Special Report

The 35 Best Fried Chicken Places in America

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There are many ways to cook chicken. You can boil or poach it, sauté it, bake or roast it, grill it, smoke it, cook it on a rotisserie or in a clay pot. Once it’s cooked, you can pull or shred it, make it into soup or salad, add it to enchiladas or pasta.…But let’s face it: The best, most delicious, most irresistible thing you can do with chicken is to fry it — and then gnaw it off the bone or put it boneless into a sandwich.

Almost every cuisine in the world seems to have its favorite chicken dishes. Chicken shows up as everything from the most casual possible street food to the truffle-stuffed centerpiece at some over-the-top gastronomic feast. But with the possible exception of Australia, no other nation eats more chicken than the U.S.A. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that our per capita consumption of the bird in 2018 was about 93 pounds per person. Other estimates put the number at more than twice that.

It’s impossible to determine exactly how much fried chicken is included in our annual intake of this most popular bird, but it’s got to be a lot, considering the ubiquity of fried chicken sandwiches in restaurants of all kinds and the current nationwide popularity of both Nashville-style hot (read “very spicy”) and super-crispy Korean fried chicken — the latter with a coating that is sometimes almost brittle — not to mention the continuing success of all those fast-food fried chicken chains. (These are the top 10 chicken chains in America.)

In fact, when 24/7 Tempo sought out the 35 best fried chicken places around the country according to Yelp reviewers, a surprising number of them fell into one of the latter two categories. Good old-fashioned Southern-style fried chicken, with a breading or batter flavored with not much more than salt and pepper, seems to be on the decline — or at least doesn’t please diners as much these days as some other fried chicken variations. These, nonetheless, are the best chicken dishes in America.

Click here for the 35 best fried chicken places in America
Click here to read our methodology

Source: Vanessa M. via Yelp

Angry Chickz
> Location: Los Angeles, California
> Rating: 4.5

Nashville hot chicken comes to Hollywood at this colorfully decorated little place, purveying fried chicken sliders and tenders. Six degrees of spice are offered, from “Country — no heat” to “X-hot — call 911” and “Angry — sign a waiver.”

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Source: Michael Barera / Wikimedia Commons

Babe’s Chicken Dinner House
> Location: Roanoke, Texas
> Rating: 4.5

This, the original location of this ten-unit Texas chain, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area city of Roanoke, gets high marks for its classic fried chicken (and also chicken-fried steak). An added attraction at Babe’s is the selection of homemade pies.

Source: Basilisk via Facebook

Basilisk
> Location: Portland, Oregon
> Rating: 4.5

The small menu at this Portland favorite includes a “very very spicy” hot chicken plate, a fried chicken sandwich, and a fried chicken salad — any of which can be accompanied by Dan Dan Fries, described as a “large bowl of fries covered in Szechuan peanut sauce, chili oil, baby dill pickles, crushed peanuts, green onion, cilantro, and lime.”

Source: The Bird via Facebook

The Bird
> Location: San Francisco, California
> Rating: 4

The Bird describes itself as “the ultimate fried chicken sandwich shop,” serving “indulgent food that’s made with integrity and sold for just 8 bucks.” They use free-range fowl, coated with berbere (the traditional Ethiopian spice blend); the buns are fresh-baked locally every morning; and the sandwich includes crunchy house-made apple slaw. Hot wings are also served after 3 p.m. daily, and fried chicken may be added to the house salad.

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Source: Birdies via Facebook

Birdies
> Location: Los Angeles, California
> Rating: 4

Everybody’s heard of chicken and waffles, but chicken and doughnuts might sound a little strange. The combination apparently first appeared at Federal Donuts in Philadelphia in 2011, and now a number of places around the country combine the two under one roof. The two are served separately, however. This is not to be confused with the new doughnut chicken sandwich being tested by KFC. At Birdies, the free-range fried chicken sandwich — regular or spicy — comes with slaw, buttermilk ranch mayo, Tillamook cheddar, and pickles. The doughnuts, including flavors like lemon thyme pistachio and candied bacon maple, are for dessert.

Source: Boxcar Betty's via Facebook

Boxcar Betty’s
> Location: Charleston, South Carolina
> Rating: 4.5

With four locations in Charleston and vicinity (like this one in Charleston’s West Ashley neighborhood) and one in Chicago, Boxcar Betty’s is a fried chicken sandwich specialist. There are three variations — the Boxcar (pimiento cheese, peach slaw, house pickles, spicy mayo), the Chicken “Not So Waffle” (bacon jam, maple syrup, pimiento cheese, tomato), and the Buffalo (blue cheese sauce, tomato, bibb lettuce). Grilled chicken or a pimiento-stuffed portobello mushroom cap may be substituted for the fried chicken breast.

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Source: Bruxie via Facebook

Bruxie
> Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
> Rating: 4.5

Bruxie started out in 2010, in California’s Orange County, as a stand selling fried chicken sandwiches served on crisp waffles instead of rolls. There are now six locations in California and two in Seoul, Korea — plus this well-loved outpost in Las Vegas. In addition to the signature item (available in four variations), there are two fried chicken sandwiches on buns and tenders-and-fries combinations that are offered with a choice of seven sauces — among them housemade ranch, chili honey, and “angry” cheese sauce.

Source: Courtesy of Lucie B.

Champy’s Famous Fried Chicken
> Location: Chattanooga, Tennessee
> Rating: 4.5

Champy’s has grown from this original location near the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, opened in 2009, to an eight-unit chain (three in Tennessee, four in Alabama, one in Georgia). The specialty is straightforward Mississippi Delta-style fried chicken, served with baked beans and slaw. Hot tamales, a non-chicken Delta specialty seldom seen elsewhere in the South, are available as a starter.

Source: misterchou / Flickr

The Crack Shack
> Location: San Diego, California
> Rating: 4

Frequent competition cooking show participant — and one-time winner of Bravo’s “Top Chef All-Stars” — Richard Blais opened this fried chicken restaurant in San Diego’s Little Italy in 2015, and it has since expanded into six locations (five in Southern California, one in Las Vegas). The menu includes classic fried chicken with a choice of sauces, as well as seven chicken sandwiches, in four of which the chicken is fried.

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Source: Crimson Coward via Facebook

Crimson Coward
> Location: Downey, California
> Rating: 4.5

This Nashville hot chicken place in the southeastern Los Angeles County city of Downey (famous in fast-food history as the home of the oldest operating McDonald’s in the world, opened in 1953) focuses on fried tenders and wings. Both are available in five spice levels, from “Country (no heat)” to “BURRRN, baby burn.” About the restaurant’s unusual name: “crimson” is a reference to the reddish color of the fried chicken; and a chicken, of course, is a coward.

Source: Tung L. via Yelp

Crisp
> Location: Chicago, Illinois
> Rating: 4.5

Meaty Korean-style fried chicken wings are the main draw at this super-casual counter-service place. Regulars recommend the version coated in Seoul Sassy sauce (involving ginger, soy, and garlic). Side dishes include two varieties of kimchi.

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Source: Cross Street Chicken and Beer via Facebook

Cross Street Chicken and Beer
> Location: San Diego, California
> Rating: 4.5

This Korean-style fried chicken place sells oversize chicken wings, as well as drumsticks, thighs, and boneless breast strips. Ten different flavorings are offered, including soy garlic, Seoul Spicy (made with the Korean red chile paste called gochujang), and BBS Wing — which, warns the menu, “may leave a grown man crying.”

Source: Gerardo D. via Yelp

Dave’s Hot Chicken
> Location: Los Angeles, California
> Rating: 4.5

A strong L.A. entry on the hot chicken scene, with two locations up and running (the East Hollywood restaurant gets the nod here) and two more on the books. There are seven grades of seasoning available, from “no spice” to “reaper” (presumably a reference to the Carolina Reaper, very likely the world’s hottest chile).

Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken
> Location: Memphis, Tennessee
> Rating: 4.5

Napoleon “Na” Vanderbilt and his wife, Maggie, started selling fried chicken out the back door of a tavern in Mason, Tennessee, northeast of Memphis, in 1953. They opened a restaurant in the community 20 years later. Na’s son Vernon “Gus” Bonner inherited the place and renamed it for himself, and in 2001, with his blessing, a longtime customer of Bonner’s launched this Memphis offshoot. Today, there are about 30 locations, from New Orleans to Austin to Chicago to L.A. Chicken plates include baked beans, slaw, and white bread.

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Source: Hattie B's Hot Chicken via Facebook

Hattie B’s Chicken – Midtown
> Location: Nashville, Tennessee
> Rating: 4.5

Hattie B’s offers counter-service hot chicken at three locations in the town where it all began — Nashville — plus one each in Memphis; Atlanta; Las Vegas; and Birmingham, Alabama. Heat levels here range from “Southern (no heat)” to “Shut the cluck up!!! (burn notice).” The Midtown/Broadway location in Nashville gets the most praise.

Honey Butter Fried Chicken
> Location: Chicago, Illinois
> Rating: 4

Humanely raised Miller Amish Farms chicken from Indiana is brined, battered, fried in canola oil, and served boneless (except for the drumsticks) here. Eight sauces, including Wisconsin blue cheese and candied jalapeño mayo, are available, and besides the chicken pieces — served with honey butter and corn muffins — there are four variations on the chicken sandwich theme.

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Hot Chicken Takeover
> Location: Columbus, Ohio
> Rating: 4.5

Like so many other proprietors of hot chicken places, the owners of this three-unit Columbus mini-chain fell in love with the preparation in Nashville and brought the idea home with them. Their location in the North Market food hall is a customer favorite. Chicken in various forms (as well as seitan “not chicken”) is available four ways, from “Cold (hot in temperature, cool in spice)” to “Holy (#&@*%?!).”

Source: Hot Sauce and Panko

Hot Sauce and Panko
> Location: San Francisco, California
> Rating: 4.5

This operation is a combination hot sauce store and chicken-wings-to-go establishment. “No sit down, no dine-in and no waiter service,” warns the website. Also “There are no bathrooms, TV or wifi.” What there is, though, in addition to more than 30 variations on wings, are two superlative fried chicken sandwiches: one, on a toasted brioche bun, comes regular, bbq, or hot, with cabbage, pickles, and cheddar; the other is on a waffle, with cabbage, mayo, sriracha, and caramel sauce.

Source: Howlin' Ray's via Facebook

Howlin’ Ray’s
> Location: Los Angeles, California
> Rating: 4.5

This small counter-service Nashville-style hot chicken joint in L.A.’s Chinatown, which started life as a food truck, fries various hormone- and -antibiotic-free chicken parts in peanut oil and offers them with six degrees of heat, from “Country (no heat)” to “Howlin’ (can’t touch this).”

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Source: The Kluckin Chicken via Facebook

The Kluckin Chicken
> Location: Sherman Oaks, California
> Rating: 4.5

Fried chicken with fries and slaw, fried chicken sandwiches on a French roll or “gourmet bun,” and a chopped chicken bowl are on the menu at this operation, opened in the fall of 2018, which shares quarters with Padrinos Pizza in the San Fernando Valley community of Sherman Oaks. A second location has just opened in West Hollywood.

Source: Eileen T. via Yelp

Love Letter Pizza & Chicken
> Location: La Habra, California
> Rating: 4.5

This chain from South Korea, which has a number of locations around California and in other states, specializes in two things: Korean-style pizza (a thick-crust variety; some crusts are stuffed with sweet potato) and fried chicken — available in regular and extra-crispy versions, as well as “Sweet & Mild” and “Hot & Spicy.”

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Mad For Chicken
> Location: Flushing, New York
> Rating: 4

The Flushing (Queens) location of this Korean fried chicken place opened in 2006 (there’s now a second Queens location and one in Brooklyn). Wings, drumsticks, and boneless breasts are offered, with soy garlic or spicy soy garlic sauce. There are also Buffalo wings and scallion chicken, described as “deep-fried boneless breast with scallion, red onion, and sweet mustard sauce.” The eclectic side-dish selection includes kimchi fries, poutine, and Mexican-style grilled corn.

Source: Mike's Chicken via Facebook

Mike’s Chicken
> Location: Dallas, Texas
> Rating: 4.5

What the Dallas Observer called “the crispiest, juiciest Dallas fried chicken” comes from an eatery at one end of a laundromat. Both operations are owned by Tram and Son Dao, a Vietnamese couple who immigrated to the U.S. in the 1990s. The point here is good fried chicken, not heat — but all the various chicken parts are available spicy if desired.

Source: Oh Mama Kitchen

Oh Mama Kitchen
> Location: La Mirada, California
> Rating: 5

Located in the southeastern L.A. County community of La Mirada, Oh Mama is a Korean deli with a short menu that includes kimbap (the Korean version of sushi, here made with cooked Spam, burdock root, or fish cake) and spicy rice cakes as well as fried chicken wings — hailed as some of the best in California.

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Source: Peck Peck Korean Fried Chicken via Facebook

Peck Peck Korean Fried Chicken
> Location: Teaneck, New Jersey
> Rating: 4.5

“We’re a small mom & pop shop with a very big dream,” announces the Peck Peck website. The wings are an assortment of wingettes and drumettes, and there are also drumstick combos (which adds legs to the wings), chicken tenders, and two chicken salads. The chicken comes in three flavors: salt and pepper, soy garlic, and sweet and spicy.

Source: Pretty Bird via Facebook

Pretty Bird
> Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
> Rating: 4.5

Bringing Nashville hot chicken to Salt Lake City, Pretty Bird offers a stripped-down menu listing just a quarter bird combo plate or a fried chicken sandwich, either one served mild, medium, hot, or “hot ‘behind’.” One of the sides is homemade cider slaw.

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Source: Rocky's Hot Chicken Shack via Facebook

Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack
> Location: Asheville, North Carolina
> Rating: 4.5

Paying “homage to ‘Nashville style’ hot chicken and southern soul food” (according to its website) Rocky’s — there is a second location in Arden, just south of Asheville — serves various chicken combinations in eight degrees of heat, from plain traditional to extra hot. Wings and chicken and waffles are also on the menu, as are grilled and rotisserie chicken and chicken pot pie.

Roscoe’s House of Chicken N Waffles
> Location: Los Angeles, California
> Rating: 4

The soul-food combination of chicken and waffles is said to have been invented at Wells Supper Club in Harlem in the late 1930s; the story is that when musicians came in after their late-night gigs, some wanted dinner and some wanted breakfast, and this was the compromise. Harlem native Herb Hudson brought the concept to L.A. in 1975 (there are now eight Southern California locations). Not all the offerings involve waffles, by any means (the Oscar, for instance, is three chicken wings, grits, one egg, and a biscuit), but chicken and waffles is definitely what President Obama had when he visited Roscoe’s in 2011.

Source: Royals Hot Chicken via Facebook

Royals Hot Chicken
> Location: Louisville, Kentucky
> Rating: 4.5

Fried chicken tenders (either as a plate or in taco form) and two sandwiches — fried chicken and fried chicken salad — are the fare served here. Spice levels stretch from no-heat Classic Fried to Gonzo + 1.

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Source: Jake N. via Yelp

Street’s Fine Chicken
> Location: Dallas, Texas
> Rating: 4.5

With two Dallas locations (the Cedar Springs outlet gets the nod here), Street’s cooks their French-fried chicken to order (it’ll take 20 minutes to 30 minutes, warns the menu). Also on offer: fried chicken sandwiches, crispy tenders, and chicken “lollipops” (smoked and fried drumsticks) — as well as chicken roasted with herbes de Provence or marinated peri peri style (a spicy Portuguese preparation).

Source: Tokyo Fried Chicken

Tokyo Fried Chicken
> Location: Monterey Park, California
> Rating: 4

Japanese-style fried chicken dinners — chicken rice, house-pickled ginger cabbage, and both sweet and spicy ponzu sauce are included — are the draw here. Unusual side dishes include crispy fried chicken skin, curry creamed corn, and soy-glazed yams, and there are both L.A.-area and Japanese craft beers to wash it all down with.

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Source: Top Tenders via Facebook

Top Tenders & Wings
> Location: Torrance, California
> Rating: 4.5

Chicken tenders and wings are the only choices here — though either may be ordered in one of seven flavors, including the lightly seasoned original, Nashville hot, and Asian sweet chili. A choice of five dips is also offered. (There is a second location in nearby Redondo Beach.)

Source: Turntable Chicken Jazz

Turntable Chicken Jazz
> Location: New York, New York
> Rating: 4

This industrial-look Koreatown restaurant, hidden behind a pizza parlor, has vinyl records on the walls and a DJ booth and there’s always music — by no means necessarily jazz — blasting. Fried wings, drumsticks, boneless breasts, and combinations, with soy garlic or hot and spicy sauce (or half and half) are the feature.

Source: Stephen M. via Yelp

Wayne’s Wings
> Location: San Antonio, Texas
> Rating: 4.5

This casual counter-service restaurant is all about the wings, available bone-in or boneless. The numerous variations include 13 different dry coatings (Caribbean jerk, garlic parmesan, even funnel cake batter with powdered sugar) and 22 wet sauces (spicy curry, Buffalo ranch, honey chile lime, sweet mustard…). Fries are available plain, topped with Philly cheesesteak, or tossed in any one of the wing sauces.

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Source: Wooboi Hot Chicken via Facebook

Wooboi Hot Chicken
> Location: Herndon, Virginia
> Rating: 4.5

After opening pop-ups in Maryland and Virginia in 2018, Wooboi opened this permanent shop this February just outside D.C. Tenders, wings, and breast are on the menu, and there’s a chicken and waffles combo, too. Six heat levels are available; the hottest, Code Red and Code Blue, require diners to sign a chalkboard “waiver” — part of which reads “I do not have a medical condition that could jeopardize my health or well being during or after eating Wooboi hot chicken.”

Methodology

The enduring popularity of wings — fried and otherwise — was also notable, with some places serving almost nothing but them and boneless chicken tenders (that is, pieces of white meat).

Whatever the style and whatever the part of the bird, however, if it’s skillfully prepared, fried chicken is simply one of the best dishes in the world — and these 35 establishments, many of them very modest, do it better than anyone.

To determine America’s best fried chicken places, 24/7 Tempo considered only establishments listed on Yelp that noted chicken as one of their specialties. We regarded only places located in or near one of America’s 1,000 largest cities by population, and only those with an average rating of at least four out of five stars based on 100 or more ratings on Yelp. We eliminated those establishments serving only grilled or roasted chicken, as well as those at which fried chicken was only a minor part of the menu. We included counter-service restaurants and chain operations, but only listed the highest-rated example of each chain, so that no chain appears more than once.

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