Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap in Chicago may have the hottest hot wings in the world. They’re called the Triple X wings, and the restaurant even asks you sign a waiver to try them. I love hot sauce (apparently, I’m not the only one), so I knew I had to give them a try.
The wings live up to the hype. They are seriously the hottest thing I’ve ever eaten. They make the wings by tossing the chicken in a sauce made with three of the world’s hottest peppers. First they use the relatively mild habanero. Then getting hotter, the ghost pepper kicks it up a notch. The ghost pepper is a pretty serious pepper. It’s been weaponized and is used in pepper spray for crowd control. Chef Ryan Kikkert says that when Jake Melnick’s originally started importing it, they had to sign paperwork for the Department of Homeland Security stating that they would be using it only for food.
The wings are on fire at Jake Melnick’s in Chicago (Photo: Melanie Dunea)
Weapons grade peppers? That sounds scary, and it only gets hotter from there. The Trinidad scorpion pepper, which once held the title of hottest pepper in the world, is twice as hot as the ghost pepper and it’s the final pepper used in these wings.
Wow. The wings were good, but intense. My nose was running, my eyes were watering, my lips felt plumped. Luckily, the restaurant has a plate of “coolants” to bring down the heat once you’re done. There’s no water, which they say won’t help at all, but there’s plenty of ice cream, milk and bread to cut down on the spice. Ahhhh, relief!
The not-so-secret ingredients (Photo: Melanie Dunea)
What: Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap
Why Go: For the Triple X Hot Wings, the hottest wings around.
Where: 41 East Superior Street in Chicago
Fun Fact: The restaurant has an online “Wall of Flame.” If you make it through a whole order, you can get your picture up on the wall.
Looking for more adventurous eating? Check out my visit to Toloache in New York for some grasshopper tacos.
"Photo Tripping" is a video series from Yahoo Travel, hosted by renowned celebrity photographer Melanie Dunea (author of My Last Supper). Melanie takes us on a photographic journey with her as she visits America’s top cities, exploring off-the-beaten-path spots to experience the best tastes, sounds, and sights the city has to offer. Going on recommendations of her friends — chefs, celebrities and tastemakers, a couple of whom even come along for the ride — we uncover some truly special places, seen through the lens of a photographer.