18 Best Fried Chicken Restaurants from Coast to Coast

Nov 7, 2014

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To take advantage of Chase Sapphire Preferred’s lucrative 3x points on dining offer on the first Friday of the month, we’re rounding up the best in dining. For November, comfort food is on the brain as we gear up for Thanksgiving and the holiday season. And what’s more comforting than down home Southern comfort and fried chicken? Read on for our team’s roundup of the best fried chicken joints across the country.

Mary Mac’s Tea Room, Atlanta, GA

Photo by
The tantalizing fried chicken at Mary Mac’s Tea Room. Photo by Wally Gobetz/Flickr.

The Bird: Served a la carte and big enough to share, Mary Mac’s buttermilk-dredged, deep-fried chicken entrée comes with a leg, wing, breast and thigh ($13.50). The bread basket here is complimentary and includes warm, house-baked yeast and cinnamon rolls, and each side dish (think mac-and-cheese and fried okra) is $3.25.
The Restaurant: The last of Midtown Atlanta’s traditional tea rooms – the genteel Southern colloquialism for women-owned restaurants – this 1945 local standby features walls lined with photos of local personalities and a friendly in-house amabassador, Jo Carter, who wanders the dining room, offering smiles and backrubs to Mary Mac’s patrons. You can either pencil in your order or recite it to a member of the waitstaff (several of whom have been employed here for multiple decades), and consider pairing your fried chicken with a tall glass of sweet tea and an order of a savory pork soup called pot likker, which is served with “cracklin’ bread” (butter-baked cornbread) and collard greens stewed in pork broth. – Melanie Wynne

Gus’s Fried Chicken, Memphis, TN

Perfectly crisped fried chicken at Gus’s.

The Bird: Gus’s Fried Chicken redefines the meaning of comfort food. This crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside fried chicken is seasoned to a T with just the right amount of spice (two-piece meal with beans, slaw and bread, $6-7).
The Restaurant: Gus’s was originally founded in Mason, Tennesse in the 1950s, and the tradition carries on throughout Tennessee (the Memphis location is the stuff of local legends), Arkansas and Mississippi. Family-owned and passed down through generations, Gus’s world famous fried chicken recipe is a family secret and no one is spilling the beans. The joint is a no-frills spot for hand-battered, home-cooked goodness, and its customers come to chow down on fried chicken, mac-and-cheese, and potato salad. – Lori Zaino

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, Miami Beach, FL

Fried chicken, waffles and watermelon at Yardbird. Photo courtesy Yardbird.
Fried chicken, waffles and watermelon at Yardbird. Photo courtesy Yardbird.

The Bird: Whether you opt for Mama’s Chicken Biscuits ($14), Llewellyn’s “27-hour” Fine Fried Chicken ($26) or go all out for the fried chicken with chow-chow cheddar waffles and watermelon doused in honey hot sauce and bourbon maple syrup, you’ll leave Yardbird with a renewed affinity for fried chicken.
The Restaurant: Springing onto South Beach’s dining scene in 2012 with a slew of accolades including Bon Appetit Magazine’s 50 Best New Restaurants list, Yardbird has been perennially packed from the start with no signs of slowing down. Serving up a gourmet spin on Southern comfort food in a shabby chic setting one block off Lincoln Road, be prepared for a delightfully indulgent meal anytime of day. With dishes meant to be shared, pick your bird and then pick its accompaniments. You can’t go wrong with the fried green tomato “BLT” made with pork belly and pimento cheese and the pungent, crave-worthy mac & cheese made with Tochio pasta and a crispy herb crust. At brunch, the omelet of the day is consistently creative and cooked to perfection and the shrimp and stone ground grits with crispy Virginia ham are outrageously flavorful–you’ll savor every bite. Wash it all down with one of their signature bourbon-based cocktails and call it a night. – Shayne Benowitz

Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room, Savannah, GA

The spread at Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House.
Fried chicken with all the fixins Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House.

The Bird: For the flat price of $18, opt into an all-you-can-eat experience with the star attraction: crunchy, taste bud-tingling pieces of fried chicken made with evaporated milk, vegetable oil, and seasoned lightly with salt and pepper.
The Restaurant: In 1965, Savannah cook and housewife Sema Wilkes bought a mid-19th century boarding house where she had been working in the kitchen, and set up shop as a restaurateur with a menu focused on local produce and traditional Southern recipes. Though Mrs. Wilkes died in 2002 at the age of 95, her Savannah Historic Foundation establishment remains a city fixture where you’ll almost assuredly wait in a long line, sit at a well-worn communal table with perfect strangers, and enjoy some of the most delicious, authentic Low Country cooking you’ll ever be lucky enough to eat. Aside from the fried chicken, standouts include the beef stew, fresh black-eyed peas, and flaky house-made biscuits. – MW

Willie Mae’s Scotch House, New Orleans, LA

The no frills facade of Willie Mae's in New Orleans' Seventh Ward.
The no frills facade of Willie Mae’s in New Orleans’ Seventh Ward.

The Bird: The mouthwatering, spicy, wet-battered fried chicken at Willie Mae’s is especially known for its chicken breast, considered the most moist and succulent of them all (three-piece meal and a side, $10).
The Restaurant: Located in New Orleans’ Seventh Ward, Willie Mae’s is worth the short cab ride over from the more frequented French Quarter. Friendly staff offer a warm welcome in this homey atmosphere. In addition to fried chicken, you can also opt for pork chops, country veal and fried shrimp or catfish. Get there early, as this place is popular among tourists and locals, and be prepared to wait. The restaurant is still standing even after Hurricane Katrina flooding, and the family-owned eatery just opened a second location, Willie Mae’s Grocery and Deli, in the uptown neighborhood on Saint Charles Avenue. The new spot serves all the original favorites, plus some new menu items like po’ boys. – LZ

Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles, Los Angeles, CA

The spread at Roscoe's in Hollywood.
The spread at Roscoe’s in Hollywood.

The Bird: Well-seasoned and perfectly browned chicken, pillowy waffles, and all the fixins you could ask for. Order up a combo, add on some cornbread and greens, and get ready to eat your fill.
The Restaurant: This LA institution has seven restaurants in the metro area. The original in Hollywood is situated just off Sunset Boulevard and remains a hotspot for celebrity sightings. Hours vary between locations, sometimes closing as early as 8 p.m. on weekdays, so double check before you head there for a late meal. With a raucous atmosphere and Spartan décor, Roscoe’s isn’t the ideal venue for a romantic dinner, but the outlook is positive if your first date digs it. If not, well, at least you won’t go hungry. – Peter Rothbart

The Lady and Sons, Savannah, GA

Fried chicken wings galore at Paula Deen's landmark restaurant.
Fried chicken wings galore at Paula Deen’s landmark restaurant.

The Bird: You can add a single piece of The Lady’s tender, crispy-fried Springer Mountain Farms chicken to any meal for $3 a pop, or spring for the $18 ($16 on Sundays) “All You Care to Eat” Southern buffet. Named USA Today’s International Meal of the Year in 2011, the extravaganza will always include unlimited fried chicken, access to the salad bar, and one house-baked dessert (warm peach cobbler), as well as an always-changing line-up of vegetable sides, like lima beans, cream corn, and yams.
The Restaurant: Before she was a Food Network star, cookbook author and lightning rod for controversy, chef Paula Deen was a single mom of two boys who turned a small catering business into an iconic, family-owned Savannah hotspot for comfort food that has the potential to warm and weaken your heart at the same time. Encompassing three renovated stories of the White Hardware Building (originally built circa 1830) on West Congress Street, The Lady & Sons features 15,000-square-feet of dining space and a full bar. Menu standouts include a plate of grilled grouper served with house-made peach BBQ sauce, cheddar cheese-grit cakes ($28) and creamy, lightly spicy crab stew (cup, $6, bowl, $8). – MW

Red Rooster, Harlem, NY 

Red Rooster's fried yardbird in Harlem.
Red Rooster’s fried yardbird in Harlem.

The Bird: Fried twice so it’s extra crispy, Red Rooster’s Fried Yardbird ($27) is also full of flavor thanks to chef’s famous spice blend—a fiery mix of Ethiopian berbere, cumin, paprika and other spices—and is served with special hot sauce, pickles, white mace gravy, braised collards and creamy mashed potatoes.
The Restaurant: Ethiopian-born, Swedish-raised Chef Marcus Samuelsson combines both aspects of his heritage when creating the Southern-style comfort food at Red Rooster Harlem. Named after the Harlem speakeasy that once drew greats like Nat King Cole, the local eatery still embraces the community spirit, bringing in local musicians, offering neighborhood cooking classes and showcasing artwork on the walls by a range of photographers and artists. Open seven days a week with brunch on the weekend, the menu spans all of your Southern favorites with a twist, like the shrimp & grits with salsa verde, cilantro and smoked ham, or deviled eggs with chicken skin mayonnaise. – Lane Nieset

Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, Nashville, TN

Hot chicken doused in hot sauce and spices at Hattie B's in Nashville. Photo courtesy Hattie B's.
Hot chicken doused in hot sauce and spices at Hattie B’s in Nashville. Photo courtesy Hattie B’s.

The Bird: Hot chicken is a distinctly Nashville phenomenon and at Hattie B’s you can pick from five heat levels starting at Southern (no heat) to Shut the Cluck Up (burn notice). Enjoy your hot sauce-doused chicken in a range of sizes from from small and large plates of white or dark meat to wings and chicken tenders ($9-$12).
The Restaurant: With two Nashville locations, the screened porch setting is casual and familial. Order a hot chicken plate, served with toast and pickles along with two sides. These classically Southern selections include black eyed pea salad, pimento mac & cheese, southern greens and homemade cole slaw. Pair that with a sweet tea or a bottle of craft beer and find out how hot you can go. Save room for a seasonal cobbler or root beer float for dessert. – SB

Ezell’s Famous Chicken, Seattle, WA

Grab your grub to go at Ezell's.
Grab your grub to go at Ezell’s.

The Bird: Perfectly crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, this chicken comes in regular and spicy, and you’ll want to try them both. Don’t miss the fried okra, sweet potato pie, and for the more adventurous, fresh-made livers and gizzards.
The Restaurant: Made famous when Oprah Winfrey declared it her favorite fried chicken, this chain has several locations around Puget Sound. The original is off the beaten path in Seattle’s Central District and offers take-out only. Service is fast and fresh, but expect a line around lunchtime. Head to nearby Volunteer Park, Washington Park Arboretum, or down to Lake Washington for a scenic picnic, or on weekends, cross 23rd Avenue to Garfield High School and take in a beer league softball game while you chow down. – PR

Pitty Pat’s Porch, Atlanta, GA

Aunt Pitty Patt's fried chicken.
Aunt Pitty Patt’s fried chicken.

The Bird: Tuck on into three pieces of perfectly crispy, yet tender fried chicken served with decadent mashed potatoes and rich gravy, as well as Pitty Pat’s signature Southern Salad Sideboard of a dozen dishes (including a buttery sweet potato salad, vinegary beet salad, and zingy pickled watermelon salad).
The Restaurant: Named for Melanie Hamilton’s high-strung, Atlanta-based aunt in Gone With Wind, this is one of the American South’s original concept restaurants. Originally designed in 1967, the cozy, wood-paneled Pitty Pat’s Porch is meant to evoke the spirit of an old plantation with a big verandah overlooking Andrew Young International Boulevard, as well as pewter serving-ware and menus styled like handheld church fans. Compliment your meal with a carb-fest of homemade muffins, drop biscuits and cornbread, and sides of black eyed peas and steamed collard greens. Consider starting your dinner with a mint julep in the downstairs Rocking Chair Lounge and indulge in Georgia specialties, like fried green tomatoes and Low Country shrimp and grits. – MW

Pok Pok, Portland, OR

Pok Pok's Vietnamese-style chicken wings.
Pok Pok’s Vietnamese-style chicken wings.

The Bird: Inspired by Thai street food, Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings are at once crispy, sticky, sweet and spicy. The six wings per order ($14.50) are marinated in fish sauce and sugar, deep-fried, tossed in an addictive coating of caramelized fish sauce and chopped garlic, then served with a slaw of pickled veggies – and a stack of napkins.
The Restaurant: The original Pok Pok on Portland’s SE Division is a casual, laid-back spot set in a Craftsman-style house with strings of lights and picnic tables on the porch, but its authentic Thai street food menu has earned chef Andy Ricker a James Beard Award and launched a mini-empire. You can now find outposts of Pok Pok spread across the Rose City to New York, and soon, to Los Angeles. The particular popularity of Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings has really taken flight, prompting a separate Pok Pok Wings kiosk to open at Portland International Airport. – MW

Read More: Check out our Ultimate Guide to the Best Airport Restaurants in the U.S.

Lucy’s Fried Chicken, Austin, TX

Beautifully fried chicken in a bucket at Lucy's.
Beautifully fried chicken in a bucket at Lucy’s.

The Bird: Based on a secret family recipe from Chef James Holmes’ grandmother Lucy, the chicken is soaked in a buttermilk blend that includes soy sauce, seasoned flour, salt, cayenne and eventually hot sauce. Try the fried chicken in its full glory with the Bucket O’ Chicken ($24.95) that feeds four.
The Restaurant: The love affair with Chef Holmes’ fried chicken started during Sunday brunch at the much-loved sister restaurant Olivia, (named one of the Top 10 Best New Restaurants in America by Bon Appétit Magazine). Now, guests can get their hands on Holmes’ proprietary fried chicken at Lucy’s with two Austin locations serving up the bird in a variety of forms. Think, fried chicken gizzards and livers to fried chicken spaghetti and even fried chicken nachos. Named after his grandmother, and also the name of one of his three daughters, Lucy’s is designed for “folks to feel at home,” Holmes says, and share food dishes with friends and family. – LN

SAW’s Soul Kitchen, Birmingham, AL

Sweet tea fried chicken sandwiches at SAW's in Birmingham.
Sweet tea fried chicken sandwiches at SAW’s in Birmingham complimented by fried pickles.

The Bird: The simple sweet tea-fried chicken sandwich is anything but, served between two buns with a special mayonnaise and vinegar-based white sauce, topped with pickles ($6.99).
The Restaurant: Following his first barbecue joint SAW’s BBQ, founder Mike Wilson teamed up with Chef Brandon Cain to create a soul food restaurant in the developing Avondale neighborhood that definitely adds soul to the community. The small (and crowded) space is no frills—from the chalkboard-cum-menu on the wall to the Styrofoam plates and paper towel rolls on the tables—but there’s also picnic bench seating outside. If you happen to be at Avondale Brewing Co. next door, you can order from SAW’s menu on the wall and have BBQ while you enjoy a local brew. – LN

Read More: Check out our guide to the country’s Best Craft Breweries & Brewpubs.

Momofuku Noodle Bar, New York City

The Southern and Korean-style fried chicken available with advance order at Momofuku.
The Southern and Korean-style fried chicken available with advance order at Momofuku.

The Bird: Actually it’s two whole fried birds ($125). The first, a Southern chicken fried in a buttermilk and Old Bay batter, and the other a Korean-style, tripled-fried chicken in a spicy glaze, served with mu shu pancakes, baby carrots, radishes, lettuce, four sauces and an herb basket. Whether you want to savor the chicken’s flavor and eat it solo or create wraps with the other ingredients, there will be more than enough food to go around since the family-style meal feeds four to eight people (reserve in advance online).
The Restaurant: The East Village eatery is the first in the Momofuku clan, serving up seasonal dishes and ramen, as well as Chef David Chang’s famous pork buns—steamed buns stuffed with roasted pork belly, hoisin, pickled cucumbers and scallions. While the pork buns are a must-have and the fried chicken feast is definitely worth trying with a group, don’t miss sampling other noodle bar items, like the Momofuku ramen with pork belly, pork shoulder and poached egg. For dessert, order one of the items from sister spot Momofuku Milk Bar, like the pretzel cake truffles or pb & strawberry sweet cracker soft serve. – LN

White Fence Farm, Denver, CO (also Chicago) 

Fried chicken goodness at white fence Farm.
Fried chicken goodness at white fence Farm.

The Bird: White Fence Farm’s delectable fried chicken is  pressure cooked and refrigerated in bulk before being individually flash-fried to order. Their low cholesterol soy bean oil is supposedly “less saturated than most,” and therefore they offer the healthiest fried chicken around (half farm chicken, $15).
The Restaurant: This spot is actually a farm and a restaurant. Before or after your meal, wander around the farm where kids can pet the animals, and adults can enjoy a leisurely stroll around the gazebo. In addition to the fried chicken, they also offer T-bones, shrimp and homemade desserts–their most famous being their pumpkin pie. With locations in both Denver and the Chicago suburbs, these restaurants are geared towards family, home-style dining. The restaurant also hosts big events like weddings and private parties, and even concerts. – LZ

Beasley’s Chicken & Honey, Raleigh, NC 

Honey drenched fried chicken at Beasley's.
Honey drenched fried chicken at Beasley’s.

The Bird: The fried chicken here is sweet (not spicy), and you can top it off with honey sauce and a side of waffles, if you so choose ($13).
The Restaurant: Chef/owner Ashley Christensen has made Beasley’s a stylish, Southern-inspired spot and an “ode to fried chicken” with a modern, upscale touch. Eat at the community table in a big group or if you’re having one of those days, pick up your chicken and take it home with you. For more variety, give the chicken pot pie a try and wash down your meal with a glass of Lonerider Sweet Josie Brown Ale, one of the local craft beers on tap. – LZ

FAT Lyle’s, Marfa, TX

Fried chicken is the main attraction at Fat Lyle's.
Fried chicken is the main attraction at Fat Lyle’s.

The Bird: Order the food truck’s most popular dish—fried chicken—served only on Sundays “just like grandma makes it” with plenty of salt and a homemade buttermilk biscuit ($7 for two pieces of $8 for three).
The Restaurant: Across from the El Cosmico hotel and campground lies FAT Lyle’s food truck, named after husband-and-wife duo Mark and Kaki’s dog. The simple white truck serves “sandwiches, sandwiches, sandwiches all day long” with fillings like sardines and grilled sausage, but the buttermilk fried chicken is one of the hot commodities on the menu, which is full of items that incorporate local ingredients. Another popular choice? The Crispy Fried Brussels Sprout Haystack—brussels sprouts prepared with caramelized onions, blue cheese and a spicy aioli, topped with Sriracha and served on top of hand-cut French fries. – LN

Don’t forget to go out there today and use your Chase Sapphire Preferred card for 3x the points on dining.

For more dining inspiration, check out our previous roundup:

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