Chicken Wing Challenge, Week 5: Culpepper’s

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Good mornin’! Happy Wednesday! Since I was off of work on Monday (for Memorial Day), today feels like a Tuesday! I’m really glad it’s not, though. Smile

Can you believe it’s Week 5 of the chicken wing challenge already?! It seems like just yesterday when I made the announcement about the challenge. Time flies when you’re having fun, I suppose. Winking smile

For Week 5 of the challenge, I headed to a familiar St. Louis chain:

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(source)

Culpepper’s! This place is pretty popular; can you believe I’ve never visited?

You know what else I can’t believe? I can’t believe I visited a chain restaurant. I’m far from a food snob, but one of the rules of my blog is that I only visit local restaurants and stay away from chains.

Of course, I’ve broken this self-imposed rule more than once. Whoops!

Anyway, in my defense, Culpepper’s is at least a local chain; its five locations can only be found in St. Louis.

The other reason I added Culpepper’s to the chicken wing challenge? Well, based on feedback I received from readers on Facebook and Twitter, Culpepper’s has amazing wings. I knew I needed to give them a try, chain or not.

Now that my long winded “why-I-visited-a-chain” explanation is out of the way, I can get on with the review!

After I was seated by the friendly waitress, I opened the menu and immediately found what I was looking for:

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Jackpot! Award-winning wings, huh? I was very excited to sink my teeth into some delicious chicken.

But first I had to decide which flavor I’d get.

 

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Original Style, Gold Wings, Chipotle Barbecue, Sweet & Spicy, Sesame Jack, or Honey Mustard? I liked have lots of flavors to choose from, but it definitely made my decision a little challenging!

I settled with the two most popular flavors (according to the waitress): Original Style and Chipotle Barbecue. Five of each, please!

First up? The Original Style. These were tossed in Culpepper’s signature spicy sauce.

 

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They certainly looked good!

I picked a wing up and took a huge bite.

The first thing I noticed? These wings were messy! I was suddenly very appreciative of the wet naps that were provided with my meal.

The second thing I noticed? These wings…weren’t that good. Don’t get me wrong; they weren’t awful; I enjoyed the flavor of the sauce, even though it wasn’t spicy at all like advertised. But I didn’t like the texture of the skin. It wasn’t crispy like I prefer. It was soft and almost…rubbery? No bueno.

I wasn’t giving up yet. Perhaps the Chipotle Barbecue wing would be better.

 

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Barbecue sauce is my favorite condiment, and these were smothered in lots of smoky + sweet BBQ. How could you go wrong?

Hah. “How could you go wrong?” Famous last words, my friends.

I didn’t like these either. The texture of these wings weren’t great, either. I suppose I just prefer a crispier skin.

Texture aside, the thing that disappointed me most about this flavor was the fact that it just tasted bad. I’ve never met a barbecue sauce that I didn’t like, but there’s a first time for everything, right? Yikes.

I want to again stress that the wings at Culpepper’s aren’t terrible. That’s the interesting thing about doing challenges like these. Once the bar has been set by superior restaurants, it’s hard to forgive even the smallest of blunders. The crispiness (or lack thereof) of the skin on Culpepper’s wings might not be a big deal to anyone else. Maybe it wouldn’t be a big deal to me if I hadn’t had wonderful chicken wings at other places.

But after trying other wings, these just don’t cut it. Award-winning chicken wings? Best chicken wings in St. Louis? Hardly. Who hands out these awards, anyway?

So there you have it. Week 5 was a bit of a disappointment, but you have to experience the bad to appreciate the good, right? That’s what I tell myself, anyway.

For fun, here are my rankings thus far (1 is the best):

1. Trainwreck

2. Poor Richard’s

3. The Post

4. STL Wing Co.

5. Culpepper’s

See you next week!

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  • Debbie

    You should try B. Halls in O’Fallon, MO. Off of Hwy. K. Large Juicy, crispy wings.

    • OffTheEatenPathSTL

      Thanks for the recommendation, Debbie!

  • thank you for sharing your list and your reviews… we will surely try those chicken wing joints that you shared.

    • OffTheEatenPathSTL

      Thanks! Let me know what you think of them if you decide to give any of the places a try!

  • Clifford TBRP

    I don’t think I consider “local chains” to be chain restaurants per se. We have a lot of “local” restaurants that are actually owned by the same restaurateur and are all over the place here, and even one of the local famous BBQ places on the IL side has sister locations in Las Vegas and NYC owned by the same chef just with different names.

    I guess I would just never group a local “chain” that is just a few of the same scattered around the metro area to be a chain on par with KFC or McD etc.

    • OffTheEatenPathSTL

      You make a really good point, and after giving it some more thought, I have to say that I agree with you. Some of my favorite places are local chains, and you’re right — I don’t consider those spots to be on the same level as Taco Bell or McDonalds.

      Thanks for commenting (and reading)! 🙂

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  • memphis b-rad

    i agree totally. culpeppers is amazingly overrated. i actually like them less than you did.

    try fallon’s at olive & 170. some of my favorites.

    • OffTheEatenPathSTL

      thanks for the recommendation! There are so many great wing spots for me to try!

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