Young and Hungry

Readers Say Duffy’s Serves the Best Wings. For Once, They May Be Right.

Duffy's Wings

Despite winning the best wings category three straight years in the City Paper Reader’s Poll, Duffy's Irish Pub & Restaurant still didn't hold much interest for me. Polls are a popularity contest, and I wanted perfectly fried chicken wings, not a well-marketed homecoming queen.

But prompted by a neighbor who echoed the public praises, I visited Duffy’s earlier this summer — and I’ve returned several times since for the wing sauce alone.

Owner Andy Duffy makes each batch in house, keeping his recipe a closely guarded secret.  My best guess is the sauce starts with a base of Crystal or some other Louisiana-style hot sauce doctored with extra chilies, vinegar, and loads of black pepper.  The results pack a punch: Ladled over the wings before they leave the kitchen, the sauce is at once earthy and bright, with ample heat.

At first I thought Duffy's saucing technique was lazy as few of the wings were completely coated, while many received no sauce at all. But halfway through my first order, I realized the genius of the application.  Eat the drenched wings first, before they lose their snap, and as your session progresses, the neglected specimens will be doused in the sauce puddle remaining below.

The technique results in perfect crispy wings from start to finish. It's funny, but I’ve gotten in the habit of requesting orders cooked extra crispy at other bars, but such a request here would be redundant. Each order I’ve had has been fried to perfection, encased in a pleasingly crunchy skin while the meat remains moist and strips easily from the bones.  Ample celery, carrots, and dressing round out an offering that runs $5.95 for a half dozen. You can bump up to a dozen for $5 more.

Are Duffy’s wings the best in the city?  I can’t say because I haven’t eaten all the wings in the city.  But I’m quite certain Duffy’s wings are a flight above most available in the District, and significantly hotter than the girl I took to senior prom.

Duffy's Irish Pub & Restaurant, 2106 Vermont Avenue Northwest (202) 265-3413

  • Alex

    I find Duffy's wings are small and too-frequently fried so hard that meat is stringy and tough. It's the variability kills me -- sometimes they're good, sometimes they're leather.

    The sauce is delicious, but I prefer a classic franks-and-butter buffalo wing sauce and a reliably meaty, correctly-fried wing... like they serve at Ulah Bistro, though ask for them crispy. The wings at Momo's, too, are worth getting, at least they were when they used to finish them on the grill.

  • Native JD

    Not that I take the masses of unwashed hordes advice all that often, but the headline here is somewhat reader alienating.

    You intended well, but it comes off rather bourgeoisie.

  • Tim Carman

    Native JD,

    You're right about the headline. It can be seen as a slap against Y&H readers. I take responsibility for it. I wrote it. I was going for snarky humor, playing off the stereotype of public opinion. I know personally that our readers have good taste. They send me terrific tips on a weekly basis.


  • KP

    I'm not sure how Duffy's wins the City Paper Reader’s Poll for best wings category year after year. I've tried their wings, they are not all that noteworthy. The sauce isn't bland, but I wouldn't call it tasty either. Rather then ladle the sauce onto a plate, why not toss the wings in the sauce for maximum coverage ensuring that each wing has plenty of sauce?

  • Scott

    I could spend an equal amount of time biking around DC looking for the best burger knowing it's impossible to please everyone. In this short thread already one commenter calls the sauce delicious while another can't even muster tasty, all while I'm using a piece of celery like a squeegee to snowplow Duffy's sauce into my face.

    I thought it was interesting to check in on a menu item that's pulled a turkey in a Reader's Choice category, while trumping a massive chain that serves wings with a side of D-cups. Why aren't the Hooters supporters defending their wings here?

  • Keith B

    I thought the title was the hard-hitting, edgy commentary we were supposed to brace ourselves for with Scott's arrival here..?

    My fav wings were the Dirty Bird wings from the joint that was in the yellow hamburger hut on Georgia near Wayne Ave in Silver Spring. Spicy, dark and a hair away from burnt. I think that place closed in the early 2000s though. Hooters wings just ain't all that.

  • Alex

    The hot sauce is, I think, delicious. Not traditional buffalo wing sauce, but, yes, delicious. I can't speak to the mild or medium, so maybe some sauces are tastier than others?

  • Wingnut

    They're good. I like the half and half-- not all covered. But fake garlic in a powder rather than the real thing-- come on, now. . .

  • Stan

    Glad to see Duffy's is getting the recognition. I love their wings. I think everyone has a different opinion of what the perfect buffalo wing should be, for me its definitely Duffy's.