Wings N Things: My Favorite Meal

Just a little visual to help you start salivating. For the record, these are not from Wings N Things.
Photo: Elkeflorida via BigStock

Note: Recently, I was assigned the task of writing about my favorite meal for a course I am taking. I was so hungry when I finished, I thought I would share.

My favorite meal consists of buffalo chicken wings with curly fries, carrot and celery sticks with ranch dressing, fried cheese cubes with cherry mustard sauce, and a nice cold beer of some imported variety.

If you’ve never tried this particular combination of healthy foods (and yes, I jest here about the healthfulness of this meal), you’re missing out one of the most delectable sensations of taste to ever cross the human palate. In particular, this meal should be enjoyed at a fine establishment (hint: it’s a dive) called “Wings N Things” on Cortez Road West, en route from the city of Bradenton, Florida to the sleepy fishing village known as Cortez.

Note: Yes, there’s another Wings N Things location (on Tallevast at Lockwood Ridge). And yes, I also enjoy that location—especially for its convenience. However, as both locations are no longer under their original ownership, I feel like the Cortez location’s owners have generally stayed more consistent with the practices of the founder. To some, that’s a positive. To others, it’s a strike against it. If it were closer, I’d probably eat at the Cortez location more often, but in practice, I find myself at Tallevast more often.

The reason this restaurant, in particular, should be chosen is that it serves, in my not-so-humble opinion, the quintessential flavor for the sauce that makes fried drumettes and wings qualify for the moniker, “buffalo.” While it’s available in milder forms (e.g. mild, medium, hot, and “TNT”), I recommend that you select the setting with the most “heat.” It’s a wonderful delicacy the founder of this restaurant named, “Napalm.”

Sandy, as she was known, must have been attempting to call to mind the burning sensation elicited by this bizarre substance used in chemical warfare (if that is indeed the correct term for it) as portions of the jungles of Southeast Asia were engulfed in flames during the Viet Nam conflict.

When the portions of fried yardbird are served to you as a patron, they appear on the table in a plastic boat lined with aluminum foil. Pooled in the bottom is a generous helping of this orange, aqueous substance, which has also been lavishly applied to the sticky exterior surfaces of the chicken pieces. Introduced into your mouth, the sauce ignites a veritable firestorm of flavors… simultaneously sweet, salty, vinegary, and — perhaps most importantly — hot. The heat comes from the particular combination of the peppers (mostly cayenne, but undoubtedly comprised of a selection of others which remain the secret of the proprietors) and the vinegar.

The effect is so remarkable that caution is to be advised when breathing the air above the meal because the heat from the freshly fried meat causes the pepper-infused vinegar fumes to become nearly noxious. Coughing and sputtering is normal for those neophytes who fail to recognize this.

In order to be properly enjoyed, the curly fries — long cut and fried to a crisp — should be doused in white vinegar and then heavily salted. The flavor of this accoutrement perfectly complements that of the poultry.

The celery and carrot sticks add an air, slight as it may be, of healthfulness to the meal. The fact that vegetables are being consumed with this fried fiesta is just enough to salve the conscience of the eater. Dipping the sticks in the small plastic containers of ranch dressing help round out the flavor profile of the meal.

As if the sensations crossing your taste buds weren’t yet salacious enough to tantalize, the deep-fried cubes of cheese are there to push everything beyond proper limits of enjoyability. Care must be taken to allow for the proper cooling of these little balls (one can only imagine that the cheese had been arranged in a cube shape before being breaded and deep fried) as the cheese — if it’s too hot — will explode into your mouth and sear the flesh thereof, properly ruining your ability to enjoy flavor for the rest of your meal. I must insist that at least some percentage of these little balls of dairy delicacies be dipped into the accompanying cherry mustard sauce. Having never located a similar sauce anywhere else, I can only speculate as to its origins. It doesn’t seem to be mustard-like or even cherry-like at all. Rather, it is a liquid with a mild reddish color that adds a nice spark of sweet flavor to the whole experience.

Of course, you may choose to wash all of this down with the beverage of your choice. For many years, this establishment served Pepsi products. Thus, a Mountain Dew was the imbibement of choice for those looking to add a non-alcoholic kick to the meal. Once the switch to Coca-Cola products was made, the only logical choice was an imported beer of some sort. I usually find the darkest option available, as I find it pairs best with the rest of the meal.

As my salivary glands are now working overtime just from the writing of this short essay, I feel compelled to submit my response and drive to this establishment post haste.

Why Haven’t They Contacted Me Yet?

Ok… admit it. You’ve done it. We all do it. You’ve probably done it lately.

C’mon… tell me…

“How often do you Google yourself?”

Well it’s fun to see where you rank. But if you own a business, it’s critical today to rank #1 on your own name. If you serve a local market, you should at least rank #1 on your own name in your city.

However, as I’ve pointed out again and again to audiences all over the globe when speaking… ranking on your own name isn’t really marketing. It’s customer service. (Ok… it’s also brand protection, which is a marketing function, but let’s not get nit-picky here.)

What Are Your Customers Searching For?

A far more useful idea, however, is to rank #1 (or at least near the top) in Google and those other search engines on phrases that likely buyers will use when they’re searching for the stuff you sell.

For example, if you happened to be looking for a place to eat out in my city (I live and work in the paradise known as Sarasota, Florida), you might run a search like:

“fondue Sarasota”


“buffalo wings Sarasota”

Admittedly, you probably aren’t real likely to run both of those searches on the same day… For a nice evening out, my wife and I really enjoy fondue together. And I personally can’t seem to drag her kicking and screaming to a wings joint (happens maybe once every 2-3 years), so I go there for lunch when possible with friends that enjoy hot wings… since one of the local places is my favorite restaurant in the entire world!

But I digress…let me get to the point.

“Why Haven’t They Contacted Me Yet?”

If you happen to be the owner (or manager) of, say…

  • Dylan’s Fondue Fusion
  • The Melting Pot
  • Wings N Things
  • Wings N Weenies

…don’t you think you would contact the marketing firm that owns the website that ranks #1 in Google on the above searches?

For the record, I never really set out to rank #1 on those terms. I just happen to have decided randomly one day to write about those topics. And I happen to know what tools to use to market a local business! And I happen to use those tools myself… so… rankings happen.

You know they’re running those Google searches from time to time, right? I mean seriously… you need to know where your business ranks on those kinds of terms. And you would want (I would think) to do everything in your power to make sure that you had good positioning… so…

In case you’re wondering… yes, we help businesses with search engine rankings. But as I recently pointed out on our small business marketing blog, rankings are only a piece of the puzzle. More importantly, we train small businesses how to be their own best marketers so that they can consistently attract customers in cost-effective ways — both online and offline.

Now… if you’re in a critical situation and need rapid help with the results you’re getting from your website, our website performance assessment is a great place to start.

Otherwise, you can contact us to learn more about how we can help you grow your business!

Feeding the Buffalo Wings Habit in Sarasota

In a previous post, we reviewed what were some really great hot wings in Sarasota at a restaurant called Wing Junction. Sadly, the last time I was by their location on Beneva Road, the store had closed. Perhaps the location wasn’t great — there was previously a Beef O’Brady’s in the same center that didn’t ultimately make it.

In any event, given the number of people who frequent this site looking for tips on buffalo wings in Sarasota, here are my top recommendations:

Wings N’ Things

This is the original classic restaurant. Their first location was out on Cortez Road West in Bradenton — just a little stretch west of 75th Street West. It was originally called “Sandy’s Wings N’ Things.”  They ultimately built a location — probably nearly 20 years ago now (although I can’t be certain) at Lockwood Ridge and Tallevast Road. It’s technically in Manatee County, but it has a Sarasota postal address.

The Wings

Really great flavor. The sauces here are — to me — the quintessential great wings flavor. If you like your wings hot, order the “napalm” setting. It tastes great and it’s nice and hot — but not too crazy. Their “TNT” setting is one step below the Napalm and also tastes great. I’ve heard that their “hot” and even their “mild” are also pretty good, but since I prefer mine hot I really couldn’t say from personal experience.  Pair up the wings with a “curly Q” (a piping hot stacked-high order of fresh-cut curly fries) and top the fries off with some vinegar and salt. Pure heaven. One of the other sides that they offer are some fried cheese cubes with some kind of a cherry mustard sauce. Wow. Makes my mouth water just thinkin’ about it.

A big surprise for me was that they actually have a menu.  Who knew?  I’d certainly never used it… until one day I convinced my wife to go along (she hates wings because they’re too much work).  She ordered a tuna salad sandwich.  Really… from a wings joint? In any event, she said it tasted like wings. Goes to show you… stick with the good stuff.

So… while a bit of a drive from Sarasota proper, it’s well worth it. Call ahead to order:  (941) 351-8005.

Wow… news flash: while visiting their website, I discovered they have a new 2nd location near Clark Road and Tamiami Trail on Gateway Avenue. I think this merits a personal visit from me so that I can confirm for you — my faithful readers — that the wings there are just as good as the other location. I’m sure I won’t be disappointed — even though the restaurant has changed hands over the years, the newer owners have done a great job! *February, 2010 Update* The new location didn’t make it. But I did grab wings at the store at Lockwood Ridge & Tallevast a couple of months ago. Great as ever!

Wings N Weenies

I’ll admit… the name was a turnoff for me for a long time. Why the heck would a restaurant that specializes in wings also advertise “weenies?” Oh well… I’m a marketer, so I’m extra picky about stuff like that.

In any case, the wings aren’t bad. Their location on Fruitville Road (in the “Sarasota Crossings” shopping center just a little ways down from Publix) is actually fairly close to my house. I’ll stop in for lunch once in a while because it’s close by.

The Wings

Not bad. The flavors are pretty good… a not-so-close 2nd to Wings N Things. Their “TNT” setting is my usual choice. It’s not the hottest, but the “Nuclear” setting — which is the hottest — just doesn’t have a great flavor in my opinion. The size is really great — they don’t skimp on the chicken here. If you come hungry, expect to eat well.  Their fries are also on the slightly-above-mediocre level.  All in all, a worthwhile stop.

A couple of other advantages — they deliver (with a relatively low minimum order), and they also have some really great personalities that work there. Expect to have a good time with whomever is waiting on you.


I’ll write again a future post on some of the other joints in town. If you have a favorite, leave a comment below and let me know.  One thing I can say is that I’ve heard great stuff about the “Wing Factory” at 17th Street and Lockwood Ridge Road. A good friend and fellow wings addict had raved about it so we met there a couple of months ago for lunch. The wings were — quite frankly — terrible. The hot sauce had some kind of BBQ flavor mixed in with it. We chalked it up to the fact that the waitress/cook was on her first day. I went back a few weeks ago and had the same bad-tasting wings with a different new girl. So… I’m not sure what to say about it.  The owner is an awfully nice guy and they clearly work hard, so I’ll probably try them again and see if we can get to the bottom of the mystery BBQ flavor.

Now I’m Hungry

And since I have some errands to run today… who knows? Maybe a stop for wings is on the agenda!

New Buffalo Wings Restaurant in Sarasota – Wing Junction on Beneva Road

**Update (January, 2009): Wing Junction has, unfortunately, closed. A victim of the 2008 high food prices? Perhaps we’ll never know. In any case, we wish the former owner the very best. He’s a heckuva nice guy.

In the meantime, check out our more recent post on buffalo wings in Sarasota.

For all of you Wings addicts in Sarasota, you’ve got to check out the newest gig in town…

Wing Junction is in the Publix shopping center at 935 N. Beneva Road — home of the U.S. Postal Service and former home of the much-missed Beef O’Brady’s. (I guess the center is called “Sarasota Commons,” but who notices these things?)

The store has only been open for a few weeks, but I’ve already had the opportunity to sample the goods twice now. Both of my visits have been during lunch – mainly because the location is near my new office and I seem to be running errands in the vicinity.

Continue reading “New Buffalo Wings Restaurant in Sarasota – Wing Junction on Beneva Road”