On Bailey Avenue, from Woodrow Wilson to Northside, there's only one chain fast-food joint, McDonald's. And that's a good thing. There's plenty else to eat on Bailey. Here's the lowdown on what you can find to eat up and down the avenue. At the Woodrow Wilson end, Munches Restaurant, 2632 Bailey Ave., 981-3878, serves their Daily Lunch Special beginning at 11 a.m., Monday through Saturday, closing at 9 p.m. except on Friday and Saturday—their menu proudly proclaims: YES, We are OPEN until 1 a.m. Fri. & Sat. The Daily Lunch Special is $4.99. Wednesdays, when it's spaghetti, potato or green salad, sweet peas, rolls and fried chicken, is their biggest day. Now for the unreal savings. With a $20 Lunch Card, good for an entire year, the Daily Lunch Special price drops to $2.99, no matter how many times that fried chicken calls your name, and it's on the menu Monday through Friday. Plus, there's free delivery on four or more orders.
Continuing north on Bailey Avenue, just over the Dr. R. L. Spann bridge, on the left is Gloria's Kitchen, 2855 Bailey Ave., 362-0009. Clarence and Gloria Bolls' restaurant is now open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Coming out of that tiny space are all sorts of enticing smells, like the new Sunday specials—Cornish game hen smothered in gravy or baked cod. Other days it might be the chicken tetrazzini, shrimp pasta, baked chicken, or the red beans, rice and sausage. Mostly carry-out with just a few tables, it's a good idea to call in your order. This restaurant does more for the neighborhood than cook great meals, though, said the Bolls' daughter Michelle. On the front door Saturday, there was a hand-lettered sign saying, "Register to vote here." Before the deadline passed, more than 200 people had registered in just two months' time. About her mother, Michelle said, "She cooks with soul." Mr. Bolls told me the key to their success: "We've got a product and a service that'll make them come back."
Further up Bailey, turn left onto Mayes, and you'll notice the flashing neon sign at Mayes Fish & Ribs, 972 W. Mayes St., 713-FISH (3474). Step up through the faded salmon-colored wrought-iron-encased door, and you can't help but notice the colorful murals to the left and right. Owner Courtland Young told me the most popular items on the menu are the pan trout and the catfish. The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m.-midnight, and Sunday 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Wow, that's a lot of hamburgers, catfish burgers, ribs—and sides like fried okra, baked beans, potato salad, cole slaw and green salad.
Keep heading north until you get almost to Northside Drive. This time, the restaurant's on the right—King of Wings, 3814 Bailey Ave., 981-6153. Open at this location for just four months, the family-owned chicken operation got its start in Arkansas, and they've already opened a store on Pecan Park across from WMPR radio and have plans for one in the Metrocenter Food Court. Daughter Christina Harvell told me the Bailey Avenue store is open Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-midnight and Friday and Saturday until 4 a.m. When you realize how many different wings are offered, it's easy to see why King of Wings is open so many hours. They've got your wingettes and drumettes in regular—country-fried in a seasoned homemade batter, in exotic—lemon pepper, garlic hot, chili hot, in barbecue—mesquite or honey, mild or hot, or in varying degrees of heat—mild, hot, extra hot and extra, extra hot. The quantities and prices are myriad, too—nine pieces for $5, 20 pieces for $9, 50 pieces for $21 and 100 pieces for $40. Bring your bucks and carry out your chicken—if you call in your order, it'll be ready in five to 10 minutes.
To paraphrase Aretha, we got some places to eat, you've got all the addresses with you, so jump right in ... goin' ridin' on the avenue, the avenue of soul food.
Bites is a food news column. No free food changes hands no matter how good it smells. E-mail [e-mail missing]