The Best Fried Chicken in the U.S.
Michael Solomonov’s Federal Donuts; Philadelphia
Federal Donuts’s simple, wickedly great business model—superb fried chicken and doughnuts—has proven so popular that there are now several locations around the city. The 24-hour-cured chicken is double-fried for extra crispness and come spiced or glazed, depending on the location, in flavors like chili garlic and buttermilk ranch.
Fuku; New York, NY
David Chang incited a cultural riot when he opened his fried chicken sandwich spot Fuku in New York, which now has locations in the Financial District, Brookfield Place, and Hudson Yards. The concept still draws lines for its crispy thigh meat, steeped in habanero and buttermilk and stacked in a steamed potato bun with fermented chickpea butter.
Watershed on Peachtree; Atlanta
Change first sentence to: “The Atlanta institution has undergone a number of changes, but it still delivers legendary fried chicken. Brined in buttermilk and fried in ham hock-flavored fry fat, the crisp, golden, utterly addictive chicken is now served both at lunch and dinner on Wednesdays—and sold out usually by 7:30pm.
Little Goat Diner; Chicago
Fried chicken makes all sorts of cameos here (including accompanying onion brioche French toast). But make sure not to miss the Crispy Creole Chicken Sandwich with tartar sauce and pickled jalapeño.
Succotash Restaurant; Penn Quarter, Washington, D.C.
Ed Lee’s fried chicken at Succotash is served two ways: stacked with pickled okra and rosewater-scented waffles, then finished with curls of salty Manchego and a drizzle of 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 jalapeño.
Yardbird Southern Table and Bar; Miami
Following a 27-hour soak in a sugar-salt brine with a hint of paprika and cayenne pepper, the fantastic chicken here is fried in lard and served with Tabasco-spiked honey.
Beasley's Chicken + Honey; Raleigh, NC
With extra-craggy triple-fried chicken paired with a thick, custardy Belgian waffle, Ashley Christensen’s take on chicken and waffles is “all about the textures,” she says.
Wayfare Tavern; San Francisco
The secret to TV food star Tyler Florence’s fantastically crispy and perfectly moist chicken: baking it at 200 degrees for 2 1/2 hours before coating with seasoned flour and frying in garlic-and-herb-infused oil.
Pies-N-Thighs; Brooklyn, NY
"I'm on the record as a fried-chicken freak," said former F&W editor-in-chief Dana Cowin, who wasn't disappointed by this cult Williamsburg spot known for fried chicken seasoned with paprika, black pepper and cayenne. "I adored its homey mood and comfort food.
Crisp; Chicago, IL
The quick-service joint turns out a half-dozen versions of Korean fried chicken. Seoul Sassy birds are dipped in a garlic-ginger-soy blend, dusted with flour and then double-fried for a mysteriously greaseless finish. The Plain Jane has an almost translucent golden coating.
Son of a Gun; Los Angeles, CA
At their buzzy sequel to Animal, chefs Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook serve a perfect fried-chicken sandwich with spicy b&b pickle slaw and rooster aioli inspired by Georgia-based Chick-fil-A and Oakland's Bakesale Betty. Their version comes piled with spicy pickle slaw, shredded lettuce and Sriracha aioli in a brioche bun.
Birch & Barley; Washington, DC
Winner of Food & Wine's People's Best New Chef Mid-Atlantic, Kyle Bailey upgrades fried chicken with Belgian waffles during brunch service. The dish comes with buttered pecans and a maple-chicken jus, and the restaurant has a massive beer list with more than 500 bottles.
Central Michel Richard; Washington, DC
Superstar chef Michel Richard is known for ingenious French-style presentations at his flagship Citronelle, but Central focuses on hearty portions of comfort food like fried chicken. His super-crispy version became so popular that he now sells pieces by the bucket for takeout during lunch.
Perry St.; New York, NY
Jean-Georges Vongerichten achieves the ethereal crust on his elegant fried chicken by using a whipped cream siphon to apply the batter as foam.
Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles; Los Angeles, CA
Chefs have started to update chicken and waffles with refined sauces and fluffy homemade waffles, but this California-based chain is one of the pioneers of the salty-sweet breakfast-and-dinner plate. Even better, some locations are open until 4 a.m. on weekends.
Ad Hoc; Napa Valley, CA
To make his juicy and incredibly crisp chicken, chef Thomas Keller soaks it in a lemony brine before frying. The chicken, which is served every other Monday at Ad Hoc, is one of the most popular dishes at the restaurant. "Since Fried Chicken Night only happens twice a month," Keller says, "people have a wonderful sense of anticipation." But there's a loophole: A stand in the restaurant's garden called Addendum sells the chicken as a boxed lunch Thursday through Saturday.
Mama Dip's Kitchen; Chapel Hill, NC
This homey spot counts basketball legend Michael Jordan among its fans. Mildred Council—a.k.a. Mama Dip—serves a country breakfast and a range of Southern dishes, including juicy battered fried chicken.
Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill; Las Vegas, NV
The Cosmopolitan Hotel lured some of NYC's top restaurateurs to Vegas, including brothers Bruce and Eric Bromberg. Their Blue Ribbon restaurants specialize in ultra-crunchy fried chicken made with a matzo-meal crust. Here, it's accented with Japanese-inspired wasabi honey.
Mary Mac's Tea Room; Atlanta, GA
This Atlanta institution, which resembles a country-style kitchen, has been serving fried chicken and yeasty rolls since 1945. In the Southern tradition, the tea is intensely sweet.
Willie Mae's Scotch House; New Orleans, LA
This chicken shack held so much meaning for locals that the Southern Foodways Alliance helped rebuild it after Hurricane Katrina. Now a tidy white structure, Willie Mae's still serves juicy, crackly battered and fried chicken with wonderful cornbread cakes.
Jestine's; Charleston, SC
This low-country café turns out some of the city's most revered fried chicken, made more famous by Rachael Ray's $40 a Day and Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations—so there is often a line. Even after fried green tomatoes and corn fritters, you'd be wise to order the fluffy coconut cream pie with a perfectly flaky crust.
Bubba's Cooks Country; Dallas, TX
A former Texaco service station, Bubba's now operates as a diner and a popular drive-thru. The chicken here is brined in milk and spices, floured and deep-fried, but the experience is elevated by Texas Wildflower honey on every table (take-out comes with small packets) and hot rolls baked throughout service.
Hattie's; Saratoga Springs, NY
The owners of this Saratoga Springs chicken shack have changed—twice—since the restaurant first opened in 1938, but the strongly seasoned pieces still reference the original recipe.
Pine State Biscuits; Portland, OR
For some people, a piece of fried chicken is indulgent enough. Those people should not go to Pine State Biscuits and order the Wedgie: a biscuit filled with buttermilk fried chicken, a fried green tomato, iceberg lettuce and blue cheese dressing. And they definitely shouldn't order the Reggie Deluxe (photo), because that's a biscuit topped with fried chicken, bacon, cheddar, gravy and an over-easy fried egg.
Prince’s; Nashville, TN
We are all indebted to André Prince Jeffries for creating one of the best home-grown American triumphs; fiery, crispy, tangy hot chicken, crowned with a pickle or two.
Hattie B's; Nashville, TN
It's relatively new to the scene but Hattie's is as arguably good as the old-school hot-chicken place in town, Prince's. The fried chicken is always crispy, always juicy and always hot. Get the dark meat, with a slice of white bread and dill pickles.
Husk; Charleston, SC
Forget the focus on super-secret batter recipes. During his tenure at Husk, chef Sean Brock was hard at work trying to answer the question, "Just how many fats can chicken be fried in?” The legendary Husk chicken is fried in butter, chicken fat, bacon fat and country ham fat.