Questlove Opening Chicken Joint in New York
The Roots drummer is collaborating with Stephen Starr for a Chelsea Market stand
Hold up: that Hell's Kitchen eatery might be all about Ivan ramen, but Chelsea Market is getting Questlove, and if that means some jam sessions from The Roots, we are down.
Grub Street (via Foobooz) reports that The Roots drummer Questlove is developing a food concept with Stephen Starr, bringing his fried chicken drumstick venture to Chelsea Market in early May in a venture called HyBird. We really want a second fried-chicken off with Blue Ribbon, since Questlove often DJs at Blue Ribbon's home, Brooklyn Bowl, anyways. His recipe may have lost against David Chang's fried chicken last year, but he's had a year to perfect it.
According to the official site, the collab between Questlove and Starr is slated to open in spring of 2013. "You asked for it... you got it," Questlove tweeted. "Gourmet food for the eclectic palette." Also on the menu: dumplings and cupcakes. Perhaps chicken and cupcakes is the next food pairing?
Popeyes Sandwich Strikes a Chord for African-Americans
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The videos of mind-numbing first bites and long lines, the celebratory memes and fawning reviews: The return of the Popeyes chicken sandwich on Sunday has met with the same social-media frenzy that first greeted it last summer.
But embedded in many of the catchy memes and witty messages is not just an affection for spicy seasoning and crisp breading. There’s also a sentiment that Popeyes has struck a special chord for African-Americans and anybody who grew up eating black soul food — specifically, that its celebrated sandwich tastes like something that could have come from a black home kitchen.
One Twitter user, @RocBoy_Mel, wrote Sunday that he did not know whose “grandma” made the sandwiches, “but I finally got my hands on one today and I was very impressed.”
Reactions like that are no accident: Popeyes has aggressively marketed itself to African-Americans, and many of its restaurants are in black communities.
In a Facebook post in August, Nadiyah Ali, a nurse from Katy, Texas, compared the sandwich to a rival’s: Chick-fil-A’s version, she wrote, tasted as if it were made “by a white woman named Sarah who grew up around black people.” The Popeyes sandwich, she added, tasted “like it was cooked by an older black lady named Lucille.”
Black people were saying they liked the chicken not just for its taste, but also for the feelings of home cooking it evoked. It was the type of chicken they could take to a family potluck and not get a side-eye.
“You most definitely can take a bucket of Popeyes chicken, and nobody’s going to say anything,” said Los, 27, who declined to give his last name as he left a Popeyes in Kansas City, Mo. “They’ll be like, ‘Ah, who cooked this?’ ”
Not everyone, of course, thinks Popeyes tastes down-home. Asked if Popeyes chicken reminded him of home cooking, Corey Thatch, 38, a friend of Los, replied, “I ain’t going to say all that, because my grandma’s chicken was my grandma’s chicken.”
Still, even approaching authenticity is no small feat for a company that was started by a white man and is now owned by the conglomerate, Restaurant Brands International, that also owns Burger King and Tim Hortons.
It can be easy to misfire with dishes that have deep traditions among African-Americans — I recall my wife’s gagging as she described biting into macaroni and cheese made by a white co-worker, and discovering that it contained corn. Then there was the moment in 2006 when Oprah Winfrey took an on-air bite of a chicken-and-spinach dish made by a white woman who had won $1 million for it in the Pillsbury Bake-Off.
“Did we add salt and pepper?” Ms. Winfrey asked with a befuddled grimace. (The woman had not.) “I think we needed salt and pepper.”
When the founder of Popeyes, Al Copeland, opened his first fried-chicken joint, Chicken on the Run, in a New Orleans suburb in the early 1970s, sales were underwhelming. He reopened with a new, spicier seasoning mixture, and Popeyes was born.
What to Cook Right Now
Sam Sifton has menu suggestions for the coming days. There are thousands of ideas for what to cook waiting for you on New York Times Cooking.
- Do not miss Yotam Ottolenghi’s incredible soba noodles with ginger broth and crunchy ginger. for fungi is a treat, and it pairs beautifully with fried snapper with Creole sauce.
- Try Ali Slagle’s salad pizza with white beans, arugula and pickled peppers, inspired by a California Pizza Kitchen classic.
- Alexa Weibel’s modern take on macaroni salad, enlivened by lemon and herbs, pairs really nicely with oven-fried chicken.
- A dollop of burrata does the heavy lifting in Sarah Copeland’s simple recipe for spaghetti with garlic-chile oil.
The South has its own well-known flavors, from the hands of chefs of many backgrounds. So it is unsurprising that the recipe trademarked by Mr. Copeland, who died in 2008, has resonated across racial lines.
“The heritage of the Popeyes brand comes from Louisiana, where many cultures come together to produce a unique and beautiful culinary experience,” Dori Alvarez, a company spokeswoman, wrote in an email.
But black people were at the root of many southern culinary traditions. Those traditions have traveled with African-American families who resettled throughout the country. “Black hands were in that pot all the time, and still are,” said Omar Tate, the chef and founder of Honeysuckle, a pop-up dinner series in New York and Philadelphia that uses food to explore black identity.
Popeyes would not provide information about its customer demographics. But over all, African-Americans, who are about 13 percent of the country’s population, buy more fried chicken than their numbers would indicate: nearly 30 percent of all fast-food fried chicken, and 15 percent of all breaded chicken sandwiches, according to the NPD Group, a market research firm.
Ms. Ali, who wrote the Facebook post comparing the Popeyes sandwich to Chick-fil-A’s, said she wasn’t suggesting that white people could not cook as well as African-Americans — just differently. They seem to rely on precise measurements, she said.
“Black folks don’t cook like that,” she said. “Our recipes are a little bit of this, a little bit of that. We season until it’s right. That’s what Popeyes tastes like.”
Mr. Tate, the chef, said it was difficult to liken Popeyes to authentically black cooking. When he thinks of authenticity, he thinks of the techniques of someone like Edna Lewis, a pioneering black chef, who fried meats in lard and seasoned the fryer with smoked pork.
“That’s authentic. That’s what soul food is to me,” he said. “It’s one of those black magic things that can’t be reproduced.”
Popeyes’ inroads with black Americans may be as much about marketing as anything else. The company has made appeals to African-Americans in its advertising, stoking criticism that it is pandering. When the chain introduced a fictitious black woman named Annie the Chicken Queen in its commercials about a decade ago, some people criticized it as racist. Ms. Alvarez, the Popeyes spokeswoman, declined to discuss the company’s marketing.
But those marketing decisions, and the location of many Popeyes restaurants in black communities, have given many African-Americans a sense of connection with the menu, said Psyche Williams-Forson, the chairwoman of American studies at the University of Maryland-College Park and the author of “Building Houses Out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food and Power.”
“Black communities can say, ‘This is our own and it tastes like our own,’ ” she said. “You’ve got location. You’ve got taste. You’ve got texture. And you’ve got a food that people enjoy. You have a perfect storm there.”
If Popeyes has impressed African-Americans, the hubbub over the sandwich has also raised questions of corporate responsibility. There have been demands that the chain invest in the black communities that have driven much of its success, and calls for better treatment of low-wage workers who have toiled to meet the heavy demand for the sandwich.
“We own the fried-chicken narrative,” said Nicole Taylor, who is black and the executive food editor at the website Thrillist. “Black people are turning it into a political moment.”
New York man claims to have found joint in Popeyes Chicken Sandwich
Argument reportedly began after someone cut the special line for the popular chicken sandwich at a Popeyes restaurant in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
One New York City man has cried “fowl” after reportedly finding a joint in his Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich last week.
On Monday, Jeremy Merdinger took to Twitter to share a photo of the singed blunt that he allegedly found in his sandwich after a few bites.
“Do all your chicken sandwiches come with a joint in them? Found this in my sandwich the other day in NYC. Just wanted to make sure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else,” Merdinger wrote of the unwanted side, which he allegedly found on Nov. 4.
“I was shocked at first. These are things you see on social media a couple of times a year, and for it to happen to me, I was shocked and disgusted,” the 23-year-old man told the New York Post.
Merdinger claimed he ordered a spicy and a regular chicken sandwich from a Manhattan location of the Louisiana-inspired chain earlier this month, and took the order home to eat. Digging into the spicy sandwich first, he reported it tasted “fine,” until a doobie fell out of the second, regular-flavored sandwich – a discovery that made him nearly sick to his stomach.
“I was taking my last couple of bites from the second sandwich when it fell out and into my lap. It was 100 percent marijuana,” he said. “I saved the evidence. It’s in a plastic bag at home.”
The stunned customer now claims he emailed Popeyes to complain about the incident, but allegedly never received a response.
Merdinger asked for backup from his boss at work, Ryan Berger, regarding advice on next steps, the Post reports. The men supposedly learned the officials for the chicken-centric chain had investigated the incident, but did not have a response or apology to give, per the outlet.
The reported lack of reaction prompted Merdinger to share his story on social media.
Matt Bolus, shown here in Brooklyn, is executive chef and owner of Nashville’s acclaimed 404 Kitchen. (Photo: Gabi Porter.)
Bolus is one of Nashville’s most respected chefs, having helmed the kitchens at local staples Watermark and Flyte before opening the much-acclaimed 404 Kitchen in the city’s rapidly expanding Gulch neighborhood in 2013. The restaurant was soon nominated for a James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant. He grew up in nearby Knoxville and immediately became enamored with hot chicken — as many locals do — upon relocating to Nashville. “When I first moved to Nashville, everyone kept bugging me, like, ‘Try this, try this.’ Eventually, I just went to go eat it because I was tired of hearing about it. I didn’t know what it was, and I wanted to know.” When Bolus informed me of his impending trip to New York, I proposed a hot chicken crawl to see how the Big Apple’s interpretations of the dish stacked up to the big boys in Nashville. Naturally, he was elated.
This Arthur Avenue spot specializes in Southern Italian cuisine, specifically from Salerno, a port city nestled below the Amalfi Coast. The Neapolitan pizzas are the main attraction, flanked by a slew of homemade pastas and a nice of mix of seafood and meat entrees — and an eggplant parm appetizer option. The place sources from a local institution down the block, Casa de Mozzarella. There’s also a Flatiron offshoot, Trattoria Zero Otto Nove, housed in spacious digs (like the Bronx original).
The name says it all: myriad forms of parm get top billing at this popular Major Food Group (Carbone, The Grill) chainlet, which also has locations in Nolita (the O.G. outpost), Battery Park City, and inside the Barclays Center. Any of the parms are an obvious order, particularly the flavorful, surprisingly fluffy meatball iteration and the 10-layer eggplant parm. The sesame seeded hero yields a bigger, slightly superior sandwich than the roll does. Bonus: the rigatoni fra diavola here, bathed in a pink cream sauce with chili flakes, is remarkably similar to the celebrated spicy rigatone ala vodka served at sister restaurant Carbone — and a fraction of the price.
'Gourmet' Chicken Finger Restaurant Coming to Financial District
FINANCIAL DISTRICT &mdash A restaurant dedicated to "gourmet" chicken fingers, and some 20 varieties of sauces, is on its way to the neighborhood.
Sticky's Finger joint, which has three Manhattan locations, is slated to open its newest outpost at 21 Maiden Lane.
FiDi, are you ready to elevate your chicken with the Thai Fiesta treatment? You better be. #Stickys is coming to town! #FriDi #StickysFiDi pic.twitter.com/vLhKc4c2zl&mdash Stickys Finger Joint (@SFJNYC) January 18, 2017
The eatery, known for its unique chicken finger creations &mdash including the Thai Fiesta, chicken fingers with Thai sweet chili, taco seasonings and sesame seeds, and the Salted Caramel Pretzel, with caramel sauce, and fried pretzel bits &mdash is set to launch Thursday.
Also on the menu are sides including bacon mac fries and Cajun fries, as well as selection of chicken finger sandwiches and salads.
To celebrate its opening, the restaurant is offering $1 baskets of its chicken wings from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday.
New dishes debuting on the FiDi menu include a Bacon Mac Sandwich, chicken fingers with jalapeño cheddar sauce, chopped bacon and caramelized onions and pickles.
Does fried chicken belong on a barbecue joint's menu?
Chef Ronnie Killen cooked fried chicken at the 2019 Houston Barbecue Festival.
Robert J. Lerma / Robert J. Lerma Show More Show Less
On a recent trip to Dallas, I had an open lunch slot to try the city&rsquos barbecue offerings. It was a Monday, and many of the top barbecue joints were closed. The Slow Bone Barbeque was open, though, and nearby.
As I stepped up to the counter to place my order, a strange thing happened. Instead of the usual three-meat plate with brisket, ribs and sausage, I ordered the restaurant&rsquos highly regarded fried chicken plate.
I&rsquom a fried chicken junkie and can confirm Slow Bone serves some of the best in the state. The chicken was juicy and flavorful, and the crust was a slightly lighter and starchier version than the heavy, crispier versions made famous at chains such as Popeyes or KFC.
Houston and Austin barbecue aficionados may get a chuckle out of a Dallas barbecue joint being famous for something other than barbecue &mdash but fried dishes on barbecue-joint menus actually have a long history in the Lone Star State, especially in Houston.
Let&rsquos start with fried fish. Fried catfish has long been a staple, usually as a special on Fridays, in observance of the Catholic tradition of abstaining from eating meat on that day. Ray&rsquos BBQ Shack in Third Ward has some of the best fried catfish in the city, offered daily on the regular menu.
And let&rsquos not forget chicken-fried steak. Old-school comfort-food restaurants, including Hickory Hollow and Barbecue Inn, have full-blown barbecue menus but are arguably better known for fried items, especially C.F.S.
Ironically, Barbecue Inn is one of my favorite restaurants in Houston, just not for the barbecue.
To be sure, there are smoked meats aplenty, though craft-barbecue fans may not recognize the trimmed-and-sauced brisket. The St. Louis-cut pork ribs are simply seasoned and smoked, and can be addictive. But the glory is in the fryer, specifically the chicken.
One of the more peculiar trends in fried chicken I&rsquove noticed in the past few years is what I call the &ldquominiaturization of the chicken.&rdquo It&rsquos as if some chain restaurants are in an arms race to produce the smallest chicken possible. I&rsquoll occasionally find fried chicken legs no more than 2-3 inches long.
This is not a problem at Barbecue Inn. The colossal pieces of perfectly battered and fried chicken are shattery on the outside and plump and juicy on the inside. The chicken is cooked to order, so expect a 20- to 30-minute wait, during which time you can graze on an old-school iceberg lettuce salad.
&ldquoIt came with a salad&rdquo has always been my health-conscious rationalization for devouring a good half-pound of Barbecue Inn fried chicken. We all cope in different ways.
Fried dishes aren&rsquot just the dominion of old-school barbecue joints, though. Killen&rsquos Barbecue in Pearland pioneered the full-on fried-dish menu at a high-profile craft-barbecue joint.
There are few chefs in Texas as skilled at using a deep fryer as Ronnie Killen. The fried chicken, catfish and chicken-fried steak he served as specials on certain days became so popular that he added them as fixtures on his recently introduced dinner menu. He&rsquoll also serve them at his incoming restaurant, simply called Killen&rsquos, which will take over the former Heights location of Hickory Hollow.
Killen raised eyebrows at this year&rsquos Houston Barbecue Festival when he rolled out a couple of industrial-strength deep-fryers and served his chicken to festivalgoers expecting a riot of smoked meat. Marketing-wise, Killen has always been known to &ldquozig when everyone else zags,&rdquo and his fried-chicken-at-a-barbecue-festival was the surprise hit of the event.
Back in Dallas, I watched lovingly as tray after tray of smoked meat flowed out of the kitchen at The Slow Bone. The fried chicken had been spectacular, and I was happy to be reminded of how it has long been a canonical part of many Texas barbecue menus. But I made a mental note to get back sooner rather than later to try the barbecue.
Peaches HotHouse boasts spiciest fried chicken in New York City
If you can't take the heat, get out of the restaurant.
Bed-Stuy Southern food joint Peaches HotHouse boasts the spiciest fried chicken in New York City.
With a sweet and crispy skin, the extra-hot "Nashville Style Hothouse Chicken" costs $12 and comes with a side of pickles, egg bread and a warning that reads: "Caution! Hot Is Extremely Spicy!"
"The extra-hot chicken will kick you in your face and make you cry," promises co-owner Ben Grossman, 39. "There's a line where spicy is too much, and this chicken crosses that line."
But some folks like a little pain with their chicken.
"People come in all the time and want the extra-hot chicken," says Craig Samuels, 41, the other owner of Peaches HotHouse, which has been open since May. "They say they can handle it because they are from Jamaica or Africa or Haiti or wherever. But I don't care where you are from. It's hot."
So hot, in fact, that the restaurant keeps a jug of milk in the kitchen and waitress Maggie Herskovits has developed a routine when taking hot chicken orders.
"I feel it is my responsibility to warn customers about how spicy the chicken is," says the 25-year-old. "Sometimes guys are just trying to impress their dates, but you can't do that if you're crying."
Herskovits' advice to those who can't handle the heat: "Take off the skin. That's where most of the spiciness is."
Grossman and Samuels got the idea to serve their spicy concoction after a trip to Prince's Hot Chicken Shack in Nashville, long considered the inventor of the sub-genre of fried chicken now known as Nashville Hot Chicken.
According to Grossman, Prince's recipe was initially meant to exact revenge on a philandering boyfriend, but the plan backfired when the wayward target turned out to actually like the chicken.
Neither Grossman nor Samuels will reveal their recipe, except to say that they don't cook it ahead of time and they use the world's hottest pepper, the ghost chili, which is very apparent to anyone who has tried a piece.
Carla Hall to open Nashville hot chicken joint in New York
Ever since she rose to national prominence via her "Top Chef" appearances and co-hosting duties on "The Chew," Carla Hall has been hounded by a single question: Will the model-turned-chef-turned-caterer-turned-TV-show celebrity ever open her own restaurant?
For years, the answer was no.
That abruptly changed earlier this year when Hall announced she would partner with OTG, an airport concessionaire, to develop Page, a 150-seat restaurant inside Terminal A at Reagan National Airport. While a step toward running her own place, Page would still be a licensing deal, in which Hall serves as a consultant to execute such Southern comforts as pot pies, crab cakes and deviled eggs.
But now, after a little social-media teasing, comes the deal real: The D.C. resident will be a managing partner and the face of Carla Hall's Southern Kitchen, a fast-casual eatery specializing in Nashville hot chicken, the fiery Southern-fried staple that Hall grew up eating in her Tennessee hometown. Today, Hall and partners launched a Kickstarter campaign for Southern Kitchen, which is expected to debut in New York in spring 2015, before opening a second location in Washington, D.C. sometime in 2017. The owners are honing in on a Big Apple location but have not signed a lease yet.
"Somehow in my head, a restaurant meant fine dining. It meant sit-down," Hall says during a phone interview. "I wasn't interested in that, but somehow a 'meat and three' felt like home."
The meat, in this case, is hot chicken, the kind Hall devoured at such Nashville institutions as Prince's Hot Chicken Shack.
"I always had it mild. I didn’t like hot-hot. I know, I’m such a wimp," Hall says. "I think there should be an extremely hot chicken wall for those that survive” the highest heat level at Southern Kitchen, which, incidentally, will be "damn hot."
The 60-something-seat Southern Kitchen will sell roast chicken on a limited basis during the day, but will pressure fry its hot chicken all day, offering it both by the piece and by the tray. Sides will include Southern staples (collard greens, black-eyed peas, etc.) and seasonal specials (carrot salad with raisins in winter or creamed corn in summer) as well as a few classic breads (skillet corn bread, buttermilk biscuits). Hall, of course, will sell her signature petite cookies and other treats for dessert, including banana pudding, moon pie, chess pie, goo goo clusters, seasonal cobblers and Olive & Sinclair chocolate bars. She will also offer a rotating line of lemonades, a separate Southern breakfast menu and even a retail store for pickles, cookies, cookbooks and other merchandise. (See menu below.)
Many of recipes will be pulled from Hall's two cookbooks, including her latest, "Carla's Comfort Foods: Favorite Dishes From Around the World." Some dishes will be based on the food that Freddie Mae Glover, Hall's maternal grandmother, used to whip up for the family — the memory of which still guides Hall as she makes her way through the increasingly crowded, ever-voracious world of food celebrities.
The Best Fried Chicken in All 50 States
Few foods are more comforting, more decadent, and more delicious than a plate of fried chicken, served fresh from the skillet alongside crisp waffles, fluffy biscuits, or creamy sides. Many poultry purists argue that the world’s best fried chicken is dished out down South—but with the sheer number of talented chefs across the nation, we’re calling fowl on this claim. Here are the best fried chicken joints in all 50 states, both near and far away from the Mason-Dixon line. And since everything's better when it’s coated in flour, battered, and browned in oil, consider using this list as a restaurant field guide the next time you’re taking a cross-country road trip.
1. ALABAMA // LITTLE DONKEY
Southern flavors mix with Mexican dishes at Little Donkey in the Homewood suburb of Birmingham. For their plate of Southern Fried Chicken (which you order by the quarter- or half-chicken), the meat has been soaked in a three-chili brine to pack an extra punch.
2. ALASKA // LUCKY WISHBONE
Of the 245 reviews that Lucky Wishbone has on Trip Advisor, 155 of them mention the fried chicken. The signature dish has been on the menu since the joint opened in 1955 and has been dipped in homemade buttermilk batter and pan-fried the same way for over 60 years.
3. ARIZONA // MRS. WHITE’S GOLDEN RULE CAFE
Bringing southern flavors to the Southwest since 1964, Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Cafe has been described as an institution in Phoenix. Customers are expected to operate on the honor code when paying for their food because post-meal checks are not a thing here.
4. ARKANSAS // AQ CHICKEN HOUSE
The "AQ" in AQ Chicken House stands for Arkansas Quality, which is what the restaurant has been serving its customers since 1947. At least two former Presidents have eaten chicken here: Bill Clinton on his 47th birthday, and George H.W. Bush, who reportedly made his order from Air Force One.
5. CALIFORNIA // BROWN SUGAR KITCHEN
You can find the recipe for Chef Tanya Holland’s buttermilk fried chicken and cornmeal waffles on Oprah’s website or in the Brown Sugar Kitchen cookbook, or you can make the smarter choice and go to Oakland to try the real deal. The kitchen is open six days a week, and the chicken is available for breakfast, lunch, and on the weekends.
6. COLORADO // LOU’S FOOD BAR
Lou’s Food Bar serves up hot and spicy Nashville-style fried chicken in the Mile-High City. You can order it as a half, whole, tenders, with waffles, or as a Mother Clucker, which means on a brioche bun with a pickle, ranch, lettuce, and fries.
7. CONNECTICUT // DRUMSTIK BAR-B-Q
With a name like Drumstik Bar-B-Q and a legacy five decades strong, it’s safe to say that this place has fried chicken in the bag. Sandwiches, wings, dinners with sides, they got it all.
8. DELAWARE // WALT’S FLAVOR CRISP CHICKEN
The founder of Walt’s Flavor Crisp Chicken passed away in 2011 after decades of food service, but his wife has continued to give the people of Wilmington what they want—and most of them want fried chicken. "We have people who have been ordering for 10 years or more," owner Symanthia Lynch-Sheppard said last year. "They'll say, 'I'll have my usual.'"
9. FLORIDA // YARDBIRD SOUTHERN TABLE & BAR
is trendy and popular, and for good reason. As legend has it, the restaurant went through over 100 fried chicken recipes before deciding to go with one that co-owner John Kunkel’s grandmother created, which involves brining the meat for 27 hours.
10. GEORGIA // BUSY BEE CAFE
An Atlanta institution since 1947, the Busy Bee Cafe makes fried chicken the old fashioned way, marinating its chicken for 12 hours before frying it. The simple, no-frills fried chicken is, as the menu declares, "moist, juicy and Beelicious!" It’s served plain or smothered in gravy.
11. HAWAII // ETHEL’S GRILL
serves up tasty fried chicken with a Hawaiian twist. Their Mochiko chicken is coated in rice flour and served with a ginger ponzu dipping sauce. The tiny restaurant, hidden away under an apartment building in Kalihi, offers a wide range of American and Japanese dishes at shockingly low prices. The eponymous Ethel sold the business to culinary wizards Ryoko and Yoichi Ishii back in 1978, and they’ve been running it with their children ever since.
12. IDAHO // FORK
This hip farm-to-table restaurant serves up upscale versions of American comfort foods, including the state’s best buttermilk fried chicken and cheddar waffles. Made with local cheese and honey, Fork’s beloved fried chicken is sold every Tuesday—until it runs out.
13. ILLINOIS // DELL RHEA’S CHICKEN BASKET
Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket has been serving comfort food to travelers on Route 66 for more than six decades, and its building and iconic sign were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. But the Chicken Basket is more than a piece of Illinois history: To this day, it serves up 2000 pounds of its famous slow-cooked chicken each week.
14. INDIANA // HOLLYHOCK HILL
Hollyhock Hill cooks its “Hoosier pan-fried chicken” in a cast-iron skillet until it’s a perfect golden brown, then serves it up with heaping bowls of mashed potatoes, buttery corn, and other rich, comforting sides. Founded in 1928, Hollyhock Hill doesn’t just serve up classic Indiana fried chicken—it helped invent it.
15. IOWA // MT. HAMILL TAP
Iowa’s best fried chicken can be found at Mt. Hamill Tap, a squat nondescript pub located in the tiny town of Donnelson. As of 2010, Donnelson had a recorded population of 912 residents—which makes it all the more impressive that Mt. Hamill regularly brings in 200 customers to savor the thick, crispy fried chicken it serves up on weekly Chicken Night on Wednesdays.
16. KANSAS // BROOKVILLE HOTEL
The Brookville Hotel opened in the small Kansan town of Brookville way back in 1894. While it moved to Abilene in 2000, it’s still serving up the same family-style chicken dinner it first introduced in 1915. Nowadays, the skillet fried-chicken dinners (along with a handful of delectable sides) are the only thing on the menu. The James Beard Award-winning chicken is beautifully simple, prepared with canned milk, flour, salt, and pepper, and fried in lard.
17. KENTUCKY // HARVEST
There’s plenty of competition for best fried chicken in Kentucky—and the debate will never truly be settled—but Harvest in Louisville pulls ahead of the rest with its novel take on the fried chicken dinner. The farm-to-table restaurant serves its buttermilk fried chicken atop a hoecake or bread pudding, along with a homemade hot sauce made with beets and carrots for extra sweetness.
18. LOUISIANA // WILLIE MAE’S SCOTCH HOUSE
Willie Mae’s has been frying up juicy, tender fried chicken in New Orleans since at least the 1970s (the shop started as a combination bar, beauty salon, and barbershop in the 1950s before becoming a full-time bar and restaurant in the '70s). The restaurant’s eponymous chef, Ms. Willie Mae Seaton, received a James Beard Award for her classic comfort foods in 2005. Nowadays, the restaurant, which was dubbed "America’s Best Fried Chicken" by the Food Network and Travel Channel, is run by Ms. Willie Mae’s great granddaughter.
19. MAINE // FIGGY’S TAKEOUT & CATERING
There’s more than one way to fry a chicken. At Figgy’s Takeout & Catering, they’re cooking up their birds in a cast iron pan. The comfort food joint opened just last summer in June, and they’re already known for selling some of the best chicken the state has to offer. In addition to homestyle classics like skillet fried chicken and fluffy biscuits, the menu also includes Korean-style wings.
20. MARYLAND // HIPHOP FISH & CHICKEN
There’s no need to travel too far south of the Mason-Dixon line to find authentic fried chicken. Diners at HipHop Fish & Chicken have their choice of deep fried seafood, chicken, or a combination basket of the two. For adventurous fried chicken connoisseurs, chicken livers and gizzards fried in their flavorful batter are also available.
21. MASSACHUSETTS // TRINA’S STARLITE LOUNGE
The menu at Trina’s Starlite Lounge in Somerville, Massachusetts is jam-packed with comfort food classics, but the dish they’re most famous for is their fried chicken. At dinner, it comes served with dirty gravy, mashed potatoes, a biscuit, and hot pepper syrup. At brunch, their chicken is accompanied by a buttermilk waffle.
22. MICHIGAN // ZINGERMAN’S ROADHOUSE
Zingerman’s Delicatessen is an Ann Arbor institution, but their roadhouse located a few miles away is also worth a pit stop for the fried chicken alone. They deep fry their chicken with a black pepper buttermilk batter and serve it alongside mashed potatoes, chicken gravy, and yellow mustard coleslaw. If you prefer your fried chicken with an extra kick, the restaurant hosts Nashville hot chicken nights every Tuesday.
23. MINNESOTA // ROOSTER’S BBQ & DELI
Whether you’re craving ribs, pulled pork, or barbecue chicken, Rooster’s in St. Paul, Minnesota is home to all the classics, but their fried chicken is the real star of the show. Their signature pressure-cooker method of frying earned the dish the title of Best Fried Chicken in the Twin Cities by Mpls. St. Paul Magazine in 2011.
24. MISSISSIPPI // THE OLD COUNTRY STORE
in Lorman, Mississippi is an essential destination on any fried chicken road trip. Owner Arthur Davis, a.k.a. Mr. D, serves his Heavenly Fried Chicken which is as classic as it gets (it’s also reportedly the only fried chicken Alton Brown will eat other than what he makes at home). Here’s the best part: it’s available as part of an all-you-can-eat southern food buffet.
25. MISSOURI // PORTER’S FRIED CHICKEN
Porter’s Fried Chicken has been following the same fried chicken recipe since the day they opened over 30 years ago. Their traditional chicken is double-coated in a flour-based breading to achieve an extra-crispy crust. If the original batter doesn’t pack enough punch for you, they can make any meal spicy upon request.
26. MONTANA // ROOST FRIED CHICKEN
Roost Fried Chicken offers diners a taste of the south in big sky country. At this restaurant diners can order their fried chicken in a basket, on a sandwich, on a waffle, or on a stick. Classic southern sides like biscuits, fried okra, cheese grits, and collard greens all appear on the menu.
27. NEBRASKA // BIG MAMA’S
Some of the best fried chicken in the midwest can be found in a surprising location: the old cafeteria of what was once the Nebraska School for the Deaf. Today the space is home to Big Mama’s, an Omaha establishment known for its oven-fried chicken, which is first soaked in spice-laden buttermilk for 24 hours. Cooking chicken to perfection isn’t the only skill in Patricia "Big Mama" Barron’s repertoire: The entrepreneur is also available for events as a motivational speaker.
28. NEVADA // HEARTHSTONE KITCHEN & CELLAR
Las Vegas is famous as a gambling destination, but it’s really a culinary mecca. For your chicken fix, head to the Red Rock Casino, where Hearthstone Kitchen & Cellar fries up big helpings of moist, spicy-sweet chicken drizzled in honey.
29. NEW HAMPSHIRE // THE PURITAN BACKROOM
The Puritan Backroom, a local staple since 1917, claims to be the inventor of chicken tenders. A USA Today examination of the matter declared that while others might have been frying up the same strips in 1974, the Puritan—which was founded by Greek immigrants and also serves kababs and spanakopita—probably popularized the name. Regardless of their origins, visitors seem to agree that they’re amazing, especially with the house sauce.
30. NEW JERSEY // CHICKEN GALORE
The family-owned Chicken Galore has been frying up juicy, moist chicken along with ribs, shrimp, and fries since 1963. As one reviewer lauds, “You have not lived until you have had a bucket of fried chicken from here!” Did we mention they deliver?
31. NEW MEXICO // GOLDEN PRIDE
Albuquerque’s four Golden Pride outposts serve the area’s best chicken, as the local culture mag has testified. And it’s one of the few great fried chicken shacks that can also cook up a mean breakfast burrito.
32. NEW YORK // THE COMMODORE
There’s stiff competition to be the best at any culinary category in New York, but Brooklyn dive bar The Commodore consistently shoots to the top of New York City lists of best chicken purveyors with its perfectly crispy fried goodness. Plus, they're open until 4 a.m.
33. NORTH CAROLINA // MAMA DIP’S
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
has been churning out piping-hot chicken for going on 40 years, and while you can try your hand at founder Mildred Council’s recipes with her cookbooks, but you should probably just leave it to the expert. It’s been heralded as the best in not just the state, but the whole South.
34. NORTH DAKOTA // THE SHACK ON BROADWAY
This friendly diner on the north side of Fargo has been operating for more than two decades, serving delectable comfort foods from chicken fried steak to gooey cinnamon rolls. Their "down home cooking," as they describe it, is designed to taste just like grandma’s—or maybe better. Check out their two-piece fried chicken dinner the next time you’re in town.
35. OHIO // WHITE HOUSE CHICKEN
Barberton, a northeastern Ohio town near Akron, is famous for its lard-fried, Serbian-style chicken, served in just a handful of local "chicken houses." The best of these—according to years of local polls and an episode of Food Network’s Food Feud—is White House Chicken, which just opened up a second outpost in the Cleveland suburb of Medina.
36. OKLAHOMA // EISCHEN’S BAR
The legendary Eischen’s Bar, located in the 1200-person town of Okarche, traces its roots back to Prohibition. But its brews aren’t as notable as its birds, which are fried whole and delivered straight to your table.
37. OREGON // SCREEN DOOR
True to its Portland roots, Screen Door has found a way to hipster-fy fried chicken. The ridiculously popular restaurant—which can be spotted on the weekends by the line of would-be brunchers wrapping around the building—describes its menu as a "survey of the South," featuring locally sourced versions of everything from Cajun to barbecue, and, of course, fried chicken.
38. PENNSYLVANIA // PERCY STREET BARBECUE
This beloved barbecue joint took home Philadelphia Magazine’s 2015 "Best of Philly" award for Best Fried Chicken for a single menu item: its crispy, buttery chicken biscuit. The biscuit, which is only served during happy hour, is stacked with fried chicken, cheddar cheese, hot sauce, jalapeños, and buttermilk ranch.
39. RHODE ISLAND // NORTH
Eschewing haute cuisine’s pea-sized portions for enormous, hearty meals, a little neighborhood restaurant called North has found a following among gourmets and gourmands alike. The eatery’s entire menu includes modern takes on salty, savory bar food and American standards from seafood to fried chicken.
40. SOUTH CAROLINA // MARTHA LOU’S KITCHEN
Charleston, South Carolina
You can’t miss Martha Lou’s Kitchen. Literally—it would be very hard to overlook the bubblegum-pink shack housing one of Charleston’s best restaurants. Lauded by Martha Stewart, the Travel Channel, and The New York Times, owner and chef Martha “Lou” Gadsen and her daughter have been serving up their famous fried chicken for more than 30 years.
41. SOUTH DAKOTA // PIZZA RANCH
If you want fancy, organic, or high-falutin’ food, go somewhere else. Pizza Ranch’s 180 locations are staples in 13 U.S. states for their big buffets, their standardized pizza, and their Crispy Ranch Chicken.
42. TENNESSEE // GUS’S WORLD FAMOUS HOT AND SPICY FRIED CHICKEN
The Gus’s empire is a testament to the power of community—and good fried chicken. From humble beginnings, with contributions from local chicken lovers, Napoleon "Na" Vanderbilt and his wife, Ms. Maggie, built one small but hugely popular restaurant in the little town of Mason. After their deaths in the early '80s, their son Gus started a new fried chicken spot using his dad’s recipe, which by then had become a local legend. Thirty years later, Gus’s has locations in nine states, all using that special and secret recipe. "This is a dead man’s recipe," Gus once said, "[and] I ain’t telling."
43. TEXAS // MAX’S WINE DIVE
Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio, Texas
"Fried Chicken and Champagne? …Why the Hell Not?!" That’s the tagline at Max’s Wine Dive, a self-proclaimed dive bar with locations all over Texas. But for all their claims of sleaze, the owners and chefs at Max’s are working awfully hard. Keep an eye out for seasonal favorites, but you can’t go wrong with Max’s famous Southern fried chicken with mashed potatoes and collard greens.
44. UTAH // C&B MADDOX FAMOUS CHICKEN
For nearly 70 years, the proprietors of C&B Maddox have been serving up a (slightly) healthier alternative to fried chicken that doesn’t sacrifice a lick of taste. Their birds have the skin peeled off before a light coating is applied, shaving some calories and fat away in the process. It hasn’t hurt business one bit: C&B goes through up to 5000 pounds of chicken every week to meet the demand.
45. VERMONT // MISERY LOVES CO.
What started as a mobile business operating out of a Winnebago has become a permanent installation among foodies: Misery Loves Co. serves up fried chicken with a gourmet twist, using fresh buttermilk and emulsified honey-butter dipping sauces.
46. VIRGINIA // WAYSIDE FRIED CHICKEN
Southern Living declared Wayside’s some of the best chicken in the South, which is pretty heavy praise. Juicy and peppered to perfection, the only downside is that you can’t hang around for seconds: The restaurant only serves takeout and catering.
47. WASHINGTON // EZELL’S FAMOUS CHICKEN
Don’t let its franchise status raise an eyebrow: Ezell’s has been serving up Seattle-area chicken for over 30 years, even being summoned by Oprah Winfrey to cater her Chicago birthday party in 1990. The flaky, juicy pieces have even found their way to the United Arab Emirates, where Ezell’s opened a Sharjah location in 2015.
48. WEST VIRGINIA // DIRTY BIRD
Since opening in 2012, residents within driving distance of this unassuming diner have flocked to it for what’s reputed to be the best fried chicken in the state. College students line up out the door for their signature sandwiches, which pairs a breast with gravy, bacon, cheddar jack cheese, shaved ham, or blue cheese. The cage-free chicken ships fresh five days a week from an Amish farm in Pennsylvania.
49. WISCONSIN // TOMKEN’S
Since 1991, TomKen’s Friendly Fried Chicken has been racking up awards for their deep-fried birds. Grab a box and expect it to be stuffed with fries, coleslaw, and pieces thinly-battered to maximize the meat over the crunch.
50. WYOMING // CAFÉ GENEVIEVE
Come early and sample Café Genevieve’s chicken and waffles come back later for their generous portions of fried chicken during the revamped log cabin’s dinner hours. The site is on the National Register of Historic Places—not technically for the chicken, although it probably should be.
This story was updated in August 2016.
By Michele Debczak, Kirstin Fawcett, Shaunacy Ferro, Anna Green, Kate Horowitz, Andrew LaSane, and Jake Rossen.
Watch the video: Freestylin with The Roots: Apple Picking and Game Day Rituals