The year-old Far North outpost of WoW Café and Wingery, a “New Orleans inspired” chain, is a pioneer in the totally unnecessary trend of making America’s latest health-oblivious identity food into a full-concept restaurant. The menu is heavy on Americana, with burgers, wraps, sandwiches, and chopped salads, but WoW does stand for World of Wings, and the kitchen doesn’t disappoint.
WoW’s version of the messiest finger food yet invented (outstripping even barbecue ribs in the moist-towelette-to-weight ratio) is very lightly breaded, and while I usually prefer the skin-only version, the extra seasoning is welcome, and the coating causes the sauces to cling nicely to the wings, which are plump and tender. Unlike the yardbird at many a chain, WoW’s tastes fresh. And like chicken.
I don’t quite comprehend folks who dislike buffalo wings (do they also shun pizza and spaghetti?); likewise I’m not sure who orders Parisian (lemon pepper) or Italian (garlic & herb) sauces. They’re not bad, per se, but not really worth the trouble of gnawing the bones. Any of WoW’s variations on spicy are tasty, though, if somewhat indistinguishable from one another the further across the globe you stray — especially if (as you should) you order the 25-wing sampler with five sauces. Buffalo II and Santa Fe (chipotle) are highly recommended: they’re zingy and tangy in the right proportions. If you like your wings hot enough to pause conversation, you’ll need to go with Buffalo III.
If I were picking a restaurant based on wings alone, I might go for a place with unbreaded, wetter wings, where the sauce tastes like pure Tabasco thickened with a lot of butter (like one friend’s outstanding homemade recipe). But WoW beats the ever-expanding competition with a bright, attractive restaurant that’s comfortable to linger in, especially if you’re a sports fan. A dozen-plus TVs ring the room, several in private booths. Mardi-gras masks and beads cover the spare wall space, and a “San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame” — plaques dedicated to great moments and people in local sports history — line the restroom hallway, giving the place a personal, mom-and-pop feel appropriate to a franchise operated by a home team that includes community leader Joe Linson and former Spur William Franklin.
The full-service bar was put to good double-duty on a recent Sunday morning, serving as one-half of a soul-food buffet, while behind the warming trays the bartender poured Grey Goose Bloody Marys. The premade drink mix (a shame) was matched by the plastic plates and silverware, but the smothered pork chops and collard greens were savory and decadent. The sweet potatoes and red beans were solid, too, if not award-winning (a little more spice in those beans would be nice), and we shied away from the pigs’ feet, although they looked as good as pigs’ feet can.
The $9.99 all-you-can-eat spread ($3.99 for kids 9 and younger) also includes an omelet and Belgian-waffle bar, and our kids stuffed themselves silly at the latter. The hot waffles are meant to be eaten with fried chicken, of course, which is snapped up from the warming pan quickly enough to stay crisp and juicy. The pieces looked to be all wings and maybe some thighs, but you won’t get any complaints from me, or anyone who prefers flavor over quantity, on that count. Accordingly, the restaurant was doing a slamming brunch business, with small children in their Sunday finest, and extended families lingering over full plates.
Chicken and waffles make an absorbent hangover buffer, so it’s no surprise that they’re included on WoW’s late-night menu, served from 11 p.m.-2 a.m. weekends, and accompanied by live music or a deejay on Fridays, and karaoke on Saturdays (the latter probably goes well with the many neon-colored party concoctions featured in the drinks menu). This something-for-everyone approach often fails, but the only complaint I can make with any real feeling is about WoW’s iced tea: It’s weak, a fault that might damn a lesser restaurant, but shoot, beer goes better with wings anyway. •
18866 Stone Oak Parkway
Giving you a reason to make buffalo wings a part of your daily diet, with a tasty Louisiana twist.
Waffles and chicken at the Sunday soul-food brunch
11am-10pm Mon-Thu; 11am-2am Fri&Sat; 10am-10pm Sun