Nestled between a lakeside neighborhood and an Amish paradise, Riegling’s CopperTop Tavern sits at an intersection that looks to be in the middle of nowhere in LaGrange County.
While its address says Wolcottville, it actually sits halfway between Topeka and Wolcottville. Last year I had an e-mail from a reader that suggested this place, so on a testing trip to Fort Wayne I stopped at the halfway point to check out their Tuesday 50 cent wings.
The road on the east side of the CopperTop couldn’t be more different than traveling west from it. After turning in Wolcottville you traverse a winding road through residential housing with deep blue lakes on each side. After leaving the CopperTop and heading towards Topeka, you encounter the buggy highway. I have never seen so many horses on one stretch of road before, and I used to work in Nappanee.
I fully expected to find a building with a shiny copper roof (being the CopperTop Tavern and all) when I pulled in the parking lot, but instead found the typical residential shingle type covering. My curiosity was satisfied when I sat at the bar, which was topped with a bright and glossy copper plate. It is definitely the most unique surface I’ve eaten wings on.
Tuesday was the 50 cent wing special so I ordered up half Sriracha Hot and the other half Kentucky Bourbon. Out came 10 extra large breaded wings. These wings were huge, the crispy breading added to the girth of food contained on each bone.
Luckily the sauce was light on the breading, so it didn’t get all soggy while finishing up the last ones. These were cooked perfectly. Not too short to leave a lot of chewy fat on the bone, but not too long to get chicken jerky either. The chicken was very juicy and tender on both the drummies as well and the flats.
I’m not a big fan of Sriracha-type sauces, as they tend to make the wing hot instead of giving it a better taste, but these were combined with a buffalo sauce. You end up with a Frank’s-type sauce with an extra kick of the Sriracha, and it works really well. I’d give it a three out of four on the heat scale. The breading soaks up the sauce well, so it’s hotter than having it on a naked wing.
The Kentucky Bourbon also worked well with the wings, they were more smoky than sweet. They are perfect for people who don’t want the heat, but also don’t want to drip liquid candy on the wing either. The deal on Tuesdays is 50 cents, but even on other days of the week the 10 for $9 wings yield a CPW of 90, which is a really good price for this quality of wing.
The CopperTop Tavern might be in the middle of nowhere, but even nowhere deserves a good wing place. Next time you ride on the buggy highway, you have business Fort Wayne, or you just want to take a trip to, well, nothingland, you know you can get a yummy lunch if you stop at the place with the normal looking roof and a big copper counter.
Riegling’s CopperTop Tavern is at 0725 W. 700 S., Wolcottville. Hours are from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday.