The #1 Chain Restaurant Dubuque Needs (Again)
Whenever I head back to my home-area of DuPage County, IL, there are always a couple popular staples on my list. One of which is Portillo's, which nearly anyone from Illinois will praise as one of the places you can find the best hot dog and Italian beef around. But there's another chain restaurant I've mentioned before, and it's one I still want to see Dubuque get sooner rather than later.
Oh, and it's not ol' reliable Red Lobster...
If faced with the ability to bring any chain restaurant to the Tri-States, Wingstop would be my eatery of choice. I was reminded of that when I went back home Friday evening, and stopped there to indulge in a meal before seeing any of my family or friends. As much as I love Red Lobster, it was never a restaurant I'd eat at on a weekly basis.
If Dubuque got a Wingstop, I'd probably schedule a "wing night" once a week.
What makes Wingstop so good?
The 28-year-old chain was founded in Garland, TX, and has steadily expanded across the country, with more than 1,500 establishments. I "discovered" it in college, and my friends and I fell in love with the food coupled with the fast-casual environment. We'd wind up going there for dinner on Saturday before a long night of fun. As the years rolled on, sometimes we'd settle for DoorDash-ing it, or driving out of our way solely for the delectable fries — which I would argue are among the best fries you can find.
Unlike other massive corporate wing restaurants, Wingstop has a far smaller selection of sauces, adhering to quality over quantity. The lemon pepper is an equitable balance of both ingredients, zesty and aided by the spice of the peppercorn flakes. The mild sauce still manages to be flavorful (imagine buffalo flavor without the burn).
My favorite will always be the Cajun variety, which is a bit of a sauce and rub combined. The sauce is hot but the rub kicks it up a notch. As of this writing, Cajun is their second hottest sauce behind "atomic" — not for the faint of heart.
What is my go-to Wingstop order?
My go-to order at Wingstop has always been a small-to-medium order of their boneless Cajun wings, a large order of fries, and a small Diet Coke. If it's my only meal of the day — radio can lead to long days and sparse snacking — I'll get an additional regular order of fries with that.
What makes the wings among my favorite is the fact they're always consistently juicy and fresh. Everything is cooked-to-order, so you can trust that the food isn't getting a suntan under a heat lamp for an hour before you arrive. You will need to wait 10-15 minutes depending on the volume of orders, which is why most people call ahead and carry-out.
What makes those fries so delicious?
Just looking at that image gets my mouth watering... Wingstop fries are unlike any I've had at any major chain restaurant yet.
Wingstop's fresh-cut fries are enhanced with a bevy of spices: garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, paprika, salt, pepper, and brown sugar. In addition, there's one "secret" ingredient: a dash of sugar, which probably explains my addiction to them. The powerful blend of spices leads to an explosion of flavor; a savory compliment to whatever sauce you're feeling on any given day.
I've gone to Wingstop solely for the fries. And I'd do it again. They're a meal in themselves.
I'm aware that Dubuque used to have a Wingstop relatively recently. It wound up closing. Sometimes, location and advertising makes all the difference. As of now, the closest Wingstop we have as Tri-Staters lives in Cedar Rapids. Color me optimistic, but I think this is an area dense enough to support one in the right location (NW Arterial, anyone?)
I'll happily support it on a regular basis.
In the meantime, if you're in an area with a Wingstop and have yet to experience it, add it to your road-trip itinerary.