In March, I attended my first food event in several months, WingFest, and I couldn’t have picked a better event to get back into the Chicago food scene. Since we’ve returned home from our travels I’ve found that between a busy job and a change in our general lifestyle, attending food events several times a week wasn’t as big of a priority. I still love food just as much as before our travels, but my relationship with food has evolved.
I find it much more rewarding eating and cooking healthier at home and when I do want to venture out, exploring the less trendy, but just as good eateries in various Chicago neighborhoods. I am still a sucker for an elegant five-course meal, but with the flame of wanderlust lit inside me I’ve found myself saving money to keep up with my travel habit instead of fancy dinners out.
What I loved most about WingFest was that it was clearly a fest of the people. The restaurants serving wings came from all over Chicagoland and so did the attendees. To be honest, out of the 30 different restaurants offering wings, I might have only known half of the names and every wing I tasted was unique and delicious.
Restaurant participants included: Rhyme or Reason, Howells & Hood, Chicago Culinary Kitchen, Son of A Butcher Tavern, River Forest Catering, Q’s Tips & Wings Bar-B-Que, Reggie’s, Gators Wing Shack, Revel, WHISK, Paisans Pizzeria, McQ’s Bar & Grill, Fire Water BBQ, Buffalo Wings & Rings, Mahoney’s Pub & Grille, Downtown Dogs, Estadio Grill, Hilton Chicago, Estrella Negra, Output Lounge, Timothy O’Toole’s Pub, Porkchop, Nola Nights, Tap House Grill, Half Day Brewing, SPiN Chicago, The Blanchard, Corcoran’s Grill & Pub, 10 Pin and Freestyle.
WingFest had some of the biggest food fans I have ever seen. I saw some amazing getups and out of the box ideas of how to properly attend a WingFest. There was a guy with a hanger hooked onto his belt holding a roll of paper towels, those dressed in undershirt’s ready to wipe their hands directly on their clothing, and other brought bento-box style containers to accommodate as many wings as possible while still having space for their ranch dressing and blue cheese.
I was initially worried that most the wings would be too spicy for me, but I quickly found that most places were going for unique instead of a high spice level. Some of my favorite wings included a smoky peanut butter and jelly sauced wing, a creamy sweet and spicy sweet Thai chili wing, and a super flavorful garlic buffalo wing. In addition to wing sampling the fest also featured several wing-eating contests, but unfortunately, we left before we could catch any of them. I’m sure they would have made some great photo opportunities.
I loved that you were able to move at your own pace during the event and you had the option to get back in line for your favorite wings. Overall this was the perfect, low-key event for me to appreciate a really fun eating experience. If you want to check out the winners of WingFest you can do so here!