The 12 Best Fried Chicken Joints in America
Breasts and thighs and grease galore
If there’s one thing we’d break our diets for any day (and twice on Sundays), it’s fried chicken. Great with waffles for breakfast, cold out of a picnic basket or steaming hot with a flaky biscuit and a pile of cole slaw, it’s the consummate comfort food. Here are our 12 favorite places for a good old-fashioned grease fest.
Willie Mae’s Scotch House: New Orleans, LA
New Orleans isn’t just about gumbo, po’boys, and beignets. As the hours-long line at this Treme legend proves, they also have some of the best fried birds in the country. Damn them.
Federal Donuts: Philadelphia, PA
The City of Brotherly Love has officially gone crazy for Michael Solomonov, who has built an empire of haute Israeli cuisine. How does fried chicken fit into that? Get an order with the za’atar dry rub and an allspice-scented doughnut and we promise, you’ll have no further questions.
Busy Bee Café: Atlanta, GA
Don’t let the cutesy name fool you--this is serious Southern soul food. The chickens are brined for a day, floured and fried in peanut oil, just as they have been since the café opened its doors back in 1947.
Honey Butter Fried Chicken: Chicago, IL
Maybe you can resist a plate of fried chicken that’s served with little honeycomb-shaped biscuits and a tub of sweet butter to slather on every bite… But we sure can’t.
Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack: Nashville, TN
Super-spicy, cayenne-drenched hot chicken is the name of the game in Nashville, and Prince’s--which claims to be the first place to serve it--is the place to go. Order wisely: Medium hot here would be pants-on-fire hot anywhere else.
Momofuku: New York, NY
Fried chicken isn’t on the regular menu at David Chang’s original noodle bar, but if you make a reservation four weeks ahead of time, and bring seven of your friends, you can get the special dinner: one Southern fried chicken, one Korean fried chicken, moo shoo pancakes, four special sauces and an herb basket. Trust us--it’s always the right move.
Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles: Los Angeles, CA
These days, fried chicken and waffles are a brunch-menu mainstay. Credit Roscoe’s, who started serving the strange and wonderful combo in Long Beach in 1975. Pro tip: The maple syrup isn’t just for the waffles.
Mama Dips: Chapel Hill, NC
With a name like Mama Dips, how could the fried chicken possibly be bad? At this college-town favorite, the peppery, shortening-fried bird doesn’t disappoint. Make sure to get a side of greens, too, and some black-eyed peas.
Yardbird: Miami, FL
We admit that fried chicken and bikini bods don’t exactly go hand in hand. But no one told Yardbird, which is defiantly serving up some of the country’s best comfort food right there on South Beach. We advise going for broke with the Chicken ’N Watermelon ’N Waffles, which comes with hot sauce honey, bourbon maple syrup and a cheddar chow chow waffle.
Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken: Memphis, TN or Mason, TN
Perhaps the quintessential American fried chicken--juicy on the inside, crispy and salty on the outside, served with a side of slaw and baked beans on a gingham tablecloth. Gus’s is now a regional chain, but we like the original Tennessee locations for a little bit of authentic charm.
Barbecue Inn: Houston, TX
It may be called the Barbecue Inn, but all the locals at this old-time Houston diner know that the fried-to-order chicken--which comes out piping hot and somehow almost greaseless--is the thing to get.
Harvest: Louisville, KY
All the birds at this farm-to-table spot are locally sourced, so you can feel virtuous as you dive into your pickle-brined chicken thighs, country-braised greens and buttermilk ranch. It’s practically like eating a salad.