Binga’s Stadium is the now somewhat longstanding incarnation of Binga’s Wingas which resided in various locations before moving to its current Free St. housing. The large restaurant and sports bar specializes in wings, but has developed a more extensive menu over time which still focuses on their famous chicken and sauces. Since it’s directly across the street from the Cross Insurance Arena, it’s a very convenient place to eat if you’re going to a show there as we were for Anthony Bourdain’s speaking engagement to promote his new book.
We met a couple friends at Binga’s who were also attending the show at the arena and got ready for some chicken gobbling fun. A quick glance at the menu reminded me of their offerings with categories including Starters, Nachos, Wings and Tenders, Sandwiches, Dinners, and Salads. Every section had lots of decidedly delicious options with many of them offering a choice of house-made sauce with the food. Wings and tenders were the central theme with meat, cheese, and fried adding to the relatively large number of choices available for hungry customers.
Everyone put in drink requests right away with my wife requesting an Angry Orchard. I stuck with water since I was a bit under the weather, though I was in the mood to eat pretty much anything. I wanted to take a thorough look at the menu before I made my final decision, however, we all quickly agreed to put in an order of Pickle Chips – Binga’s famous fried pickles served with Blanch sauce. With those in, we all hunkered down to figure out what else we were going to eat.
Despite my initial thoughts that I might try something different, I eventually decided on an old favorite. I went with the Stadium Nachos – fresh tortilla chips topped with Colby-Jack cheese, diced tomatoes, red onions, black olives, jalapenos, scallions, and black beans served with sour cream and salsa. I ordered them with smoked chicken and some of their hot mango sauce. My wife ordered Three Tenders – fried chicken tenderloins, hand breaded and fried w/ Thai Chili sauce and a side of the Mac N Cheese. My buddy went with the Pulled Pork Mac – classic mac n’ cheese topped with pulled pork tossed in choice of sauce and garnished with scallions. He chose the honey chipotle sauce. His wife ordered the Cheeseburger Sliders – three mini-cheeseburgers with red onions, special sauce, and pickles served on mini-buns.
While waiting for the first of our food, we got to catch some football. With big screens all around, medium screens at the bar, and a small screen at the table, we watched any size pigskin action we wanted. After about four downs and a timeout, our pickles arrived. The bowl of fried dill chips came with the blue cheese and ranch combo sauce. The only problem was that they were too hot to eat, so I watched a few more minutes of football before digging in.
I eventually grabbed my first pickle chip and looked forward to remembering the flavor of some of the best fried pickles in Portland. I find that chips always beat spears when they’re fried and my first one reconfirmed that. The nicely seasoned breading of the chip was stellar, but the blanch was the scoring drive, adding extra flavor and a pleasant, cool finish. They were a fantastic snack and tend to be a go-to appetizer when I am there.
After a playing a bit of “I don’t want to be the person who eats the last pickles”, they were gone and we had a little time to prepare for our main courses. When they showed up, we all high-fived and got to eating. My nachos were massive and smothered in smoked chicken doused in hot mango sauce. They looked and smelled delicious. I threw a chickened chip into my mouth and was extraordinarily pleased. I had had the stadium nachos before, but never with the smoked chicken and it was actually better than I expected. There was plenty of smoke flavor on the tender meat and the added sauce provided a bit of heat.
Everyone seemed to be working their way through the food and I whittled down my nachos, which had lots of veggies and cheese in addition to the poultry. I knew only a few bites in that I wouldn’t be able to finish them and still feel comfortable at the show afterward. I tried to buck up and eat as many as I could, but eventually my pace started to slow. My counterpart pumped the brakes on his pulled pork mac at about the same time. Having had the PPM on a previous visit, I could understand as that too was larger than a meal a normal bloke would be able to consume in a single sitting.
Soon, the food just didn’t anymore go down at all anymore, at which point we all dropped our forks, took a deep breath, and stared off into space hoping we didn’t overdose on chicken, cheese, or whatever else sat in front of us. The tab for my wife and I – she had had a second cider – came to $40 before tip. If we had been able to take our leftovers home, I would have had another meal from my remaining portion, so that made it a good deal in my book.
In addition to good solid, wings and bar food at a totally reasonable price, Binga’s offers something pretty special, particularly if you’re a sports fan. They’ve got endless TV’s with any and every sporting event on them to create the perfect sports bar atmosphere. Those TV’s, in addition to good food and drinks, draw a regular crowd of sports lovers so you’re never the only one requesting the World Championships of Ice Dancing on the big screen. They’re most certainly a fun place to have a beer or five and they’ve also got a few eating challenges available if you’re really, really hungry or want to test your fire resistance against their utterly volcanic ’08 Fire sauce. Stop by when your favorite team is playing and enjoy what Binga’s does best. And if you do try The ’08 Heat Challenge, let me know how it goes.
Hungry for more? Get notified whenever Peterpeterportlandeater at BDN releases a new blog post by entering your email address and clicking “subscribe” below. Keep up on all the BDN Maine blogs by liking BDN Maine Blogs on Facebook and follow @BDNMaineBlogs on Twitter. Seriously, do it. What are you waiting for?
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any thoughts, suggestions, criticisms, or otherwise helpful info or post your thoughts below. Also, like the Peterpeterportlandeater page on Facebook and follow @portlandeater on Twitter to keep up with everything in my world of food.