Just north of the Indiana border, Jay's Lounge in Niles holds the best wing deal in the area

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By: Michael Tomko
miketomko@outlook.com
facebook.com/tastethesebrokenwings

Michael Tomko

About a month ago I wrote about the best wing value in the area, the 33-cent wings at Lunker’s. One week later, it closed.

This week, I’m going to declare another Michigan place the best wing value in the area. I sure hope Jay’s Lounge in Niles doesn’t suffer the same fate with its 35 cent wings. If it does, next week I will have to declare the wing value at every Michiana wing joint “exactly the same.”

A couple people commented on that Lunker’s article that the best deal was the 25-cent wings on Wednesday at Jay’s Lounge. That place wasn’t even on my radar, so I made it a priority to see what they had to offer.

It’s easy to get there. Head north on Michigan Street in South Bend and drive until you hit the Michigan border. After you cross, you will see the best welcome center a state could have.

I love walking into a place that may look plain on the outside and find out that the wings are great.

It does look like a rest stop at first. I even had a hard time finding a place to park. It turns out half the population of Niles comes to get wings on Wednesday.

It’s Michigan, so the bar area was full of people of all ages. I’ve started to appreciate that about Michigan restaurants. Anyone can bring Junior and still be able to watch the game on the big TVs while sitting in the nice area.

Since I’d never been there before, I ordered half “hot” and half “inferno.” It turned out to be a good choice — I don’t think I could have eaten more than six inferno (4 out of 4 on the heat scale), while the hot (2 out of 4) wouldn’t have quenched the crave I had for some hot stuff that evening.

The sauce tasted very good. It was a Frank’s base, but the inferno had a little something extra in it. You could see the little seeds and pepper flakes. It had a nice vinegary taste, making for some classic bite-and-burn wings.

The wings were cooked perfectly. They came out nice and smoking hot and the inside was juicy. They were dipped in a lot of sauce, but I still got some crispiness from the skin.

I did have a little issue with the drummies. A couple were kind of cut off at the base, giving it a “wing popsicle” presentation. I always feel like I’m losing some good meat in the wing when this happens. It looks weird, too. I know it happens on occasion, but I got three of these out of 12.

They did make up for it by the wing portions. They were huge. You usually get more meat from the drummy than the wing part, but on these I would say the opposite.

You can’t beat the price, either. They were recently just 25 cents, but a “3” had been handwritten over the “2.” Looks like I just missed it, but a CPW of 35 cents is still the best deal in town (and maybe anywhere).

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Jay’s Lounge. I do appreciate the big chain places that manage to put together a good wing, but the local roadside joints are by far my favorite.

Places like Jay’s are one of the main reasons I do this blog. I love walking into a place that may look plain on the outside and find out that the wings are great. It’s like I’m being introduced to some secret that only those who venture inside really get to discover.

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