My journey to find the ultimate Raptors bar in Toronto got pretty wild with a trip to Wild Wing at Yonge and College.
Chain restaurants/bars have a different vibe than independent ones. Independent bars offer a more unique atmosphere but there’s a standard of quality and consistency that can make franchise bars like Wild Wing a worthwhile destination. I’d walked by the one at Yonge and College a couple times when different sporting events were happening and the place is often packed with energetic fans. Needless to say, my curiosity was peaked.
Bar: Wild Wing
Location: 431 Yonge St
The night of this reconnaissance the Raptors were playing the Orlando Magic. It was a Sunday evening in January and there were only a handful of people in the bar. This was expected as the weather and timing likely had more people watching the game in the comfort of their homes. There’s only so much excitement that can be built up for a game like this.
In terms of function this bar is set up perfectly for viewing sports. It’s a long venue with a row of booths directly down the middle and tables and chairs lining the sides. There’s twelve flat screens along the walls and back bar with two hanging over a booth in the middle row. At least one screen can be seen from every seat in the place.
As I entered the bar, ten of the twelve screens had the Raptors game on while the remaining two had post game coverage of the NHL All Star Game. The sound was up at a good level throughout the bar and the majority of people who were there were focused on the game.
As a big fan of wings I’ve spent more than a few evenings at various Wild Wings. This one was clean and had the standard look. There wasn’t any specific Raptors art or paraphernalia hanging on the walls to suggest it was a Raptors specific bar but there was definitely a sports vibe throughout the place.
*this photo was taken on another night
It’s called Wild Wing not Wild Beer so the lack of selection is understandable. There were a few major breweries on tap like Coors Light, Canadian and others but few if any craft beers to be found. On this particular night I wasn’t drinking and ordered a soda water. I like soda water but I’ve had friends look at me like I’m a serial killer when I order it at a bar. The server may have had the same reservations because she told me the pop gun wasn’t working and it wasn’t an option. There was beer or whatever canned drinks they had in the fridge. I settled for non-soda water. And then wrote her name on ‘the list’.
Wild Wing has a gigantic menu. Who knew? There are a ton of food options available but with all due respect to the Fish + Tenders, I chose to stick with the food that the business is based on.
Wild Wing’s selection of wings is absolutely glorious. There’s 101 different varieties to choose from and as a personal goal I’ll take down everyone before I die. On this night I went with a pound of Some Beach and a pound of the standard Hot. Each pound was excellent when it came to flavor and serving size. The wings were an average size but each order had at least twelve and came with their own dipping sauce. The order also included a basket of seasoned fries, which were great. It was a very filling meal.
If there’s one area for improvement at this Wild Wing it’s the amount of carrots and celery sticks that come with their wings. My order only included a total of three per order. This isn’t something that’s unique to Wild Wing. Wing places in general seem to serve far fewer vegetables with their orders now. What happened? There needs to be an industry standard amount of carrots and celery per pound of wings. Ideally there’s four of each. If a political candidate ever decides to include this in their election platform they’ll be guaranteed my vote, no matter the party.
The crowd was small but mighty. There were definitely Raptors fans in the bar as cheers could be heard after big plays as well as frustrated yells during a bad call. Everyone was civil but brought a decent level of rowdiness to the bar. There was a nice sense of unity between the fans throughout the night.
There were a lot of couples at the bar on this particular night. For the record, if you’re a woman who likes chicken wings and the Raptors there’s a good chance I’ll marry you. Not much else required really. Hit me up with your favourite wing spot and all-time Raptors player and we can figure out a time to go ring shopping.
There was one server working while I was there and she had the place locked down. Extremely efficient and projected a genuine personality. The food was prepared in great time as well and – as mentioned was delicious – so kudos to the kitchen staff. If I owned a restaurant I’d hire them in a second.
There was only one issue and it’s a minor one: I felt a bit rushed after I finished eating. The bill was brought right away. There’s a good chance this is overanalyzing but this is the kind of dedication and commitment this feature promises to bring to the Raptors Republic community.
I forgot to check out the bathrooms. This is partly due to the aforementioned rushed feeling I got after my meal but more realistically it’s result of the lack of alcohol consumption. Let this be a lesson, avoiding alcohol results in sloppy reporting. So to all you aspiring journalists out there, respect the craft and drink up.
For the two pounds of wings and fries my order came to $28.25. This may seem a bit steep but for a Toronto bar in the heart of downtown it’s fairly reasonable when considering the quality and quantity of food.
During certain times of the week Wild Wing will offer wing & beer deals that make it a little easier on the wallet.
Overall Grade: C+
If this were a search for a great Toronto Sports bar the grade would be higher. When it comes to functionality the Wild Wing at Yonge and College provides some of the best sight lines of any bar in the city. It’s simple but very effective.
But this is the search for the ultimate Raptors bar in Toronto. A place where Raptors fans can gather and know that the Raptors will always take precedence over other sporting events. This Wild Wing doesn’t offer that assurance.
In terms of personality, there’s no unique art like at Homestand or salute to acid-tripping pitchers like The Doc Ellis. It’s a plain, functional bar with a few beers on tap, excellent wings, great staff and perfect views. It’s a good sports bar but for now, the journey will continue.