Since 2019, the original Iowa City Wingmen (Jeff Mannix and Brian Johannesen) have tirelessly scoured the Iowa City chicken wing scene in search of that perfect combination of flavor and texture with the intent of crowning the ultimate, most bodacious chicken wing in Iowa City. Well, that’s a bit dramatic. We mostly just like chicken wings and eat them frequently. Our rating criteria is simple: Would we eat them again? In most cases, the answer is yes.
However, we Wingmen have been bestowed the honor of ranking our top three choices in Iowa City, and we do not take that duty lightly. Listed below are our favorite wings in Iowa City (so far). For those who don’t venture to the Old Capitol City often, we have included a couple of our favorites in the greater CRANDIC region as well. Eat up, you wang dang doodles.
Disclaimer: The Wingmen do NOT support breaded wings. If you like that crunch in your munch, these rankings may not apply to you. Go to Shakespeare’s, though. We like them.
110 E College St, Iowa City
The search for the greatest wing in all the land began because we wanted to see if anyone could beat the wings at Donnelly’s Pub. So far, no one has. Donnelly’s has mastered the sauce game, offering booze-infused lathers that balance tantalizing heat with luscious sweet. The Wingmen recommend trying the Jameson Buffalo and the Guinness Hot BBQ sauces. Saddle up and enjoy the ride.
Jimmy Jack’s Rib Shack
1940 Lower Muscatine Rd, Iowa City
Smoked wings are often overlooked in the great wing debate, but when done properly, they can put traditional buffalo wings to shame. Jimmy Jack’s Rib Shack applies their traditional barbeque techniques to their big, succulent wings, adding a smoky dimension unparallelled in the region. Their simple sauce offerings of medium, hot or barbeque are all winners in the Wingmen’s book. Choose your own adventure—there are no wrong turns. If you’re craving adventure from afar, turn to GoldBelly. Jimmy Jack’s wings are now available for speedy shipping across the country!
Vine Tavern & Eatery
330 E Prentiss St, Iowa City
39 2nd Ave, Coralville
There was much debate over this third slot, and it nearly went to the delectable grilled wings from Sun Cafe, but we felt we needed to give a nod to the heatseekers out there. The Vine has, by far, the largest sauce selection in Iowa City, and they are the only wing purveyor in town who offers sauces that can clear your sinuses and leave you mopping regret, errr, sweat from your forehead. The chicken itself leaves something to be desired and the wings are a wee bit small, but if you’re trying to dial it up, order the Superhot and purge those demons.
Wings Without Borders
Recommendations Outside Iowa City
The Brass Fountain
122 E Main St, Solon
The newest kid on the block in Solon does not douse your wings for you. You dip the wings in the sauces, allowing you to decide how wet you get while maintaining the fried crispiness of the wings throughout the meal. Don’t sleep on their “dust” options. We recommend trying the Pickley Dust for some extra tang on your wang.
350 Edgewood Rd NW, Cedar Rapids
This is your classic, old-school sports bar offering classic, old-school wings. No need to get fancy here, the Buffalo sauce is what you want. If you are one of those alternative wing types, the Teriyaki and Boom-Boom sauces are good as well.
If you want to follow along with the Original Iowa City Wingmen’s journey, we are on Instagram at @icwingmen. We promise to post more wing content, just as soon as we remember the password.