Lemon pepper wings with fries. (Photo: Staff)

I visited an old favorite for lunch this week, Heavenly Wings at 5231 Brainerd Road. Home to the self-proclaimed “best wings in Chattanooga,” this restaurant is all about fresh, cooked-to-order wings served hot, savory, spicy or sweet.

There are two locations in Chattanooga. I prefer the Brainerd location—because I can sit down—but you’ll find the same menu and wings at their drive-thru spot at 1263 E. Third St. The latter building was previously a Central Park restaurant. I never visited back in those days, but I can recommend the current location for wings. 

This lunch was a gluttonous gift to myself after a month of watching my diet. I slipped up a few times—a Hardee’s biscuit was particularly explosive—but this was the first intentional test of my stomach’s fortitude after having subsisted on unprocessed foods, veggies and lightly seasoned proteins for 30 days.

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Early reports (about 24 hours later) are that the experiment was a success! 

Atmosphere/service
My favorite food might be fried chicken wings. My dad introduced me to fried chicken at an early age. He would fry anything that bled. The photo below was taken when I was a little over a year old. My father gave me a chicken breast in my high chair and, apparently, a beer as well. I can recall fondly my memories of chicken youth. 

For years, my favorite pick-me-up when I was feeling depressed was Heavenly Wings’ traditional (bone-in) combo with fries, a drink and blue cheese dressing. It’s expensive—almost $14—but the wings always hit the empty chicken spot in my stomach. 

Fried chicken was introduced early. (Photo: Staff)

I left work about noon Wednesday afternoon and drove out to Brainerd Road. Heavenly Wings is located next to Wichman Monuments and underneath a giant billboard of Rick Davis’ bejeweled head. If you’re ever in the drive-thru line—which will take about 10–15 minutes—you can look over the fence and pick out a headstone for yourself or a loved one. I decided to eat inside on this day to get the full experience.

Only a few people were there when I arrived. TVs blared sports talk shows. I remember this place having a bunch of video game systems you could rent for the afternoon. There was no indication that this is still a thing. Imagine the greasy fingers on those controllers. Gross. The TV sports person was talking about how Kristaps Porziņģis—one of the tallest NBA players at 7 feet, 3 inches—was having difficulty finding his game as of late. Poor guy. I wish him the best. They also talked about Porziņģis’ “8-foot wingspan,” which made me giggle considering where I was and the food I was about to consume. Ha. Life is funny sometimes.

Adrienne was working the counter. She was all enthusiasm and energy as I placed an order. Heavenly Wings offers traditional wings, boneless wings and bite-size wings (chicken nuggets) in 15 flavor combinations: mesquite barbecue, teriyaki, honey gold, hot, extra-hot and Thai chili, to name a few. 

My order has been the same for years: eight-piece traditional lemon pepper combo “fried hard” (a little crispier than normal) with blue cheese and an unsweet tea. 

The interior of Heavenly Wings. (Photo: Staff)

The wings
Heavenly Wings has my favorite lemon pepper wings in Chattanooga. There are a few places—Jefferson’s and Universal Joint—that are fine in a pinch, but only Heavenly Wings provides the exact level of crispiness and intense lemon pepper flavor that I desire.

Adrienne told me my wings would take about 15 minutes because of the “fried hard” request. I didn’t mind. If I’m going to be eating wings, which are unhealthy anyway, I might as well get them fried to oblivion. She delivered them to my booth and confirmed my decision to end whatever diet I’d been on with conviction.

A mix of drummies and flats, the wings were well-seasoned with a lemon pepper rub. I’ve had both the medium and hot versions of lemon pepper (just lemon pepper and Buffalo sauce), but the flavor combination was revolting to me. Lemon pepper wings are supposed to be tangy and salty, which these were. The fries were just crinkle-cut with Lawry’s on them. And even if there are only eight wings to a basket, the portion is generous. You won’t find larger wing pieces anywhere else. Eight is plenty of food for a lunch portion.

This visit was exactly as I remembered. It was, to use a tired phrase, a heavenly experience for someone who now sucks down emulsified kale juice and ginger on a regular basis.

Isn’t there a big game this weekend between two sports teams? I think there is. Heavenly Wings offers platters for all your party needs. Here’s the full menu.

Would I go back?
Wings aren’t even a guilty pleasure now that you can get them smoked or baked at various restaurants. However, the wings at Heavenly Wings are the least healthy way to consume chicken I can think of. I assume they’re slathered in butter, deep-fried in vegetable oil and covered in salt. But if you are craving wings, Heavenly Wings is about as good as it gets in the lemon pepper category.

The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.

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