The great Pittsburgh plant-based wing taste test.
Super Bowl Sunday is a day of fierce competition, silly commercials, and plenty of food.
And even if you’re not a football fan, at least we can all agree that Game Day food is… pretty special. Saucy, crispy, salty, gooey, fried, drool-worthy foods are in abundance before, during, and after the game.
But as a vegan or plant-based eater, it’s easy to feel left out of the Game Day food extravaganza. You may feel like you need to stick to the carrot and celery sticks while everyone else is diving face-first into pizza, dips, and wings.
Friend, kick those veggie sticks to the curb. There’s surely a time and a place for them, but it’s not on Super Bowl Sunday.
Pittsburgh is a great hub for plant-based eats these days, and it certainly isn’t lacking in the plant-based Game Day food department; you can find a ton of ooey-gooey, fried-food fun to help get you through the big game.
That said, today we’re going to focus on, in my opinion, the king of Game Day food options: wings. Specifically, plant-based wings.
I bought seitan wings from five different local restaurants to figure out which reigns supreme. My boyfriend (a meat-eater) and I (a non-meat-eater) tried and ranked them 1-10 on the following criteria:
- Overall Flavor
- Dipping Sauce
Let’s get into the review:
The Plant-Based Wing Taste Test
512 Perry Highway / Rt.19, Westview, PA 15229
First up is Mandy’s Pizza in the North Hills. They have a huge vegan menu, complete with hoagies, pizza, appetizers, and calzones, but I got a 10-piece order of their “Chicken Thangs” with their vegan ranch on the side.
When I went to pick up my order, they mentioned that they used to make their vegan Chicken Thangs from scratch, but now they buy it. Their vegan ranch is homemade.
I don’t buy plant-based “meat” very often to begin with, so I was still super excited to try them! Here’s what they looked like right out of the box:
Texture –– 9
These. Were. So. Good. I think they’re the Seven Grain Crispy Tenders from Gardein, and I was amazed that the breading stayed crispy on my way home. The inside was tender and juicy, and they kind of blew me away. As you can see, they’re more chicken tender-y than wing-y.
Overall Flavor –– 8
The flavor was nutty and a little sweet, but overall a really tasty faux meat!
Sauce –– N/A
I didn’t realize that Mandy’s Chicken Thangs wouldn’t automatically come with wing sauce, but that was my mistake. If you order them on your own, just be sure to request some wing sauce on the side if you want them saucy!
Dipping Sauce –– 10
Mandy’s vegan ranch is honestly one of my favorite vegan foods. It’s a perfect buttermilk ranch… just vegan. I actually ran through my house looking for other things to dip in it after we were finished with the Chicken Thangs. Get two orders of it. Or three. Or like…10. It’s fantastic.
I really like everything I’ve ever tried at Mandy’s (their Vegan Buffalo Chicken Pizza, which comes with fries on top, is not to be missed!), and we were both impressed with Mandy’s Vegan Thangs and ranch!
Industry Public House
140 Andrew Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15275
Industry Public House has two locations, one in Lawrenceville and another in North Fayette. I ordered from the latter, and I got their seitan wings with their mild buffalo sauce.
I didn’t realize it before I ordered, but the buffalo sauce isn’t actually vegan. Their two vegan wing options are their mesquite BBQ dry rub and their hot ginger teriyaki, so just keep that in mind if you’re looking to keep everything 100% vegan!
They have online ordering, and pickup was incredibly quick and simple. Here are our thoughts:
Texture –– 8
Chewy, messy wing goodness right here! The “meat” was really juicy and definitely had a nice chew.
Overall Flavor –– 8.5
This wing had a pretty traditional seitan flavor without tasting too much like vital wheat gluten (aka. the main ingredient in traditional seitan). We liked it!
Sauce –– 9
Again, the sauce I ended up ordering wasn’t vegan (just vegetarian), but it was delicious! It was just your typical buffalo sauce, and if you’re really craving some buffalo sauce with your Industry Public House wings, get them sauceless and toss them with some of your favorite hot sauce with vegan butter when you get home. Otherwise, an employee I talked to on the phone about their vegan options said that the hot ginger teriyaki was his favorite!
Dipping Sauce –– N/A
They have ranch and blue cheese options, neither of which are vegan.
We definitely enjoyed these vegan wings, and I think Industry Public House would be a great place to take a group of omnivores and vegans alike!
1124 Park Manor Blvd., Pittsburgh, PA 15205
Pizzeria Davide, the sister restaurant to DiAnoia’s Eatery and Pane è Pronto, has two different locations, with a third on the way. I ordered from the shop in Robinson, and the whole process, from ordering online to pickup, was straight-forward, quick, and easy.
Their vegan seitan wings are definitely the most unique in the bunch, as I’m sure you can tell from the photos:
Texture –– 6
Right off the bat, they don’t have a traditional “wing” texture. Instead, the texture was very much like the seitan I make at home where I bake it in a log and slice it. The texture of these seitan wings wasn’t bad in any way, but it was much firmer than a traditional “wing.” I’d say these were the most “gourmet” though!
Overall Flavor –– 7
We liked the overall flavor, but it wasn’t our favorite of the bunch. It tasted a bit too much like vital wheat gluten for my liking, and I think that had to do with the size of the pieces. I think it would work really well sliced thin on a sandwich or pizza though!
Sauce –– 8
I’m torn on the sauce. It was really herby, spicy, and thick, and I really liked the overall flavor. That said, it was definitely the most oily.
Dipping Sauce –– 8.5
I love that more and more pizza shops have vegan ranch options; Pizzeria Davide’s vegan ranch is a solid choice! It reminds me of a classic store-bought ranch.
Are these seitan “wings” reminiscent of traditional buffalo wings? Not so much.
Would I order them again? For sure. Like I mentioned above, I’d love to cut each piece up a little smaller and add it to a pizza, rice bowl, or sandwich.
5107 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15224
I actually first learned about Spak from my brother, who has talked about his love of their seitan sandwiches and wings for years.
That said, I had never tried their vegan seitan wings before. And oh boy am I happy that has changed.
Their online ordering was a breeze, and they have a little pickup window where you give them your name and they hand you their order. Easy peasy.
Let’s get to the wings:
Texture –– 9
They’re perfectly chewy with a nice craggly outside. The uneven texture of the outside of each wing holds a ton of sauce, so if you’re a fan of extra saucy wings, give these a try!
Overall Flavor –– 9
We loved the flavor of these wings! They definitely gave us some boneless wing vibes, and we loved dipping each piece in extra sauce. A huge win from us!
Sauce –– 10
The sauce is SO good, with just the right thickness and traditional buffalo flavor. Keep in mind that it’s probably the spiciest of the bunch though.
Dipping Sauce –– 9
They came with a vegan ranch that’s super thick and creamy. That said, it’s very dill-forward, more so than a traditional ranch, but the mixture of it and the wings got an A+ from both my boyfriend and me.
These were our favorites of the bunch, and my mouth is watering writing this review, remembering how good they were! I am now a Spak Superfan.
220 South Highland Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Max Mex, a restaurant that’s part of the Big Burrito Restaurant Group, along with other Pittsburgh classics like Kaya and Casbah, has many different locations throughout the Burgh, but not all of them offer their seitan wings.
That said, if you find yourself around their Shadyside location on South Highland Avenue, you’ll be happy to know that you can order a small or large order of their seitan wings, complete with a vegan chipotle ranch sauce.
We went with a small order, and it was a pretty hefty portion:
Here are our thoughts:
Texture –– 9
They’re really nice and chewy. The pieces are on the smaller side, and I believe they’re breaded and fried. The breading obviously was a little soggy by the time I got home, but I didn’t mind. It was very reminiscent of the boneless buffalo wings I enjoyed as a kid!
Overall Flavor –– 9
A solid seitan wing! The “meat” was juicy, and I thought that it paired with the sauce really well.
Sauce –– 9
I ended up ordering their buffalo sauce, and it was a really delicious traditional buffalo sauce. No fancy herbs or additional flavors here!
Dipping Sauce –– 6
If you want a vegan ranch dipping sauce, they have a chipotle vegan ranch. That said, neither of us loved the combination of the chipotle flavor with the buffalo wing sauce. The ranch is good on its own (I bet it would be great as a dressing!), but I’d skip it if you’re ordering the wings.
All in all, Mad Mex’s seitan wings are a great traditional-tasting plant-based wing option in the city!
In conclusion, you can’t go wrong with these plant-based wings.
What a time to be plant-based in Pittsburgh! There are so many incredible options for non-meat eaters these days, and all of these seitan wings were super tasty. And to be honest, I really wasn’t expecting to like any of them, let alone really like all of them.
While Spak Brother’s seitan wings were our overall favorite, I’d be deliriously happy to eat each and every one again and again. I encourage you to support these local businesses and try each for your own!