The sign at Reel M Inn promises chicken and jo-jos, and chicken and jo-jos is what you should get. When we visited, the bar and fry station were being run by a single, laid-back bartender. She set the vibe for a casual, no-frills experience that requires some patience: The chicken can take a half hour or more. But it’s worth it.
I recommend starting with appetizers, which come out almost immediately after you order — good distraction from the wait time. We dipped mac ‘n’ cheese bites and deep-fried pickles into every one of the sauces sitting in our table’s High Life six-pack: spicy buffalo, sweet chile, barbecue, ketchup, honey mustard, spicy sweet mustard, plus, of course, ranch.
Draper Valley Farms chicken is delivered several times a week — always fresh, never frozen. You can order pretty much any part of the bird. Our order of 2 thighs, 2 wings, and 2 breasts was supplemented by a 3rd thigh to make up for the fact that they were running small.
The chicken arrives piping hot. Its thin layer of breading is crisped up nicely, and meat falls right off the bone. Buffalo sauce is my favorite for chicken-dipping: It’s fairly thin and spicy enough to balance the meat’s flavor. Jo-jo’s, which are huge, deep-fried potato wedges, have crunchy skin and soft, tender potato insides.
I’m a sucker for corn dogs, and am not disappointed by what’s served here. The batter is sweet and slightly doughy; and the batter-to-dog ratio is just about perfect.
The crowd is mixed and the music’s loud, ranging from rock to country. Three slot machines in the corner are constantly manned by hopeful bar patrons, who every so often take a break for another beer or order of tots. There’s a pool table in back, a few flat-screen TVs, and some high tables with rickety leather barstools held together by duct tape.
The effort goes to the chicken. And it shows.