400 E. Congress St., Detroit; 313-962-2210; sweetwatertavern.net
For many years, Sweetwater was just down the street from Metro Times' offices, and many an MT editor was drawn down to the ancient building on the corner of Brush and Congress streets, the better to commune with the joint's vinegary, spicy, charred-but-moist chicken wings. Where lesser kitchens would make sure the wings came out with lots of salt or spice, the wing gods at Sweetwater know about balance. That is to say, they know how to produce a piquant wing that lives up to the hype. They're well spiced with a combination of seasonings for a savory flavor that has a heat-kicked finish, and served with a blue cheese sauce to keep the heat kick in check. We once inquired about their secret, and were told that the wings were delivered daily from Eastern Market, dredged in spices, then marinated for 24 hours before being cooked to perfection with a crispy skin and juicy meat center.
Even if you've never been a true fan of chicken wings, you may be more than pleasantly surprised at just how good Sweetwater's wings are. And the hospitality of the staff, which seems to know just what you need, suggests that Sweetwater knows how to treat its customers. It certainly showed in the way a server brought our meal in timely stages, though we had ordered them all at once. —Michael Jackman