Eat it, Conway: Wingstop

Review No. 63: Wingstop

 

2730 Prince Street, Suite 1

(501) 329-1919

33.0 percent finished reviewing Conway restaurants

 

The Situation

She Said: We wanted a late lunch on a weekday, so we were looking for a place I could wear my workout clothes (I promise I don’t just wear active-wear willy-nilly; I really do work out!) that was open all day. We’d never been to Wingstop, but it seemed like a good casual place for some chicken, especially since it’s open all afternoon. (I’m also making a note to myself that this is a rare Conway restaurant that is also open until midnight.)

He Said: Apparently Wingstop is a chain, and if you go to its Website, you can type in your ZIP code and it will tell you the locations closest to you. There is one in North Little Rock and one in Little Rock as well as the one in Conway. I assume there are other locations all over the place, but we’ve never eaten at one and, to tell you the truth, I’ve never actually noticed them. But I will now!

She Said: There’s even one in Sioux Falls, S.D., a frequent destination of our road trips.

 

Ambience:

She Said: I had no idea what to expect, and I found out this is a quick-serve restaurant, in which you order at the counter and wait for the food to come to you; when you enter, you are immediately at the counter. The joint is decorated with corrugated tin and airplane photos, but I wouldn’t say it has a very rich aviation vibe. It doesn’t feel authentic or rich in history or culture. The seating areas are small enough to feel cozy for a relaxed meal. The music—playing a pretty Jazzercise-centric playlist—was a little loud though. It was hard for us to hear each other. I’m not sure anyone else was dining in while we were there, though several people came in to pick up online orders, which Wingstop really promotes.

He Said: Yes, you can call or order online here and then pick up your food, and they seem to be well-prepared for that. But if you just want to pull in and eat there, it’s a comfortable enough place to dine in. OK, Jones, it’s not exactly a historically authentic World War II hangar, but you get kind of a hanger-ish vibe sitting there amongst the memorabilia.

 

Drinks

She Said: They have teas and fountain drinks here. I went with my standard unsweetened iced tea, which came with the meal I chose. I thought the tea was very strong, and I was afraid it would impact my sleep that night. I slept okay, but next time, I’ll water it down or use a lot more ice.

He Said: A 20-ounce drink comes with the six-piece order. I had a Dr. Pepper It was fine. Please don’t water mine down.

 

Food

She Said: Wingstop allows a lot of mixing and matching to put together the meal you want. I chose the boneless six-wing meal, which allows two flavors of wings and a dipping sauce. I had three garlic-parmesan-flavor and three mild wings with blue-cheese dipping sauce. Instead of fries, I opted for baked beans.

The boneless wings tasted very, very processed to me. (I know: duh. It’s boneless chicken meat; the only way it gets this way is processing.) Aside from the boneless part, the coating was so heavy, that the wings really seemed like a chicken-flavored food product, although I know it is real meat. The thickness of the coating and frying really detracts from the meat—or maybe it’s meant to distract from it. I preferred the mild wings with the more traditional sauce to the garlic parm version, but if I go again, I will order the traditional wings to get a little closer to the sensation of eating actual chicken.

The star of my meal was the baked beans. They were flavorful with a little bit of maple, but weren’t greasy with bacon, which some places like to do to their baked beans. I could have eaten more of these and less chicken. I also confess I stole some of He Said’s fries, and they were amazeballs! Perfectly seasoned, fried with skins on, crisp on the outside, tender within. These may be some of Conway’s best French fries. I’d return for these alone.

He Said: I had the six-count wings with three garlic parmesan and three Louisiana rub wings which, checking Wingstop’s online nutritional chart, would have been 22.5 and 18 grams of fat respectively. For me, trying to keep my fat intake under 60 grams per day, this was not good news, since it meant 40.5, or more than 2/3 of what I could have for the day, spent just on these wings. The seasoned fries I got as my side were delicious, and may be, as Jones says, the best in Conway. They also contained 18 grams of fat. And so, gentle reader, in that one meal I reached my fat intake for the entire day.

The fries and the garlic parmesan wings were quite delicious, but I should have checked the nutritional information ahead of time and made wiser choices. I could have kept the fat content of the wings down to about 24 grams if I had choses some of the lower fat options, and if I had had Jones’s baked beans—which were indeed delicious, as she let me taste them—my side would have been only three fat grams. So I could have cut in half my fat intake and been just as happy.

I did order the “veggie sticks” as a second side, thinking these might be some tasty sautéed vegetables, but they were actually just raw stick of carrots and celery. No fat there. Also pretty much no flavor.

She Said: The numbers I care about, Ruud, are calories. My meal was 1,271 calories, or about what I eat in a whole day. I had a tiny breakfast, and no supper, and I still gained two pounds. The fries may have been worth that—though I only had three—but the wings weren’t.
Service

She Said: The service game here was strong. We arrived around 2 p.m., so it wasn’t crowded, and the counter attendant was very patient with us, as we didn’t know the ins and outs of ordering and all the choices you get to make to customize your meal. She brought our food when it was ready and also checked on us from time to time, even though it was a quick-serve restaurant. When we left, we were looking for somewhere to dump our meal detritus, but the staffer said we didn’t need to bus our tables, she’d take care of it. This place specializes in online orders you pick up, I think, but even if you roll up like we did, not knowing what you’re doing and needing a tutorial, our server was very helpful.

He Said: Ditto. The server was great, and we weren’t really used to this kind of attention in a fast-food type establishment.

 

What We Got and What We Paid: Six-piece boneless wings (mild and garlic parmesan) with blue-cheese dipping sauce and baked beans instead of fries, 20-ounce unsweet iced tea; and six-piece traditional wings with garlic parmesan and Louisiana sauce, fries, veggie sticks and a 20-ounce Dr. Pepper for $20.12.

 

Elapsed Time from Entry to Food Arrival: 15 minutes from order to arrival. The counter woman told us it would be 18 minutes, so she underpromised and overdelivered. Always a crowd pleaser.

 

Rating:

She Said: The fries alone are worth returning for, but I love all the options, not only of flavors and sauces, but also of size of order and means of ordering it. Dining in is perfectly pleasant, but if I’ve gotta take hot food somewhere for a party, etc., I’m ordering Wingstop. And if you’re at that party: You’re welcome.

He Said: There is a wide assortment of wings and sides here, mostly pretty tasty stuff. If you’re looking to eat healthy, though, check the nutrition values of the food before you go, or you may end up with eater’s remorse.

So…He Said and She Said: Good wings with lots of options, even better sides. Come for the wings, stay for the fries.

Editor's Note: Eat It, Conway is produced by local author Jay Ruud and his wife (poet and novelist Stacey Margaret Jones). The couple has begun an attempt to eat at and review, every restaurant in Conway, Arkansas. The Log Cabin Democrat and thecabin.net are publishing Eat It, Conway with permission from the authors. Visit them online at jayruud.com and on Facebook at Eat It, Conway. In addition to restaurant reviews, Ruud authors movie reviews on the site. 

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