Cheap Eats - Hot wings and a hot wok

Midtown Deli dishes out Buffalo wings, fried rice and subs

The "Hot wings stenciled in red on the glass windows at the corner of Ponce and Myrtle seeks to proclaim the supremacy of the tidbits served at Midtown Deli. But the full-service eatery offers selections far outside the mild or spicy variety.

Midtown Deli occupies the space that once housed Best Chicken and Fish. The rag-tag bunch that previously loitered in front of the area is gone. In its place, you get a more pleasant, curbside appeal. Inside, red stools line up along bright and shiny Formica tables.

Service: You'll have to wait a bit for your food. Orders are cooked upon request — fries hit the grease as soon as you order them. That means you'll get hot, fresh items, but not right away. You can bide your time talking to Hyosun Flynn who runs the place. She'll gossip and make sure you're kept occupied while you're idle.

What we ate: Of course, I tried the wings. An order of 10 sets you back $4.69. If you want fries, it's an extra dollar. All wing orders include the required fixings of celery and blue cheese dressing. The blue cheese is not made in-house but comes pre-packaged. I chose the medium sauce — a combination of hot and mild sauces — and watched as the wings were slathered with the stuff.

The original New York-style Buffalo wings were some of the best I've had. The sauce has a vinegary twang, with just enough sweetness to complement the spiciness. If you're in the mood for something different, try the lemon pepper wings.

Outside the obvious wing offerings, the chicken-fried rice ($4.49) is great. The large portion includes peas, carrots, soy sauce and meaty chicken strips. The rice was peppery and sweet from the soy sauce, and is prepared on the spot in a wok. You also can get beef ($4.49) or shrimp ($4.79) versions. The house fried rice ($5.69) combines all three meats for a hearty meal.

Sub sandwiches are beefy affairs garnished how you want on crisp, thick hoagie rolls with a pickle. Hot sub options include corned beef, pastrami, roast beef or steak and cheese.

What's missing: Beer. If you like to kick back with a beer and some wings, you'll have to head elsewhere. This is just a deli; no alcohol on the premises.

Cheapest item: Subs like the chicken salad, tuna salad, chicken, ham and Swiss, and ham, salami and cheese all go for $2.99. You get a great big heap of meat for nearly two bucks less than the subs served at Publix a block over.

Most expensive item: You can increase your wings order to massive proportions (50 for $19.99). Otherwise the house fried rice at $5.69 is the priciest single item on the menu. The equivalent of a combo meal — six wings, a sandwich, fries and drink — goes for $7.29.??