Taste Test: Hottest wings in Columbus

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

A lot of restaurants make big claims about serving so-hot-they'll-melt-your-face-off wings. We decided to put this tailgate essential to the test and find out who really serves the most scorching chicken wings in the city. Second question: Does hotter really equal better?

We ordered whichever wings were menu-advertised as hottest and taste-tested a new variety every day. Yeah, Wing Week was pretty awesome. Here are the results, in order of heat.

Most intense!

Quaker Steak and Lube

8500 Lyra Dr., Polaris



Wing type: Atomic

Cost: $7 for six

Sauce: Thick and goopy, in a good way. Though more of a glaze, the covering was solid and left remnants in the container

Smell: Intimidating. You clearly knew suffering was imminent.

Taste: An initial smoky flavor slowly, steadily gave way to intense heat. The order came with a side of jalapenos to "cool your palate."

Heat: Though it set in after three full bites, the fire blast was intense and exploded throughout the lips, tongue and throat. This is why you have to sign a waiver upon purchase.

Tears: Yes. The roughly 150,000 Scoville Heat Units make your entire face uncomfortable.

Nose: Very runny

Fire finish: Well over 12 minutes, even with numerous antsy trips to the water cooler.

Runner up!

Buffalo Wild Wings

2151 N. High St., Campus



Wing type: Blazin'

Cost: $5 for six

Sauce: Thick and gritty, like a rib glaze tinged the color of football leather. Each wing received a decent if splotchy coating, with no sauce left in the container.

Smell: Not as pungent as expected, which could be a liability if you grabbed one randomly at a party.

Taste: Reminiscent of Jamaican jerk chicken, though not much flavor aside from the heat.

Heat: Hitting 15 seconds after the first bite, the heat was impressive - but not intolerable. Fire ran quickly into the lips, tongue and throat, then lingered, but we weren't screaming or scrambling for rescue.

Tears: None

Nose: Slightly runny

Fire finish: About seven minutes


897 City Park Ave., German Village



Wing type: Super Killer

Cost: $4.50 for five

Sauce: A light sauce thoroughly coated the nicely breaded wings.

Smell: Vinegary, just like hot wings should be.

Taste: These big, jointed wings offered lots of meat and a nice blend of vinegar, spice, pepper and even a hint of garlic. Because the heat came so late, you actually had a chance to enjoy the flavor.

Heat: At first, only the back of the mouth was tingling, but these wings are late exploders. By the end, our entire mouths were tingling and the tips of our tongues were clearly uncomfortable. Nothing unbearable, though.

Tears: None

Nose: Just a bit runny

Fire finish: About five minutes

O'Reilly's Pub

2822 N. High St., Clintonville


Wing type: Scott's

Cost: $7.50 for a pound

Sauce: Lots of thick yet vinegary sauce bore tons of visible red-pepper flakes and chunks of green peppers. The coating had absorbed deliciously into a thick breading.

Smell: The clearly spicy and vinegary aroma wafted throughout most of our office.

Taste: A full, peppery flavor with a nice tangy finish made these the most enjoyable wings to eat. The flappers and drumsticks were among the biggest and meatiest we tried.

Heat: Immediate, consistent but not uncomfortable. Lips tingled, but the heat stayed put. Most could eat six of these without breaking a sweat.

Tears: No

Nose: No

Fire finish: Four minutes, none of which were too intense

Least intense!

Gallo's Tap Room

5019 Olentangy River Rd., Northwest Side



Wing type: Cockfight

Cost: $4.75 for six

Sauce: A sweet glaze thoroughly coated these crispy little guys. We lovingly nicknamed them "the veal of wings" as they seem to have come from chickens just out of the egg.

Smell: Sweet and spicy aroma reminded us of General Tso's chicken takeout.

Taste: These aren't very hot, but they're super tasty and deliciously sweet. Gallo's brines their wings in a salty sugar-water mixture, which made for nice and juicy meat. We could eat 12, easy.

Heat: An initial puff of heat quickly dissipated. These are hot wings for people who don't like hot wings.

Tears: None

Nose: Not runny

Fire finish: N/A