Amidst the orgiastic event of plant-based foods and the farm-to-table sophistry leaking off the lips of almost every increasing restaurant chain presently operating in America today, a place like Wingstop isn’t supposed to work.
Wingstop does not prepare its wings from pea protein or wheat gluten, or asparagus sorcery. They have not just recently released a chicken sandwich to much acclaim and ballyhoo and alarmingly sweaty, breathless press coverage. They do not provide a choice of agua frescas. There is no free Wi-Fi.
They sit quietly, primarily in small, reasonably character-less shopping center, and provide fried chicken wings and tenders in 11 different tastes with three options for dipping sauces and a handful of sides, all for you to eliminate and eat in the personal privacy of your own house, primarily during sporting events.
And you know what? It works.
Where did Wingstop come from?
In the early ’90s in the city of Garland, Texas (shout out to the Resistol Stetson factory!), pizza shop owner Antonio Swad started giving out samples of wings at his dining establishment and started to discover folks being more enthused about those samples than the pizza. Enlightened, he produced a wing-centric spot in 1994.
Within three years, Wingstop began providing franchise chances, and by 2002 had presumably offered one billion wings. Currently, Wingstop is a publicly-traded business with almost 1,300 dining establishments in nine nations, 28 of which are owned by rap artist Rick Ross, aka Rozay, aka Teflon Da Don, aka A Chicken Wing Shop Entrepreneur Based Out of Florida.
Wingstop discovers itself in the unique position of having lots of sort-of competitors; however, too few apples-to-apples rivals. Anchor Bar, the Buffalo wing pioneer, just recently franchised but has about 15 areas, and 3 of those are in Canada. Wing Zone, began in a frat home cooking area at the University of Florida, is probably the closest thing to a one to one competitor.
What is Wingstop attempting to do now?
As the dominant force in the fast-casual wing video game, Wingstop understands its audience much better than many. For one, nobody consumes in a Wingstop. Throughout three separate gos to, not a bachelor ever took their wings and sat and enjoyed them in the Wingstop space. Employees don’t bother to ask whether you’re going to take the food to go or consume it there. Everything is handed to you in a big-ass brown paper bag. But that talks to what they’re doing right.
Instead of spending extra money attempting to bring in the roaming millennial Wi-Fi hoarders, they’ve doubled down on innovation that’ll get you in and out efficiently AF, like their “Wingbot,” which you can use over Facebook Messenger, Twitter, text, or Alexa to buy wings.
They do a subtle advertising campaign, like sponsoring gamers to eat Twitch’s wings while playing video games. And they tapped comedian Anthony Anderson to star in a spoof of Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” called “Carpooling with Cool People Eating Wings.” Anderson picks up folks like, say, Real Housewives Dallas’s Stephanie Hollman and urges them to consume wings while driving around in an American sports car and rapidly lacked things to talk about.
Wingstop Menu Review
Throughout three unannounced visits to 2 Northern California Wingstop places, I attempted every flavor of the wing, tender, french fries, and sides. I did not try the brownie, however, and honestly, I feel okay about that.
Before I enter the specifics here, an introductory note: In practically every instance, the dry rub tastes were far superior to the damp sauces on the wings. However, the moist dressings shone brightly on the tenders. The majority of this involves the reality that the greatly breaded tenders can absorb more sauce and stay crunchy, whereas the wing in the wet sauces tends to get soggy and soft. This was incredibly real for the “flats” (see listed below).
With that said, the dry Lemon Pepper wings were, without a doubt, the very best. The combination of the bite of the black pepper and the acid from the lemon with the massive crunch and saltiness of the fried chicken wing produced some victual alchemy in my mouth.
Before I attempted these, I had little interest in eating a wing that tastes like an Olive Garden appetizer; however, my, how incorrect I was. This mix dramatically enhances when it leaps off bread as the garlic’s bite and spice, and the wing’s rewarding crunch elevates the nutty, fatty Parmesan flavors.
As you’ll see, the Wingstop traditional Buffalo sauce did little for me. However, the Atomic Buffalo sauce was a completely various story. Atomic sounds unpleasant (not the least because of the historical connotations), but it was just sort of in the “hot” classification. There was no going to the fridge for milk, or not having the ability to touch my skin or any of the other cautions you might get with stunt heat chicken.
For whatever factor, with the extra heat, the Buffalo taste gets augmented, and the chicken tenders, with their thick crust, are much better able to manage the sauce and remain crunchy. Dipped in either their blue cheese or ranch (as a Texan/New Englander hybrid who has invested a lot of time in Chicago and California, I am the Switzerland of wing dipping sauces), both do a fantastic task splashing the heat in cooling fat and tang.
A Drums vs. Flats Interlude: A Brief, Measured Opinion
Second, the bulb shape optimizes the amount of chicken per bite, and you aren’t stuck attempting to push a measly quantity of chicken out between two bones. I would never generalize about people by their wing choice. However, folks who choose “flats” are the same types of people who pick Luigi in Mario Kart.
The Very Best Sides:
This is where Wingstop genuinely raised their video game. The french fries showed to be a much better lorry than the wings for dipping sauces. Did I believe I would invest a day dipping Lemon Pepper french fries in honey mustard in a public park as bees troublingly accumulated around me?
I didn’t believe the Fresh Baked Rolls would be anything; however, a side note. I got one to inspect the box, only to find that it was sprinkled in butter and had a crunchy exterior and a pillowy warm interior. Now we’re not talking Tartine-quality baked products here, but the execution and simpleness were exceptional.
A real legend in the group was the Cajun Fried Corn. Each order is essentially one cob of corn, cut into four slices, each of which has been seasoned with their cajun flavoring and fried. It’s rewarding and spicy and salty. It also feels healthy, as if your brain is still like, “Oh, this is a veggie. Well done.”
Conventional Wingstop Flavors, ranked (wings, not tenders):.
1. Lemon Pepper.
2. Garlic Parm.
5. Hickory Smoked BBQ.
6. Spicy Korean.
9. Standard Buffalo.
10. Mango Habanero.
Honestly, Wingstop didn’t have a lot of slip-ups. As you can see from above, the worst tastes were the Mango Habanero, which didn’t have nearly enough spice to counter for the cloyingly sweet taste, and the Hawaiian, which did not have any of the redeeming sauce but fell into the same camp.
Better than those, the traditional Buffalo was maybe the most disappointing. A brilliant, almost pastel orange, the ratios of butter to vinegar to spice seemed off. In each checkout, the wings, especially the flats, tended to be more soggy and underwhelming. They were * okay * in the spectrum, but for a place called Wingstop, I think nailing the initial Buffalo wing sauce likely must be a concern.
From asides point of view, the smothered fry choices like Louisiana Voodoo (ranch, cheese sauce, cajun seasoning on fries) and Buffalo Ranch (buffalo sauce … plus cattle ranch) wound up too soaked to be pleasing, even when prepared extra well, honestly. And the cheese sauce did not have the tang and bite I was looking for. However, these are truthfully nitpicking. Wingstop’s side video game is on point.
The Final Verdict.
I don’t know what I thought of Wingstop before this evaluation. Possibly I felt nothing. Maybe I thought a national quick casual wing chain shouldn’t be on my radar because I am a food snob, which is my burden.
Wingstop surpassed all my expectations. They’ve managed to walk a service tightrope and focus in on a food subgroup that ordinarily gets simple lip service. And they do it in a hyper-efficient manner in which appears to know exactly what its audience wants: a range of flavors served to you on the car of your option (wings, tenders, fries … corn!) quickly and with little fuss.
Wingstop does not prepare its wings from pea protein or wheat gluten, or asparagus sorcery. As the dominant force in the fast-casual wing video game, Wingstop understands its audience better than most. During three separate gos to, not a single individual (other than for me) ever took their wings and sat and enjoyed them in the Wingstop space. Before I get into the specifics here, a general note: In nearly every instance, the dry rub flavors were far remarkable to the wet sauces on the wings, but the wet sauces shone vibrantly on the tenders. They were * great * in the spectrum, but for a location called Wingstop, I believe nailing the initial Buffalo wing sauce most likely should be a top priority.