Five local wing joints to get your fix for National Chicken Wing Day

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By: Gwen Ragno
gragno@flavor574.com

Michael Tomko

Since August 2014, Mike Tomko of Elkhart has been tucking into every basket of chicken wings he can find in the Michiana area. The guy loves chicken wings so much, he told us, that he once had wings for dessert.

Along the way, we’s been documenting his adventures in his blog Taste These Broken Wings for all to enjoy. In honor of National Chicken Wing Day, July 29, we are highlighting a few of his most interesting finds. 

BEST VALUE WINGS: Jay’s Lounge, Niles, Mich.

For each basket of wings he samples, Tomko calculates the cost per wing (CPW) by dividing the cost of the dish by the number of wings that come with it. He also accounts for the size of the wings to determine how good of a value it is.

Many spots have specials on certain days of the week that make for even better values, but the best he’s encountered so far was at Jay’s Lounge in Niles, Mich.

On Wednesdays, the restaurant serves wings for 35 cents a piece, recently raised from 25 cents, but still the lowest CPW on the Taste These Broken Wings books so far.

SMOKED WINGS: Evil Czech Brewery and Public House, Mishawaka

There are a lot of ways to prepare chicken wings, but smoked wings have been growing in popularity lately. Tomko has tried a few smoked wings in our area, and so far Evil Czech’s have been his favorites.

“The chipotle barbecue wings are about the closest chicken wings can come to tasting like dry-rubbed, slow-smoked ribs,” he wrote. “The chicken is fall-off-the bone. The rub is smoky and sweet with a little bit of heat.”

GRILLED WINGS: Logan’s Roadhouse, Mishawaka

The server at this restaurant talked Tomko into trying the grilled wings instead of the buffalo wings, and he did not regret it. They came out on skewers, with grill-blackened skin and a tangy chipotle sauce.

“The blackened skin was the best part. It was very crispy and the caramelization gave a sweet taste as it ripped off the bone,” he wrote.

These wings were so good that he didn’t even mind that they came “unbroken,” despite a fervent preference for broken chicken wings.

BROASTED WINGS: Rulli’s Italian Restaurant, Elkhart, and Pete’s Simonton Lake Tavern, Elkhart

“The first clue you will see anywhere to tell you the wings will be good is the word ’broasted,’” Tomko wrote once. Broasted chicken is fried under high pressure, and though it’s a popular way to fry chicken, you don’t see this treatment as often for chicken wings.

There are two local spots that Tomko has written about broasted wings: Rulli’s Italian Restaurant and Pete’s Simonton Lake Tavern.

The broasted wings at Pete’s, he said, are crisp outside, deliciously juicy inside and large enough to make the 65 cent CPW a great deal.

“You will find yourself nibbling the last bit of chicken off the bone on these,” he wrote. He does recommend ordering the sauce on the side for dipping, rather than ordering them on the wings.

The broasted wings at Rulli’s were the first wings he ever wrote about in his inaugural Taste These Broken Wings post, and he went so far as to declare them the best he’d ever had. 

“You know the feeling you get after ordering a great steak, when it comes out hot and juicy and is tasty and filling? That’s how I feel when I go and get some wings at Rulli’s. That’s why I call them ’the steak of wings,’” he wrote.

For more commentary on the chicken wings of Michiana from Mike Tomko, sign up for the Taste These Broken Wings email newsletter.
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