While fried chicken has its roots in the South, imaginative chefs from coast to coast recognize the dish’s inherent appeal as a comforting, crispy, and juicy dish. Here are our favorite fried chicken restaurants from throughout the nation.
Best Fried Chicken
Michael Solomonov’s Federal Donuts; Philadelphia
Federal Donuts’ simple, wickedly wonderful business model—excellent fried chicken and doughnuts—has proven so popular that multiple shops have opened in the city. The chicken is double-fried for added crispiness and is seasoned or glazed, depending on the area, with flavors such as chili garlic and buttermilk ranch.
Fuku; New York, NY
David Chang incited a cultural uprising when he founded Fuku in New York, a fried chicken sandwich restaurant that now has outposts in the Financial District, Brookfield Place, and Hudson Yards. Crispy thigh meat soaked in habanero and buttermilk and piled on a steamed potato bun with fermented chickpea butter continues to generate lines.
Watershed on Peachtree; Atlanta
Replace the first phrase with “The Atlanta institution has undergone numerous modifications, yet it continues to serve outstanding fried chicken. The chicken, marinated in buttermilk and fried in ham hock-flavored fry fat, is now served for lunch and dinner on Wednesdays and is typically sold out by 7:30 p.m.
Little Goat Diner; Chicago
There are numerous appearances of fried chicken in this text (including accompanying onion brioche French toast). The Crispy Creole Chicken Sandwich with tartar sauce and pickled jalapeno should not be missed.
Succotash Restaurant; Penn Quarter, Washington, D.C.
Ed Lee’s fried chicken is served two ways at Succotash: stacked with pickled okra and rosewater-scented waffles, then topped with salty Manchego and maple syrup aged in Pappy Van Winkle bourbon barrels; and “dirty,” tossed in a funky Korean honey gochujang sauce, then plated with blue cheese, crumbled nori chips, and pickled jalapeno.
Yardbird Southern Table and Bar; Miami
Fantastic chicken is cooked in lard and served with Tabasco-spiked honey after a 27-hour soak in a sugar-salt brine with a dash of paprika and cayenne pepper.
Beasley’s Chicken + Honey; Raleigh, NC
Ashley Christensen’s rendition of chicken and waffles features extra-crunchy, triple-fried chicken and a thick, custard-filled Belgian waffle. “It’s all about the textures,” she says.
Wayfare Tavern; San Francisco
The secret to Tyler Florence’s flawlessly crispy and juicy chicken is roasting it at 200 degrees for 2 1/2 hours before coating it with seasoned flour and frying it in oil scented with garlic and herbs.
Pies-N-Thighs; Brooklyn, NY
“I am on record as a fried-chicken fanatic,” remarked former F&W editor-in-chief Dana Cowin, who wasn’t let down by this Williamsburg hotspot noted for its fried chicken seasoned with paprika, black pepper, and cayenne. “I loved the cozy atmosphere and comfort meals.
Crisp; Chicago, IL
The quick-service restaurant offers six different varieties of Korean fried chicken. Seoul The birds are dipped in a garlic-ginger-soy mixture, sprinkled with flour, and double-fried for a mystifyingly oil-free finish. The plain Jane has a golden covering that is nearly translucent.
Son of a Gun; Los Angeles, CA
At their popular follow-up to Animal, chefs Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook serve a flawless fried-chicken sandwich with spicy b&b pickle slaw and rooster aioli, inspired by Chick-fil-A and Bakesale Betty of Georgia and Oakland, respectively. Their version is served on a brioche bun with spicy pickle slaw, shredded lettuce, and Sriracha aioli.
Birch & Barley; Washington, DC
During brunch service, Kyle Bailey, winner of Food & Wine’s People’s Best New Chef Mid-Atlantic, improves fried chicken with Belgian waffles. The entrée is served with buttered nuts and a maple-chicken jus, while the restaurant’s beer list contains over 500 bottles.
Central Michel Richard; Washington, DC
At his flagship restaurant, Citronelle, Michel Richard is renowned for his inventive French-style presentations, but at Central, he concentrates on hearty comfort foods such as fried chicken. His super-crisp version grew so popular that he now offers lunchtime takeaway by the bucket.
Perry St.; New York, NY
Jean-Georges Vongerichten obtains the ethereal crust on his beautiful fried chicken by applying the batter as foam with a whipped cream siphon.
Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles; Los Angeles, CA
Chefs have begun to modernize chicken and waffles with refined sauces and handcrafted waffles, but this California-based restaurant was one of the first to serve the savory-sweet breakfast-and-dinner dish. On weekends, several locations remain open until 4:00 a.m.
Ad Hoc; Napa Valley, CA
Chef Thomas Keller soaks his chicken in a lemony brine before frying it to achieve its juiciness and crispness. The chicken, served every other Monday at Ad Hoc, is one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes. “Since Fried Chicken Night only occurs twice per month,” explains Keller, “people have a great sense of anticipation.” Addendum, a stand in the restaurant’s garden, sell the chicken as a boxed lunch on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Mama Dip’s Kitchen; Chapel Hill, NC
This establishment is frequented by basketball legend Michael Jordan. Mildred Council, often known as Mama Dip, serves a country breakfast and a variety of Southern cuisines, such as crispy fried chicken.
Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill; Las Vegas, NV
The Cosmopolitan Hotel enticed some of New York City’s finest restaurateurs, including Bruce and Eric Bromberg, to Las Vegas. Their Blue Ribbon restaurants specialize in chicken with a matzo meal crust that is extremely crunchy. Here, it is accentuated with wasabi honey, a Japanese condiment.
Mary Mac’s Tea Room; Atlanta, GA
Since 1945, this Atlanta institution that resembles a country kitchen has served fried chicken and yeasty rolls. According to Southern customs, the tea is quite sweet.
Willie Mae’s Scotch House; New Orleans, LA
The Southern Foodways Association helped reconstruct this chicken shack after Hurricane Katrina because of its significance to the community. Willie Mae’s, now a neat white edifice, continues to serve fried chicken with a crispy batter and delicious cornbread cakes.
Jestine’s; Charleston, SC
This low-country café serves some of the city’s most revered fried chicken, made more popular by Rachael Ray’s $40 a Day and Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations—hence the frequent presence of a line. Even after indulging in fried green tomatoes and corn fritters, it would be prudent to order the coconut cream pie with a deliciously flaky crust.
Bubba’s Cooks Country; Dallas, TX
Once a Texaco gas station, Bubba’s is now a diner with a famous drive-through. The chicken is brined in milk and seasonings, dredged in flour, and then deep-fried, but the experience is heightened with Texas Wildflower honey on each table (takeout orders include little packets) and hot rolls cooked throughout service.
Hattie’s; Saratoga Springs, NY
Since its opening in 1938, the owners of this Saratoga Springs chicken shack have changed twice, but the heavily seasoned pieces remain to adhere to the original recipe.
Pine State Biscuits; Portland, OR
A piece of fried chicken is extravagant enough for some individuals. These individuals should not order the Wedgie from Pine State Biscuits, which consists of a biscuit stuffed with buttermilk fried chicken, a fried green tomato, iceberg lettuce, and blue cheese dressing. And they should never order the Reggie Deluxe (picture), which is a biscuit topped with fried chicken, bacon, cheddar, gravy, and a fried egg cooked over easy.
Prince’s; Nashville, TN
We owe André Prince Jeffries a debt of gratitude for developing one of the greatest homegrown American triumphs: fiery, crispy, sour hot chicken topped with a few pickles.
Hattie B’s; Nashville, TN
It is relatively new to the scene, but Hattie’s is perhaps as good as Prince’s, the city’s oldest hot-chicken restaurant. The fried chicken is consistently crispy, juicy, and spicy. Get the dark meat on white bread with dill pickles.
Husk; Charleston, SC
Ignore the emphasis on ultra-secret batter formulas. During his stay at Husk, chef Sean Brock worked tirelessly to answer the issue, “In how many different fats can chicken be fried?” The famed Husk chicken is prepared by frying it in butter, chicken fat, bacon fat, and country ham fat.
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