As tends to be the case too often these days, our great neighborhood is heading toward the loss of another well-loved establishment. A victim of the rising tides of unreasonable rent, The Habitat will be closing its doors this September after almost ten years at 988 Manhattan Avenue. This cozy bar in the northern part of Greenpoint is home to a fabulous beer list, great brunch specials, and an awesome late night menu.
While all of that will be missed, there is a hole that it is leaving that many fear cannot be filled. The Habitat has on their menu “The Best Wings in Brooklyn,” and we have all been lucky enough to have them right here within our reach. With their departure in just over a month’s time, where will the hungry wing fanatics go to get their saucy fix?
Well, while the true classic might never really be topped, we rounded up seven other contenders that will do their best to warm your heart like The Best Wings in Brooklyn once did.
Below are our findings, in no particular order, except we have to start with the king.
The Best Wings in Brooklyn really do live up to their name. Nailing the sauce to wing ratio, their homemade Buffalo sauce is the perfect balance of heat and tang with a slightly buttery finish to round it out. This is Buffalo flavor perfected. (Author’s note: I’m from Rochester, just an hour away from Buffalo, NY. Buffalo sauce runs in my veins, and these guys kill it.) Paired with the wings is an amazing, dill-forward ranch dressing that compliments the crispy birds quite perfectly. Make a point to get into The Habitat (988 Manhattan Ave) for a plate of these before they are gone forever because they’ll light a piece of your heart that you never knew was still dark. (Editor’s Note: Habitat is currently without gas, so no wings, but you can buy their sauce for $5/pint.)
The wings at Brooklyn Ate Bar (199 Russell St) are one of the better deals you’ll find in Greenpoint at 8 for $8 and 50¢/wing on Wednesdays. They have a ton of variety, but we went for the Buffalo (because this is science). The house-made sauce is made with honey and has a sweeter kick than a traditional Buffalo, and there are a few different heat levels to choose from. They also come with both ranch and blue cheese dressings, so you’ll never worry if you made the wrong dip choice. Pro Tip: check out the Trash wings, a mixture of several of the house-made sauces.
Little Dokebi (85 Driggs Ave) has possibly the crispiest wings in the whole neighborhood. Using a twice-fried method, they achieve a crunch that stands up to the spicy sauce they’re coated with. These guys are more known for their classic Korean fried chicken, but their Buffalo version is worth a taste. Like Brooklyn Ate Bar, these aren’t going to be your classic Buffalo flavor, but rather a Korean twist on that classic (and we’re not complaining). They come with pickled daikon and the cutest little stack of carrots you have ever seen, as well as coming in two different spice levels.
The wings at Barley (1025 Manhattan Ave) took two titles for us on the day we tried all these wings (Other authors note: We ate all of these wings in one day. Consuming over thirty wings in 8 hours does something to the very fabric of your being.) These are the largest wings by far, as well as being the prettiest. Dusted with chunks of blue cheese and scallions, we didn’t know whether to eat these or take them home to meet our parents for the weirdest dinner ever. These guys do it right with a mix of honey and Frank’s RedHot sauce as their base along with the sweet deal of $1 wings at happy hour.
What we consider to be one of Greenpoint’s best-kept secrets, The Brew Inn (924 Manhattan Ave) has a truly on-point food menu with great burgers, Polish classics and, of course, chicken wings. Their house Buffalo sauce is black-pepper-forward which adds a different kind of heat as the finishing flavor to their wings. They also have a 50¢ wing deal on Tuesdays, which is a great deal considering they have some pretty hefty wings.
Raizes Churrascaria (139 Nassau Ave) was a late addition to our list. In our initial scouring of every corner of the neighborhood, we foolishly overlooked the Portuguese-Azorean restaurant, assuming wings wouldn’t be on their menu, but lo and behold, they were. You’ll find what we would consider a Buffalo adjacent sauce on these wings, like Little Dokebi and Brooklyn Ate Bar, with more of a complex flavor profile than your classic hot wing. They also come with a chimichurri cream sauce, which compliments the flavor of their sauce very well.
Keg and Lantern at 97 Nassau Ave has one of two wings that we felt hit the closest to The Best Wings in Brooklyn from The Habitat. Their Buffalo sauce balanced spice and tang quite well, and had a bit of a buttery finish like Habitat’s. They also have the widest selection of wing flavors that we found clocking in six different varieties. Their basic Buffalo was also one of the hottest and sauciest varieties, which they clearly acknowledge by dropping more than one wet nap per person. Lastly, they have a half-price wing deal every Monday, Wednesday, and Sunday, so you have options if you’re looking for many wings for little cost.
One of the best low-key food spots in the neighborhood, Bar Matchless (557 Manhattan Ave) holds the other half of the title for wings closest to that of Habitat. Their wings have a creep-up-on-you spice, and just the right amount of tang and crisp. They also totally get it that you need some sweet relief from their wings, and come with the biggest pile of celery and carrots out of any that we found elsewhere (Authors note: We found that overall there was a serious lack of carrots and celery everywhere we went. Like, how are you supposed to work with a stick of each? Give me 15 sticks! Wings put your mouth on munch mode and you can’t just go straight Buffalo. You gotta complete that package.) Pro tip: If you’re not feeling wings or you don’t eat meat, get their mac and cheese with a side of their Buffalo sauce and drift into sweet oblivion.
So that’s it, guys. While we don’t suggest that any of these replace the amazing wings from The Habitat in your heart, at least you know that you will never go without some affordably priced, spicy bird in your life. We must reiterate that a visit to The Habitat before they close is a must for anyone reading this rundown, but we also suggest that you try some of the other ones listed here. The neighborhood has something for everyone when it comes to wings, so go out there and find your chicken Shangri-La.
All wing photography by Molly Tavoletti. Wingy illustrations by Jackson Cook.