The Best Fried Chicken in Every State from The Best Fried Chicken in Every State Gallery

The Best Fried Chicken in Every State Gallery

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The Best Fried Chicken in Every State
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The Best Fried Chicken in Every State

If you’re convinced that there’s simply no great fried chicken where you live, we’re thrilled to tell you that you are in fact wrong. Because believe it or not, spectacular fried chicken joints can be found in every state and Washington, D.C. How do we know? Because we tracked them all down.

When properly cooked, fried chicken is essentially the perfect food: tender and juicy, salty, crunchy, fatty. There's a reason why people travel from miles around to seek out the best fried chicken they can get their hands on: It’s delicious on an almost primal level, and 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.

In order to track down the best restaurant for fried chicken in every state, we started by consulting our own annual ranking of America’s 75 best restaurants for fried chicken, which is compiled every year with the help of an ever-growing panel of experts. We then set out on a hunt to find the absolute most raved-about fried chicken in each of the remaining states with help from online reviews by professional and amateur eaters alike. We looked for fried chicken that’s locally renowned, but it also had to hit a few criteria: made fresh to order using high-quality chicken, crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside, and, as they say, made with love. In the end, we were able to prove something that wasn’t certain even just a handful of years ago: That wherever you go, from coast to coast and from Alsaka to Hawaii, a great plate of fried chicken is never too far away.

Alabama: Café Dupont (Birmingham)

Alabama: Café Dupont (Birmingham)

Café Dupont offers a "fresh perspective on regional ingredients" to create a menu bursting with traditional flavors and contemporary flair. This is most evident in their signature buttermilk-fried chicken with a lemon basil sauce, served atop warm creamed potatoes. You can thank the strong relationships chef Chris Dupont fosters with local Alabama farmers for the top-quality produce and meats that you’ll taste in every bite of their specialties.

Alaska: Lucky Wishbone (Anchorage)

Lucky Wishbone/Yelp

Alaska: Lucky Wishbone (Anchorage)

Going strong since 1955, Lucky Wishbone has been an Alaska fried chicken destination for decades (and is in fact the town’s oldest family-owned restaurant). Founded by former WWII fighter pilot George Brown (who passed away earlier this year at age 96) and his wife Peggy, the restaurant has become a local legend due to its never-frozen chicken, which is dipped in buttermilk before being lightly battered and pan-fried until golden brown and delicious. Place a “family order” and it’ll come with 15 pieces, a pint of coleslaw, rolls, and honey.

Arizona: Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles (Multiple Locations)

Eric T./Yelp

Arizona: Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles (Multiple Locations)

Everything is made from scratch at this Phoenix mainstay, which has five locations in Arizona, one in Las Vegas, and another in Southlake, Texas. The seasoning blend on the chicken has been passed down through several generations, and the waffle batter recipe yields a light and fluffy waffle with an almost creamy center.

Arkansas: Monte Ne Inn Chicken (Rogers)

Val A./Yelp

Arkansas: Monte Ne Inn Chicken (Rogers)

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 this Northwest Arkansas institution, which has been serving country 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.

California: Howlin' Ray's (Los Angeles)

Hazel C./Yelp

California: Howlin' Ray's (Los Angeles)

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.

Colorado: Low Country Kitchen (Denver and Steamboat Springs)

P S./Yelp

Colorado: Low Country Kitchen (Denver and Steamboat Springs)

As the name implies, Low Country Kitchen brings the cuisine of the South Carolina Low Country to Colorado, with plenty of other Southern specialties thrown in for good measure. Owners Katy and Brian Vaughn prepare just about everything on the menu from scratch, and their fried chicken is a work of art. It takes three hours to prepare from start to finish; organic chicken is brined for at least 24 hours and then marinated in buttermilk and Frank’s hot sauce for an additional two days before being battered and fried to order. Take a look around and you’ll notice that just about everybody orders the fried chicken here — and with good reason.

Connecticut: Greer’s Chicken (Bristol)

Elizabeth B./Yelp

Connecticut: Greer’s Chicken (Bristol)

This tiny, old-fashioned Southern restaurant has been going strong in the small town of Bristol for years, and its fried chicken has made it a local destination. Chef-owner Rich Plantamuro breads his chicken in a secret spice mix and deep-fries it until golden and crispy, and the interior remains moist and tender. Be sure to get some baked beans and mashed potatoes and gravy on the side, and for dessert a container of Swiss Miss chocolate pudding for a buck.

Delaware: Lettie’s Kitchen (Hockessin)

Laura M./Yelp

Delaware: Lettie’s Kitchen (Hockessin)

Opened by the mother-son duo of Susan and Tom Alexander inside an old farmhouse in 2011, Lettie’s Kitchen serves fried chicken made according to Susan’s mother Lettie’s recipe. The chicken here is pressure-fried (or “broasted”) to order, which gives it a crisp exterior while keeping the meat moist and delicate. Be sure to get some house-made potato salad on the side.

Florida: Yardbird Southern Table & Bar (Miami)

Ahmad A./Yelp

Florida: Yardbird Southern Table & Bar (Miami)

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar brings a Southern charm and influence to Miami, Florida, a place better known for its Cuban and Spanish food. Its main claim to fame is its fried chicken, 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. Yardbird’s fried chicken has received numerous accolades in recent years, and for good reason. You just have to taste it yourself to see what the fuss is all about.

Georgia: Mary Mac's Tea Room (Atlanta)

Alida H./Yelp

Georgia: Mary Mac's Tea Room (Atlanta)

Mary Mac’s Tea Room is a Georgia institution that has been making diners happy since 1945. The fried chicken is one of the best dishes there, and it’s easy to see why. Mary Mac’s Tea Room makes a double-battered fried chicken that comes as a four-piece set with the legs, breast, thigh, and wing, or as a fried chicken plate of three wings or one chicken breast. Did we mention that upon your visit to Mary Mac’s you’re entitled to a complimentary cup of pot likker (the juice left in a pot after collards cook) and a piece of cornbread?

Hawaii: Ray’s Cafe (Honolulu)

Ann S./Yelp

Hawaii: Ray’s Cafe (Honolulu)

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.

Idaho: Fork (Boise)
Fork Restaurant

Idaho: Fork (Boise)

This “loyal to local” downtown Boise restaurant is turning local Idaho meat and produce into some of the finest food in town. Owners Cameron and Amanda Lumsden have attracted a loyal following with their Idaho rainbow trout with grilled local kale, Northwest short ribs braised in locally-made ale, and Double R Ranch prime rib, but Tuesdays are the days to go, when the cast-iron buttermilk fried chicken and cheddar waffle are on the menu. Drizzled with balsamic-infused maple syrup and local honey-orange butter, it’s a true masterpiece, but be there early: It’s only available while supplies last.

Illinois: Harold's Chicken Shack (Chicago)

Sherwin C./Yelp

Illinois: Harold's Chicken Shack (Chicago)

Harold’s has become a small local chain, and it continues to grow in popularity. But despite having numerous locations across the region, Harold’s never sacrifices the quality it’s known for. The chicken comes simply with white bread and hot sauce, and there are no frills about it — but with a product that tastes this outstanding on its own, there are no embellishments needed.

Indiana: Hollyhock Hill (Indianapolis)
Courtesy of Hollyhock Hill

Indiana: Hollyhock Hill (Indianapolis)

Since it opened in 1928, Hollyhock Hill has grown from a 30-guest restaurant to one that holds 70 patrons to, finally, its current 150-seat location in Indianapolis. But while the seating count has changed multiple times, the "Hoosier pan-fried chicken" recipe has stayed the same. This four-ingredient chicken is cut through the breast crosswise instead of lengthwise, leaving the wishbone intact.

Iowa: Sugapeach Chicken & Fish Fry (North Liberty)

Tunde A./Yelp

Iowa: Sugapeach Chicken & Fish Fry (North Liberty)

Open since August 2016, Sugapeach is a sprawling restaurant with a huge buffet filled to the brim with Southern classics like mac and cheese, hush puppies, and fried okra. The star of the show, however — the fried chicken — is made to order so it spends no time under the heat lamp. The peppery breading is light and crisp, with tender chicken underneath.

Kansas: Chicken Annie's (Pittsburg)
Chicken Annie’s

Kansas: Chicken Annie's (Pittsburg)

Chicken Annie’s is known throughout Pittsburg, Kansas, for its signature fried chicken. The restaurant had humble beginnings; when founder Ann Pichler’s husband was injured in a coal mine accident in 1934, she began serving fried chicken out of their home to support the family. Word quickly spread of the delicious fare, and in 1972 the restaurant moved from her home to its present building. The homestyle hospitality, however, has never gone away. The family continues the tradition of excellent food with their thin-crust fried chicken and house-battered onion rings.

Kentucky: Shirley Mae's Café (Louisville)

Ellyse L./Yelp

Kentucky: Shirley Mae's Café (Louisville)

The large pieces of Southern fried chicken wings at Shirley Mae’s Café prove that the restaurant doesn’t fool around when it comes to providing you with soul food that really fills you up. No item here is complete without a side of their hot water cornbread. 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.

Louisiana: Willie Mae's Scotch House (New Orleans)

Adrienne H./Yelp

Louisiana: Willie Mae's Scotch House (New Orleans)

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. 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.

Maine: Hot Suppa (Portland)

Lauren T./Yelp

Maine: Hot Suppa (Portland)

There’s no shortage of great restaurants in Portland, but for traditional Southern food, it’s Hot Suppa all the way. Founded by two brothers in 2004, the restaurant turns locally-sourced ingredients into addictively good pan-Southern fare ranging from Carolina-style shrimp and grits to Nashville-style hot chicken to New Orleans-style charbroiled oysters (the decidedly non-Southern poutine also makes an appearance, but we’ll allow it). The hot chicken is delicious but “painfully spicy,” according to the menu, so if you’d rather take it easy, opt for the equally tasty buttermilk fried local chicken, moist and coated with a crunchy, craggy crust, served with a buttermilk waffle or your choice of a side.

Maryland: Chicken Basket (Wheaton)

Left: Bob B./Yelp; Right: Marisa/Yelp

Maryland: Chicken Basket (Wheaton)

This 40-year-old fried chicken mini-chain serves no-frills fried chicken, ribs, seafood, and sandwiches. It has multiple franchised locations throughout the state, but each location’s fried chicken is perfectly fried to order, golden-brown, and addictively delicious. The location in Wheaton, run by an older married couple who single-handedly run the shop and have attracted a group of loyal regulars, is widely regarded as being the one to visit.

Massachusetts: Trina's Starlite Lounge (Boston)

Rozzie M./Yelp

Massachusetts: Trina's Starlite Lounge (Boston)

Trina’s, one of Boston’s quirkier eateries, 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 a piece or two of fried chicken and drizzles it with hot-pepper maple syrup. This meal is not one to miss — and it’s even better paired with a signature Trina’s brunch cocktail (we like the maple bourbon).

Michigan: Zehnder's of Frankenmuth (Frankenmuth)

Michelle D./Yelp

Michigan: Zehnder's of Frankenmuth (Frankenmuth)

Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth is a 1,500-seat Michigan 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.

Minnesota: Revival (Minneapolis)

Jonathan E./Yelp

Minnesota: Revival (Minneapolis)

Chef Thomas Boemer grew up in the South, and brought the best dishes of the region up to Minneapolis 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.

Mississippi: Old Country Store (Lorman)

Chris C./Yelp

Mississippi: Old Country Store (Lorman)

According to Alton Brown, when he wants fried chicken, he will eat only his own or the fried chicken at the Old Country Store. Located in a century-old general store, this comfort food buffet includes fried chicken that is well-seasoned and crispy, but doesn’t have that hard, manufactured shell of breading you’ll find in many chains. Arthur Davis, the owner, is known to break out of the kitchen and sing a song or two to diners while they feast.

Missouri: Stroud's (Kansas City)

Judy K./Yelp

Missouri: Stroud's (Kansas City)

In business since 1933, Stroud’s is known for their famous pan-fried-to-order chicken served out of "an expanded 1829 log cabin and farm house." In fact, as an indication that the restaurant still does things the old way, one of their mottoes (available on popular T-shirts) is "We choke our own chickens." Along with the chicken, customers rave about the mashed potatoes and cinnamon rolls, which are decadent additions to your meal, but certainly worth the extra calories.

Montana: Roost (Bozeman)

Bob M./Yelp

Montana: Roost (Bozeman)

This classic, old-timey Southern restaurant has become a Montana destination, and can trace its roots to the owner’s grandparents’ Tennessee restaurant called Chow-Time. Even though Chow-Time is long-gone, its fried chicken recipe is still drawing crowds about 2,000 miles to the northwest. The chicken here is available in three styles, Southern fried, Nashville hot, and sweet heat, and can be found in sandwiches, atop a waffle, and even on a stick, but we suggest you stick with the classic Southern fried. Get some biscuits and boiled peanuts on the side.

Nebraska: Alpine Inn (Omaha)

Kara D./Yelp

Nebraska: Alpine Inn (Omaha)

Alpine Inn might seem unassuming from its exterior, but their fried half-chickens served with large potato wedges should not be overlooked. In business for more than 40 years, the spot (which doubles as a biker bar at night) has been known to feed the roughly 50 local raccoons their leftover chicken scraps. But don’t be scared off by their furry friends; we promise this dish is worth it.

Nevada: Blue Ribbon (Las Vegas)

Blue Ribbon Brasserie-Las Vegas/Yelp

Nevada: Blue Ribbon (Las Vegas)

The fried chicken recipe created by brothers Bruce and Eric Bromberg more than 20 years ago helped give rise to a mini-empire of Blue Ribbon-branded restaurants in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and South Beach, and it's the most popular item on the menu at the Blue Ribbon location in Las Vegas’ Cosmopolitan (and at spinoff Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken in the Grand Bazaar Shops. 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, paprika, cayenne, basil, parsley, and garlic and onion powders, and the end result is spectacular.

New Hampshire: Farr’s Famous Chicken (Hampton)

Left: Farr’s Famous Chicken/Yelp; Right:Dillon L./Yelp

New Hampshire: Farr’s Famous Chicken (Hampton)

This bright yellow shack is located in the shadow of a huge water slide a block from the beach, and no trip to Hampton Beach is complete without a visit to this low-key counter-serve destination. Open since 1977, the restaurant’s been making fried chicken according to the same recipe since day one, resulting in deeply golden-brown, super crunchy chicken with moist and tender meat underneath.

New Jersey: Modine (Asbury Park)

Modine/Yelp

New Jersey: Modine (Asbury Park)

If you need proof that Asbury Park’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?

New Mexico: Nexus Brewery (Albuquerque)

Rachel R./Yelp

New Mexico: Nexus Brewery (Albuquerque)

This ABQ microbrewery serves what it calls New Mexican soul food, with menu standouts including red and green chile nachos, Cajun chicken chicharrones, red chile barbecue pulled pork, and now-famous chicken and waffles. The chicken here has a delightfully craggy crust and a super-flavorful coating that yields to tender meat, and its served atop a freshly-made Belgian waffle.

New York: Sweet Chick (New York City)
Sweet Chick

New York: Sweet Chick (New York City)

This chicken and waffles joint, which is co-owned by rapper Nas, has done gangbusters since the first location opened in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 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 Gruyere 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.

North Carolina: Beasley's Chicken + Honey (Raleigh)
Angie Mosier

North Carolina: Beasley's Chicken + Honey (Raleigh)

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 includes as a tribute to her beekeeping father — gives this spot a personal and literally sweet touch.

North Dakota: Rustica Eatery and Tavern (Moorhead, Minnesota)

Gigi W./Yelp

North Dakota: Rustica Eatery and Tavern (Moorhead, Minnesota)

Yes, it’s true: If you want to find the best fried chicken in North Dakota, you’ll have to head one block over the Veterans Memorial Bridge from Fargo into Moorhead, Minnesota, to Rustica Eatery and Tavern. This rustic and cozy neighborhood restaurant serves a menu of seasonal fare from chef Eric Watson, and there’s always something exciting coming from the wood-burning pizza open. House-made pastas, duck breast pastrami, and other upscale specialties keep the place busy, but those in-the-know order the buttermilk fried chicken, served with green chile ranch and tomato preserves. Golden brown and shatteringly crisp, this chicken is for some reason on the appetizer menu, which obviously gives you permission to gobble it down as a first course before exploring the rest of the exciting menu.

Ohio: Belgrade Gardens (Barberton)

Flickr/Tom Barnett/CC BY 2.0

Ohio: Belgrade Gardens (Barberton)

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.

Oklahoma: Eischen’s (Okarche)

Jess M./Yelp

Oklahoma: Eischen’s (Okarche)

The 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 fired 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.

Oregon: The People's Pig (Portland)

Dave M./Yelp

Oregon: The People's Pig (Portland)

Bird at a pig joint? It’d better be good. The People’s Pig, which was once a food truck, smokes their chicken before frying it, lending it a deeply burnished crust and plenty of complex, smoky flavor. And if you go back for another meal, which you should, get their equally famous porchetta.

Pennsylvania: Federal Donuts (Philadelphia)
Caviar Philly

Pennsylvania: Federal Donuts (Philadelphia)

Philadelphia has long been food-famous, but just for cheesesteaks and pretzels, right? Not so for the past few years, since Federal Donuts opened; it's currently up to six locations, with a best-selling cookbook, to boot. While they are celebrated for their doughnuts, which come in unusual flavors like lavender, their tasty Korean-style fried chicken is also a force to be reckoned with. 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) and glaze (chili-garlic or honey ginger).

Rhode Island: Bucktown (Providence)

Alison F./Yelp

Rhode Island: Bucktown (Providence)

This small, counter-service restaurant looks to have been transplanted lock, stock, and barrel from the South, and it’s got a menu of tried-and-true Southern classics, like po’boys, fried green tomatoes, mac and cheese, and banana pudding to boot. But everyone comes here for one thing: the fried chicken. Order the bucket o’ chicken and you’ll get just that — 12 wings, legs, and thighs fried to golden brown perfection. (It’s also available in a biscuit or served atop a Belgian waffle.) To make this chicken, chef/owner Ashley Faulkner brines her chicken and tosses it in all-purpose flour mixed with a little bit of the brine (to create those crunchy bits), before deep-frying it, a recipe that’s been in her family for generations. Make sure you wash it all down with a tall boy of Narragansett.

South Carolina: Husk (Charleston)

Todd P./Yelp

South Carolina: Husk (Charleston)

Husk, which opened in Charleston but today has locations in Nashville, Greenville, and Savannah, serves some absolutely stunning fried chicken. Once upon a time, diners had to call ahead and place an order with the chef himself two days in advance, but now the fried chicken is a staple on the daily-changing lunch menus of all locations. The secret is fat: The chicken is fried in butter, chicken fat, bacon fat, and country ham fat.

South Dakota: Cluckin’ Good (Sioux Falls)

Arthur C./Yelp

South Dakota: Cluckin’ Good (Sioux Falls)

Ben Weiland spent 17 years turning out spectacular fried chicken at a restaurant called Bob’s Café (which opened as Ray’s in 1951) before closing up shop in 2017 and moving to a larger space across the street, which he dubbed Cluckin’ Good. Thankfully, the fried chicken on offer here is exactly the same, and just as good, as it’s always been. Chicken here is done the old-fashioned way, just as it was in 1951, and it’s crispy, juicy, and just about perfect. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Tennessee: Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken (Mason)

Michael U./Yelp

Tennessee: Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken (Mason)

The original Gus’s is in Mason, but in recent years it's expended to 25 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 has been reported to take twice as long to complete an order than their estimated time. Still worth it? Most definitely. The golden brown casing keeps the interior juicy, and the simple but effective team of salt and cayenne make for a seasoning that lingers on your lips (and is most welcome there).

Texas: Lucy’s Fried Chicken (Austin)
Lucy’s Fried Chicken

Texas: Lucy’s Fried Chicken (Austin)

The folks behind Lucy’s Fried Chicken know when to stick with the classics and when to experiment; in this case, always stick with the classics. Their menu offers fried gizzards and fried livers alongside the expected fried chicken basket, with no fancy explanation as to why the chicken tastes so good. They even serve a cold fried chicken that’s also delicious, and that’s saying something. It’s in their other menu items that they get creative — see the grilled diablo oysters, Mexican Coke sweet potatoes, and sweet tea cheese pie.

Utah: Pretty Bird (Salt Lake City)

Jon L./Yelp

Utah: Pretty Bird (Salt Lake City)

Chef Viet Pham proved that he’s a great chef when he was named Food & Wine’s Best New Chef in 2011 and beat Bobby Flay in a 2012 episode of “Iron Chef,” and he’s recently proven that he’s a master of the art of fried chicken with Pretty Bird, which opened in Salt Lake City in February 2018. The focus here is on Nashville-style hot chicken, and if the daily lines out the door are any indication, he’s hit the nail on the head. He spent five years developing his fried chicken, which is served boneless in a sandwich or as a quarter bird. For the true Nashville hot experience, order the quarter bird, which is brushed with hot oil and doused in a spice mix of customizable heat before being served atop a slice of bread with pickles. The crust retains its enviable crispiness, the chicken stays moist underneath, and all the flavors and textures are in perfect harmony.

Vermont: Misery Loves Company (Winooski)

Vermont: Misery Loves Company (Winooski)

What started as a popular Vermont food truck in 2012 went brick-and-mortar in 2013, and today it’s one of the Burlington area’s most popular restaurants (with its own farm, to boot!). The focused menu boasts handmade pastas and plenty of seasonally-inspired items, but convince everyone at your table to order the family-style fried chicken, because it’ll be worth it. The locally-sourced bird is coated in a crunchy crust that shatters when you bite into it, revealing moist, flavorful meat underneath. It comes with two vegetable sides; make sure you dunk everything in to the honey butter it’s served with.

Virginia: Moseberth’s (Portsmouth)

Eric B./Yelp

Virginia: Moseberth’s (Portsmouth)

Moseberth’s has been a Norfolk-area 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.

Washington: Ma'ono (Seattle)
Ma’ono Fried Chicken & Whiskey

Washington: Ma'ono (Seattle)

Twice fried and umami-spiced, the Hawaiian-style fried chicken at Seattle’s Ma’Ono is served with kimchee, rice, and chile sauce. You can order either a half or a whole bird, and a gluten-free option is available. If you have green sensibilities, you can rest assured that your chickens were raised naturally in Mount Vernon, Washington. Don’t forget to check out their extensive list of whiskeys to wash it all down.

Washington, D.C.: Birch & Barley

Birch & Barley

Washington, D.C.: Birch & Barley

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. Food & Wine rated it as some of the best fried chicken in the nation, and named chef Kyle Bailey the People’s Best New Chef Mid-Atlantic. It must be the sweet/savory balance that Birch & Barley so skillfully strikes, with its heavily breaded, flavorful chicken and the hearty pecan-waffle combination.

West Virginia: Dirty Bird (Morgantown)

Sher Y./Yelp

West Virginia: Dirty Bird (Morgantown)

Open since late 2011, Dirty Bird keeps the focus on chicken, both in fried and egg form; there’s also a wide variety of chicken sandwiches on offer. As per usual, when you see fried chicken on the menu, it’s the thing to order. Chef-owner Kim Noville dredges her chicken in black pepper-heavy seasoned flour before pressure-frying it, and the end result is a crispy, crunchy, tender bird that’s found legions of fans.

Wisconsin: Tomken's Bar & Grill (Milwaukee)

Brian H./Yelp

Wisconsin: Tomken's Bar & Grill (Milwaukee)

Tomken’s Bar and Grill serves fried chicken “hobo-style,” with fries, coleslaw, and Italian bread, and the thin batter doesn’t let the crunch overpower the poultry’s natural flavor. If you’re lucky, your visit might fall when the “sauce of the week” is the Nutty Rooster, which consists of peanut butter loosened with sriracha.

Wyoming: Café Genevieve (Jackson)
Café Genevieve

Wyoming: Café Genevieve (Jackson)

The adorably quaint Cafe Genevieve, located inside a circa-1910 log cabin and in business since 2010, is a Jackson Hole destination. Chef Joshua Governale’s menu is Southern-influenced, with standouts including fried rockfish, smoked turkey leg with mole colorado, and elk sirloin, but don’t pass up the opportunity to try Wyoming’s best fried chicken, available either on a waffle during brunch or with mac and cheese during dinner. The chicken is dunked in batter before heading into the fryer, so the resulting fried chicken is coated in a shatteringly crisp crust that hides perfectly cooked chicken underneath. If you come during brunch, you’re in luck: Café Genevieve also serves the best brunch in the state.

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