuco Xicana

The old Midtown location of El Patio has been transformed under Chef Jonathan Jones into a raucous, vivacious exploration of modern Mexican cuisine. Between leche de tigre-laced ceviches and kicky carne guisada tacos, you'll find his Jalisco-style wings. An odd item for a Mexican menu, perhaps, but Jones makes the queso fresco-topped wings work wonderfully through a special vinegar-based hot sauce spiked with chile de arbol, allspice, cloves, cumin, pepitas, garlic and toasted sesame seeds. And forget celery sticks; these wings are served with slices of jicama to cool off your palate between bites.

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