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The Football Foodie: Wings Edition

Ayana Wilson Ayana Wilson The Football Foodie: Wings Edition
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In a football town like Columbus, there’re no shortages of places to catch the game. Whether for game day on Saturdays, or NFL showings on Sundays and Monday nights, there are over 100 bars and restaurants with over 500 screens tuned to battles featuring our favorite teams.

When we think about football, we almost automatically think of chicken wings, the perfect snack food for beers and cheers. The Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY (which I recently visited) is home to the original Buffalo chicken wing as we best know and enjoy it: quickly fried and finished in a light coating of sauce comprised of melted butter and Frank’s Red Hot.

In Columbus, we have spots that not only rival the original, but are putting their own distinct stamps on our favorite football munchie. Here are 5 places that combine the same kind of energy and kitsch found at the birthplace of the chicken wing, with the indomitable creativity of the Buckeye spirit:

Mad Mex

  • Number of televisions: 8
  • Buckeye Capacity: 230 seats, 250 fans
  • Patio: Yes
  • Continuous Game Sound: Yes
  • Game Day Special: $12 buckets of Corona
  • Wings to HaveSouthwestern (special mention: Classic)

Unexpected as it may be, Mad Mex has great wings. The popular campus spot, located at 1542 North High Street, offers tacos, fajitas, and other Mexican-inspired fare, but on game day, you want to order the wings. Served by the seven, these medium-sized, but meaty wings are correctly cooked and minimally sauced.

The Classic sauce is their riff on the original, and it’s a very good one. The wings aren’t as hot, pepper-wise, but they’re tangier, and have a distinct umami to them I enjoyed almost more than the ones in Buffalo. The blue cheese sauce it’s best enjoyed with has a nice bite of buttermilk on the finish to mellow the aggression of the chunks of blue cheese.

But their calling card is the Southwestern Wings, which are smokey, cilantro-y, and peppery. On their own, they’re decent, but dipped into the insanely delicious, house-made cilantro ranch sauce, they become what might be the best wing-sauce combination in the city (the sauce is also great for dipping the crisp celery).

Also in keeping with breaking expectation, Mad Mex is mellow on game days, despite being on campus. The crowd is mainly comprised of students, but invariably, they are groups who like to hang and watch the game in a space that’s crowded, but not overwhelming, loud, but not so much so you can’t hear your neighbor’s breakdown of the last play.

Mad Mex has 30 taps and over 40 tequilas on hand to make your game-watching experience complete. They grill on the patio during Saturday game day, so stop by for a margarita and a plate of wings. They go very well together. Mad Mex opens at 11am daily.

Photos by Craig Ferance.

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