We can think of few better ways to eat up an afternoon or evening than ordering a pitcher of beer, then soaking up the alcohol with a pile of chicken wings, slathered with spicy buffalo sauce and dunked in a little ranch or blue cheese.
Our favorite wings are at Vine Street Pub, which takes the meaty chicken limbs, crisps them in a fryer until crackly, then slathers them in lip-stingingly spicy hot sauce or honeyed barbecue sauce, and serves them with a sharp blue cheese dressing. These wings really fly, and won the Best Wings award in the Best of Denver 2011.
There are other great wings in Denver, though. Here are four more of our favorites:
Ernie's Bar & Pizza Ernie's makes a succulent platter of wings and drumsticks. The chicken is hot and tender in the center, with a crackly casing around the edges. We prefer them slathered in the traditional tang and zip of buffalo sauce, but the milder garlic and Parmesan coating is available, too.
Oskar Blues Home Made Liquids and Solids Oskar Blues scored our Best of Denver award for Best Wings Challenge, thanks to the ghost pepper-infused basket of bird it serves to willing patrons who compete for free beer and T-shirts. But if you'd like your tastebuds left somewhat intact, we're also fans of the versions made with cayenne and habañero.
West End Tavern The West End Tavern serves up a gluttonous wing challenge of its own, offering glory and freebies to anyone who can eat fifty wings in thirty minutes. It's harder than it sounds: the spicy buffalo sauce on those things produces a delightful slow burn, cooled by the obligatory blue cheese, celery and carrots on the side.
Piper Inn This biker bar may not look incredibly inviting from the outside, but it serves up killer chicken wings in two varieties: classic buffalo-style with buttery hot sauce and Chinese-style, which are made from a secret sauce ("ancient Chinese secret," says the restaurant) that includes onions and crushed red pepper.
Colorado Beer Man offers a sixth suggestion: "My favorite wings in Colorado are at the Wing Hut in Longmont, 510 3rd Avenue."
If you've got other favorites, tell us about them in the comments.
More Best of Denver Lists: - Denver's five best restaurants for blind dates