One of the newest restaurants in Citrus County and one of the oldest are the big winners in the annual King of Wings annual competition in two categories, judges’ and readers’ choices.
Chronicle judges agreed that BubbaQue’s Real Pit Barbecue in Crystal River had no peer in serving the best wings in the county and the readers’ choice online voters put the Old Mill Tavern in Homosassa on top for their sweet and spicy garlic wings.
In the Citrus County Chronicle-sponsored contest, judges who feasted on sample wings were Tom Feeney and Michael Bates, Chronicle; Garrett Bradley Watt, Crystal Automotive; Jeremy Fowler, Fowler’s Landscaping; and Mark L. Baker, JM Signs.
BubbaQue’s describes its wings like this:
“Bubba Marley Wing — All of our fresh, never frozen, wings begin with a dusting of our proprietary Bubba Seasoning and a low and slow cook in our famous smoker, rendering a light hint of smoke flavor. This process delivers an unbelievably tender wing. Upon ordering, these wings are flash fried and then tossed in our famous sauces or rubs. The Bubba Marley Wing has a dry rub Jerk seasoning that will cause a taste bud explosion.”
The Old Mill Tavern tells patrons:
“Sweet & Spicy Garlic Wings. Fresh, juicy, never frozen jumbo wings, cooked to order exactly how you’d like, and tossed in a Sweet and Spicy Garlic sauce. Regulars from Pinellas, Ocala, The Villages and further making a trip for their wings!”
With a record nine entries in this year’s contest, the winners were victorious over some of the top wings at other restaurants in the area.
The popularity of chicken wings as one of the country’s favorite foods cannot be underestimated.
The National Chicken Council estimates that in 2019, Americans will consume an all-time high of 1.38 billion wings, up 2% from 2018, or about four wings for every man, woman, and child in the United States.
That’s a lot of wingless chickens.
One of the most prolific wing-eating marathons was Super Bowl Sunday 2019, where the council estimated fans noshed on about 1 billion wings while watching their favorite teams.
In Citrus County, wing fans search for the ultimate in wings at favorite restaurants, supermarket delis and anywhere they can get them.
If you are a true wing nut, you are likely to be pretty specific about your favorite tastes: dry rub, wet wings with sauces, naked and other variations.
Others get even more specific, requesting flats only or the other bulkier side of wings. Some like them hot and spicy, or smoked or air fried for less fat and calories.
In all honesty, most wing aficionados really are not overly concerned about calories and such and might argue that is not an issue due the size of wings. Of course, that does not take into account the amount one might eat.
Then there are the wing accompaniments: celery, various dressings such as ranch, blue cheese and hot sauce for dipping, and soft drinks or pitchers of beer to help the wings go down.
As you might guess, wing preference is not exactly a subjective thing and arguments are known to break out over what constitutes the perfect wings.
Along with the winning restaurants, here are the other entries in the King of Wings contest:
Green Valley Deli in Floral City, with garlic Parmesan wings; Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, traditional and boneless wings, Norton’s Riverside Sports Bar and Grill with garlic, Parmesan wings; and Clawdaddy’s Bar and Grill with original dry rub wings, all in Crystal River; Domino’s in Crystal River and Homosassa with crispy bacon and tomato specialty wings; Mango Tango’s in Homosassa with teriyaki wings; and Backwater Fin’s in Ozello with sweet sauce and coconut crisp wings.