The Best Fried Chicken in Chicago, Ranked
How have we not paired fried chicken with doughnuts before?
We’re living in a Golden Era for fried chicken in Chicago, and, honestly, we couldn’t be happier about it. Here are our 16 favorite places to get down with some crispy, crunchy, finger lickin’ goodness.
16. Smalls, Smoke Shack & More
True to its name, this new BBQ joint is a tiny restaurant with just a few tall chairs. But the flavors are big. We’re talking buttermilk-brined chicken with oddly amazing condiments like banana ketchup.
4009 N. Albany St.; 312-857-4221 or smallschicago.com
15. Do-Rite Donuts & Chicken
Juicy, southern-style chicken sandwiches paired with some of the most uh-mazing doughnuts in the city? It’s a match made in cheat-day heaven.
233 E. Erie St.; 312-344-1374 or doritedonuts.com
14. Mother Cluckers Kitchen
The signature “broasted chicken” is cooked to perfection in a “sealed, pressurized environment with canola oil.” Apparently this method reduces the calories by a third, but you’d never notice considering how tasty it is.
5200 N. Elston Ave.; 773-685-4630 or mothercluckerskitchen.com
13. Leghorn Fried Chicken
From Nashville Hot to pickle-brined, each bite of Leghorn chicken is a flavor explosion with unbelievable sides to boot. Make it a sandwich with one of Leghorn’s buttery, light-as-air biscuits.
959 N. Western Ave.; 773-394-4444 or leghornchicken.com
12. Evanston Chicken Shack
In business for over three decades, this no-frills spot is so worth the drive. The breading is beautiful in its simplicity: Salt and pepper is all it takes to elevate these wings and thighs to the fried-chicken hall of fame.
1925 Ridge Ave.; 847-328-9360 or evanstonchickenshack.com
11. The Roost Carolina Kitchen
A North Carolina native, chef Joe Scroggs brings a distinct southern sensibility to his expertly seasoned bird. Opt for the Nashville hot or take it easy with the herb chicken on a biscuit sandwich.
Multiple locations; theroostcarolinakitchen.com
Jay-Z and Beyoncé stopped by this Wicker Park spot after her Soldier Field Lemonade performance, so you know it’s good. Go all in and order a side of creamy pimento cheese to accompany your bucket of crispy awesome.
1700 W. Division St.; 773-384-9700 or buckschicago.com
9. The Budlong
This new Lakeview spot serves up extra hot, extra crunchy pieces of fried chicken smothered in a cayenne paste and topped with vinegary pickles that add a most excellent tang.
2928 N. Broadway St.; 773-270-9005 or thebudlong.com
8. Uncle Remus Saucy Fried Chicken
This South Side institution has been serving up peppery, perfectly coated chicken for so long that we swear it practically invented the deep fryer. As the name suggests, the bird is meant to be slathered in the signature sweet sauce.
Multiple locations; uncleremususa.com
7. Parson’s Chicken & Fish
Don’t let the negroni slushies distract you; the fried chicken is still the belle of the ball at Parson’s. Stake your claim on one of the patio’s picnic tables and dig in to some of the most flavorful fried chicken around.
2952 W. Armitage Ave.; 773-384-3333 or parsonschickenandfish.com
Get thyself to the Alinea Group’s newest and most casual restaurant to date and revel in the glory that is the fried chicken plate. Served with a salt-and-pepper dust and garnish of chamomile flowers, this isn’t your average ol’ bucket.
951 W. Fulton Market; roisterrestaurant.com
5. Harold’s Chicken Shack
Harold’s crispy, crunchy fried bird deserves a shrine in the Chicago History Museum, as far as we’re concerned. This institution is one of the city’s most essential restaurants, and we’re still all about sopping up sauce with those two slices of throwback white bread.
Multiple locations; haroldschickendowntown.com
If you’ve never had Korean fried chicken, drop what you’re doing and head over to this Lincoln Park casual-cool restaurant, like, yesterday. As if the chicken weren't already everything, the sauces (which range from traditional BBQ to a gingery, soy-based Seoul Sassy) take it to the next level.
2940 N. Broadway St.; 773-697-7610 or crisponline.com
3. Big Jones
Big Jones is southern fine dining at, well, its finest. Chef Paul Fehribach coats his Amish chicken in a cornmeal crust before frying it in ham drippings and clarified butter. Yes, we said ham drippings. Served at a white-linen table with dressed up sides, this is the picture of decadence.
5347 N. Clark St.; 773-275-5725 or bigjoneschicago.com
2. Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken
Chicago is lucky to have been anointed with the first outpost of this beloved Tennessee institution. Moist meat, a spicy bite and a crust with a satisfying crunch make this one memorable fried chicken experience.
Multiple locations; gusfriedchicken.com
1. Honey Butter Fried Chicken
It’s hard to beat any fried chicken that comes with an ample side of literal honey butter for dipping. It’s perfect and we love it with all our heart. P.S. Find a way save room for dessert. The toffee-chocolate-chip cookie is almost criminally good.
3361 N. Elston Ave.; 773-478-4000 or honeybutter.com