Winger’s, 1165 E. Jennings Way in Elko, Nevada, is one of many chain restaurants specializing in pub-style fare and a sports bar-like appeal. But unlike other restaurants that have signature appetizers or a number of gourmet burgers to choose from, Winger’s specializes in the almighty American staple – chicken.
Sure, Winger’s has a variety of gourmet wraps and burgers like any other place, but the chicken is definitely where it’s at. As an appetizer, nothing beats their signature wings. I recommend having them with the original sauce, unless you trust yourself with the “fire” flavor. I like my food hot and spicy like the next guy, but after awhile the fire sauce leaves your mouth numb, and unable to take in any discernable flavors.
Soft drinks come with the option to add in flavored shots, such as cherry and vanilla to make old-school style cherry Cokes or vanilla cokes. Try the cherry Sprite. They also have flavored lemonades, which are especially refreshing in the summer.
In a touch to be different, freshly popped popcorn is brought as a pre-meal snack, and you can get as much as you like.
For those who haven’t had Winger’s wings, they’re among the best in the nation – period. Many restaurants bake or fry the wings and then dunk them in a butter/chile sauce coating. Unfortunately, this leaves most wings tasting more like vinegar than actual peppers, due to the high vinegar content of most commercially available chile sauces.
Winger’s first takes a wing and coats it in a dry mixture which many believe contains not just flower, but also corn starch. This leaves a crispy, splattered-looking coating on the wing. Once fried to perfection, they’re then drenched in the restaurant’s secret sauce (which tastes an awful lot like brown sugar, water and Frank’s Hot Sauce). Either way, it’s darn good, but may not be something to eat all the time, since each wing is almost a dollar each! But, Winger’s serves them as either and appetizer, or as a platter with French fries and cole slaw.
As far as appetizers, the potato skins are pretty standard as they are at other restaurants, but no less tastey. The sticky fingers are worth a shot, since they’re battered chicken strips coated in original sauce (same sauce as the wings), and can also come as a platter. Probably the best innovation of Winger’s is their sticky finger quesadilla. They take their original flavored sticky finger strips, and roll them in a flour tortilla with jack cheese and salsa. The quesadilla comes with lettuce, more cheese, sour cream, salsa and a creamy Chipotle dipping sauce. This is a definitely worthwhile appetizer, and works just as good as an entrée.
Winger’s also has a variety of gourmet salads, but none really stand out from those found at “the other guys’ places.” Still, there are those and the sticky finger rice bowl, which is worth a shot. The ribs look good on the menu, but be prepared to get a half-rack with not much meat and most likely overcooked. The smothered jack chicken is a hearty meal, cleverly combining chicken breast with the smoky flavor of bacon and soulful goodness of melted jack cheese.
The burgers are decent at best. The buns aren’t the best (they’re too much of a gourmet variety) and aren’t toasted. Lettuce, onion and tomato come on the site, which can be a plus for some, but almost every burger comes with barbecue sauce or original Winger’s sauce on it. Keep this in mind when ordering. Even their mushroom Swiss burger (which is rather good, mind you) originally comes with sauce on it, so keep that in mind.
If you’ve still got room after your feast, there’s always their signature asphalt pie. It’s a dense piece of ice cream piece. They’ve combined mint ice cream with chocolate bits and placed it in an Oreo cookie shell. This is one heck of a sweet treat, but can chill you to the bone if you’re eating it in the winter.
In general, the service at the Elko location is good, but can be left wanting at times, due in large part to the teen-aged help. If you come right after the lunch or dinner rush, it can also take them awhile to clean up the floor. In all, Winger’s is worth a shot, especially for those who have never had their delectable wings.
Get a plate of eight or more and follow it up with a slab of asphalt pie, and wash it down with a cherry Coke. You can’t go wrong.