While back in my old neighborhood of South Jersey, I had the chance to revisit the institution known as The Jug Handle Inn (rating at bottom). It’s been around as long as I can remember. I first went with my dad around ’85 when wings first came on the scene in SoJo, and then again in 2005 after a grueling round of tennis with my friend Tom. Nothing quenches a thirst like wings and beer. From what I remember the wings were no great shakes. Since it was six years ago and considering the legendary status of the Jug, I thought I should check them out again. Third time is a charm, right?
My friend Matt and I went on a Friday night and it was packed to the gills. We headed down to the basement bar and found a spot near a tv so we could watch the Sixers . The basement section bears all the hallmarks of the quintessential jersey dive: graffiti covered walls, exposed 2 x 4 beams, and they have a classic long shuffleboard table–the kind covered in sawdust. “The Boss” could have walked in at any moment. The patrons fit the part, too–’80s to the hilt.
Our comely waitress came out with the menus. She had a small Tawny Kitain thing going on. Appropriately, she wore a black t-shirt emblazoned with “Got Wings?” on the front. As I scrutinized the menu like a dying man going over his will, Skynard’s “Simple Man” played, mocking the absurd dilemma of whether to get hot, extra hot, or garlic hot.
No sooner had we ordered than the wings came out. They looked and smelled glorious.
Jug Handle’s wings are good size and they don’t skimp on breading. Breaded versus non-breaded is a touchy subject with Western New Yorkers. As a Philly guy I can understand and respect why they chafe at the notion of a breaded wing. I won’t bother getting a cheesesteak outside a 50 mile radius of Philly. That said, I’ve had breaded wings that were good, however, The Jug Handle’s wings are overbreaded, which in turn makes them too soggy by the end. The sauce was also lacking. It’s not horrible, but it’s pretty one dimensional–your average sauce. One bright spot are the beers. They have several different local microbrews on tap, such as Sly Fox and Flying Fish. They even had Southern Tier for you upstaters. Another bright spot is the clientele and decor combo.
On a Scale of 1 to 5 Wings (1 being the worst and 5 the best)
Jug Handle Inn
Name: Extra Hot (Traditional)
Overall: 3 wings
Sauce: 2 wings
Heat Index: 3 wings
Size: 3 wings
Crispness: 2 wings
Tenderness: 3 wings