3925 Walnut St.
Look, we all know Tap House at this point. Seniors and people with fakes have been there a million times. If you’re neither of the above, you just have to figure out the trick to sneaking into campus’ easiest bar (*hint* come in the terrace side door). It’s a bit pricey, it probably skews more toward grad students and their beer list is extensive. If you choose to get food there, you’re in for a minimum $15 check.
But if you should so choose to splurge, the Ten Spice Wings ($13) merit your money. The item listing is a bit of a misnomer: these are wings dipped in a dry rub comprising ten spices, not ten wings in spicy sauce (I only got nine on my plate). But that dry rub is what you’re paying for. I got hints of paprika and cinnamon underneath a decent coating of brown sugar, and there must have been some pepper and chili powder in there to give these wings some heat. The dry rub will miss every once in awhile—my smaller bites had far too much rub, which made me feel like I had just bitten into some chewy sugar. But pair this with a crispy, slightly sour IPA and you’ve got a hell of a meal, even if it’s a little expensive.
119 S. 39th St.
If you’re looking for a cheaper on–campus alternative to Tap, take a page out of your weird Drexel friend’s book and head over to Cav’s. I’ve been saying for years that this is the best sports bar on campus, so I went on the first Thursday of March Madness and camped out in front of a whole wall’s worth of TVs, each turned to a different game. The atmosphere was calm, the beer was cheap and the wings were phenomenal. Their hot–n–honey sauce was exactly that, but wasn’t as heavy and filling as a lot of honey–based wing sauces are. The wings are crispy and tasty, but for what they have in taste, they lack in size. I’d rather have a small wing that doesn’t taste like steroids than a large one that does, though, so these were just fine.
1116 Walnut St.
At Moriarty’s there isn’t a catch—no special sauces, no dry rubs, no special drink pairings. They keep the wings attached, so when you order 8 wings, you really get 8 flats and 8 drums, which makes these a pretty great deal. You’d think that this would make the wings hard to cook (the thicker drums would take longer than the thinner flats) but the wizards in the back of Moriarty’s manage to pull it off well. These wings have the perfect amount of crisp on the skin, the perfect amount of heat in the buffalo sauce and have a ton of meat on the bone, the perfect amount to put you in a food coma.
2005 Walnut St.
I never thought a plate of chicken wings could look as sexy as they did here. Plated beautifully in a pyramid shape, the wings and drumsticks are covered in a green chili sauce and finished off with gorgonzola chunks and sliced celery. While the pre–cut celery and absence of dipping sauce might be a jarring wing experience for some, I thought it was a welcome break from the usual style. The skin was perfectly crispy and the meat cooked throughout, and even though the wings were pretty small in size, the $11 seemed to cover the seven or so pieces present on a single appetizer plate. Plus, Tria Taproom has iPads for their beer listings and elegant–ass little jars to put your finished bones in. What more could you want out of a Center City yuppie haven?
TL;DR: All of these wings were good.