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Jamal's Buffalo Wings

Mounds of crumpled paper napkins, sauce-stained chins and finger licking are an entrance fee most hardcore grubbers gladly pay for good wings. If the getting's good, people will drive miles for chicken wings, but you don't have to go far if you know where to look. The South is littered with freestanding wing shacks offering stellar wings that rival the top-notch restaurant versions.

The perpetually busy Jamal's Buffalo Wings (10 Northside Drive, 404-221-0088) sits tucked in the corner of a parking lot near the Georgia Dome. Unlike the endless list of sauces found at other spots, Jamal's keeps it simple with a few offerings done right. The wings range from five pieces ($3.95) to 100 pieces ($39.95) and all orders (except the five-piece) come with crunchy celery sticks and a small container of blue cheese dressing. The wings are just big enough to fit in your mouth for optimum meat extraction – assuming you have excellent form. And the skin is always fried to a perfect, golden crisp in oil that never tastes (or smells) old. The lemon-pepper wings have a crackly and dry exterior covered in a healthy dose of pleasantly sour lemon-pepper seasoning; they're even better when eaten alongside a sweeter style such as the "bar-b-que." Those of you who wear your spice tolerance like a badge of honor might not find the "extra hot" variety intense enough, but the red-pepper flakes in the tangy sauce provide a good amount of heat while still allowing you to actually taste the wing.

Calling these "Buffalo wings" might be a bit of a stretch for die-hards, but they're good eats and that's the bottom line. Jamal's must be doing something right – it's typical to see customers leaving with hundreds of wings at a time, and others devouring them in their cars with the motor running.

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