About Chris’s Curbside Grill and Gata’s
• Chris’s Curbside Grill is located at 918-D Hollywood Drive. It is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10:59 a.m. until 9:01 p.m. It is opening a second location in Ludowici called the Shackalacka, also offering their wings. Call 1-323-50WINGS (94647) or 912-463-2530.
• Gata’s Sports Bar and Grille is located at 811 E.G. Miles Parkway. As you expect from a sports bar, it offers a variety of sandwiches and burgers as well. It has nightly specials. Call 368-9464.
For most people, the upcoming Labor Day Weekend elicits visions of chilling at the beach or spending their Monday off outdoors grilling up hot dogs and hamburgers.
I don’t grill as often as I once did. The memory of the huge ball of flame singeing my eyebrows on a gas grill gone haywire is still too vivid.
For me, Labor Day means the start of college football as well as the transition from preseason NFL games to the regular NFL season schedule.
And if I’m going to spend the weekend watching a game or two — or more — then that means gorging out on chicken wings. That, and maybe a cold brew or two. Football and chicken wings, to me, are a match made in heaven.
I know I’ve already declared my all-time favorite when it comes to fried chicken, but a chicken wing is in a completely separate category.
A perfect fried chicken should be one that holds in the juices, has a crispy crust and retains the full flavor of the delicate bird. In case you missed my earlier memo, Izola’s still tops my list for the best locally fried chicken.
A chicken wing, however, should be all about the sauce, or sauces.
The wing should retain a bit of the tasty crunch while being married perfectly to the saucy coating. There should be equal quantities of drumettes to equal quantities of wingettes. (I didn’t make up those words. Google it, people).
And they should be naked!
We can debate this point all night if you wish, but breading a chicken wing is cheating. If that is the only way you can get your skin crunchy, you don’t know a thing about the wing. I can only recall one time I ever liked a breaded wing — one time.
And while I’m OK with places selling the boneless varieties, mine better have the bone to grab ahold of. I want to gnaw every last bit of meat off the bone, which also enhances the flavor during cooking.
I have yet to master the fine art of a perfect chicken wing so, normally, I go out and pick up some wings if I plan to watch my favorite game at home.
There are a few locations near my home. Honestly, I have yet to try Wingstop, but it’s on my list to visit. I’ve enjoyed the teriyaki and garlic version at Hot Wings on E.G. Miles Parkway.
But with the NFL season swiftly approaching, I wanted to search for a spot where I could plant myself in front of a myriad of TVs and watch several games at once.
Thank goodness for Gata’s Sports Bar and Grille on E.G. Miles. I walked in there on a recent Monday night. I sat at the bar, and the bartender brought me a menu, but quickly said Monday night was also 50- cent wing night.
“We start you out with five, and you can order them with different sauces each time you order,” the bartender said.
I sat there mesmerized at the sauce choices and looked up at the line of TV sets hanging over the bar. I felt a tear welling up. Baseball, tennis, college-football previews, preseason NFL recaps.
“Oh, and right now, Bud Light is just $2 a bottle,” she said.
“Yay,” I thought to myself and focused my attention on the sauces. I ordered the tangy barbecue sauce wings and, within minutes, the wings were set before me with a side of blue cheese dressing I requested.
They were good-sized wings, and the barbecue sauce was thick and clung to the wing with a glossy shear as the sugars of the sauce melded with the freshly cooked wing.
I reached for a drumettes and took a bite.
There it was. The still-crispy snap of the skin followed by the melt-in-your-mouth blend of the barbecue sauce that was both tangy and smoky savory.
“Wow, these are great,” I told the bartender and asked for five more. I looked up to see the New York Yankees score a run against the Boston Red Sox. On the other set the Bills had just announced that Tyrod Taylor would be their starter this season. I looked back down, and five more wings were before me.
Just as quickly, they were gone.
I sat there and contemplated my next move. Do I quit while I can still walk? Would I sample another flavor?
I could hear NFL broadcaster Chris Berman’s voice in my head.
“She is looking down field, folks. It looks like she has the perfect block ahead. … And she takes it, ladies and gentlemen. … She … could … go … all … the … way!”
Yep, I went for it. I hadn’t had chicken wings for quite some time, and it had been a stressful Monday.
“Let me try the jerk flavor this time,” I said.
Shamefully, I cleaned my plate, again. I looked down at the piles of paper towels I left behind. They were cleaner than I expected, but that’s because I kept licking the sauce off my fingers.
“I just ate 15 wings,” I thought to myself and asked the bartender what the record was for wings eaten on a Monday.
“Well, I’m not sure we don’t really track it too much on a Monday because you can order as many wings as you wish, to go, for the same 50-cent price,” she said, adding that, sometimes, people order 100 or so.
I immediately whipped out my cellphone calculator seeing how many wings I would buy for Monday night’s game between the Falcons and the Eagles.
“Yes, and Tuesday is all-you-can-eat wings, but you can’t order those to go,” she said.
I finally pushed myself away from the bar stool and waddled out the door. I got home, pulled out the NFL schedule and started planning my season.
Believe it or not, I wanted more chicken wings for lunch the following day.
I finally ventured out to Chris’s Curbside Grill, on Hollywood Drive right next to Aim Center Mass Inc. After all, they have won Best of Liberty three years in a row in the chicken-wing category.
I ordered the 10-piece with garlic hot sauce and a side of onion rings.
The sauce dripped down my hands, and the skin also had a good crispy crunch. These were also worthy of smacking every last drop of sauce off my fingers.
The fiery garlic had a good kick and left a nice burn on the lips.
“Ha! Bring it, Dracula,” I said to myself.
Truth be told, I had gone to Chris’s on a Monday only to find it recently changed its days of operation and was closed. That’s how I ended up at Gata’s. But I’m glad I tried them both.
Chris’s has tons of flavor options, and you can mix and match your flavors of choice. The restaurant’s award-winning wings are also available with dry seasonings. It also offers a three-pound Angus burger challenge.
Email Leon at firstname.lastname@example.org.