It’s true! People are moving to Bend for a new start and new adventures. Without fail though, with the exploration of a new town comes the mission to find a constant, a “go-to,” and that constant seems to be in the form of buffalo chicken wings. Personally, I’m not a beer drinker so although I love a good wing, I don’t associate them with a good beer. For the masses, however, I’m learning that wings are to beer like milk is to cookies. So, in a city known for its craft breweries, the question of “where can I find the best chicken wings in Bend Oregon” is one I hear pretty frequently.
Well, challenge accepted and mission accomplished!
Below, are the guidelines adhered to in the search to lower as many variables as possible while increasing a constant to find the best chicken wings. Although tons of restaurants offer wings on their menus, to keep a level of consistency, this study was conducted only in local breweries. We also chose a typical Tuesday and Wednesday night between the hours of 5 pm and 7 pm to avoid the influx of weekend crowds.
- Deschutes Brewery
- Immersion Brewing
- 10 Barrel Brewing (Westside)
- Cascades Lakes Brewing Co.
- Bend Brewing Co.
- Sunriver Brewing Co.
- Worthy Brewing Co.
- Good Life Brewing
- Four male, wing enthusiasts with various thresholds for spice. One from NYC, one from Portland, and two locals from Bend.
- Judges may ONLY drink water.
- Order the standard buffalo wings and if asked for spice level, choose mild.
- No side dipping sauce or veggies allowed.
- No discussing the objective with the wait staff.
- All comments to be written on a provided index card. No sharing thoughts or opinions with the other judges.
- No utensils can be used to eat the wings.
- Food wait time recorded after the order was taken.
- How many wings ordered.
- Spice level (1-10, 10 being the spiciest)
- How meaty (1-10, 10 being the meatiest)
- How saucy (1-10, 1 is dry, 10 dripping)
- Size of wings (S, M, L, XL)
- Ease to eat (Easy/Clean, Difficult/Messy)
- Price (before tip)
- Level of service
Food Wait Time:
- The fastest service with a speedy eight minutes was tied between Sunriver Brewing Co. and Bend Brewing Co., while Good Life Brewing Co came in last place at 45 minutes. Yes, a six-piece order of wings took 45 minutes to arrive.
- 10 Barrel Brewing delivers a hefty 14 wings in their portions. Immersion Brewing and Good Life Brewing both contained the least amount of wings with six in each order.
- It was unanimously decided that Bend Brewing Co. is not for those with a low tolerance for spicy. Though the flavor was fantastic, all four judges were in tears by the end of the meal. Good Life Brewing, on the other hand, lacked in spice making it more like a barbecue experience rather than a true spicy buffalo chicken wing.
- Again, with a 10 across the board, Bend Brewing Co. tops the chart with the meatiest wings in town. And once again, Good Life Brewing gets all 3s for their lack of substance on the bone.
*Sunriver Brewing needs to be eliminated from this category because they come out with dipping sauce on the side. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this; it’s just not fair to compare them with wings that have been tossed in sauce.*
- Bend Brewing Co. comes in with all 8s for the level of sauce. The consensus was the perfect amount of sauce to provide flavor without feeling overpowered. Good Life struggles yet again with 2s and a 3 due to dry, flavorless wings.
- No competition on this one from our judges. What Immersion Brewing lacked in quantity (six wings) was definitely made up for in size. Immersion’s wings were so large and abundant in meat, they would be enough for a meal. Sunriver Brewing and Good Life tied for last with the smallest wings, each receiving a size small from the judges.
- My mouth watered listening to the adjectives the judges used to describe the wings at Deschutes Brewery (crunchy, thick, saucy, meaty) as well as those at Immersion Brewing (tender, juicy, fresh, sticky). Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the descriptions used for Good Life Brewing (burnt, cold, dry, tough) or Cascades Lakes Brewing Co. (chewy, slimy, fibrous, tough.)
Ease to Eat:
Let me preface this by stating that no utensils were allowed. Therefore, ease of eating was based purely on the ability to hold the wing, accessibility to the meat, and the level of mess on the face and hands throughout the eating process.
- Apparently, all places offered wings with sufficient ease to eat except Immersion Brewery. The size and configuration (a full wing) made it more difficult to hold and access all of the meat in the nooks and crannies. Each judge felt like they left a lot of meat on the bone because they either didn’t want to put in the effort, deal with the added mess, or were concerned they looked like vultures feasting on a carcass.
- Most Expensive: Bend Brewing Co. at $14.50
- Least Expensive: Immersion Brewing at $12.00
Level of Service:
- 10 Barrel Brewing received a Superb rating. From the judges:
“The wait staff was friendly, attentive, happy and engaging. The wait time to receive the food wasn’t long, the bill was spot on, and our waters were always refilled without delay.”
- Immersion Brewing came in second place with a rating of Excellent. From the judges:
“Very fast and our waiter was very personable, communicative, and helpful.”
- Good Life Brewing gets a Poor rating. From the judges:
“Good Life Brewing in every aspect was a train wreck. With a nearly empty restaurant, it took 45 minutes to get our wings. We repeatedly asked when our food would be out only to be reassured that they were almost ready. For the last 15 minutes of our wait, the waitress was MIA almost as if she was hiding. Finally, the wings arrived and they were cold, burnt, and tough, as if they had been burnt when originally made and then microwaved insufficiently to reheat them. We had to ask for a refill on our waters and it took so long for the check to come, we were tempted to walk out without paying.”
- Though Deschutes Brewery received high marks in almost every other category, they received “sub-par” reviews when it came to service. They also receive a Poor rating. From the judges:
“Deschutes Brewery earned a Poor for service which is unfortunate to report. The staff was very inattentive, having to ask repeatedly to order our food, for more water, more napkins, and our check. In fact, by the time we received our check, the waitress was pretty rude as if she was inconvenienced by having to do her job. We got the sense she was irritated that we only ordered one order of wings and four waters. Though I can objectively understand her frustration, we were in and out quickly and this was the only establishment that seemed to be bothered.”
In conclusion, the unanimous winner of the “Best Chicken Wings in Bend Oregon” is Bend Brewing Co. Spicy, meaty, saucy, large, tender wings matched with very good service make them a winner!
Here at Bend Relocation Services, we provide more than just rental services. We can tell you all the best places to eat, drink, and so much more. Reach out to see how we can help make your move to Bend, Oregon smooth and easy. Even if it’s only to help you find the best chicken wings!