Austin Chicken Wing Festival holds its first installation at the Historic Scoot Inn

Stephen Acevedo

The Austin food scene is known for tacos and barbecue, but a previously overlooked food is beginning to make a place for itself as another local staple. 

On Sunday, the city’s colorful mix of sauced and spiced buffalo wings got the attention they deserve at The Scoot Inn’s first annual Austin Chicken Wing Festival. Some of Austin’s most beloved wing joints showcased their delectable treats to a crowd of ravenous Austinites. 

The festival appeased  the crowd’s desire for chicken, but did not go down without a couple of hiccups. For starters, by the time the festivities kicked off, the morning’s thunderstorms turned the ground completely into mud, making for messy stomping grounds. 

Another issue were the unrelenting lines. Once patrons made it through the long entry line, they were faced with a fresh slew of lines for the chicken
wings inside. 

However, no one seemed to be complaining. Patrons seemed content to wait in line for chicken wings with a cold beer in hand and a group of friends to chat with. 

With an enthusiastic emcee, an exciting chicken wing contest and an abundance of alcoholic beverages, the  first installation of the festival was exceptionally fun from start to finish. 

As for the restaurants present at the event, everyone brought their A game. The first attention grabber was a Rainey Street wing truck called Tommy Want Wingy. With a line that wrapped around a sizable chunk of the event’s perimeter, it was clear the folks behind the counter were serving up some pretty noteworthy wings. 

Tommy Want Wingy stood out from the rest of the afternoon’s participants with it’s “chicken lollipops.” Each of these are prepared with all the meat pushed up to the top of a single bone to create a particularly tender wing that falls right off of the bone. A light breading also provides a satisfying crunch. Tommy Want Wingy boasted the spiciest sauce of the afternoon with its “holy schnikes” option. Most people were only able to handle a couple bites of it. 

Another participant that stood out was Jenna’s Asian Kitchen. While they were only offering a single option to festival goers, they made sure it was a dang good chicken wing. Smothered in their house yum yum sauce and topped with crushed peanuts and sesame seeds, these wings had a nice blend of spiciness and nuttiness, like a peppery hoisin sauce.  

Many of the wing joints in attendance made a point of serving an unconventional chicken wing to separate themselves from their peers, but not all were successful in making different equate to tasty. The al pastor wings at Toss, for example, took the ambitious route of preparing their wings with the sauce and toppings usually used in pork street tacos. Though the idea sounds good on paper, the resulting chicken wing was too bland to warrant a trip back to
that stand. 

When it came down to it, the best wing served Sunday was a simple marinated and unbreaded wing from Wingzup. There was nothing flashy at all about these wings, and aside from the jalapeño ranch sauce option, all the other sauces were pretty basic. What made these wings good was the attention to detail that went into perfecting the classic chicken wing. Between a secret marinade that kept the wings moist and a natural crunch from the fryers, these wings made the best out of simplicity. 

The first Austin Chicken Wing Festival showed a lot of promise to becoming a favorite event among Austinites. With a larger staff and possibly a larger venue, it can easily get rid of any kinks present during its inaugural run.