1901 El Cajon Boulevard, University Heights
What happens when you don't keep up with the fast food industry? You fill up on wings, and hate yourself for it.
Apparently Wingstop has more than 600 locations worldwide, including 6 or 7 here in San Diego, one of them next to my favorite Laundromat in North Park. I had no idea. Is it because I've DVR'd myself out of sitting through commercials? Or am I just too enamored of burrito shops to notice?
I'm not a fan of fast food chains. There's that feeling you get after eating at one, where you're simultaneously undernourished yet unable to think about food. This summer marks 20 years I haven't eaten McDonald's, and I didn't need to see Super Size Me to know I'm better off for it. Basically any business model that involves siphoning money out of a community in exchange for malnutrition and obesity gets a thumbs down, and I don't care how good the Happy Meal toy is.
(Obviously, I'm not including In'n'Out in this conversation — and btw, if you don't like the fries it's probably because you've forgotten what unprocessed potatoes taste like.)
So yeah, I was surprised to discover Wingstop is a fast food chain, partly because they serve bottled beer, but mostly because they're not entirely fast. They don't heat up wings in the microwave, but actually make them to order with the sauce of your choice, including Teriyaki, Cajun, Hickory Smoked BBQ and the imposingly hot Atomic. There's also
the spicy "Original" flavor, which is actually your typical standard Buffalo sauce. I dunno, maybe there's some trademark issue that prevents them from saying so.
I decided to go for the so-called boneless wings because I had clothes in the dryer at the coin-op next door and thought it might be less messy. I was wrong, making me perhaps the only person on Earth who needs to be told not to eat wings just before folding clean laundry.
Sauce-wise, I opted for Original, BBQ, and Cajun. It took ten or fifteen minutes, but the boneless wings — more like nuggets really — came out smothered with flavor and piping hot, which meant waiting another couple of minutes.
So, technically this chain may not qualify as fast food. The chicken was of better quality than chicken nuggets I remember eating as a kid, and the breaded crust handled well amid the onslaught of sauce. My mouth more or less approved.
For a few minutes at least. Then that malnutritious feeling set in, and the aftertaste of having eaten cheap food (they run a 60 cents per wing special on Mondays and Tuesdays).
I know — nobody eats fast food for their health. But I cannot fathom why someone would be so hard up for wings to go to a cheap restaurant that serves almost nothing else. There's no atmosphere to speak of at Wingstop, and they don't serve food quickly, so if you're hankering for wings, just do what you've always done: hit your favorite sports bar and wash 'em down with some tasty beer.