THE CUISINE SCENE

Brenda

Hill


 



02/21/08
The Cuisine Scene
Brenda Hill


WingStop Wings
Moreno Valley, CA

The first time I tried Buffalo wings was in Denver in the eighties when Woody’s Wings opened. Since I’d always loved chicken, the name drew me like a moth to a flame. They only served chicken wings with varying degrees of spiciness, and celery sticks with dressing was their side. The wings were fried to order so they were fresh, and I was delighted to find they were crispy without breading. I loved them.

Since then, I’ve tried Buffalo wings in several places in different states, but never found any to compare with Woody’s.

Until now.

Thanks to another great tip from a reader, I found WingStop, a fantastic little place in Moreno Valley similar to Woody’s, but even better. Never thought I’d say that, but Wingstop is now a favorite place. Located on the south side of Alessandro Boulevard between Perris and Indian, the stand alone restaurant was easily visible from the street.



The day I arrived, antique cars filled one side of the ample parking lot, and I learned that WingStop hosts a car show on the second Sunday of each month. One car captured my attention, a saucy orange coupe with fiery blue flames.



Inside the brick-trimmed building, tables and chairs stood in front of the order counter. I’d researched and discovered this particular restaurant was less than a year old, and everything looked clean and fresh. Aviation photos hung on the wall and I recognized Amelia Earhart in one. Tables were promptly cleared as soon as the occupant left and a friendly young woman greeted me from behind the counter. Danny Ruano, the shift leader, introduced me to the owner, Ronald McFadden.



(Danny Ruano, the shift leader, and the owner, Ronald McFadden)

When Ronald walked through the front door, he was wearing a bandana, something he considered a staple when cruising on his motorcycle, a Honda CBR 929, with his friends. I didn’t ask his age, but he appeared to be in his twenties, and he’d recently been featured on the back cover of The Zone magazine. He kept saying how fortunate he was to have been able to buy the franchise last year. He’d grown up loving the wings near Dallas, where they were founded in 1994. They were such a huge success that they began franchising in 1997. Since then, they have 550 restaurants open or under development in 27 states, and in 2007 they celebrated serving one-billion wings. So when Ronald moved to California to attend school and found a Wingstop in Inglewood, he worked, saved, and made plans to buy his own franchise.

Today, he works even harder, but it’s work he loves. He takes pride in preparing and serving the best, and his crew is tops in courtesy and service.



All the wings are fresh, never frozen, he explains, saying freezing affects the quality of the chicken as well as the frying process. He brings the oil to a certain temperature and fries the chicken a specified amount of time.

At Wingstop, you won’t find wings drying out under heat lamps. They only fry the wings as they’re ordered, so you need to allow at least ten or more minutes for the preparation. But it’s well-worth the wait.

Not only is the chicken fresh, but the sides are prepared on the premises each day. They actually mix the potato salad from real potatoes and dressings, the bourbon baked beans have a dash of real bourbon, and they cut the fries daily from Idaho potatoes. They also offer cole saw, carrot and celery sticks, dips and rolls, but the stars of the show are the Buffalo wings.

Made of wing sections called the drummette and the flat, Buffalo wings are said to have originated in Buffalo, New York in 1964. Several stories claim to be the true one, but three different versions revolve around The Anchor Bar in Buffalo. It’s said that the owner’s son arrived late at night with his college friends and the owner needed something quick and hot to feed them. Another version says it was late on a Friday night and the owner wanted something hot and tasty for their Catholic patrons at midnight, when they’d be able to eat meat again. The last story involving the Anchor Bar, says that they used chicken backs and necks in their spaghetti sauce, and one week wings were delivered instead. They fried them and doused them in their hot sauce. The last version says that another restaurant owner fried wings in his special ‘Mambo’ sauce. But all story versions agree that the wings originated in Buffalo in the 1960s.

While some restaurants today bread their wings for a variety, the true version and the best, in my opinion, is the unbreaded original.

At Wingstop, the nine sauces range from mild to atomic, including teriyaki, Hawaiian, lemon pepper, and garlic parmesan. While I enjoyed the other flavors, I still love the original hot the best. The sauce has a bite but not enough where I’m gulping water, but what I love is the texture. It’s light without that certain flavor that suggests the sauce was made from a powder.



Prices run from $6.50 for ten pieces to around sixty dollars for a hundred pieces for parties, although they offer special bulk prices as well. I like the 10 wing combo for $9.89, which includes fries and a fountain drink. They also cater.

Dine in or carry out. I’d recommend that you allow enough time, at least on the first visit, to eat in so you don’t lose the crispy texture. I enjoyed the samples while there, and I ordered enough to take out. By the time I reached home, the steam had softened the wings. The flavor was still there, but not the crispiness I loved. 
 
I can’t wait to go back. While the restaurant is accessible from the 215 freeway, I take the Live Oak Canyon Rd to the San Timoteo Canyon Rd for about six miles and turn right on Alessandro. It’s about another four miles. I love the drive, but of course I’d love it even more if they’d open in our area.

Open 7 days a week from 11am to Midnight.

WingStop
24825 Alessandro Boulevard
Moreno Valley, CA  92555
(951) 924-9200