An assortment of chicken wings from Soul Wingz, a soul food restaurant in Washington, D.C.
Credit: Crystal Fernanders

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Black-owned soul food takeout spot Soul Wingz has operated near Howard University since April 2022, but owners Anthony Holmon and Menyana Williams started the concept in 2008, operating as a pop-up restaurant throughout the area before purchasing a food truck in 2016. The D.C. natives gained a lot of business after regularly visiting the Howard campus, ultimately deciding to make the corner of Harvard Street and Georgia Avenue NW the home of their first storefront. They plan to open a second location at Pentagon City Mall in early 2023.

The restaurant plays old-school R&B music, which can be heard when walking nearby (and might lure in potential customers). The interior walls are red with black trim and a handful of bar chairs for dining in near the front window lined with flashing string lights. A display fridge by the front counter holds desserts and bottled drinks. Large laminated menus are on the countertop for customers to place orders at the register, and an open kitchen is visible behind the cashier.

At first, the music drew me to the restaurant, but the smell of fried chicken wanted me to stay longer. It’s not that “fast food fried chicken” smell, neither—I’m talking about the good, homemade kind. The sounds and smells reminded me of stopping by a family member’s house for dinner over the holidays. Customers were in and out of the restaurant, having lively conversations with the owners and myself and bonding over food. From those signs, I knew I would get a home-cooked meal. 

Soul Wingz obviously serves more than just tasty chicken. Think of one of your favorite soul food meals, and they will most likely have it. The menu is divided between breakfast, “midday mealz,” “wingz,” “saladz,” “sandwichez,” “drinkz,” and “sweetz.” Apart from their desserts, everything is prepared in-house and cooked to order. They also do not use salt or pepper in any of their dishes. “The nurse that took care of my mother before she passed mentioned salt and sugar being the root of most of our illnesses,” Williams says. She kept that same mindset with the Soul Wingz concept.

Chicken wings and lemonade from Soul Wingz Credit: Crystal Fernanders

Soul Wingz’s top sellers are—you guessed it—their chicken wings! One customer mentioned they were the best ones she’s ever had. Choose between 13 flavors, or mix and match two flavors per order. The wings, available whole or in party size portions, are marinated in their signature Soul Seasoning, then roasted and tossed in your sauce of choice. They’re served in eight, 12, or 16 piece orders, a la carte or as a combo with sides and a drink. I tried the most popular flavors—mumbo, jerk, spicy, and soul—getting four of each. The wings are nice and saucy but not drowned. Each of the sauces is made from scratch. I love the mumbo flavor—that one deserves to be put on shelves. 

The signature soul wings were my favorite. It is the only wing option that’s lightly tossed in seasoned flour, deep fried, and served sauceless. The chicken was so juicy in the middle, with the crispy, perfectly seasoned skin, and without much grease. I tried a bite with some mumbo sauce, which was unnecessary. That wing was beautiful on its own. So good, in fact, that while I tried one in the restaurant, with plans to eat the rest later, the soul wings did not make it home. I ate them in my car.

Shrimp and grits from Soul Wingz Credit: Crystal Fernanders

Soul Wingz sells breakfast all day. Go for one of their omelets, sandwiches, French toast, pancakes, waffles, or breakfast platters. I went with the latter, which comes with a side of toast, two eggs cooked your way, and home fries. The shrimp and grits platter called my name. “I guarantee you that we make the best shrimp and grits in the city!” Holmon says. This may be debatable, because I haven’t come across a bad batch of them, but theirs is pretty damn good. Cooks saute the shrimp on the flat-top grill with lots of caramelized onions, place it on a huge bed of buttery Colby Jack cheese grits, then sprinkle them with more cheese. This platter reminded me of a home-cooked Sunday breakfast. 

Do not sleep on their sandwiches! Soul Wingz has a steak and chicken sub that felt like it weighed about three pounds. I highly suggest sharing this with someone unless you plan to take a nap afterward. Tender pieces of diced chicken breast and steak are cooked on the griddle with caramelized onions, and topped with lots of Colby Jack. A seven-inch sub roll is lightly toasted and spread with mayo before being filled with a bit of shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and all that meat. Three words for this one: hefty, juicy, mouthwatering.

The chicken, steak, and cheese sandwich at Soul Wingz Credit: Crystal Fernanders

If you haven’t already passed out after eating a meal here, wash it down with their signature drinks. There are eight flavors to choose from, including the popular Soul Mix. It is their version of an Arnold Palmer, known as a half and half in D.C. culture, that has a hint of lime. If you’re not a tea drinker, there are sweet and fruity versions of their Soul Mix, with lemonade and your juice flavor of choice. The fruit punch lemonade tastes like a drinkable version of Bomb Pop popsicles. 

A rotation of individual servings of cake, pie, and seasonal cobbler flavors, made at a local baker, are always available. I’m a sucker for lemon desserts, and the lemon cake slice with a light glaze pleased me. It was pillowy soft, and not too tart that you’re puckering your lips.

If you’re in the mood for a simple, but damn good home-cooked meal, Soul Wingz will take care of that craving. But please, do not make plans to be productive after eating here. 

Soul Wingz is located at 2851 Georgia Avenue NW. Hours of operation are Mondays through Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m and Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to midnight. Place orders in person, and online for pickup or delivery. Prices range from $4 to $20.