The 10 Best Places to Eat Fried Chicken in the South Slideshow
July 22, 2015
A lot of these spots are in one state; can you guess which?
The 10 Best Places to Eat Fried Chicken in the South
There are plenty of places around the country — and the world — that serve excellent fried chicken. But why not focus on the region that without doubt does country-style fried chicken the best? Here are the 10 best places to eat fried chicken in the South.
#10 Arnold's Country Chicken, Nashville
Yelp / Sonia C
Arnold's Country Chicken has been serving homestyle "meat and three" platters (a meat entrée with three sides) and delectable fried chicken to Nashville for about 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 of those fancy culinary verbs 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.
#9 Biscuit Love, Nashville
Husband-and-wife team Karl and Sarah Worley began Biscuit Love as a truck in 2012, but have since opened a brick-and-mortar brunch spot with more options. Their hot fried chicken is as good as ever, though, as is their “Easy Nasty”: fried chicken thighs with aged Cheddar and sausage gravy. In 2014, Karl Worley told The Daily Meal that house-made mustard and local honey play off the spices in the hot chicken; that might be why, in the few years that it’s been up and running, Biscuit Love has already become a Nashville institution.
#8 Mary Mac's Tea Room, Atlanta
Mary Mac’s Tea Room is an Atlanta institution that has been serving flocks of happy diners 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, which is believed to be an aphrodisiac) and a piece of cornbread?
#7 Husk, Charleston, S.C.
Yelp / Damien S
The original Charleston and the Nashville locations of Husk are located in stunning Victorian-style houses, and the fried chicken at both branches is equally picturesque. Once upon a time, diners had to call ahead and place an order with the chef himself, James Beard award-winning Sean Brock, two days in advance, but now the fried chicken is a staple on the daily-changing lunch menus of both locations. The secret is fat: The chicken is fried in butter, chicken fat, bacon fat, and country ham fat.
#6 Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tenn.
#5 Prince's Hot Chicken Shack, Nashville
Prince’s Hot Chicken is widely recognized as one of the best dives for fried chicken. The chicken is available with four different levels of spice: mild, medium, hot, and extra hot. Unlike most chicken wings that are dripping in sauce, Prince’s chicken is generously seasoned and fried to perfection. So famous and legendary is Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack that the fried chicken at Holeman & Finch Public House (No. 25 on this list) is a tribute to Prince’s. In fact, Prince's invented “Nashville hot chicken.” If that’s not reason enough to visit, then we’re not sure what is.
#4 Hattie B's, Nashville
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 the perfectly crisp, not-too-thick texture. The secret to the spice is a little bit of brown sugar to lighten up the cayenne. Expect to wait in line for at least an hour, but also expect to not regret doing so once you get this incredible plate of chicken. It’s no surprise they stood out at the 2015 Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival.
#3 Lucy’s Fried Chicken, Austin
A dark horse candidate, Lucy’s Fried Chicken was not on our previous list, but soared to the top of this year’s. Why? It might be because they know when to stick with the classics and when to experiment. 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.
#2 Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken, Mason, Tenn.
Yelp / Michael U
The original Gus’s is in Mason, but it has six locations in four states — all south of the Mason-Dixon Line. But don’t worry; they are planning on expanding far beyond that. They topped our Best Fried Chicken list in 2014, and still linger at the top. 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 the estimate they give diners. 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).
#1 Willie Mae's Scotch House, New Orleans
Yelp / Jenn F
Willie Mae Seaton began serving mind-blowing fried chicken from a shack attached to her Tremé home more than 30 years ago. The low-key operation remained a local treasure until 2005, when the James Beard Foundation honored it with its "American Classic" award and let the rest of the nation in on the secret. A few weeks after winning the award, Willie Mae’s Scotch House was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, but members of the Southern Foodways Alliance pulled together to rebuild the cherished chicken establishment. We — and many other diners the world over — are so happy and grateful that they did. Mae’s great-granddaughter runs the Scotch House now, and a few Seaton family members populate the small staff, upholding the same dedication to unadulterated Southern cuisine that the restaurant is so well known for.