National Fried Chicken Day is July 6. Here are 11 restaurants where fried chicken still rules, in both traditional and unique presentations.
A Bit of History
Fried chicken’s popularity was a necessity. In her book Corn Bread and Collard Greens: How West African Culture & Slavery Influenced Southern Food, Visit Fort Worth blog contributor Deah Berry Mitchell discusses how fried chicken’s portability made it ideal for long car rides in the Jim Crow South, where Black families might not find a restaurant that welcomed them for miles. The recipe's humble origins of combining chicken with brine or buttermilk, flour, spices and hot oil to create culinary magic have evolved into many variations.
Brewed may be gilding the lily just a bit with three kinds of fried chicken and waffles on the menu. All start with a waffle and seasoned fried chicken tenders: pick a traditional sweet waffle, a spicy serrano cornbread batter waffle doused in honey butter, or a mac ‘n’ three-cheese waffle with cheese sauce.
Carpenter’s Café & Catering
Carpenter’s is known for its Smoky Chick salad. On Wednesdays, you can grab some chicken fried chicken smothered in cream gravy, complete with sides and a roll. Katrina and Travis Carpenter put a lot of love into everything that comes out of their kitchen, and the fried chicken is no exception.
Drew’s Place has served fried chicken daily since Drew built the place over three decades ago. A small three-piece fried chicken with two sides (including collard greens, okra, mashed potatoes with your choice of brown or cream gravy, and more) will run you a little over $10.
Fixe Southern House
Fixe offers a plethora of options: Order a fried chicken biscuit with honey and apple coleslaw. Grab a fried chicken sandwich with sweet tea pickles or indulge in a plate of traditional fried chicken if you’re a purist.
Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken
Gus’s is a Memphis staple that landed a franchise on Magnolia Avenue a couple of years ago. The family recipe is as highly guarded as the Kentucky Colonel’s 11 herbs and spices. The bird only comes one way: Fried and extremely spicy with a slab of white bread in homage to the original owners (Gus’s mama and daddy).
Hot Box Biscuit Club
Hot Box serves two basic flavors of fried chicken. If you like it spicy, try the Southside Hot Chicken - buttermilk brined with hot pepper oil. Not so hot? The sugar cane-brined fried chicken covered in their “Tastydust” comes in a couple of different ways, including a fried chicken parmesan biscuit with house-made tomato sauce.
Madea’s Down Home Cookin’
Madea’s has been serving excellent fried chicken for as long as most of us can remember. The chicken fried chicken and giant fried chicken wing plates include three veggies and bread. Pro tip: get the collards, red beans and hot water cornbread if you have never tried it. There might be a line to the door or longer. Be patient, though. The food is that good.
Shinjuku Station offers proof that fried chicken is universal and bridges continental gaps. Shinjuku's version is called chicken karaage, and it comes in chicken nugget form with a soy/ginger spice profile. The delicate, potato flour-coated bird is served with a side of Japanese mayonnaise and a dash of the peppery condiment togarashi.
The Cookshack offers you a choice of heat level for your chicken tenders: non-spicy traditional, mild, medium, Texas Hot and AMF. Likewise, you can pick your fried chicken as a plate with a side, as a sandwich, paired with a half-rack of ribs, and even in tacos.
Reata’s Cowboy cuisine menu features a few twists on traditional fried chicken. On the lunch menu, two pieces of traditional fried chicken come paired with poblano and cheese grits. The fried chicken gets gussied up with a citrus crust and a rosemary honey mustard sauce at dinnertime. And for brunch, you try a twist on chicken and waffles: fried quail with sweet waffles and a mound of sweet potato strings.
The Rim has a new Fort Worth location in Waterside, and Chef Keith Hicks is back in the kitchen doing his soulful best. If you missed his fried chicken at Buttons, good news: you can get his secret recipe fried chicken here along with his signature chicken and waffles.
If you’d like to delve a little more into the history of fried chicken, check out one of the many cookbooks written by one of the pioneering grand dames of Southern cooking, Edna Lewis.