I went to Binga’s Wingas on a whim and discovered a miracle. Alas, being a miracle, it was fleeting. You won’t experience it if you go now, though you can recreate this miracle for a few extra bucks.
It was a recent Saturday night, and our downstairs neighbor Beth spontaneously suggested my wife and I join her to check out Binga’s. Originally located on Wharf Street, and last located in Monument Square, this beer-and-pub-grub-style establishment moved to the West End last fall – to Bramhall Square, a burgeoning little dining and drinking district these days.
The three of us took the lone table in the bar area, and a waitress soon approached. “Hi,” she said. “Are you guys here for the all-you-can-eat chicken wings and ribs?”
I was taken aback by that combination, but not as far as I would be the next time she spoke.
“How much is that?” I asked, figuring $10.99, $12.99, that range.
“$4,99,” she said.
What?! Five bucks for all the chicken wings and BBQ pork ribs I can stuff down my gullet? That’s staggering. That is a gift from God. I hadn’t seen a deal that ridiculously generous since Warner Bros. put Van Halen’s Women and Children First and Fair Warning on one low-priced, long-playing cassette 20 years ago.
Then the deal got even sweeter. Turns out every beer on tap was $2.50 a pint during this 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Happy Hour special. That’s Geary’s Hampshire Special Ale for $2.50. Dos Equis for dos dollars and change, Blue Moon Belgian Ale and several other strong selections, all two-fifty a pop. I toured the world in 60 minutes.
The wings were great – meaty, slightly battered, and fried to high heaven. I grew up in Rochester, N.Y., next to Buffalo, the Mecca of wings, so I know a good wing sauce when it hits my glands. Binga’s has it right.
The ribs were also tasty – a little dry, but who’s complaining when they keep coming hot out of the kitchen by the basketful for, again, five frickin’ bucks! It’s worth noting here that the baskets didn’t come with anything other than meat on bones and a container of ranch/blue cheese for the wings. Some all-you-can-eat deals involve side dishes you feel guilty if you don’t polish off before requesting another plate. Not this miracle.
For days after that awesome first visit, I fantasized about returning in the company of the most voracious carnivores I know – namely, Bollard food critic Mort Viande and art directors Sean Wilkinson and Mich Ouellette. As is the tradition before Mort’s enormous backyard barbeques, we would fast all day, then descend on Binga’s in the late afternoon like vultures, cleaning every barnyard animal bone in the place for $20 between us, not counting oceans of $2.50 draft.
But nothing gold can stay. And, frankly, no restaurant can stay in business offering specials like that. A week later, the special was all-you-can-eat wings (ribs not included) for $6.99 – not a bad deal if you can polish off more than one order, but not evidence of divine grace, either. The Happy Hour beer deal was still in effect, and that helped assuage our disappointment.
In addition to wings and baby back ribs, Binga’s has a solid and affordable menu of sandwiches, wraps and dinner entrees like steak, pork chops and fajitas. Among the typical pub-grub appetizers is the fried pickle basket (a “house specialty” for $1.99). The combination of pickle juice and fryer grease was delicious – an inspired selection.
Binga’s has the atmosphere of a good neighborhood bar. Actually, it has two atmospheres: a classic, wood-paneled barroom and a colorful, neon-lit dining area. From an interior design perspective, the rooms clash, but who cares? Some epicureans probably think chicken wings and pork ribs are bad basketmates, but they got along fine in my belly.
Here’s hoping Binga’s has begun a long life in the West End. If business really takes off, maybe – just maybe, I keep telling myself — the miracle will happen again.
— Chris Busby
Binga’s is open Mon.-Fri. from 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m., Sat. from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Closed Sunday. Catering and full bar available.