There is no category of restaurant that has a harder time making it in Minneapolis; even the great ones don’t make it—like long lost lamented Sallie’s, with its hot water cornbread like the happy thoughts of angels. Oh Sallie’s, I miss you still. Lucille’s Kitchen, I spill a little hot sauce on the ground whenever I remember you. And when Shorty & Wags, the south side chicken wing specialists, closed, a little bit of me died. So I go to every new soul food place in Minneapolis the minute I see it, hoping to help.
And so I went to West Broadway’s new Wings ‘N Things, on the hottest day of the year so far, and bring you this important news flash:
First things first: It’s tiny. Real tiny. Real real tiny. Three counter seats allow you to look out the window at the Wendy’s across the street. In the restaurant there’s a menu board, about enough room to swing a cat in, and a counter window through which you may order. Food comes in Styrofoam trays, they do, however, take credit cards.
If you’ve been looking for killer wings to fill the Shorty and Wags shaped hole in your heart, these aren’t them. Good and crisp, tasty enough, but otherwise pretty generic, and small when I had them, so that there wasn’t much meat. A woman saw my uneaten wings and remarked: “You gonna take them home? That’s good chicken!” I almost argued the point.
What things do they have other than wings? Waffles and catfish, most importantly. Good waffles! Thin, tender, made to order, nice buttery, wheaty taste—they redeem the wings. Best chicken and waffles in Minneapolis. Not much competition, but as things go, a clear winner. The catfish was my favorite—debut a catfish and waffle plate, please! Fresh fish breaded to order (and not a block of frozen fish tossed straight into the fryer, as has been known to happen), I liked everything about the catfish: Fresh, tender, good all around. Drip a little hot sauce on it, that’s good stuff. There aren’t too many other things: A pretty good cheesesteak, though it was distinctly a Chicago one, made with pickled giardiniera, not bell peppers, and filled with a wet Chicago beef version of sliced beef. That said, good grub: The soft meat, the spicy giardiniera, fresh onions, a cheesy-mayo sauce, and a perfect soft bun all combined to make me wish I was drunk after bar. Because at that point in time this would be heaven. Wings ‘N Things also has fries, and fried things—no okra, as on the menu, when I visited, but zucchini sticks and mushrooms, but all of it tasted like it came from the Factory of Frozen, if you know what I mean. I’d have dearly loved a pot of collard greens or some yams on the side, but there were none to be had.
All in all, if fried catfish, and chicken and waffles, are something you love, and you’re in the neighborhood, I recommend Wings ‘N Things. If you’re not in the neighborhood, the Minnesota soul-food crown still floats above the great old-school barbecue spots, Ted Cook’s 19th Hole in Minneapolis and Lee’s and Dee’s in St. Paul, with an honorable mention to Big Daddy’s, when its daily specials tilt in that direction.
Now the only thing to decide is, what does the ‘N in Wings ‘N Things really stand for? N for Nummy waffles? Or is it N for Not to be confused with the California chain of the same name?