Rachel Brown Kulp
Is there anyone out there who honestly, seriously hates fried chicken? The answer to that question is no, because fried chicken is physically impossible to dislike. When done properly, it hits just about every right note in the culinary book: tender and juicy, salty, crunchy, fatty. There’s a reason why it’s become a thing of cultish devotion, one of the primary reasons being that it’s much harder to get right than you might think. Some places, however, don’t just get it right; they turn the dish into a transcendent experience. These 75 places do it best.
To compile our ranking of America’s fried chicken spots, we assembled a list of more than 200 popular fried chicken joints, from Seattle to Miami, and asked our panel of food — and especially Southern food or fried chicken — experts to vote on the best fried chicken spots in various geographic areas. The South reigns supreme (unsurprisingly), but restaurants from all across the country have earned their well-deserved spots on this list as well.
There’s only one thing that can make a perfectly cooked fried chicken even better: being able to eat as much of it as you want. That’s the deal at Northwest Arkansas institution Monte Ne Inn Chicken, which has been serving Southern classics family-style for nearly 50 years. Pull up a chair and help yourself to all the fried chicken, bean soup, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, coleslaw, string beans, house-made rolls and apple butter you care to eat. The fried chicken is spot-on: buttermilk-soaked, dredged in flour seasoned with plenty of black pepper and paprika, and fried until crisp.
Yelp/ Brian H.
Tomken’s Bar and Grill, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin, standby, serves fried chicken “hobo-style,” with fries, coleslaw and Italian bread, and the thin batter that doesn’t let the crunch overpower the poultry’s natural flavor. If the “sauce of the week” happens to be Nutty Rooster, made of peanut butter loosened up with some with Sriracha, don’t miss it.
Yelp/ Hattie J.
Tucked into a small Nashville, Tennessee, food court, 400 Degrees’ hot chicken is the real deal, available in four heat levels from zero to screaming hot. Owner Aqui Simson’s creation maintains a crisp crust under all that heat, and it has locals lining up every day to try it. Their massive fried pork chop sandwich is also worth seeking out.
Yelp/ Dave P.
Barberton is known as the “Chicken Capital of the World” because it serves seven and a half tons of chicken a week between just four restaurants, the oldest of which is Belgrade Gardens. The restaurant, which opened during the Great Depression, serves fried chicken in the Serbian-American (or “Barberton”) style. This recipe relies on fresh (never frozen) bird, lard and no seasoning. The fact that this creation tastes so good without seasoning is truly something worth going to Ohio (or Belgrade) for.
Yelp/ Linda R.
Most fried chicken recipes contain a “secret” or two, but at The Dearborn chef Aaron Cuschieri employs about six or seven signature moves, turning out one of the finest plates of fried chicken in Chicago, Illinois. The first? After the chicken is broken down, it’s brined for 24 hours in pickle brine. Then it’s soaked in buttermilk for four hours before being dredged in seasoned flour (secret ingredients: smoked paprika and oregano) and fried for 15 minutes in 250-degree oil, which ensures even cooking and crispy skin. Finally, it’s tossed in a glaze of maple syrup, Dijon mustard, honey and cider vinegar. We’ll take two, please.
Yelp/ James B.
The chicken and waffles at Indianapolis, Indiana, mainstay Maxine’s are just about perfect, kicked up by the addition of sweet potato to the waffle batter and a scoop of house-made peach butter on top. The huge fried chicken wings are addictively delicious, and the trifecta of waffle, chicken and peach butter is pure gustatory bliss.
Yelp/ Rachelle M.
Located near Logan Circle in Washington, D.C., Birch & Barley bases its diverse and deceptively simple dishes around the complex flavors of its collection of 555 artisanal beers. Since 2009, it’s been serving up a wide variety of styles and flavors, including a fair share of fried delights. Some might be drawn to the fried peach pie, but the real treat is the fried chicken and waffles with buttered pecans and maple-chicken jus served during brunch. It's a little sweet, a little savory and super-crunchy.
Bottle & Bond
Bottle & Bond in Bardstown, Kentucky, is serving a truly authentic Southern-style fried chicken, made with top-notch ingredients and a deft hand. The chicken here is brined; dipped in a buttermilk-egg mixture; and dredged in flour, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne before being fried the old-fashioned way, in a cast-iron skillet. It’s tough to get cast iron fried chicken right, but this place hits the nail on the head.
Yelp/ Irisa D.
“Fried chicken and Champagne?… Why the hell not?!” That is the question; it’s also the slogan of Texas joint Max’s Wine Dive, which got its start in Austin but today has five locations, all featuring casual, industrial décor and top-notch food. Don’t miss their house-made jalapeño-and-buttermilk-marinated chicken, served with home fries, collard greens and Texas toast and chipotle honey or hot sauce on request.
Yelp/ Rozzie M.
Trina’s, one of the quirkier eateries in Boston, Massachusetts, features delicious, creative renditions of a dizzying variety of cuisines and cocktails in a vintage-noir, vaguely Southern atmosphere. Among other things, head chef Suzanne Maitland tops a buttermilk waffle with fried chicken and drizzles it with hot pepper maple syrup. It's a must-order — and it’s even better paired with a signature Trina’s brunch cocktail.
Okarche, Oklahoma’s legendary Eischen’s is renowned for two reasons: It’s been in business since 1896, making it the oldest bar in the state; and it also serves some of the most delicious fried chicken you’ll find anywhere. For 14 bucks, you’ll get a whole fried chicken, bread, sweet and dill pickles, and onions (more than enough for two people to share), and this chicken is no joke: It’s got a rich, golden, craggy crust and moist meat underneath.
Motor City Soul Food/Yelp
The inside of Motor City Soul Food doesn’t look like much, but the decor takes a backseat to the spot-on soul food, which has made this place a Detroit, Michigan, institution. Classics like oxtails, ribs, ham hocks, ocean perch and candied yams make for a great meal, but no visit is complete without trying the golden brown and delicious fried chicken.
Yelp/ Kevon A.
The Whole Truth Lunchroom began its life in 1960 as a Wilson, North Carolina, church lunchroom, and today it’s renowned for serving some of the South’s best fried chicken. It’s light and crispy, with an airy and crackly crust, and just as with all the other down-home classics on the menu, the recipe for it hasn’t changed in decades.
Yelp/ Matthew T.
The huge Southern fried chicken wings at Shirley Mae’s Café are breaded and fried to order in a cast-iron pan. It’s a true family-run business: Shirley Mae and her older daughter cook, her son waits, and Mae’s other daughter handles the music. Feels like home? You bet.
Ray’s Café is a Honolulu institution, one of those secrets that only the locals and in-the-know tourists are privy to. A total hole in the wall, the cash-only Ray’s attracts lines out the door on a daily basis for its huge omelets, traditional Hawaiian plate lunches, massive portions of prime rib, T-bone steaks (for $18.95!), and astoundingly delicious fried chicken. The chicken here is only lightly breaded before being fried, which makes the skin super-crisp and the meat super-juicy, and an order costs just $7.95. Seriously, this place is a must-visit.
Yelp/ Chris C.
Located in a century-old Lorman, Mississippi, building that began its life as a general store, the daily lunch buffet at the middle-of-nowhere Old Country Store includes fried chicken that’s well-seasoned and crispy, and you can eat as much of it as you desire. Arthur Davis, the owner (affectionately dubbed “Mr. D”), is known to break out of the kitchen and sing a song or two to diners while they feast. Don’t miss the cornbread, and be sure to check out the charming gift shop after your meal.
At Lincoln Park neighborhood spot Gemini, fried chicken is only available on Sunday nights, and only while supplies last. But it’s worth the journey, because this chicken gets some serious TLC during the three-day preparation process. It starts with Amish chicken, which is brined for a day in garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne, chili powder, salt, pepper and sugar before getting a buttermilk soak for another full day. It’s then dredged in flour and the same spices that went into the brine before being fried twice — once at low heat and once at high heat — to ensure a shatteringly crisp crust and juicy meat inside. It’s served alongside house-made honey hot sauce, mashed potatoes and a cheddar biscuit.
Yelp/ Scott M.
Magnolia 23 is a small, simple restaurant that’s been in business since 2010, and it’s run by Don Simmons, who opened it after spending 37 years working for Energizer. The menu, which changes daily, features soul food recipes from Simmons’ family, but the most popular item, the fried chicken, is always available. It comes with two sides and a roll or cornbread, and it’s a true taste of the South.
Yelp/ Michelle D.
Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth is a 1,500-seat institution that is famous for its all-you-can-eat German-style fried chicken dinners. Kitsch is the game here, as the restaurant is associated with a waterpark (and its adjoining hotel), but don’t let that fool you into thinking their fried chicken tries too hard. It is simple and salty, and it keeps Midwesterners coming back for more.
Yelp/ Dave M.
Bird at a pig joint? It’d better be good. The folks behind The People’s Pig, which was once a Portland, Oregon, food truck, brilliantly smoke their chicken before frying it, lending it a deeply burnished crust and a complex, smoky flavor. And if you go back for another meal, which you should, get their equally famous porchetta.
Yelp/ Victor C.
Don’t be fooled by the Styrofoam plates and the menu scribbled on a whiteboard at the off-the-beaten-path Becky’s and Mary’s, located in High Point, North Carolina: the fried chicken is absolutely spectacular, made all the better by the knowledge that the recipe’s been passed down through generations; Becky and Mary Ingram are sisters, and they opened the restaurant together in 1973 and today run it with the help of family members. Their restaurant is the backbone of the community, and many regulars dine there daily. This place is absolutely worth the pilgrimage, and is up there with America's best old-school restaurants.
Most people probably don’t associate soul food with Arizona, but Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Cafe might change that. Could the “golden rule” have something to do with the technique that makes this fried chicken such a warm, inviting golden color? We can’t be sure, but here’s a golden suggestion: Come early, because at lunch this place is packed.
Yelp/ Debra W.
Twice fried and umami-spiced, the Hawaiian-style fried chicken at Ma’Ono in Seattle, Washington, is served with kimchi, rice and chile sauce. You can order either a half or a whole bird, and a gluten-free option is available. The chickens are locally-raised, and the high quality of the bird shines through. Don’t forget to check out their extensive list of whiskeys to wash it all down.
Yelp/ Colleen G.
Chef Art Smith has a few secret spices up his sleeve for his famous buttermilk fried chicken at Blue Door (a holdover from the restaurant’s days as the legendary Table Fifty-Two), but we do know that this bird is brined for three days before being breaded and fried. If you have room in your stomach, round off your meal with Smith’s hummingbird cake, a banana-pineapple spice cake with cream cheese frosting.
If you need proof that Asbury Park, New Jersey’s renaissance is in full swing, look no further than Modine, a gorgeous Southern restaurant that opened in late December 2017 in the city’s historic Post building. Classic Southern fare is made with seasonal, local ingredients, and the fried chicken, which spent six months in R&D, has already attracted legions of followers and fawning reviews. Chef Jill Meerpohl sources all-natural, pasture-raised chickens from a North Jersey farm, which are brined in buttermilk and pickle juice, cold-smoked, brined again, dredged in seasoned flour along with a sprinkle of the brine (to create those craggy crunchy bits), and fried along with pickles, onions and cauliflower, which it’s served alongside, topped with a drizzle of honey and served with hot sauce on the side. Hungry yet?
Yelp/ Vegas J.
Yardbird Southern Table & Bar brought a breath of Southern charm to Miami Beach, Florida, when it opened in 2011, and since then it’s opened additional locations in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Singapore. Its main claim to fame is its fried chicken, which is made using a recipe passed down by owner John Kunkel’s grandmother. Chicken is brined for 27 hours before being dredged in cayenne-spiced flour, fried and served alongside watermelon and waffles.
Yelp/ Elizabeth B.
Bertha’s Kitchen has been a Charleston, South Carolina, soul food destination since Albertha Grant founded it in 1981. This is the place to find real-deal Lowcountry classics like hoppin’ john, crunchy-bottomed mac and cheese, smothered pork chops, oxtails and, of course, fried chicken, served in the classic “meat and three” format. The chicken here is super-crispy and craggy-crusted, with moist and tender meat underneath. Be sure to wash it down with some house-made lemonade or sweet tea.
Yelp/ Jason J.
The brainchild of Robbie Montgomery, who was once a backup singer for Ike and Tina Turner, Sweetie Pie’s is enough of a St. Louis, Missouri, institution to have warranted its own reality show, which ran on OWN from 2011 to 2018. Miss Robbie runs the restaurant alongside her family, and its claim to fame is the fried chicken. Chicken pieces are dredged in flour, salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder before being dunked into an egg-milk mixture and fried in a cast-iron skillet. After frying, it’s tossed in a glaze of sugar, hot sauce, honey, butter and lemon juice.
Yelp/ Gessica D.
The fried chicken at New York’s The Dutch, which was originally only available for lunch but is now for sale during dinner hours as well, definitely lives up to the hype. The buttermilk in which their chicken is soaked includes a winning mix of cayenne, Old Bay, honey and Tabasco, and a honey drizzle and a perfect buscuit complete the package.
Price’s Chicken Coop, a Charlotte institution, is as renowned for its chicken livers and gizzards as for its fried chicken. The chicken is as simple as can be: It’s tossed only in seasoned flour before hitting the fryer, and it works like magic. No frills are necessary when the folks making the chicken are so skilled.
Yelp/ Adam C.
The family-run Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room has been open since 1943. The menu at this Savannah, Georgia, institution changes every day, but you can rest assured you’ll get your fried chicken fix, so long as you don’t mind waiting in line; expect crowds to start forming at around 9 a.m. You’ll be seated at communal tables of 10, so be ready to chat with your neighbors. As soon as the fried chicken hits the table, however, a hushed reverence will descend. The wait will have definitely been worth it.
Moseberth’s has been a Virginia institution for more than 70 years, serving up the best fried chicken for miles. (The restaurant averages 700 pounds of chicken sold every day.) The recipe may be simple, but it’s been perfected over the decades: Chicken pieces are dunked in a batter made with seasoned flour, eggs and baking soda, dredged in seasoned flour (containing plenty of black pepper), and fried for nearly 20 minutes in 315-degree oil (low and slow is key). Order up a box and you’ll receive a half chicken with coleslaw, fries and hush puppies; the end result is nicely rendered, super-tender and, as Guy Fieri said when he visited for an episode of “Diners, Drive, and Dives,” crunchitatious.
Yelp/ Chrisabel C.
Jestine’s is one of those so-called “tourist traps” that is totally worth your time. The kitchen is named in honor of Jestine Matthews, who kept house and cooked for generations of owner Dana Berlin’s family. The menu here is pure Southern comfort, with fried green tomatoes, okra gumbo and, of course, fried chicken, which is available in all-white and all-dark meat orders. Equally famous is their marshmallowy Coca-Cola chocolate cake.
Chef Thomas Boemer grew up in the South, and brought the best dishes of the region up to Minnesota with him to open Revival. Save the shrimp and grits for the second visit and do what everyone does on their first visit here: Order the Southern fried chicken, which stars an Amish bird, marinated in buttermilk, dredged in a secret seasoning blend and fried in pure lard until crisp. If you’re a heat seeker, opt for the Tennessee hot variety, which gets a dunk in cayenne-kicked hot oil as soon as it comes out of the fryer, just like in Nashville.
Yelp/ savio r.
Babe’s Chicken Dinner House is a fried-chicken empire in the good old state of Texas that has its origins in Dallas, where it is called Bubba’s. Expect plates with perfectly breaded fried chicken piled sky high — as they say, go big or go home. And the best part? The quality of the chicken absolutely matches the generous portions.
Yelp/ Andreas P.
We can safely say that the fried chicken served at the bar at Momofuku Ko (an annex of David Chang’s acclaimed high-end tasting counter) is unlike any that you’ve had before. To create this magical piece of fried chicken (served one drumstick per order), the chicken is battered in cornstarch, flour, vodka and beer and fried for two minutes, and the process is repeated a grand total of four times. It’s then brushed with yuzu, mirin and green Tabasco before — wait for it — spending a few hours in the fridge. It’s served cold, but miraculously retains a shatteringly crisp crust.
Yelp/ Liz L.
Watershed on Peachtree has moved locations and gone through a couple head chefs in the past decade, but it still serves some of the best fried chicken in Atlanta. It’s famed for its brined and buttermilk-soaked chicken, which is fried in a winning combination of lard and ham fat and served with biscuits, collard greens, a deviled egg, hot honey and a pickle. But be warned: It’s only available in very limited quantities.
Honey Butter Fried Chicken is a cult favorite in Chicago, with legions of loyal regulars. Since opening in 2013, it’s earned plenty of local renown, largely thanks to the care that owners Christine Cikowski and Josh Kulp put into every piece of chicken. The chicken here is brined, dredged in spiced flour and double-dipped in buttermilk before taking a bath in 320-degree oil, and after it’s done frying it’s sprinkled with salt and smoked paprika and served alongside — you guessed it — honey butter. Go ahead and smear that honey butter on the chicken — you know you want to.
Roscoe's House of Chicken & Waffles/Yelp
Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles, originally located in Hollywood, has been serving up fried chicken and waffles since 1975 — when owner and Harlem-bred Herb Hudson brought some recipes from home to the California coast — and has since expanded to eight Los Angeles-area locations. The chicken is fried fresh to order to golden brown perfection, and make sure to ask for your waffles to be cooked extra-crispy.
Yelp/ Michael O.
Everything is made from scratch at Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles, which got its start in Phoenix but today has has four locations in Arizona, one in Las Vegas and another in Southlake, Texas. The chicken recipe was perfected by founder Larry “Lo-Lo” White over the course of a decade, and the waffle batter recipe yields a light and fluffy waffle with an almost creamy center.
Yelp/ Dan B.
While Hard Water is better known for being a New Orleans-style whiskey bar, their fried chicken, which comes two ways — “Hard Water-Style” with a buttermilk biscuit and pepper gravy or “Spicy Nashville-style” with Parker house rolls and butter pickles — is dry-brined in salt and garlic powder for a day before being dredged in a spice mix with turmeric and coriander and heading to the deep-fryer.
New York’s Maharlika serves a “batterless” Filipino-style fried chicken. No batter or breading; it’s just marinated and deep-fried. And it’s delicious. Served on top of a purple yam waffle with an umami-rich compound butter and caramelized macapuno syrup, this fried chicken is unlike any other you’ll ever try. Don’t miss other fantastic menu items like arroz caldo (spiced chicken and rice porridge), Spam fries and, if you’re feeling adventurous, balut (boiled duck embryo).
Yelp/ Maegan A.
Don’t leave North Carolina having only eaten barbecue; the pressure-fried bird at Beasley’s Chicken & Honey is an absolute must. The combination of steaming and frying chicken keeps it super-moist, and a drizzle of honey — which chef Ashley Christensen (who just nabbed a James Beard Award in 2019) includes as a tribute to her beekeeping father — gives this spot a personal and literally sweet touch.
Yelp/ Sherwin C.
Harold’s has grown from a small Chicago restaurant to a beloved regional chain in the nearly 70 years since it was first opened by entrepreneur Harold Pierce, and it can credit two major factors for its massive success: The chicken is fried in a combination of vegetable oil and beef tallow, and every piece of chicken is fried to order. Harold’s has become an essential part of the culture of Chicago’s South Side, and the city just wouldn’t be the same without it. This is one chain we really wish were national!
Yelp/ Ruby G.
Yelp/ Yung K.
Sweet Chick, which is co-owned by rapper Nas, has done gangbusters since the first location opened in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood a few years back, with three additional locations in New York and one in Los Angeles opening since then. The chicken and waffle choices here are plentiful and creative, with waffle options including bacon-cheddar, dried cherry, rosemary-mushroom, apple cinnamon and spiced pecan; you can also order your chicken Buffalo-fried with a celery and carrot waffle, Cordon Bleu style with a Gruyère and thyme waffle, or with General Tso’s sauce and a rice and broccoli waffle.
But if it’s your first time, you’ll probably just want to try the classic version. The chicken is sweet tea-brined, seasoned with oregano, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper, and paprika, buttermilk-dipped, dredged in flour and cornstarch, and fried in a cast-iron skillet; and the waffles are light and airy on the inside and crisp on the outside.
Yelp/ Robbie D.
Located in The Ritz-Carlton Dallas, Fearing’s features modern Southwestern-American cuisine with a farm-to-table approach (think chicken-fried Maine lobster or barbecued shrimp taco with mango and pickled red onion salad). But the real treat comes during the weekend brunch, which features Granny Fearing’s “Paper Bag Shook” fried chicken, served with whipped potatoes, green beans and tomato gravy. The ebullient chef Dean Fearing is often present.
Yelp/ Joe K.
Martha Lou’s is a Charleston institution, serving classic soul food in a no-frills, bright pink shack. It may not look like much, but trust us: You don’t want pass up a chance to eat here. The fried chicken is dredged in flour and dipped in a milk-based batter before heading to the deep fryer, and it’s a recipe that 89-year-old Martha Lou Gadsen, who opened the restaurant inside a former service station in 1983, has passed along to her daughters and grandchildren, who work alongside her.
Photo Courtesy Root and Bone
The fried chicken at Root & Bone is anything but ordinary. Amish chicken is brined for 24 hours in sweet tea, cayenne, onion, garlic and paprika; it’s then dredged in seasoned flour before being pressure-fried in canola oil and dusted with lemon powder, sugar and salt. There’s a full menu of Southern favorites here, but just about every table orders the fried chicken for a very good reason.
Yelp/ Lynn S.
The salt-and-pepper-coated bird at the Chicken Shack in Evanston attracts way more people than just hungry Northwestern University students. With sides like phenomenal biscuits and house barbecue sauce, this casual eatery is certainly worth its salt.
The fried yardbird chicken at Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster is the most satisfying of all the dishes at the popular Harlem restaurant, thanks to its candy-like crust and well-chosen accompaniments of spicy collard greens and mace gravy. Samuelsson channels his Ethiopian roots to make this chicken stand out, using a berbere spice blend on his chicken before frying it twice. He also adds coconut milk to the buttermilk, and tosses bunches of rosemary in the frying oil.
Yelp/ Tim M.
Longman & Eagle has been a Chicago must-visit since 2010, and its farm-to-table, constantly changing menu was ahead of its time. When it’s on the menu, be sure to order the fried chicken and waffles: the leg and thigh from Slagel Family Farms are fried in a batter that generously soaks up maple syrup, and a crispy, crunchy waffle serves as a sturdy base. And don’t forget about the sweet potato and pork belly hash that’s served with it; it’s far tastier than it has any right to be.
Yelp/ Elaine N.
Arnold’s Country Chicken has been serving homestyle “meat and three” platters (a meat entree with three sides) and delectable fried chicken in Nashville for more than 30 years. The secret to their famous fried chicken recipe is a kosher salt and ground black pepper brine, a Louisiana-style hot sauce wash, and a cayenne and garlic powder dredge. The result is nearly perfect fried chicken that has folks lining up well past the door. Don’t forget to try the grilled cornbread and famously creamy banana pudding.
Yelp/ Michael K.
Though it is located in upstate New York, Hattie’s Restaurant has managed to achieve Southern-style charm in a historic setting — it’s been open for more than 80 years. The restaurant stays true to its Southern-comfort feel with a swinging screen door, checkered tablecloths and, most importantly, its authentic menu. Hattie’s serves traditional dishes like Creole jambalaya and gumbo of the day, but it is most famous for its fried chicken, which is prepared exactly the same as it was in 1938.
The chicken served at Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken is humanely raised, hormone- and antibiotic-free and vegetarian-fed, and is proof that starting with high-quality ingredients puts you at a clear advantage. The fried chicken recipe was perfected over 40 years; after being breaded it’s fried hot and fast in peanut oil in a deep, heavy-gauge stainless-steel kettle.
Yelp/ Sarah L.
The fried chicken at beloved Williamsburg, Brooklyn, gem Pies ’n’ Thighs is seasoned liberally with black pepper, cayenne and paprika, making for a potent and flavorful golden brown crust. The atmosphere is laid-back, yet charming, and the place fills up quickly. The flaky homemade biscuits are almost croissant-like, and the rotating selection of pies (try the lemon chess pie) make for outstanding accompaniments to the juicy chicken.
Yelp/ Megan R.
The chicken at Hattie B’s is not for those who are afraid of heat, though there is a no-spice option available for people who just want to enjoy some perfectly crisp fried chicken. The secret to the spice blend is actually a little bit of brown sugar mixed in with the cayenne (among other seasonings). Expect to wait in line for at least an hour, but also expect to not regret doing so once you take a bite of this fiery, delicious chicken.
Yelp/ Blue Ribbon Brasserie
The fried chicken recipe created by brothers Bruce and Eric Bromberg in 1992 helped give rise to a mini-empire of Blue Ribbon-branded restaurants in New York, Los Angeles, South Beach and Las Vegas, and it’s still the best thing on the menu at the three locations of Blue Ribbon Brasserie (and its new York spinoff, Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken). To make this dish, chicken pieces are dipped in egg white and coated in a combination of matzo meal, flour and baking powder before being deep-fried. After coming out of the oil, they’re dusted with salt, pepper, peprika, cayenne, basil, parsley, and garlic and onion powders, and the end result is spectacular.
Howlin’ Ray’s owner Johnny Ray Zone has spent time working for some of the world’s most renowned chefs, including Gordon Ramsay, Joël Robuchon and Nobu Matsuhisa, but he found his true calling on a trip to Nashville. What started as a food truck is now a tiny Chinatown storefront that’s packed from open to close, serving fresh-from-the-fryer hot chicken made screamingly hot with help from cayenne and extracts of habanero, ghost pepper and red savina. But before the heat kicks in, you’ll have a few seconds to recognize that this also happens to be great fried chicken.
Momofuku Noodle Bar doesn’t just serve fried chicken; it serves a feast. This specialty of the house requires advance notice and takes about two hours to enjoy from start to finish. Expect to get two whole fried chickens, one Southern-style chicken that is fried with Old Bay-seasoned buttermilk, and one Korean-style chicken that’s triple-fried and served with a light spicy glaze. As if that’s not enough, the meal comes with mu shu pancakes, baby carrots, red ball radishes, bibb lettuce, four sauces and an herb basket. Bring a crowd, and be prepared to shell out $150 for it.
Yelp/ Dan D.
Lucy’s Fried Chicken was named after the grandmother of the restaurant’s owner and chef, James Holmes, whose fried chicken recipe has proven to be so popular that the restaurant has expanded to four Austin restaurants. To make this chicken, Holmes marinates chicken pieces in buttermilk, hot sauce and soy sauce for 48 hours; dredges the coated chicken in flour, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne; and deep-fries it in 325-degree peanut oil until golden brown and delicious. Drop by for brunch and you can enjoy it with deep-fried waffles!
Chef Michael Solomonov’s Federal Donuts, which has seven locations, has become a household name in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, thanks to its winning combination of freshly fried doughnuts and Korean-style fried chicken. The chicken is rubbed with salt, onion powder and dry mustard and refrigerated overnight; in the morning it’s tossed in a cornstarch-heavy batter and fried two times in a cast-iron pot. Every order of chicken includes Japanese cucumber pickles and a honey doughnut, and is served with your choice of dry seasoning (coconut curry or za’atar buttermilk ranch) or glaze (chili-garlic or honey ginger).
You can always count on Thomas Keller for excellent food, and the fried chicken at Ad Hoc, in Yountville, California, is no exception. At Ad Hoc, every weeknight has a special menu, and while spectacular food is always a given, customers disproportionately requested reservations for fried chicken night. So Keller did everybody a favor and opened Addendum, which serves boxed lunches to go Thursdays through Saturdays. The most popular option? You guessed it. To make this (very cheffy) fried chicken, chicken pieces are brined with honey, bay leaves, garlic, lemons and other herbs and spices; double-dipped in seasoned flour and buttermilk, fried in a saute pan and garnished with fried herbs.
Yelp/ Scotty C.
Like fried chicken? Then no trip to Nashville should be complete without a trip to Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, a homespun restaurant started by William and Thornton Prince more than 60 years ago; it’s widely recognized as the birthplace of Nashville-style hot chicken. There’s only one thing to decide: Do you want your chicken mild, medium, hot, or extra hot? If the name of the restaurant doesn’t warn you, even the mild is fairly spicy, so be careful. Served with white bread and pickle coins, the chicken itself is crispy, crunchy and fall-off-the-bone tender. A trip to Prince’s is one you’re not likely to forget.
Charles Gabriel of Charles’ Country Pan Fried Country in Harlem has been pan-frying chicken since he was a kid growing up just outside of Raleigh, North Carolina. Using nothing but a couple of hubcap-sized pans and his mother’s recipe (which calls for the chicken to be turned and flipped over frequently), Gabriel has made his shop a New York institution; this no-frills joint serves some of the best fried chicken in the city, and his culinary contributions were recently acknowledged by the James Beard Foundation, by which he was nominated for 2018’s Best Chef: New York City award.
Mary Mac’s Tea Room is an Atlanta institution that has been making diners happy since 1945. The fried chicken is one of the best dishes there, and the recipe is simple yet unique: After being rubbed with salt and white pepper and chilled for an hour, it's dunked in a wet batter of water, flour, salt and white pepper, then dredged in more flour, salt and white pepper before being deep fried in 325-degree peanut oil. The combination of both breading a batter is an absolute winner.
Yelp/ Judy K.
In business since 1933 in a farm house dating to 1829, Stroud’s is best known for its famous pan-fried-to-order chicken, which proved so popular that it spawned two additional locations and a catering operation. There’s no big secret to the chicken recipe: it’s simply dredged in flour, salt and pepper before being fried in soybean oil. But the devil’s in the details: The oil is heated to medium-high in a cast-iron pan, and the chicken is added one piece at a time, making sure the oil only extends halfway up the chicken. It’s then carefully monitored and flipped for about a half-hour before being removed.
Yelp/ FoodWanderer A.
Loveless Cafe, named after founders Lon and Annie Loveless, has an ironic name. Not only is the restaurant’s fried chicken one of the city’s most beloved dishes, but a lot of love goes into the food — and has for over 60 years. The fried chicken recipe, which has remained unchanged since 1951, uses self-rising flour and a special house blend of spices. Other famous items from the Loveless Cafe menu include Kentucky Bourbon Peach Shortcake and the Bee Sting Moonshine Cocktail.
Yelp/ Allene T.
The fried chicken at East Village mainstay Bobwhite Lunch & Supper Counter is the best you’ll find in New York City — which is saying a lot. Dark meat pieces are marinated in sweet tea, dunked in buttermilk and dredged in seasoned flour before being cooked in a pressure-fryer, which imparts a crisp and brittle, nearly greaseless crust to the perfectly cooked chicken inside.
Husk — which opened in Charleston but today has additional locations in Nashville, Savannah, Georgia, and Greenville, South Carolina — serves some absolutely stunning fried chicken. Once upon a time, diners had to call ahead and place an order two days in advance, but now the fried chicken is a staple on the daily-changing lunch menus of all locations. The chicken is brined in tea; marinated in buttermilk and hot sauce; dredged in flour, cornmeal, cornstarch, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper and smoked paprika; and fried in a perfect ratio of butter, chicken fat, bacon fat and country ham fat in a cast-iron skillet. This is some fussed-over chicken, and there really isn’t anything else like it.
Yelp/ Mark N.
Dooky Chase’s began in 1941 as a sandwich shop, and grew to become a spot where Civil Rights leaders met to discuss politics and culture. Legendary owner and chef Leah Chase, who sadly passed away at age 96 earlier this year, was often referred to as the “Queen of Creole Cuisine,” and her daily-changing lunch buffet is one of the city’s great meals. The restaurant’s famous fried chicken, which gets a little something extra from the addition of evaporated milk to the egg wash, is always available at both lunch and dinner, thankfully.
Yelp/ Annie C.
It may be called the Barbecue Inn, but the claim to fame of this Houston old-timer, which has been a local favorite since 1946, is the fried chicken. The top-secret recipe hasn’t changed since the early days, and the process has been perfected over the decades. The end result? A greaseless, crunchy crust and juicy, perfectly seasoned meat beneath. If you visit, make sure you try the fried shrimp as well.
Founded in 1953 in Mason, Tennessee, a small town about 40 miles outside of Memphis, Gus’s has since expanded to 28 locations across the country, with more in the works. The wait is notoriously long — not only because there are plenty of people in line, but also because Gus’s takes its time with its bird. Still worth it? Most definitely. The chicken recipe can trace its roots back to the restaurant’s founders, Na and Maggie Vanderbilt, and their son, Gus Bonner. To make this chicken, buttermilk-coated chicken pieces are dredged in flour, paprika, cayenne, salt and black pepper before being fried in a cast-iron skillet, and the resulting bird is crispy, juicy, spicy and addictively delicious.
Yelp/ Jean Claudette J
You haven’t truly had fried chicken until you’ve had it from Willie Mae’s, the legendary restaurant located in New Orleans’ Treme neighborhood since 1956. Look around the two no-frills dining rooms and you’ll see nothing but fried chicken, even though other offerings, like smothered veal, are available (and delicious). But if it’s your first time there, take a cue from the regulars and pilgrims alike. The chicken, perfected by Willie Mae Seaton (who passed away in 2015 at age 99) and today safeguarded by her granddaughter Kerry, is, simply put, otherworldly. Dunked in a spicy wet batter and deep-fried to order, the crust is shiny, craggy, light, not greasy and shatteringly crisp and crunchy, coming away cleanly as you take a bite without dragging the rest of the breading with it. Underneath, the chicken is impossibly moist and juicy. We almost lost Willie Mae’s after it was destroyed during Katrina, but the community banded together to rebuild the restaurant exactly as it was before. It should come as no surprise that the restaurant that serves America’s best fried chicken is also one of its 101 best casual restaurants.
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