As national attention turned to Atlanta for the Super Bowl, we were treated to a bevy of articles telling us where we should eat in our city. It was an interesting opportunity to see how Atlanta is perceived by nonresidents. In one article, local chef Deborah VanTrece of Twisted Soul mentioned that she thinks of Atlanta as a “wing city.” That reminded me of a Twitter debate earlier this year in which several people mentioned a place known for karaoke, but not normally cited for its food: The Local.
The Local’s menu consists almost entirely of wings, hot dogs and tacos. The wings take top billing, and rightfully so — they’re as good as advertised. The large, meaty wings are served the way they’re supposed to be: in a paper basket, swimming in sauce. Even plain, the smoked wings would have plenty of flavor and texture. The smoking process coaxes out the best aspects of chicken wings, making them tender where they should be, with plenty of crispy bits around the edges.
The second half of the equation is the sauce, and The Local has some interesting flavors and adventurous combinations. They have the typical dry rubs, like lemon pepper and jerk, but the sauces venture abroad with flavors like Korean barbecue and tikka masala. You also can combine sauces and rubs; pictured here is the Korean-Buffalo sauce combination. The sweet-salty Korean sauce accents the smoky wings, while the classic Buffalo sauce adds an extra dimension of spice and vinegar.
Though The Local’s wings are excellent, there probably is no single chicken wing that will end the “best wings in Atlanta” debate. But, this old Ponce dive bar does make another strong argument that could serve other restaurants well: A short, focused menu, and a strong identity, can get you in the “best of” conversation.
The Local. 758 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-873-5002.
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