If you're on a quest for Miami's best chicken wings, there are a few things to keep in mind. First is to order the smallest available portion at each restaurant, because this is a marathon, not a sprint.
Beyond that, you'll need a pen and paper to document the intimate details of each variety. Think you've got it covered? Not yet. We also recommend some floss. Squirrel away any extra moist towelettes — they'll come in handy. Take along a travel bottle of hand sanitizer too. Last, you'll want to have some lip balm. Those wings can burn.
Luckily for you, we already took on the task of discovering the best in Miami. Here's what we found.
1. Special Grilled Wings at Sports Grill. Sports Grill, far west on Sunset Drive, is an average-looking sports bar with anything but average wings. They're grilled and have a crisp exterior with plenty of char. After grilling, they're tossed in Sports Grill's spicy signature sauce. The kicker is a quick Worcestershire-sauce wash that gives the wings a vinegary pop and adds an element of savoriness we couldn't find anywhere else. On top of that, they're some of the cheapest around: $6.99 for five, $12.99 for ten, and $23.99 for 20. 1559 Sunset Dr., Miami; 305-668-0396; sportsgrillmiami.com.
2. Grilled Wings at Shuckers Waterfront Grill. Keep your damn sauce away from Shuckers' grilled wings ($15 for ten, $29 for 20). They're crisp on the outside, hot and juicy on the inside, with the perfect amount of spice thanks to a secret blend. Just off the 79th Street Causeway, Shuckers overlooks Biscayne Bay. Football and these wings are the ideal way to spend a Sunday. Be
3. Jerk Wings at House of Wings. Opened in 2003 by Musaddiq "the King of Poultry" Muhammad, this counter-service spot in the heart of historic Overtown wasted no time becoming a neighborhood institution. Its popularity might have something to do with the array of nearly 60 sauces that span everything from the erotic-sounding "cinnamon love" to the "Barack Obama" (a sweet concoction whose secrets the place won't reveal) and the "ghetto flavor" (a sweet-smoky mixture of four barbecue sauces). However, the jerk wings — flavored with a combination of fiery jerk seasonings and classic, vinegary Buffalo sauce — never disappoint. Get a ten-pack (with one sauce) for $9.37 or up to 200 wings (with any combination of sauces you like — call for pricing). 1039 NW Third Ave., Miami; 305-371-6556; houseofwingsmiami.com. 4. Smokehouse Wings at Bulldog Barbecue. Former Top Chef contestant and all-around loudmouth Howie Kleinberg took his television momentum and opened this North Miami barbecue joint. His smokehouse wings ($8 for a half-pound, $16 for a pound) are unlike any other we've tried. The blue cheese doesn't come on the side — it's mixed in with the spicy hot sauce and dressed over meaty wings. They're somewhat smoky, somewhat spicy, and everything you want in a wing. 15400 Biscayne Blvd., North Miami Beach; 305-940-9655; bulldog-bbq.com.
5. Korean Fried Chicken Wings at Sakaya Kitchen. Call it the little shop that Korean fried chicken (and honey-orange-glazed ribs) built. Richard Hales' double-fried chicken wings have been a hit ever since he mustered the courage to open Sakaya Kitchen in a once-deserted midtown mall. Sweet, crisp, and meaty, these wings come sprinkled with chopped scallion and minced garlic and could convert even the most dedicated chicken-wing purist ($9 for six). 3401 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-576-8096; sakayakitchen.com.
6. Jerk Chicken Wings at Sparky's Roadside Barbecue. New York duo Kevin Kehoe and Hans Seitz opened Sparky's in 2010, bringing proper homestyle barbecue to downtown Miami. Get the smoked chicken thigh and pulled-pork plate when you visit, but start with the jerk chicken wings ($12.75 for a dozen). Meaty and full of spice thanks to plenty of Scotch bonnet peppers in the sauce, these are among Miami's best and most unusual wings. 204 NE First St., Miami; 305-377-2877; sparkysroadsidebarbecue.com.
7. Chili-Garlic Hawker-Style Chicken Wings at Lotus + Cleaver at 1-800-Lucky. These massive wings are sweet, savory, and juicy. A hint of chili gives the chicken flavor rather than heat, but if you want to turn up the volume, dip your wing into the peppery habanero ketchup. For more heat, bite into the peppers that come with the wings; then cool off with a few house-made pickles ($9 for four wings). 43 NW 23rd St., Miami; 305-768-9826; 1-800-lucky.com.
8. Bucket O' Wings at Titanic Restaurant & Brewery. This microbrewery and pub is a longtime favorite of University of Miami students and beer buffs. Behind the bar are windows giving diners a look into the restaurant's brewing operations. Titanic's chicken wings come in either one-pound ($9.95) or two-pound ($18.95) portions. They might look like regular Buffalo wings, but they're not. Glazed in a creamy Vietnamese sriracha hot sauce, these wings hit you immediately with the spicy punch of the Thai chili sauce that's gained a cult-like following. 5813 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables; 305-668-1742; titanicbrewery.com.
9. Triple Threat Wings at Bru's Room. It felt like it took years for this Broward transplant to make its way to Miami. But when it finally opened in Westchester in mid-2015, it sated the long plight of fans shlepping up north for Bru's Room's addictive Triple Threat wings ($12.99 for ten to $55.99 for 50). The first thing to note is that for a few extra bucks, you can request your order be all drumettes or flats, a worthwhile expenditure for any serious wing eater. Next, note the deep-chocolate/maroon color smattered with garlic and fantastic bits of char. This is Bru's Triple Threat, a combination of smoky, spicy barbecue sauce along with a sweeter amalgam that's grilled and showered with pungent garlic. If you must turn your back on Buffalo sauce, this is the way to do it. Various locations; brusroom.com.
10. Scampi Wings at Scully's Tavern. How can garlic-and-butter-doused anything ever be bad? Scully's might catch flak for its cameo on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, but the little Irish pub has been serving meaty, crisp wings ($10.50 for ten) drenched in butter and roast garlic for years. Keep a fork nearby to scoop some of those tender cloves onto each bite. 9809 Sunset Dr., Miami; 305-271-7404; scullystavern.com.