Lemon Pepper Wet Makes Me Hot
Updated: Nov 8, 2022
Ever since my sister moved to Georgia over 2 decades ago, I’ve been eating bits and pieces of Atlanta with every visit. I’ve enjoyed pot likker with cracklin' cornbread at Mary Mac’s Tea Room, tater tots from The Vortex and nibbled on the best fried chicken at The Busy Bee Cafe. I’ve even been underwhelmed with a chili dog from a pretty famous spot that will remain nameless, cause this is not that kinda blog. But it wasn’t until earlier this summer that I discovered what would become my new favorite Atlanta foodigenous.
"Lemon pepper joints with the sauce on them! Oh Snap, Lemon pepper wet??"
Lemon pepper wet is a local preparation of crispy chicken wings seasoned with a heavy sprinkle of lemon pepper spice and doused with butter and hot sauce. This salty peppery style of wing is known throughout Atlanta but it was recently introduced to the rest of the country in 2016 during episode 2, season 1 of the hit tv show Atlanta. Inside the neighborhood bar JR Crickets, imagine Cheers if it was rebooted on BET, drug dealer turned aspiring rapper Paper Boi and his right-hand Darius are waiting for their takeout box, when the server hooks them up with a special order of wings. Their reaction not only caused me to put JR Crickets on my Atlanta food bucket list, but it also drew tons of new customers that wanted to try them at the real-life bar.
Wings are part of the city’s culture
Outside of Buffalo, Atlanta has become the go-to destination for some of the country’s best wings. In addition to JR Crickets and a local chain American Deli, the most popular spot to grab lemon pepper wings may be Magic City, a premier gentlemen’s club with an amazing kitchen and take out menu. Back in 2020, NBA Player Lou Williams was quarantined for 10 days when he infamously broke covid protocol to get his favorite wings after attending a nearby funeral. This faux pas earned him the nickname Lemon Pepper Lou, something he went on to proudly trademark. So maybe guys really do go to the strip club for the food? After all, who could resist their exclusive line of signature wings with names like Louwill Lemon Pepper BBQ, Juju Rude Boy Jerk and Uncle Jeff Honey Jerk, just say'n.
In a Harper’s Bazaar article, former Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms once famously warned “Atlanta will be known for lemon pepper wings and great strip clubs if we’re not careful.” After some dutiful taste testing, I wouldn't say being known for wings is a bad thing.
While lemon pepper is the signature flavor of Atlanta, there's also a flourishing Asian chicken scene. Korean fried chicken joints like Mukja with their fiery habanero A-T-Hell sauce and Japanese Style Tebasaki wings with a shoyu glaze from Ton Ton Ramen (Ponce City Market) have gained legions of loyal poultry appendage lovers.
And it's not just an Atlanta thang, 100 miles southeast of the city, my sister's town of Warner Robins boasts every fast-food joint imaginable including Its Just Wings, Buffalo Wild Wings, Wild Wing Cafe, Wingstop & American Deli (who very well could be the creator of the lemon pepper wing craze) all serving their own unique take of lemon pepper wings. (check out those boneless Lemon Pepper Hot below)
I'm going to leave you with this wisdom that I learned from the 4 passionate wing aficionados that checked me in at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. If you are going to hit just one spot, make it the Original JR Crickets on North and order the lemon pepper hot wet. Ask for double blue cheese. I did, and I am a better man for it.
RIP Takeoff! ☹