This was my first time attending Toronto’s Wing Festival. Apparently this was the third year that they hosted it. I’m sure a lot of people don’t even know about this festival, so hopefully this blog post will bring more awareness to this foodie event and also have you drooling over my chicken wing pictures. Hahaha, I’m joking about the last part, but I really did eat a lot of wings this past weekend. =]
I met up with two friends at Daniels Spectrum downtown on a sunny and a little windy Sunday afternoon. The event started at 1:30 p.m. and even though we arrived at 1:15, there was already a long line-up on the sidewalk with many hungry chicken wing eaters. Before long, we were let in after a photo ID check (if you wanted to buy beer at the venue) and also slapping on a TO Wing Festival wristband. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect since I’d never been to this Wing Festival before, but it turns out that they stationed several chicken wing vendors outside in tents and then the rest of the vendors indoors in the Daniels Spectrum venue.
We immediately lined up for our first chicken wing of the afternoon, at Lou Dawg’s, a single dry wing that they served on a cute little chicken wing paper holder. This was quite dry, tasted like pulled pork, and was so-so. The three of us agreed that the wing could have been more juicy inside.
At this point, it was still early and the lines weren’t very long yet, but after our first wing, we developed a system where we would eat the wing from the previous vendor while lining up for the next vendor. This saved a lot of time and just made sense.
Our second chicken wing vendor was the famed Hurricanes. They provided two wings with some spicy sauce on the side (I don’t remember the name of the sauce now). We all really liked this wing! The spicy sauce really added a kick to the wings which made them really, really tasty. Clarence even said that he was ready to go back for a second round of these Hurricane wings immediately after finishing his two.
The Office Pub was our third wing vendor. Sweet Baby Bourbon Curry was the flavour of these wings. They were quite saucy. I really liked it!
Smoke Bourbon Bar-B-Q House was #4 on our list. We really just moved down the row from one vendor to the next. At this point, the lines were getting longer and longer. The wind was blowing hard which made me wish I had brought a hair tie so my hair wouldn’t be eating the wings as well. The sun was coming out in bursts which was nice. These wings from Smoke Bourbon were huge! I got a giant piece of drumstick. It tasted quite smoky.
For our fifth wing before we headed inside, we had a wing from Aft Kitchen & Bar. This was a single wing and tasted pretty good.
We headed inside Daniels Spectrum and were shocked at how the lines inside the square room were as long as snakes. We finally found the end of one line and lined up for Shark Club. They had two different flavours here: Golden Shark and Ghost Pepper (labelled as spicy). The ladies that were serving us told us that the Ghost Pepper was very spicy, and as Jen described it, almost in a confrontational way, so I had to try it. I loved the Golden Shark wing! It was so tangy and juicy. A first bite of the Ghost Pepper proved it to be not spicy. It wasn’t until the second bite that the spice really kicked in. It was SOO spicy! I turned red and teared up because it was so spicy. They also included blue cheese sauce on the side which really helped to calm down the heat. It was so intense!
Next, we had two wings from Hard Rock Cafe. I liked how they provided the wet naps in a empty guitar case. It gave a unique touch to the table. They provided two flavours of wings here: the one with the Hard Rock pick was not mild while the other one was mild. Due to the intense spiciness of the wings from Shark Club, I had to wait a bit before eating these wings since the spice from before was still lingering in my mouth. I wished there was some kind of palate cleansing substance or drink that could have been provided after each wing because soon after this, I wasn’t able to really distinguish the unique tastes and flavours of each wing…
Anyway, up next were wings from Pour House. These were two big chunks of meat!
Our 9th wings came from Whistler’s Grille & The McNeil Room. These were kimchi flavoured, but I couldn’t really tell because the flavour wasn’t very strong. They reminded me of homemade wings because the flavour was so weak. They were juicy and tender inside though.
We rested for a little bit after this because I was getting quite full. After our quick break, we lined up for wings from Rally Sports Bar & Smokehouse. These were average.
Here, we were venturing out into the outdoor tents again where we got some wings from Drums N Flats. They ran out of one flavour, but we were able to try the other one. It was okay-tasting. One wing kind of fell apart and incidentally that was the one that I offered to Clarence because I was too full too eat two… haha, sorry, Clarence!
Our 11th wings came from Sandoozles. This was kind of dry and very smoked.
Up next, we tried wings from The Pilot. We had heard that these were one of the best wings, so I was excited to try these out. They had an interesting Red Vindaloo Curry Butter Sauce drizzled with a Cucumber Wasabi Aioli. It was definitely an interesting wing. I liked the curry butter sauce. They didn’t really live up to the hype though.
After this, we rested again since we still had some more vendors to go through! We went inside where we were able to catch the last 17 seconds of the Raptors game on the big screen. Oh, it was such a close game!
After that, we were back in the game again.. the game of chicken wing eating! We went to Pogue Mahone. (Interestingly, so many of these wing places I had actually never heard of before this Wing Festival. I definitely increased my foodie knowledge of wings here!) Pogue Mahone gave out two varieties of wings. At this point, I was very, very full… I couldn’t distinguish what the wing flavours were anymore. -_-
We then went to the Hooters vendor for some wings. These wings were very saucy. I didn’t enjoy it that much because I had overindulged in wings by this point.
After this, we went out for another break and voted for the People’s Choice wings. We all received a little chip when we were admitted. You vote by dropping your chip into the paper bag of the vendor whose wings you thought were the best. I voted for the tangy Shark Club wings. :3
There were still two more vendors that we wanted to try (actually three if you counted St. Louis’s), so we went back to line up for the last two. At this point, it was around 4 p.m. and the venue was gradually clearing out. It was no longer as packed and crowded as when we first arrived. People were probably already too full on chicken wings already! However, because some vendors were running out of wings, the remaining vendors still had some lengthy lines.
Tara Inn featured an interesting wing that looked gourmet — I instagrammed it because of that — it was a wing with Sriracha/Sesame with Papaya which was drizzled in Parmesan cheese and sesame seeds. It was really good! I absolutely loved the Parmesan cheese that was thick and cheesy. Yum! They actually had another wing for us to try, but I was too full at this point. It was a spicy one.
Finally, our last wings, #17, came from Wings & Burger. These were dry and quite spicy too… why did I have to end on a spicy one?! D:
And so, there you have it. We tried 17 out of the 18 vendors that were at the 3rd Annual Toronto Wing Festival that day. I technically could have force fed myself to try the last vendor which was St. Louis Wings and Ribs, but if I did, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it. Also, St. Louis is a chicken wing place that has locations all over Ontario, so I didn’t feel like I was missing out on much by not trying it.
All in all, I really enjoyed my experience. I can’t believe I ate over 25 wings in total that afternoon. We literally spent 4+ hours to line up for wings and eat all day. I felt like such a glutton. I wonder how many other people were able to try all 17 or 18 vendors that were there? Oh, and they also announced the winners of the People’s Choice awards at the end. The wings from Hurricanes won! Both Jen and Clarence voted for Hurricanes. Good job, guys!
Did you attend the Annual Wing Festival? Did you know about it? If you didn’t and you looked at this blog post and read here until the bottom (wow, good for you!), do you plan on attending next year? Get your tickets fast because they sell out really quickly. I got my ticket immediately when I knew about it this year, whereas other people who waited a few days later missed out on it because it was sold in. It’s quite the popular event. I think it was worth the $30 for all you can eat wings. 🙂