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[Photograph: Joe Roy]

Toon's Bar & Grill in Lakeview has built its reputation around a commitment to taking the extra time to do things right. They form their burger patties by hand. They do a substantial amount of Kansas City-style barbecue and also make the sauces that go with it. They serve New Orleans specials like gumbo throughout the year, culminating in an all-you-can-eat crawfish boil on Super Bowl Sunday. This commitment also shows in their chicken wings. Touted as some of the best in the city on their website and beyond, I decided to stop in on half price appetizer night to see for myself. For you see, hot wings are a bit of an obsession of mine.

A large order ($9.50, half price on Mondays!) comes with 12 wings, plenty of celery, and a side of bleu cheese dressing. These are textbook hot wings. The sauce is clearly handmade, with plenty of butter and that signature orange tint that only Frank's style hot sauce can lend. It coated the wings evenly and stayed emulsified throughout dinner. There was none of that oily separation you get on lesser wings. For my taste, the sauce wasn't spicy enough. There was no kick. My friend had a pretty genius way of describing it: the sauce was spicy enough that you knew it was there around your mouth, but none of that heat actually made it any further. Next time, I'll be adding some of Toon's Louisiana hot sauce to give my wings that desired zip.

But to the point of TGI Fry-Day: how well fried were these little guys? The wingettes (or flats, if you prefer) were wonderfully crisp, but the drumettes could have used some more time in the deep fryer. Toon's isn't exaggerating when they describe their wings as jumbo, and while they're cooked through, they could have definitely used more time to build up that crackly skin that defines the best chicken wings.

So my quest for the best wings in the city continues. Where do you go for the best chicken wings in Chicago? Let me know in the comments.

Toon's Bar & Grill

3857 N Southport Avenue Chicago, IL 60613 (map)
773-935-1919
www.chicagotoons.com

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