We've come a long way in picking out the best chicken wings: in my estimation, 180 wings have been consumed in an eight-week span. Needless to say, I'm "winged out" for the time being. There were some surprises along the way, along with a few disappointments, but 'Cuse should be proud of its chicken wing notoriety. More than half the places seeded in the tournament scored above average in the tallied scores and I've even found a few establishments I look forward to going back to and getting my face and fingers messy again.
Final Four: Downtown Winner vs. Northside/Eastwood Winner
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que's "Wango Tango" vs. Change of Pace's "Hot/Extra Crispy"
The Downtown vs. Northside/Eastwood match-up pitted Dinosaur's Wango Tango wings against Change of Pace's hot and extra crispy wings. Change of Pace's wings are very good and (despite not being outstandingly "extra crispy" on this occasion), come coated in a very hot, tasty, classic Buffalo sauce. They're no match for Dino's "Wango Tango" though. Dinosaur boasts the most tender, fall-off-the-bone chicken meat of all the contestants with deliciously crispy wings slathered in a sweet, sassy and garlicy sauce that has the perfect mouth-tingling kick. No one likes to see such a lopsided score in the Final Four, but the wings at Dinosaur left me no choice.
Dinosaur: 6 points
Change of Pace's: 0 points
Winner: Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
Final Four: Tipperary Hill Winner vs. Southside/SU Hill Winner
Swallow's "Hot" wings vs. Nibsy's Pub's "Hot" wings
Another tough battle for Nibsy's and the first real test for Swallow's in a match-up that could've gone either way. There were four categories in which both contestants were evenly matched and nearly perfect: meat, flavor, heat, balance, and even celery and blue cheese. There were even a few toss-ups that could've gone either way making this by far the most difficult match-up to find a clear-cut winner. Both are winners in my mind and it's a shame to have to cut one. In the end, Nibsy's did have that classic taste that you want from chicken wings and the pool of delicious Buffalo sauce lying in the bottom of the bowl was beyond appetizing for dipping. But Swallow's took the battle with perfect wings covered in a mouth-watering, if unorthodox, sauce highlighted by some of the hottest wings in the tournament. Technically, it may not be a Buffalo sauce, but it's spicy, garlicy and finger-licking delicious. Congrats, Swallow's. You've certainly earned your spot in the championship.