In the three weeks preceding our visit to CK’s Tavern and Grill in Ahwatukee we were having wings from Half Moon, Arcadia Tavern, and Rino D’s. Three weeks in a row of forgettable, mediocre wings. Spoiler alert: CK’s brought that to a total of four weeks in a row.
Four fucking weeks in some kind of hot wing purgatory. After all the excellent places we had been to in the past this quality hot wing drought was kicking my ass. All we wanted were some great hot wings and some good, cheap beer. CK’s delivered on the latter but our quest for superb wings had ended in failure again.
The thing is that the wings were not even actually all that bad. They were nothing special about them but I remember thinking at the time they were pretty solid. Now I just remember them as mediocre. Maybe it is just me. Maybe solid hot wings just don’t cut it anymore. Maybe I have reached a whole new level of wing-snobbery. I don’t know.
CK’s actually seemed like a very popular bar. I drove around the building a couple times looking for a parking spot and ended up having to park in the strip mall next door and walk over, so if that is any indication this then this place is kicking ass. That parking situation is seriously fucked though. They have parking all the way around the building but every spot was full and there were at least a couple other cars driving around looking for an opening the whole time I was. Once we got inside there were already plenty of people hanging out enjoying happy hour. As a place to just come enjoy a drink after work it seems very solid. I could see myself stopping by after work for a beer or two if I lived in the neighborhood.
I seem to remember them having a pretty respectable selection of beers on tap but I don’t remember for sure. If they had a beer list on their website (hint hint) then I would have double checked. After looking over the drink prices again they seem to be decently priced especially if you go on the right nights for the daily specials. All in all not a bad place to enjoy a drink. It was just the wings that were the problem.
The truth is, the wings at CK’s were better than the last few places. Rino D’s were delivery wings and, unfortunately, that just can not ever be done all that well. Arcadia Tavern and Half Moon were more concerned with their appearance than serving up good wings. CK’s clearly put in more effort than those last two and they were fresh so that puts them about Rino D’s but they still didn’t give us anything above average.
We got a dozen of the hot flavor wings and dozen of another flavor that I don’t remember (sticking with the forgettable theme here but I think it was either Honey or BBQ) [Editor's Note: They were Raspberry Chipotle and we ordered them on the behest of Yelp users and against our better judgment]. They were cooked alright but not great. The sauce was not bad but nothing special. The wings were a pretty decent size but if they do not end up being cooked well that is sort of just a waste. These wings were practically the definition of average. At this point average doesn’t even register anymore. Average pretty much equals forgotten. [Another Editor's Note: The raspberry chipotle weren't very good even for a sweet wing. We've written about sweet sauces before and we can tell a good one from a bad one, even if we don't prefer them. This was more the latter than the former, unfortunately.]
I am just sick of forgettable wings. I would honestly prefer to have just absolutely horrible wings then have to have one more dozen of the forgettable variety. I sure as hell have more fun telling people how awful the wings at Flancer’s were then I do telling people about the utterly unmemorable Arcadia Tavern wings. There is just no place for mediocrity. If you want to put wings on your menu then you either need to go all out and kick ass at it or you need to fail so miserably at it that at least it is a good story.
Jesus, I just said I would rather eat Flancer’s wings. We needed to get out of this rut.
I feel like I am just ranting too much here. That isn’t really fair to CK’s. This is more of a cumulative rant directed more towards just forgettable wings in general than specifically directed at CK’s Tavern. Just too many weeks in a row of this type of mediocre hot wing made me really need to get this shit off my chest. CK’s is a pretty cool after work bar that has average wings.
After we finished up at CK’s we headed down the road and faced our second disappointment of the evening. We were planning on heading over to the Regal Begal but as we pulled in we were surprised to find that they had gone out of business. Who fucking knew? It was a pretty cool place so that was a bummer to see.
Still, all was not lost because we knew we could count on Zipps which was not too far off. We made our way down to the Ray and McClintock location and grabbed a couple seats at the bar. We got to watch some of the Suns game and see them rally from behind to win over the Clippers. The highlights being the Markieff Morris dunk over the top of Blake Griffin and Sebastian Telfair stripping the ball from Chris Paul to rob the Clippers of any chance at coming back at the end of the game. Finally, something going just right for the night.
We enjoyed several more beers at Zipps, drank a couple of shitty shots, some dude that looked like he was straight off the Jersey Shore was trying to talk to me but I couldn’t make any sense of what he was saying, and I think we even split another dozen wings at Zipps to satisfy our craving for some really good wings. Pretty standard night for hanging out at Zipps. As per usual, Zipps really delivered on their excellent hot wings and the drought was over.
UPDATE: After publishing this review, CK’s Tavern very graciously got in contact with us and let us know the beer list will be updated on their site. Score one for them!
CK’s Tavern & Grill
4142 E Chandler Blvd
Phoenix, AZ 85048
Sampled March 15th, 2012