152 W. 44th St.
Dear BBQ Wings,
It's no secret that you and I got off to a bad start. You're generally too sweet... too tangy... and pale in comparison to the myriad other varieties of wings available. I've said some bad things about you, publicly. I've embarrassed you and called you mean names to our readers. While sometimes you do deserve it, I have to admit that my feelings have changed. I think we're turning over a new leaf you and I. Ends up, I was just at the wrong places at the wrong times. I've been enlightened though. My last two experiences have been wonderful. We got off on the wrong foot, but I think we can turn this around. I'm willing to give it a try if you are.
Your new friend,
Yeah, that's right. I now like BBQ wings and I'm not afraid to say it. After having a pretty satisfactory batch at Canz in Astoria, I followed the recommendation of reader Rebecca Podniesinski and visited Virgil's Real Barbecue in Times Square. We've really been trying to hit all of the recommended places lately, which is really great for us. We used to actually have to do research and whatnot to try and come up with places to go. Now we just work our way down the list. Keep 'em coming. The other day, I found myself in Chelsea with some time to kill, so I hopped on the 1 train and headed for 42nd St. I'm pretty sure that most of our readers are either from NY or have been there, so you can appreciate the amount of dedication it takes to brave the perils of Times Square. You're welcome.
Luckily, I went late in the afternoon, after lunch but before the PM rush - it was fairly empty. I found a spot at the bar and put in an order for wings. Like I said, I did like the BBQ wings at Canz. However, they're not even in the same league as Virgil's. Canz has wings with BBQ sauce on them. Virgil's has real, smoked, BBQ wings. There's a huge difference. While sitting and waiting for my wings, I read that they're smoked over a combination of three different types of wood which, obviously, impacts the flavor of the meat. I'm just an amateur foodie, but from what I know there are basically two schools in the BBQ world. One is all about the sauce. The other casts the sauce aside in favor of a dry rub... and never, so I thought, the Twain shall meet. Not the case at Virgil's. The wings were coated in sauce as well as a mixture of spices. I loved this. Between the smokey flavor, the taste of the sauce and the accent from the spices, these wings were among the tastiest I've ever had. They were excellent. They looked great too... there was a Midwestern tourist couple sitting next to me. They weren't hungry, but popped in to grab a beer and escape the heat for a while. After seeing my plate of wings, they were convinced to come back later to try the food. I hope they did.
I tried the chipotle ranch dressing. It was good, but unnecessary. These wings were fine on their own.
I know we usually look for the perfect char or crisp on the skin but, since these were slow cooked, I didn't feel bad making an exception. They were so tender that the meat basically just fell off the bone. I don't think I even needed my teeth. As for the price, here's your tip of the day: sit at the bar. On the menu, it lists wings at $13.95. However, everything on Virgil's "bar bites" menu is $8.95. There were about 8 full wings to an order, which means 16 when broken into the wings and drums. That puts them around 56¢/wing, which is a pretty good price... but in Times Square that's basically free.
One of my favorite side notes was the "napkin". Normally, you'd go through a whole stack while eating these wings. Virgil's thought of that and, instead of napkins or paper towels, they give you a full sized kitchen towel. When you're done, you get a wet, steaming wash cloth instead of a wet-nap. Classy.
If I had a washing machine in my Co-op, I might do this every night at dinner.
Well, consider me a convert. I'm a fan of a good BBQ chicken wing. Now I just have to convince my colleagues. Jeremy, Steve... maybe Dinosaur BBQ?
Epilogue: I did have leftovers. After writing this review, at about 1 am, I'm heading to my refrigerator to crush the survivors. Mmmm.