There are only two kinds of food that I am really picky about: sushi and chicken wings. So when I moved to Costa Rica I had pretty much set myself up for constant disappointment. The wings I found, in particular, were always dry and bony, with almost no meat.
After almost a year of wingless resignation, I vowed to find decent wings in my new home. My quest was not as difficult as I imagined.
I decided to start with the obvious, making a beeline toward one of Costa Rica’s newest U.S. chain restaurants, Chili’s. Just like the Chili’s back home, the Escazú version has excellent boneless wings available in either honey chipotle, buffalo or BBQ sauce. Chili’s newest chain opened in December in Lincoln Plaza in Moravia.
Next on the list was the perennial expat bar Chubbs in downtown San José. Chubb’s has served Costa Rica’s expat community for years and its menu is filled with burgers and sandwiches that would make any homesick North American salivate.
Unlike most wings in the country, those at Chubb’s are thick and meaty. Some aren’t even wings at all, but instead entire chicken legs doused in either buffalo, BBQ or honey mustard sauce.
After my visit to Chubbs I heard about Beso, a popular restaurant in La Sabana that started a wing lover’s special every Saturday. Wings at Beso are ₡100 a pop with a choice between honey mustard, buffalo or BBQ sauce.
Beso’s wing sauce was exceptional, but the service was not. We waited for over an hour before discovering that our waiter had completely forgotten to place our order. Though not entirely worth the wait, Beso’s wings were certainly fit for a wing-lover with a good book to read.
Chubb’s and Beso’s are both long popular in San José and while both have wings on the menu, I wanted a place completely dedicated to the craft of the chicken wing.
Enter Buffalo Joe. The new restaurant with locations in Belén and San Francisco de Heredia calls itself “the wing expert.” Abandoning the policy of most wing joints in Costa Rica of only offering the traditional three flavors, Buffalo Joe adds teriyaki, sweet & sour, garlic parmesan and asian sweet sauces to the menu, which also includes burgers, salads and traditional chifrijo.
During my search I was also encouraged to try Wing Shack, a hole in the wall sports bar in Barrio California, but struggled to catch the bar during operating hours. With a Facebook page that hasn’t been updated since 2011 and a phone number that is not registered anywhere, actually getting your hands on Wing Shack’s wings is a rewarding experience in itself.
They rank among the best in San José, with all of the classic flavors to choose from, along with garlic parmesan and teriyaki. Most importantly, every wing has plenty of meat on the bone.
Although my search was mostly limited to San José, I also got word of what one expat called “the best wings in the Central Valley” at Bar Calipso in Heredia. In addition to what I am assured are fantastic buffalo or BBQ wings, the bar has four pool tables you can rent by the hour.
But the clear winner for best wings in Costa Rica is not in San José, or even in the Central Valley. The Jolly Roger just outside of Dominical has the best wings I have had in this country and possibly anywhere.
If you can make the journey up a steep, dirt jungle road to the mountainside bar you will be rewarded not only with delicious wings, but also with an incredible ocean view. The Jolly Roger’s impressive menu features 19 completely unique flavors that will blow your mind.
Since my discovery of the Jolly Roger in December, I have made several repeat trips to Dominical almost exclusively to eat wings, including an impromptu 4-hour drive on my birthday to completely stuff my face. Shameful, perhaps, but really they are just that good.n
Where to Eat Wings
Address: In front of the pool at the Palacio de los Deportes in Heredia
Price of Wings: ₡1,700 for two wings and french fries or ₡4,500 for a plate of seven or eight wings
Address: 150 meters west of the comptroller office, La Sabana
Price of Wings: ₡100 a wing every Saturday
Address: west of the sports plaza in Belén and in front of the Taco Bell in San Francisco de Heredia
Price of Wings: six for ₡3,290, 12 for ₡6,490, 18 for ₡9,790, 24 for ₡12,590, 30 for ₡15,390
Address: Multiplaza Escazú and Lincoln Plaza Moravia
Price of Wings: plate of nine boneless wings ₡5,350
Address: 50 m north of the Del Rey, downtown San José
Contact: 2222-0835, www.chubbsbar.com
Price of Wings: six for ₡2,500, 12 for ₡5,000, 20 for ₡8,000
Address: Off the coastal highway across from hotel Cuña del Angél, Escalares, Dominical
Price of Wings: ₡4,500 for 10 wings of one flavor.