We were excited when we got to go to Wingstock in Mesa this year. For one thing, it was an all day event centered around hot wings and they were serving beer. What’s not to love about that? Secondly, we got in free with some media passes because we were running this blog which was enough of a glimpse at legitimacy to feed our egos.
More importantly, we were introduced to quite a few new hot wing places all at once. A lot of them struggled to deliver quality wings given the circumstances (its hard to attempt to recreate anything resembling your restaurant’s kitchen under an awning at Mesa Amphitheatre), some places didn’t even really try (I’m looking at you Antar’s), but some of them really came out strong. Teakwoods and Long Wong’s were good as always. Jimbo’s was a good new place we discovered. NY Boyz was killing it like they always do. Cogburn’s was right in the middle of it with the best of them.
If I remember correctly Cogburn’s was the second place we tried at Wingstock (he first being Fat Willie’s, who had some pretty mediocre wings and had us thinking we might be in for a disappointment for the day). Cogburn’s dispelled that idea. We had never heard of Cogburn’s before Wingstock but they impressed us at their booth quickly. They were very friendly, they seemed like they gave a shit about what they were doing, and they seemed genuinely happy to be serving us some wings. They also gave us some free sunscreen which was a nice touch and much needed since we didn’t bring any of our own.
The wings they were serving up were good. Not the best at Wingstock or anything but very solid and they showed us enough that we wanted to see what the real things were like. We decided would hit them up for our next wing outing following Wingstock.
That next Thursday we headed to a spot in Gilbert not too far from where I used to live. Turns out I recognized the place but it was a different restaurant when I had been there before. I had been there when it was called Payton’s Place. I seem to recall it being not bad but it didn’t leave too much of an impression so I didn’t miss it. The fact that it had been replaced by a place specializing in wings had me forgetting about them pretty quickly.
Cogburn’s seemed to have a pseudo-Hooters thing going on with girls in low-cut shirts and short shorts serving hot wings and beer. The biggest difference being that the wings didn’t suck at Cogburn’s like they do at Hooters so really it might be a better option if eye candy is a top priority.
We grabbed a table near the giant TV in their dining room. Really it is a giant TV surrounded by many smaller TVs. In short, not a bad spot to watch a dozen sporting events at once, if you feel like it.
Cogburn’s serves up wings in orders of ten so we ordered ten of the Hot variety and ten of the Suicide. The latter isn’t on the menu (at least not on their menu online) but they do have it. We also ordered up a couple beers from their very respectable selection. I’ve read some complaints on the internet that say the bartenders don’t know what they are doing. Well, they know how to pour a beer so, based on my experience, those reviewers are full of shit.
When the wings did come out we were pleased to see that Cogburn’s Big Wings lives up to its name. These wings were huge. Easily some of the biggest we have seen. They also didn’t skimp on the sauce. Both flavors were very well coated with the stuff. We wasted no time and dived right in. We wasted so little time in fact that we forgot to take pictures of the wings beforehand. Luckily, I was back out there not too long after and grabbed some pictures.
The wings were big and juicy and cooked very well. Still not quite as well as NY Boyz, which seems to be the thing that keeps NY Boyz at the top so consistently, but Cogburn’s knew how to cook a wing. The Hot flavor was good but nothing special. Where they really stand out was with the Suicide wings. Cogburn’s is one of those exceedingly rare places that not only manages to keep a good flavor going with their hottest flavor but somehow surpasses their standard Hot flavor. Those Suicide wings were delicious.
They will burn the hell out of you though. The heat just builds as you make your way through them. With orders of ten we only had five Suicide wings each but we were burning by the end. I think only Teakwoods has really combined the amazing flavor and super hot wing together better. Our server told us that the heat on the Suicide wings varies quite a bit depending on who is cooking for the night which I confirmed not too long afterwards when my Suicide wings were barely distinguishable from their Hot counterpart.
We finished up our wings and ordered several more beers. There was no grand adventure following the wing joint this night. We just had our fill of beer at Cogburn’s instead. Our server was very patient putting up with a couple of drunks like us. We actually expressed some concern over being her annoying, drunk customers but she reassured us that she has seen much worse like the dudes who kept trying to get her to play the “Would you rather?” game about sexing them up. I think her answer in that game was probably along the lines of, “Fuck off, douchebags,” which seems the appropriate response to me.
Overall, I was really digging Cogburn’s. It may be loosely based on the Hooters business model but when it comes to quality Cogburn’s is the far superior wing joint of the two. If I was still living around there it would probably be my go-to hot wing place.
Native New Yorker
4902 S Val Vista Dr
Gilbert, AZ 85298
Sampled April 12th, 2012