Metro City Wing House

American
$$$$ ($14 and under)
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Editorial Review

Review

Review

By Tim Carman

Wednesday, Dec 14, 2011

If you need any reminder about the origins of the humble Buffalo wing, all you need to do is visit Metro City Wing House in Temple Hills. Owner Ricky Johnson will jostle your memory with an assault of team spirit, particularly if you venture into the place on a Sunday afternoon in fall.

The sign on the side of the building is your first clue. It features a blue bison charging, seemingly at the speed of light, with a tagline that reads "Home of the Buffalo Bills." A small Bills poster is affixed to the front door. Inside the white brick structure, a miniature Bills helmet is impaled on a metal shelving pole, and three flat-screen TVs are beaming different NFL games to customers awaiting their orders. Guess which contest has the sound up? (Hint: It's not the Redskins game.)

If you couldn't tell already, Johnson hails from Buffalo, N.Y., home to the genius who, sometime in the 1960s, figured out that barflies would gladly hand over real money for a batch of unbreaded, deep-fried chicken wings (the meat that traditionally had been bound for the trash) dressed up in hot sauce and dunked in blue cheese dressing. Somewhere in Kentucky, a certain colonel's offspring must still be kicking themselves for all those wasted bird parts.

Johnson has a somewhat prominent papa himself. He's the son of chef Richard Johnson, who's sort of Washington's original wing man. Shortly after moving to the District, the elder Johnson worked at a Buffalo wing shop in the mid-1990s on Seventh Street NW before launching the Marlow Wing House in 2000. Father wanted to help his sons spread their wings (where's a rim shot when you need one?), so he groomed them for the chicken business. Ricky, 28, owns and runs Metro City, while 19-year-old Christopher is running Marlow Wing House before he assumes ownership of the next Metro City location in Washington or Waldorf sometime next summer.

"He wanted to ensure that regardless, we would always have our own business," Ricky Johnson says. "He basically wanted us to be secure."

Job security shouldn't be a problem with Metro City. The place fries up delicious, aggressively flavor-forward wings, which you can order in 10-, 20-, 30-, 50- and 100-count quantities, the latter perfect for the next time, for example, you entertain hungry lumberjacks on game day. (Prices range from $8.99 for 10 to $69.99 for 100.) No matter the quantity, the fried wings are tossed in one of about 20 sauces that, alas, you can't mix and match. The "hot" sauce is about as fiery as Buffalo in January - well, to me, anyway - so Johnson suggests that heat seekers give the unadvertised Scorned Woman sauce a shot. "It's hotter than the very hot," he warns.

Metro City also offers a twist on a classic: Buffalo Nuggets, little breaded, deep-fried chicken poppers ($3.50 for a quarter-pound, $7 for a half-pound and $12 for a pound) prepared with 100 percent breast meat. They're 100 percent addictive, especially when dressed with the lemony, black-pepper-flecked Obama sauce. Seriously, I could have OD'd on those things.

The nuggets travel surprisingly well, as do the wings. The seasoned fries? Not so much. You can skip the overcooked mac 'n' cheese, too. But don't skip Metro City just because you're a fan of the hometown ball club. Ricky Johnson says Redskins fans are welcome any time at the home of the Buffalo Bills.

By Tim Carman
Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011

If you need any reminder about the origins of the humble Buffalo wing, all you need to do is visit Metro City Wing House in Temple Hills. Owner Ricky Johnson will jostle your memory with an assault of team spirit, particularly if you venture into the place on a Sunday afternoon in fall.

The sign on the side of the building is your first clue. It features a blue bison charging, seemingly at the speed of light, with a tagline that reads "Home of the Buffalo Bills." A small Bills poster is affixed to the front door. Inside the white brick structure, a miniature Bills helmet is impaled on a metal shelving pole, and three flat-screen TVs are beaming different NFL games to customers awaiting their orders. Guess which contest has the sound up? (Hint: It's not the Redskins game.)

If you couldn't tell already, Johnson hails from Buffalo, N.Y., home to the genius who, sometime in the 1960s, figured out that barflies would gladly hand over real money for a batch of unbreaded, deep-fried chicken wings (the meat that traditionally had been bound for the trash) dressed up in hot sauce and dunked in blue cheese dressing. Somewhere in Kentucky, a certain colonel's offspring must still be kicking themselves for all those wasted bird parts.

Johnson has a somewhat prominent papa himself. He's the son of chef Richard Johnson, who's sort of Washington's original wing man. Shortly after moving to the District, the elder Johnson opened a Buffalo wing shop in the mid-1990s on Seventh Street NW before launching the Marlow Wing House in 2000. Father wanted to help his sons spread their wings (where's a rim shot when you need one?), so he groomed them for the chicken business. Ricky, 28, owns and runs Metro City, while 19-year-old Christopher is running Marlow Wing House before he assumes ownership of the next Metro City location in Washington or Waldorf sometime next summer.

"He wanted to ensure that regardless, we would always have our own business," Ricky Johnson says. "He basically wanted us to be secure."

Job security shouldn't be a problem with Metro City. The place fries up delicious, aggressively flavor-forward wings, which you can order in 10-, 20-, 30-, 50- and 100-count quantities, the latter perfect for the next time, for example, you entertain hungry lumberjacks on game day. (Prices range from $8.99 for 10 to $69.99 for 100.) No matter the quantity, the fried wings are tossed in one of about 20 sauces that, alas, you can't mix and match. The "hot" sauce is about as fiery as Buffalo in January - well, to me, anyway - so Johnson suggests that heat seekers give the unadvertised Scorned Woman sauce a shot. "It's hotter than the very hot," he warns.

Metro City also offers a twist on a classic: Buffalo Nuggets, little breaded, deep-fried chicken poppers ($3.50 for a quarter-pound, $7 for a half-pound and $12 for a pound) prepared with 100 percent breast meat. They're 100 percent addictive, especially when dressed with the lemony, black-pepper-flecked Obama sauce. Seriously, I could have OD'd on those things.

The nuggets travel surprisingly well, as do the wings. The seasoned fries? Not so much. You can skip the overcooked mac 'n' cheese, too. But don't skip Metro City just because you're a fan of the hometown ball club. Ricky Johnson says Redskins fans are welcome any time at the home of the Buffalo Bills.