In Athens, Ohio, as far as the food and beverage game goes, Court Street rules everything around me (click here if you need help with the reference). But just around the way, on the west side of town, there is a little joint called the West Side Wingery that spins some of the dopest hot wings in the Midwest.
When challenged to pick a favorite spot in Athens, there are a lot of obvious candidates that come to mind. O’Betty’s is a likely choice, but let’s face it the place has developed a greasy film that seems to be covering everything and will only be removed if it is shut down for a month of steam cleaning. I love Donkey’s coffee but sometimes, when I wake up in the morning, I don’t want to be served my cup of Joe by a Celtic warrior calling me buddy. Jackie O’s is tough to choose over, but I cannot rightfully call it my favorite when I can only afford to drink six-packs to myself . . . alone . . . in my apartment.
West Side Wingery, on the other hand, is a place hard to find fault with. Yeah, there is a dearth of items on the menu, but this is because they play to their strengths and focus on what they are good at. Yeah, they don’t open up shop until four in the afternoon, but for a restaurant that has Wu-Tang symbols as its sign, it would be weird if they opened any earlier.
The décor pays homage to the golden age of hip-hop, with portraits of the likes of Biggie Smalls, The Beastie Boys, and the Wu posted up starboard. On the back wall sits an ill, giant canvass of a graffitied food truck. With the giant painting of the gangster food truck and the hip-hop ambiance, it makes me wonder if the character who masterminded this whole enterprise was inspired by Eddie Huang — entrepreneur and master chef par excellence, who made a killing in the food truck game and owns an acclaimed restaurant with a hip-hop theme in the N-Y-C.
As I mentioned above, the hot wings are on point, but they make other chronic food, too. They are one of the few places that make a fish taco that I don’t feel should invoke the wrath of Santa Muerte. They have different specials for each day of the week, and today (Monday) I indulged in a meatball sub that would have put my G-mal to shame – God bless her, lord knows she would try harder if she were here.
But all jests aside, the West Side Wingery truly is one of the best little discoveries I have found during my short stay here in Athens. And if I like it more than the food merits, then I like it because for a short period of time I am taken back to the ‘90s when I was a kid and life was so much simpler: when wearing Nautica meant you were cool; when my only goal in life was to chain-smoke two cigarettes without puking; and when my biggest problem was my dad telling me to pull my pants up.