By Joe Duffy
Social media is abounding with solicitations for recommendations for best (insert cuisine or menu item). Invariably, there will be responses accompanied by an assertion of “it’s not even close,” “easily the best,” or something along those lines. In most instances, the opiner is correct. Their reply generally isn’t even close to being accurate.
No human being eats out as often as I do, nor should any rational and prudent person do so. The more one does, the more one discovers there rarely are lead-pipe cinch answers. In Current Hubville, the only slam-dunk winners would be Mitch’s Meats & Fish for soups, O4W for pizza, Big Dave’s for real Philly cheesesteaks, and Chase’s Grille and Wingery in downtown Norcross for wings.
Concealed between the Norcross police and fire stations in the Old Cotton Gin of Historic Norcross, Chase’s is the best bar food in Metro Atlanta. Owner Chase D’Anella learned the trade at Clay’s Sports Cafe in Sandy Springs. Not ironically, Clay’s is the second-best wing spot in Metro Atlanta. In the name of fairness, I am mindful of two credible foodies who select the Sandy Springs forefather, Clay’s, and another who seems to spread his fondness equally.
My taste buds detected a lot of similarities in the flavors of the sauces between the two shops. The difference-maker is the superior quality of the meat at Chase’s. However, Chase assured me he did not duplicate the sauces of his former employer. “We use our own homemade sauces,” said D’Anella. “They are not a copy.”
Though the sweet, spicy, and sticky Maui Waui flavor is their top seller, there are several sauces I’d endorse over said flavor. One could assert the lemon pepper takes top billing, made with real butter. Skip the too-salty, double lemon pepper though. Much like their forefather Clay, Chase’s honey mustard is packed with taste. I can’t imagine there is any other honey mustard sauce in the same sentence with the Big 2.
And yes, they do the most basic of them all—Buffalo wings better than everybody in the metropolitan area.
Chase disclosed another determinative element that sets him apart: the unfiltered oil used to fry these fowl limbs. “It is pumped out and easily pumped in with an Oilmatic System,” explained the proprietor. His product proves his claim that “Clean oil makes a huge flavor difference,” is not mere bluster.
But notice above, I didn’t just declare that Chase’s had the best wings. I pronounced Chase’s has the preeminent bar food in Atlanta. The pretzels with pimento cheese dip is a must-have. Make sure you request extra pretzels. The allotment served isn’t equivalent with the portion of the southern spread staple. Regardless, it would be deserving to serve the first full week in April at Augusta National.
The Buffalo muffins, super-soft, gooey, and cheesy, served with Buffalo sauce, is as praiseworthy as it is basic. They are doughy in the most positive way, comparable to the garlic rolls at both Bella’s in East Cobb and the unrelated LaBella’s in the western part of the county. Those pizza shops produce perhaps the best of the doughy, garlic rolls. Chase’s malleable muffins set the same bar.
All ingredients at Chase’s are top shelf. When I compose my infallible list of cheesesteaks, I put them in two categories: Philly and not-a-Philly cheesesteak. Mitch’s Meats has a tremendous “not-a-Philly” cheesesteak, but Chase’s is in my “Big 3” in the authentic category, behind above mentioned Big Dave’s on Winters Chapel and big city boy, Fred’s Meat & Bread with locations at Krog Street Market and The Canteen. The reality that Chase’s serves it on a French roll makes it slightly less typical than what one would find on the streets of South Philly. Still, it’s a genuine and quality take—a rare combination here in the hub of the south.
I was disappointed to see the removal of arguably his best sandwich, the roast beef po’boy. It didn’t resonate with customers as well as it deserved. The unappreciated Gulf Coast specialty showed that “The folks in Atlanta just do not prefer their sandwich with gravy,” maintained the Boss Man.
Having demolished many sandwiches at sundry of the highest-rated restaurants around town, I struggled to come up with a notable exception. Chase is correct about that statement. Sadly, it’s our loss. To paraphrase an underappreciated song from the New Radicals, someday we’ll know why this great sandwich wasn’t meant for Norcross.
Instead, he made his twice-weekly burger a daily item. Excellent burgers are not lacking in Metro Atlanta and Chase’s hold their own. There is also pizza on the menu. As stated countless times, the pizza options have increased exponentially in the last eight years or so. Hence, I haven’t gotten any at a spot most famed for wings. Secondhand reviews have been positive.
A modest but high-quality beer list focuses on the prospering local breweries. It would be a stretch to call it a sports bar, but there is a decent television setup. Let me say it one more time—This place is the best bar food for many miles. ❍
Chase’s Grille & Wingery, 125 Lawrenceville Street NW #400, Norcross, GA 30071 Phone: 770-449-0229
When he’s not eating, which is rare, the author is CEO of Sports Handicapping website Offshore Insiders. His bride’s gift site, Duffy Gifts is the place to go for gifts for all occasions from My Thirty One Gifts.