Hot Wings Bracket, Round 1: Central Barbecue vs. Bosses

Posted by Holly Whitfield | January 5th 2012 152 83

It’s the first match up in the first round of the I Love Memphis Hot Wings Bracket, and Central Barbecue is going toe to toe with Bosses.

Wing fingers, Memphis, Tenn.

Here’s how the first round is going to work: In the first round, I’m going to try half orders of medium-hot wet wings (meaning, with sauce) from each restaurant. I’ll lay out my thoughts on each offering, and you guys will have 24 hours to vote in the poll at the bottom of the post. I’ll cast my vote, too, and the winner will move on to the next round. You can only vote once in each match up.

So, without further ado, let’s meet the contenders:

Central Barbecue

2249 Central Avenue
Memphis, TN 38104
(901) 272-9377

Central BBQ (Midtown) on Urbanspoon

Half order of wings: $5.99, comes with celery, carrots and bleu cheese or ranch.
Wings from Central Barbecue, Memphis, Tenn.
A half order of Central’s wings doesn’t look like a lot of food, mostly because the wings are served whole (break them in half, and you’ve got two little wings). When the server set them down in front of me, I could smell the spicy from about nine inches above the plate.
The wings were perfectly crispy, which is the way I prefer them – they had the texture of crisp fried chicken consistently. They had plenty of sauce without being soggy.  As for the spiciness, it was just right – hot enough to make my lips tingle and my nose run a little, but not enough to make my throat burn. Basically, all of their ratios were perfect.
Napkin rating (aka, number of napkins used in the eating of the wings): 2, but they were paper towels.
Napkins, Central Barbecue, Memphis, Tenn.
And the challenger:
5030 Poplar Ave
Memphis, TN 38117
(901) 682-8080

Bosses on Urbanspoon

1lb of wings (8 -10 wings), medium sauce with fries, celery and bleu cheese or ranch: $7
Hot wings from Bosses, Memphis, Tenn.
One pound of wings is a surprisingly manageable quantity. The wings from bosses come piled up next to a bunch of fries (that taste like they’re seasoned with something like Lowery’s seasoning salt and a teensy bit of sugar).
There are a ton of seasoning options at Bosses, but started with the medium. The wings come doused in the sauce, which has a little bit of a nose-tingling effect. The sauce has a hint of sweetness to it and the spiciness is more of a slow burn than punch in the tongue.
The wings aren’t as crispy as Central’s (this is more so the case with the drummies), but the meat was fall-off-the-bone tender.
(Also, can I note that I love the fact that Bosses isn’t Boss’s possessive, but Bosses plural?)
Napkin Rating: 5 sections of those half-sized paper towels.
Bosses napkins, Memphis, Tenn.

The winner will go on to face the winner of the Chings / All-Star match up in the second round. You have until 4 p.m. on Friday, January 6th to cast your vote.

Author: Holly Whitfield

I write about what’s going on with Memphis music, food, arts, events, sports, people, and culture. Memphians love Elvis and barbeque with a passion that must be seen to be believed, but there is so much more to this place.

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Show Comments


  1. Lexie says:

    Have you had Alex's Tavern's wings they're AMAZING

  2. Harrison says:

    A great idea for a contest! It's always "bbq this" and "sausage & cheese that" here. Memphis wings are worth writing home about. But please, for Aldo's sake, include the Slider Inn! A total surprise in the wing department, I shit you not! Cheers!

  3. Deby says:

    Breaded or not-breaded? That's important to me. Can you include that in your descriptions?

  4. David says:

    I ate wings at Cental and Bosses last weekend. I ordered them dry seasoned (at both restaurants) and added sauce. Both were good, but I give a slight nod to Bosses. I felt like their hot sauce complimented the wings better.

  5. Frank Griffin says:

    I have had just about every hot wing in Memphis. Bosses, by a mile, have the best wings

  6. Bethany says:

    Honey gold is my fav at Bosses. Sometimes I’ll go for the seasoned (it has a little sweetness to it that is unique) or mix in a few hot honey gold if i want a little heat. My husband goes for the hot with a few “questionable decision” wings – they are crazy hot!

  7. Matt Writt says:

    If you're having wings at Central and they're not the "jerked" or "naked" wings, you're missing out.

  8. Benjamin says:

    Ching's, anyone?

  9. Myers says:

    Bosses are the best!  The people are VERY nice and the place is VERY clean!  If you have not tried them….you should plan a trip soon!

  10. Kevin says:

    Nobody in the city comes close to Central BBQ's wings. Anyone can deep fry a wing and shake some sauce/rub on them. Go to Central BBQ if you want something different than that. A little TLC goes a long way.

  11. Derek says:

    Alex's Tavern's wings better be on here! They are flat out the best i've had (greek style is my fav, but the hot is great too).
    Alex's: best wings, best burger (double w/ cheese is where it's at), & best ribs… and for so long during college it was only a place I retreated to after all the other bars had shut down – if only I had known their food was so yummy

  12. Lisa says:

    The description is slanted toward Bosses. It does acts as if Bosses has tons of options but Central doesn’t, even though Central has wet, hot bbq, mild bbq, dry spiced, caribbean jerked, honey gold, muddy, and good ol’ naked. It also fails to mention that there is a full size, or that they are slow smoked! The review seems to be biased, which is not the best way to start a competition. Nothing beats a full order of slow-smoked Central wings, half wet half dry, with home-made ranch on the side for dipping (or bleu cheese, if you preffer). Anyone who doesn’t think they’re the best obviously hasn’t tried them! We love Central!

  13. John says:

    This is just the beginning. Bosses will be synonymous with wings in Memphis for years to come.

  14. […] up against one another. What surprised me though were the results of her first matching. She has Central BBQ up against Bosses. She reviewed both restaurants’ wings and then posted a reader poll where anyone can vote. […]

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