Spiciest Dish in Columbus Series: Lucky’s Grille and Sports Pub
It’s been a while since we wandered into wing territory and when we go for it, we go hard.
Lucky’s Grille and Sports Pub sits just outside the 270 loop, nestled into the southeast corner of Roberts Road and Hilliard Rome Road. Lucky’s is a fairly large establishment and with the rules of re-opening they now have socially distant seating and some other precautions at the bar including plexi-glass barriers, making it easy to smash some wings or pound a few pints safely.
Voted Best Neighborhood Bar for Hilliar from 2014-2017 and in their 25th year of operation, it was time to tackle the list of wings that was voted as “Best Hot Wings in Columbus.” Along with their in-house service, they also have delivery options from all the major delivery carriers (GrubHub, Postmates, UberEats). Let’s see what spiciness is in store.
Searching for the spiciest dish in Columbus, you have to start small sometimes. It’s easy to hop straight to the entrees or the big menu items, but don’t overlook the appetizers! Here we have the Pepper-Jack Cubes, “lightly battered pepper-jack cheese cubes deep fried golden-brown. Served with our Southern Ranch for dipping.” Nice and crispy on the outside but warm and gooey on the inside, these lil’ guys will hold you over as you await your main meal and give you just a tiny kick too. The Southern Ranch tastes like it’s got some chipotle flavored notes in it and is a nice warm pair to the cubes. Neither is going to get you sweating, but each will give you a tiny tingle on your tongue. Another app that may be worth testing for spicy levels is the Volcano Shrimp, crispy shrimp tossed in their volcano sauce, but because of the drive home we decided to pass this time around.
Now we get to the main event, broken into three parts for the three “Extreme” sauces Lucky’s Grille has listed on their menu, Thai Ghost, Ghost Buffalo, and Lucky’s Inferno. All sauces are made in-house and they’ve also got other non-Extreme sauces: Asian Sesame, Teriyaki, Honey Mustard, Southern BBQ, Korean BBQ, Original Buffalo, Garlic Buffalo, Bohah, Hot Southern BBQ, Chili Lime, Hot Asian Sesame, Hot Buffalo, and Sweet-to-Heat.
Behold! the Thai Ghost wings from Lucky’s. This is the first of their Extreme sauces and because we weren’t sure if they were ordered in hottest to most hottest we went for all three. The Thai Ghost is the most interesting of the three as it’s a stickier sauce, potentially with a bit of honey, some chili peppers (see the flakes on the wings?) and is the thickest sauce of the three. Immediately with these wings you’ll notice the massive size. That cup of blue cheese isn’t the standard tiny cup, it’s a broader boy that really allows you to dip on in. The Thai Ghost brings a bit of heat with it, but will be tolerable for most.
Now we’re getting into the scary red territory. These are the Ghost Buffalo wings, still massive. The wings are lightly breaded, which will turn off some wing purists, but I felt they added to the overall retention of the sauces. When it’s for the sake of keeping spiciness on the wing itself, I’m on board. We found out later on that for each of the “ghost” sauces, they do get actual ghost peppers into the sauce, though most of the time in dropper form from either a ghost extract or straight ghost sauce (still unclear). With the Ghost Buffalo sauce, it feels a bit more like a dry rub than a sauce, but that could have been the light breading shell soaking things up on the drive home. Spicier than the Thai Ghost, you get a bit of heat off the bat, but the rest of the heat sneaks up on you. A couple of wings in, the heat definitely picked up, but only triggered a light sniffle and a slight lip burn. So far the order of the Extreme list was from least Extreme to most, but the Lucky’s Inferno would be the final note in that story.
You may be saying “Ron, these look the same as the Ghost Buffalo, how could you tell a difference” and here’s where I have to give props to Lucky’s carryout crew. This seems small, but they wrote the names of the wings on the boxes. We’ve gotten wings before where we just have to guess and the Lady of the Farm generally burns her face off, much to my delight. These were well-marked and if you’ve got a keen eye, you’ll be able to see the Lucky’s Inferno wings are a bit more wet and a little redder than the Ghost Buffalo. On first bite, the taste of the wings take over. Definitely the tastiest of the three for me with a bit of sweetness, a small taste of something hot and some other spices.
The heat on these has a slow build, hitting all parts of your mouth individually. Starts with a great sting on your tongue, rolls to the roof of your mouth and finishes with heat at the back of the throat. Two wings in had me sniffling and by the time I finished the sixth my nose was in drip mode. Not only does this heat build slowly, it lasts for a couple minutes after as well. Turns out that linger is thanks to a few drops of Mad Dog 357, the infamous original extract sauce that includes habaneros, chile extract and cayenne peppers. Some may say “that’s cheating” but for year-round heat in these sauces, add some drops of a hefty heat hot sauce makes sense. We definitely prefer fresh pepper wing sauces, but I really dig the Lucky’s Inferno wing sauce. As their hottest sauce, I think it stacks up well with other sauces around Columbus when it comes to a combo of heat and flavor.
We’ve had a lot of wings over the last year and still have the Filling Station 9-1-1 Wings at the top of our wing list, but the Lucky’s Inferno wings are definitely in our Top 10 wings for heat, and in our Top 5 of overall wing quality. Would definitely recommend checking out their 70 cent wing nights on Sundays and Mondays after 4pm. It’s dine-in only, but as mentioned they’ve done a nice job of re-opening in a responsible way. Where does this fall in our total list? It was close, but we’re tossing these wings at #18, just above the Quaker Steak and Lube Triple Atomic Wings and below the Winking Lizard Fire in the Hole wings.
You can find Lucky’s Grille and Sports Pub at 5387 Roberts Rd, Hilliard, OH 43026.
Look below for more in our spiciest dish in Columbus series and hit us up if you have any suggestions that are not already on our list!
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