There used to be a time when finding a beer that wasn’t a Bud, Coors or Miller product in a bar was a true rarity. I remember many years ago when me and my friends were excited that the local bar down the street from our apartment was going to begin stocking Yeungling. We all thought of it as an exotic microbrew compared to the dull selection of taps that could be found at most of the bars we frequented at the time.

Fast forward 20 years and it seems you can’t go to the restroom without meeting someone who knows someone who has their own brewery. Yes, the craft beer explosion in this country is for real, and it’s a damn good thing. Now at just about any bar I stumble into I can find something that appeals to me, if not on tap then surely in bottles. But nobody can match the selection waiting for you at Wingcraft Kitchen & Beer Bar in Atlantic City.

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Wingcraft is a relative newcomer, having only been in existence for three years, but they quickly made a name for themselves as both a beer lover’s paradise (40 taps plus lots of bottles) and a gastropub, serving up some of the most imaginative comfort food in town.

Wingcraft is a sort of bar/restaurant hybrid, but I would say it falls a bit closer on the restaurant side of things. The decor is simultaniously modern and rustic and makes great use of things like reclaimed wood, exposed brick and old pipework. My friends and I strolled in on a weeknight after a long day at work to unwind and enjoy a few before heading home.

It was beer time.

The one downside of the extensive beer menu at Wingcraft is that it makes it very hard to decide what to drink. Do I want a rich, dark porter or perhaps a malty seasonal ale? In the end, I decided to do what I always do around Halloween and ordered myself a pumpkin beer. This time I went with Dogfish Head’s Punkin’ Ale, which is fairly subtle with its pumpkin spice. One thing to be aware of when ordering beers like this is that they often contain a very high ABV (alcohol by volume). The Dogfish Head Punkin’ weighs in at 7 percent, or almost double what a Coors Light would be. In addition to beer, we also sampled the Wingcraft Signature Cocktail, which combines Stoli blueberry, muddled blueberries and lemons with lemonade. This drink was about what you would expect — sweet and refreshing — but ultimately a bit more appropriate for summer than fall.


Wingcraft Signature cocktail, right.

After a round or two, including selections from breweries that we never even heard of before, we started to think about getting some food. More tough decisions ahead.

The staff is noticeably friendly … our server was quite animated and seemed to really enjoy her job. She managed to get herself involved in just about every decision we made, from the drinks to the food, sharing recommendations and rapid-fire anecdotes, as well as a series of empowering “Yeah!” outbursts after each satisfactory order was placed. We were one step away from high-fiving after a particularly well-placed order of short rib tater tots, an exceptional way to start a meal. You gotta envy someone who seems to get such a jolt out of what she does.

We ordered a lot, and it was almost a sweep of deliciousness. Short rib tater tots, bacon mac and cheese — one of our favorite dishes of the night — and fried fresh mozzarella balls and an order of boneless wings with a new Alabama white barbecue sauce (one of more than a dozen sauce choices) rounded out the apps portion of the night. The boneless wings were a real standout, though. Tender and crispy, the white Alabama BBQ sauce was certainly a unique and welcome offering for this part of the country.


We also passed around a chicken parm sandwich, which came served on one of the tastiest pieces of bread — homemade focaccia made daily — I’ve had in a while, as well as a poutine burger made with Wingcraft’s signature Pat LaFrieda burger blend topped with cheddar cheese curds, fries and short rib gravy on a perfectly soft and buttery brioche roll. We also devoured another new menu offering, the filet tip sandwich with stout-marinated onions and horseradish pub sauce on that awesome focaccia, and a Philly steak sandwich with that more stellar LaFrieda meat — I don’t know any other place that uses LaFrieda meat for cheesesteaks — and Wingcraft’s signature homemade cheese sauce. Not a dud in the bunch. Kudos to the chef for taking somewhat familiar items and finding a way to make them burst with new flavors. We ended the night in a very fun yet calorie-laden way: funnel cake battered, deep-fried Oreos served with homemade whipped cream that were as sinfully delicious as they sound.

Fully stuffed and with our thirst soundly quenched, we headed home satisfied. The reputation that Wingcraft has earned is well-deserved.

Pass/Fail score = Pass

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