Can you really go wrong with fried chicken? Perhaps not. However, you can certainly go very, very right with it, as these institutions, from New York City to Los Angeles, deliciously prove. Here are the 10 best fried chicken spots in America — the top 10 winners from our most recent list of America’s 75 Best Fried Chicken Spots.
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.
This late-night spot, 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 West Coast — and has since expanded into a small local chain of restaurants. The list of celebrity diners is endless (which is no surprise, considering its Los Angeles locale), but regulars include Snoop Dogg and Larry King; even President Obama made a pit stop at Roscoe’s during a visit to Los Angeles. The chicken is fried fresh to order, and make sure to ask for your waffles to be cooked extra-crispy to avoid potential sogginess. Roscoe’s has been mentioned in movies like Rush Hour and Swingers, as well as in a Ludacris song, and their fried chicken has earned praised from LA Weekly and The New York Times.
Momofuku Noodle Bar doesn’t just serve fried chicken; Momofuku Noodle Bar serves a feast. This specialty even has its own section on the menu. 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. Whether your party is of four or 10, nobody will be disappointed with this delicious feast. Lovers of Momofuku fried chicken now have more reason to rejoice: Chang recently opened Fuku, a lunch spot in New York, which only serves fried chicken sandwiches, fries, and salad.
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, they invented “Nashville hot chicken.” If that’s not reason enough to visit, then we’re not sure what is.
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 perfect spice is actually 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.
The fried chicken at this beloved Williamsburg gem 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, with small tables and enough seating for only a few lucky guests at a time. 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.
If you find yourself in Los Angeles, stopping for some fried chicken at Son of a Gun should be at the top of your list (and not just because it’s at the top of ours). This isn’t your typical plate of fried chicken; here, you’ll find a hearty fried chicken sandwich on the menu. The chicken is generously topped with spicy B&B pickle slaw and sits atop a smear of sriracha aïoli. This messy $11 sandwich will be well worth every penny, every bite, every stain on your finger and probably your clothing, too.
Lucy’s Fried Chicken
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.
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. 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).
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.