Kings Deli puts an unusual spin on its expected fare, but its a pretty slow rotation. Superficially, Kings resembles many other chicken-wing joints around Macon. The posted menu lists only a dozen fairly standard combos: wings, Philly sandwiches and the like. The interesting items are found in the printed menus on the countertop, which reveal a surprisingly wide selection of seafood: shrimp, catfish, tilapia, whiting, oysters, grouper and red snapper.
The problem is that you may need to bring a snack when youre ordering lunch. Patrons are warned: a sign above the counter notes that meals may take a while because theyre all cooked to order, and boy, do they mean it. I had to wonder if the place is named for King Richard II of England (look him up).
I stopped in for lunch with a friend, ordering Kings twist on a classic sandwich: the shrimp Philly cheese steak, for $7.99.
My friend went for a plain Philly cheese steak for $6.49. Both came with fries; fountain drinks were $1 extra. The kitchen, we were told, screwed up my friends order, so we waited for it to be remade. It took a solid half-hour to get our foil-wrapped sandwiches in thin paper baskets.
When it did arrive, my shrimp cheese steak was good. But my companion, an expert on Phillys, described his as mediocre. An eminently polite person, he cast around for something nice to say: The fries were big, he finally told me.
Kings isnt designed for a leisurely dining experience. The atmosphere calls for a quick pit stop, from the TV blaring news headlines to the Spartan booths. And even those encourage speed: the tables were rickety, sticky and grungy.
We didnt want to let one bad day characterize the whole Kings experience, so we went back a week later. This was an improvement. Our table was clean, and the counter service was friendly. But it still took 18 minutes to get standard orders, so Kings Deli is not the ideal stop for a short lunch break.
I tried the chicken tender and butterfly shrimp combo priced at $6.99, while my friend went for 10 chicken wings for $6.79. Again, both orders came with fries, and drinks were extra.
This time around, the food was almost worth the wait. My chicken was juicy; both it and the shrimp were delicately battered, with the fried-food taste not overpowering the flavor of the meat. I got half a dozen shrimp and three big pieces of chicken for my money, along with the consistently good french fries.
My friends wings were smaller than average, but he described them as very flavorful. Not too wet or greasy, as chicken wings so often are; and the sauce combined heat and honey-mustard tastes, an intriguing combination.
At its best, the Kings Deli menu is a throw of the dice that can roll up some uniquely worthwhile tastes. Its up to you to decide if youve got time to take that chance.
3780 Northside Drive, Suite 150, Macon
Hours: 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays
Payment: Cash, cards
Kids menu: No
Noise level: High
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Health rating: 96 (A)
Price range: $4.99-$17.29