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Buffalo Wild Wings opens its first franchise in Little Rock; the masses flock.

Some restaurants have the luck, don't they?

The Little Rock market was primed for the arrival of its first Buffalo Wild Wings, a sports bar franchise, thanks to an avalanche of national commercials. Landing in a nicely visible spot on the Highway 10 corridor across the street from Taylor Loop was fortuitous as well. Most of the wealth concentrated in the Chenal neighborhoods has to pass by Buffalo Wild Wings' front door on its way to anywhere else in town. Not surprisingly, the restaurant has been pretty much packed since it opened on Mother's Day. 

And we're going out on a fat limb to predict that it will stay that way. You may not like wings or want to watch every possible sporting event on, approximately, one gazillion screens, but there are plenty who do. We aren't even in the heavy sports-watching time for Arkansas. When the football Razorbacks and the NFL kick back into gear, the Wild Wings crew might need a crowbar and some grease (which they ought to have on hand) to accommodate the masses. 

The restaurant space is open with high ceiling and a glass partition that separates the dining room with tables and half a dozen booths from the bar. The flat screen TVs cover practically every inch of wall space and are tuned to ESPN or some kind of sports-related programming. During our stop at lunch, we asked our waitress if they could turn one of the screens to a just- underway game featuring a lovable baseball team from a windy city. In minutes we had our game up on one of the bigger screens, which is about the size of a pool table. 

Buffalo Wild Wings' menu is dominated by the food you would expect out of a sports bar — wings, burgers and assorted fried foods. The wings, which you can order as traditional (the minimum of six for $4.99) or boneless (eight for $7.49), are the starring attraction and can be slathered with one of 14 sauces that start at Sweet BBQ and slide up the heat scale to Blazin'. We aren't gluttons for punishment, so the hottest wings we ordered were the Parmesan Garlic (the next sauce up the scale is Medium) and found them plenty spicy and hot, not to mention satisfying. Good luck to those willing to take on the Blazin' wings.

There is an extensive selection of appetizers including popcorn shrimp (¾ pound basket for $7.99), roasted garlic mushrooms ($4.99) and crispy southwest dippers (which were described on the menu as "tortilla dippers" but come out fried and in the shape of chicken nuggets). There are also wraps, ribs and chicken sandwiches. The fries, no small matter in our opinion, are thin cut and not spiced like you find in many chains — that's probably for the best as most of the food is loaded with spices already. During our lunch trip, our friend ordered the honey BBQ bacon chicken sandwich ($7.99 with fries) and wasn't very impressed. He declared the chicken a bit dry and gave it a B minus. 

But the lack of subtly of the chicken will hardly matter to fans in the seats of Buffalo Wild Wings. The full bar is groaning with beer selections and the games are always on. That is likely more than enough.

Buffalo Wild Wings

14800 Cantrell Road

868-5279

Quick bite

A sports bar on steroids with numerous humongous TVs and a menu full of thirst-inducing items. The wings, which can be slathered with one of 14 sauces, are the starring attraction and will undoubtedly have fans.

Hours

11 a.m.-1:30 a.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-12:30 a.m. Sunday

Other info

Credit cards accepted. A full bar loaded with a wide beer selection.

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