Where Y’Eat: For Super Bowl Sunday, Wings with Symbolism

Feb 2, 2017

The chicken wing rules the roost when it comes to football food, and this year I’m on the chicken wing bandwagon too. I mean, could there be any food more appropriate for a Falcons Super Bowl appearance than wings?

It's been a few years since the Saints won the Super Bowl, but certainly the memories of that day are etched into the cortex of New Orleans fans.

What I don't remember, however, is what I ate. Super Bowl Sunday can be as much about the food as the gridiron, depending on who’s playing. But when the Saints finally made it to the big game I was too occupied clinging to hope to hold onto a plate.

I don’t need to remind anyone in the Who Dat nation that this weekend’s Super Bowl Sunday will be much different. The New England Patriots face the… wait, I can do this…they face the Atlanta Falcons. So, if you need me, I’ll be at the buffet. 

The chicken wing rules the roost when it comes to football food, and this year I’m on the chicken wing bandwagon too. I mean, could there be any food more appropriate for a Falcons Super Bowl appearance than wings?

For those hoping that Sunday’s outcome will preserve the Saints’ Super Bowl ring bragging rights over their Atlanta archrivals, wings fit with that “eating the competition” theme that’s common to game day food. It becomes finger food as effigy, and a Falcon with fried wings can’t fly, never mind rise up.

On the other hand, there are people in Who Dat country pulling for the Falcons. Maybe they’re Atlanta expats or even just Patriots haters – they are rumored to exist. Perhaps for them hoisting a gloriously spicy wing could be a sign of solidarity.

For either camp, New Orleans offers a pretty rich habitat for wing lovers these days, and my favorites for the purposes of game day parties or bar top noshing fall into a few distinct categories.

One is the old school New Orleans take-out joint, where the curb appeal may be low, but the party tray bargains are strong and the wings can be addictive. I’m thinking of Wing Snack, a shack of an outpost on North Claiborne Avenue. And a few miles up on South Claiborne, there’s a much updated, new school version of the take-out counter, and that’s Bayou Hot Wings, where gator and frog legs join the menu and the sauces range from Buffalo to Korean.

Another chicken wing subset comes from our Vietnamese food culture. Lemongrass and tamarind and garlic butter coat these wings, and spots like Tan Dinh in Gretna and its Uptown offshoot Ba Chi Canteen are masters of the style. In Mid-City, a similar type of wing is the calling card for MoPho and its barroom sibling at Finn McCool’s Irish Pub.

Another path for wing lovers has been blazed by all the new barbecue joints, where smoked wings are menu staples and party tray specialties. It was just such a tray that first turned my head towards Blue Oak BBQ. Smokehouse versions at McClure’s Barbecue and Frey Smoked Meat Co. give great smoky meat that peels off the bone.

This weekend marks the end of a football season plenty in New Orleans are happy to see go. But for one last football feast, I’m trying to keep things in perspective. As this game kicks off the only sides I’m taking are celery sticks and ranch dressing.

Wing Snack

759 N. Claiborne Ave., New Orleans, 504-827-0602

Bayou Hot Wings

6221 S. Claiborne Ave., New Orleans, 504-865-9464

MoPho

514 City Park Ave., New Orleans, 504-482-6845

Finn McCool's Irish Pub

3701 Banks St., New Orleans, 504-486-9080

Tan Dinh

1705 Lafayette St., Gretna, 504-361-8008

Ba Chi Canteen

7900 Maple St., New Orleans, 504-373-5628 

Blue Oak BBQ

900 N. Carrollton Ave., 504-621-9837

McClure’s Barbecue

3001 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-301-0117

Frey Smoked Meat Co.

4141 Bienville St., New Orleans, 504-488-7427