A little less than four months ago, a semi-cursed location on the northwest corner of San Gabriel and Colorado boulevards which has housed at least three restaurants in the past 11 years, was once again occupied by a hopeful new establishment, Juicy Wingz. The eatery is a fourth for the family-owned company, a move east from their Burbank and two Hollywood locations.
According to its website, Juicy Wingz “seeks to provide the local community with fresh, made to order meals with ingredients that are non-GMO, local and organically grown whenever possible. Unlike the major chains, our goal is to offer the best healthy options without having to give up good tasting comfort foods, all while being served in a fun and friendly environment.”
The company logo is a cool take on an old heraldic emblem, round with crimson field and gold borders, wings and ribbons. Instead of a crown, the top of the badge sports licks of fire. The restaurant’s name is superimposed in burnt orange capital letters, and the sobriquet “a premium wing joint” appears beneath in gold. Around it on the webpage called “About Us” are arranged the phrases “free range, California fresh, raised without antibiotics, all natural, hand raised, no hormones, no preservatives, no additives, vegetarian fed.”
Now, that’s nice to know. Before I get into finger-licking, wing-eatin’ mode, the reassurance that I won’t be coming down with bird flu, some other avian malady or even (heaven forbid) mad cow, is welcome. But even better is the fact that our local Juicy Wingz (which replaced Alondra, which superseded Toro Sushi, which supplanted The Vault, which took over a former bank, hence the name) just became another of my go-to, fast-but-not-too-fast food restaurants only five minutes’ drive from our house with plenty of free parking.
We’ve only dropped in once so far. It was way too hot this summer for wings and burgers. Taking advantage of a temperature dip last week (I guess Mother Nature couldn’t keep Southern California’s heatwave going while she was busy orchestrating hurricanes, fires and earthquakes elsewhere), we slipped in to Juicy Wingz with one of our kids and ordered a 10-piece wing order ($9.45) picking Thai peanut and Buffalo lemon pepper sauces from a choice of 16.
Of course, those were only starters. We also ordered one “Famous” burger with caramelized onions, applewood smoked bacon, spring mix, gruyère, blue cheese, jalapeño aioli on brioche ($11) with fries and iced tea for a $3 add-on) a pastrami Reuben “Deluxe” with Swiss, coleslaw and Russian dressing on rye ($14), a “My Big Fat” buffalo chicken salad with crumbled blue cheese, tomatoes, Bermuda onion, croutons and blue cheese dressing ($9) and a Happy Hour order of onion rings ($4/regular price $8).
And, naturally, the non-designated drivers partook of two Happy Hour draft beer specials from the list of 25 — Lagunitas IPA and Stella Artois, each a mere $5 for what was said to be a 22-ounce glass, although my husband was skeptical. But even if the glasses were shy a couple of ounces, the price — like those of all the food items — was a real bargain.
The presentation was also way above average. Everything we ordered arrived pronto on trays lined with fake newsprint paper featuring articles on fish and chips (one item that Juicy Wingz doesn’t offer). The wings were separated into two stacks of five and went fast. A mound of celery and carrot sticks and a container of blue cheese garnished the arrangement’s center.
The pastrami sandwich was as advertised — thinly sliced homemade meat piled high, coleslaw even higher. And if the bread wasn’t Langer’s twice-baked rye, it was still crusty and chewy enough to satisfy a girl who grew up going to real Jewish delis on a weekly basis. The mound of almost free thin-cut fries beside the impressive sandwich was generous enough to rival the featured item on the tray.
Our burger, the menu touted, was “made with all grass-fed beef from local family farms that are never given antibiotics or hormones,” and was juicy and tasty and filled with yummy additions. Was it the unctuous onion, the chewy bacon, the combination of two assertive cheeses or the spicy mayo? I can’t decide. Whatever — it was completely enjoyable.
Somehow, I hadn’t been sold on the chicken salad, but after my daughter had it placed in front of her, it won my heart. Piled into an oblong cardboard container, it defied my preconception that it would include lumps of deep-fried fowl. Instead there were slices of breast meat laid out atop the other ingredients and drizzled with buffalo sauce. With its purple onion rings, green lettuces, red tomatoes, blue cheese crumbles and tanned croutons, it was a helluva good-looking salad, tasting as good as it looked.
The onion rings were enormous, each seemingly puffed up with pride at its own magnificence. And while I prefer the more definitive crunch of flour-coated onion strings and either tempura or cornmeal crusting on bigger rings, Juicy Wingz’s beer-battered Maui onions went down just fine with the three of us battling for the privilege of downing the last one. Like the fries, our rings were sprinkled with parsley flakes to add even more appeal.
Desserts? We didn’t even ask, since we were way too full. Juicy Wingz does list milkshakes and floats under beverages and there are maple bacon fries ($8), honey BBQ wings and chicken & waffle sliders with maple syrup ($10) for those who must have a sugar fix sometime during a meal. Plus, they had Dr. Brown’s sodas.
Since pizza is advertised both on the exterior of the building and on Juicy Wingz brightly painted interior walls (mostly orange and black), we were surprised not to find it on the menu. I called back before writing to ask about the omission and was told they will be starting pizza service this week.
Those who visited Alondra prior to its closing will find only superficial changes in Juicy Wingz’ décor. The dining area is huge, with 16 TVs and hard surfaces that amplify the noise. But then, for a happy crowd enjoying themselves downing numerous pints and lots of fried finger foods, Juicy Wingz’ quality, service and prices make it a great destination.
2675 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena | (626) 765-9572
eatmywingz.com | Full Bar/Major Cards