Left: spicy ranch wings; right: hot buffalo wings; rear: macaroni and cheese.

It's not that I didn't want to try Pluckers Wing Bar when the place first opened. I tried. But the line for the Austin-based chicken wing chain was often an hour long at lunch, and I'm not even the type to queue up for barbecue, that Holiest of Texas Holies. After several failed attempts at trying my luck at the Pluckers on Shepherd Dr.—the only Houston location so far—I eventually gave up. And despite the place's popularity, I nearly forgot Pluckers existed, instead indulging my occasional chicken wing craving at Buffalo Wild Wings, which seems to worsen with every visit.

And then the magazine hired a research editor, Chris Abshire, who hails from Baton Rouge—a city which somehow claims two Pluckers to our one—and began preaching the Pluckers gospel from day one. Sitting across from Chris, it's difficult to avoid his genial enthusiasm for the place, and so one day several of us newsroom staff agreed to visit Pluckers with him much in the same way you're finally convinced by a friend to attend his Congregational Evangelical Holy Word Baptist church service one Sunday morning. But you know what? We were all converted.

Pluckers is ridiculous, in a good way. It's silly and over-the-top and borderline offensive in areas, but also utterly charming. Even as someone with strong vegetarian tendencies, I found myself chuckling at the burger section of the menu, which boasts: "We proudly serve animals which once ate vegetables."

At Pluckers, you can get your chicken wings with spicy ranch dressing glaze or coated in Dr Pepper sauce. At Pluckers, you can dip your fried macaroni and cheese sticks into strawberry jam. At Pluckers, you can order a sandwich that contains an entire deep-fried chicken breast covered in queso and guacamole. The sky's the limit here, though my affections for Pluckers aren't just born of its lawlessness but the simple fact that everything is legitimately delicious. Terrible for you, but delicious.

Needless to say, Pluckers—like a Congregational Evangelical Holy Word Baptist church service—is not the sort of place you go on a daily basis. The blue cheese dressing alone (which Pluckers proudly notes is made in-house, along with all of its other dressings) is enough to promise a small myocardial event somewhere down the line, if you make it that far after eating fried batons of macaroni and cheese as a prelude to your basket of sugar-and-fat-drenched wings.

No. Pluckers is the kind of place you go when you want to feel the holy spirit of unadulterated gluttony wash over you, cleansing your soul of all those clean-eating days and fastidious tasting menu dinners until nothing remains but wing sauce-stained Wet-Naps. All praise be to Pluckers. 

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Pluckers Wing Bar

$$ American/New American, Pub/Brewery 1400 Shepherd Dr.

Wing fans flock to this Austin import, which sports 23 different versions of the Buffalo-based favorite. If there's a big game going on, plan to get there ea...

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