Special Report

The 30 Best Fried Chicken Places In America

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We love chicken in America. According to the National Chicken Council, our per capita consumption of the bird in various forms reached 96.5 pounds last year — up from 80 pounds just 10 years earlier. The USDA’s Economic Research Service has projected that the number will grow to 98.5 pounds by 2021.

Just how much of the chicken we eat is fried, of course, is difficult to determine. One of the great things about chicken is how versatile it is. It can be baked, roasted, grilled, fried, stewed, and more, and is common to almost all of the world’s major cuisines. As an example of the possibilities, consider this ranking of the best chicken dishes in America.

Statista, using data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Simmons National Consumer Survey, has given us some idea of fried chicken’s popularity, however, by calculating that an estimated 175.25 million Americans — more than half the population — ate frozen fried chicken (nuggets, wings, etc.) last year. And the analytics and data firm Market Research Future predicts that by 2025, we’ll spend more than $2.56 billion on fried chicken from fast food outlets like KFC, Popeyes, Bojangles, etc. (These are the top 10 chicken chains in America.)

In earlier times, “fried chicken” used to mean assorted pieces — breast, thigh, leg, wing — breaded or battered, deep-fat- or pan-fried, and served with such traditional accompaniments as mashed potatoes and gravy and biscuits. That genre of fried chicken is still popular around the country, but the scene has changed in recent years.

Fried chicken sandwiches have been around for a long time, but their popularity soared in 2019, with the so-called “chicken sandwich wars” that began as a rivalry between Chick-fil-A and Popeyes and quickly pulled McDonald’s, KFC, Shake Shack, and other chains into the fray. Now they’re likely to be found on menus everywhere, from takeout stands to sit-down restaurants.

Then there’s Nashville-style hot (read “very spicy”) chicken, which was invented in the 1930s in Tennessee but began attracting widespread attention only in 2007. Now this style is imitated in every corner of the country. Another variation on the theme that’s increasingly popular is Korean fried chicken, with a coating so crisp that it’s almost brittle.

And of course there are deep-fried wings, first popularized as a stand-alone treat by the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York, back in 1964. Today, wings — whether Buffalo-style or served with other sauces — are ubiquitous. Some restaurants specialize in nothing but or serve nothing but wings and boneless tenders.

When 24/7 Tempo sought out the 30 best fried chicken places around the country according to Yelp reviewers, a surprising number focused their efforts on hot chicken, Korean chicken, or wings. Old-fashioned Southern-style fried chicken is still a thing, to be sure, but it doesn’t seem to please diners as much today as these newly popular variations.

Click here for the 30 best fried chicken places in America.
Click here to read our detailed methodology.

Whatever the style and whatever the part of the bird, however, a large portion of the country apparently agrees that fried chicken is simply one of the best dishes in the world. These 30 establishments do it particularly well.

Ann’s Chicken Fry House
> Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
> Rating: 4

The name of this vintage Route 66 diner refers not to fried chicken, but to an Oklahoma specialty — chicken-fried steak. However, Ann’s serves fried chicken strips with waffles daily and on Fridays and Saturdays offers heartier fried chicken and waffle combinations and also complete fried chicken dinners (four pieces, with potatoes, vegetables, dinner salad, and Texas toast or a roll). One Yelp reviewer called the chicken sandwich, always available — “a half pound of fried chicken greatness.” Yelpers point out that Ann’s accepts cash only.


Source: Michael Barera / Wikimedia Commons

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

This, the original location of this 10-location 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

> Location: Portland, Oregon
> Rating: 4.5

The small menu at this Portland favorite includes a hot chicken plate that comes with the warning: “This is legitimately spicy. No returns or exchange;” a “legendary” fried chicken sandwich; and a fried chicken salad that includes avocado, a soft-boiled egg, and ginger-and-garlic-marinated wheat noodles. Basilisk is currently open for online orders only, and masks are required for order pickup.

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. As of early November, The Bird has been open for takeout, delivery, and outdoor dining.


Source: Birdies via Facebook

> Location: Los Angeles, California
> Rating: 4

Birdies is about two things: fried chicken and doughnuts (not together). The chicken, free-range, comes as wings, in various combinations of pieces, as sandwiches (breakfast and otherwise), and as tenders, with sauces including house ranch and ghost chile mayo. (The doughnuts, for those who want to end their chicken feast with something sweet, come in such flavors as lemon thyme pistachio and candied bacon maple.)

Source: Boxcar Betty's via Facebook

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

With three locations in South Carolina (like this one in Charleston’s West Ashley neighborhood), Boxcar Betty’s is a chicken sandwich specialist, offering both grilled and fried fowl in three variations — the Boxcar (with 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).


Source: Courtesy of Lucie B.

Champy’s World 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 (four in Tennessee, four in Alabama). 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: Courtesy of Paul M. via Yelp

Chicken House
> Location: Olpe, Kansas
> Rating: 4.5

“Our famous home-style chicken” is the specialty here. The menu offers two-, three-, and four-piece assortments of what a fan from nearby Topeka called “finger-licking must-have fried chicken” on Yelp. Chicken dinners include potatoes, salad, bread, and coffee or tea. The website KansasTravel notes that Chicken House “is the kind of place where diners converse across the dining room, most of the men wear hats.”

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, boneless breast strips, and a plant-based chicken alternative. Sauces include Thai chili and soy garlic, and among the sides are Korean noodle soup and pork belly kimchi fries. There is a second location in Carlsbad, California, north of San Diego.


Source: Gerardo D. via Yelp

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

A strong entry on the Southern California hot chicken scene, Dave’s has six locations up and running (the East Hollywood restaurant gets the nod here) and five more in the works. Tenders and fried chicken sliders are the offerings, and 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).

Source: Photo by Krysha M. via Yelp

Dirty Bird
> Location: Morgantown, West Virginia
> Rating: 4.5

You’ll have to wait 15 minutes for your order at this unprepossessing-looking counter-service place, as its fried chicken — sold in two-, four-, and six-piece boxes in various combinations of pieces — is made to order. If the boxes won’t do the trick, there are also eight-, 12-, and 20-piece buckets. Chicken tenders and chicken and waffles are also on the menu, as are eight different fried chicken sandwiches.


Source: Courtesy of James H. via Yelp

GG’s Southern Kitchen
> Location: Valdosta, Georgia
> Rating: 4.5

The lead item on the short menu at this casual spot in southern Georgia — which promises “home cooking done right” — is fried chicken, served with two side dishes and cornbread or crackling bread. Yelp reviewers love the sides and the “lightly battered, moist and delicious” fried chicken, which gets high marks on the site. According to a reviewer, “Fried chicken not loaded with grease, same delicate seasoning permeating deeply through the meat.”

Source: larrison / Flickr

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, now one of two in the city. The Mason establishment is still in business, but there are a total of 30 locations around the country, from New Orleans to Chicago to L.A. Chicken plates include baked beans, slaw, and white bread.

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 fried chicken at three locations in the town where the hot chicken craze started — 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 from Yelpers.


Source: srboisvert / Flickr

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

The menu here — currently available for pickup and delivery only — offers humanely raised fried chicken, served boneless (except for the drumsticks), with corn muffins and honey butter on the side. Eight house-made dipping sauces are available, including blue cheese and candied jalapeño mayo. There are also four variations on the chicken sandwich theme.

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

Like so many other proprietors of hot chicken places, the owners of this four-unit mini-chain (three in Columbus, one near Cleveland) 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: 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, sells whole-bird fried chicken, wings, and boneless breast sandwiches in six degrees of heat, from “Country (no heat)” to “Howlin’ (can’t touch this).” The hot chicken and waffles dish is available on weekends.

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,” a chopped chicken bowl, and battered and fried pickle spears are on the menu at this operation, opened in the fall of 2018 in the San Fernando Valley community of Sherman Oaks. There is a second location in West Hollywood.

Source: instantvantage / Flickr

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

The Flushing (Queens) location of this Korean fried chicken place opened in 2006 (there are now two other Queens locations and one in Brooklyn). Wings, drumsticks, and boneless breasts are offered, with soy garlic or spicy garlic sauce. There are also Buffalo wings and scallion chicken, described as “deep-fried boneless breast with scallion, red onion, and sweet mustard sauce.”


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.

Old Country Store
> Location: Lorman, Mississippi
> Rating: 4.5

According to the website NatchezTraceTravel, “People travel for hours to partake of {the} ‘Heavenly Fried Chicken'” at this rustic establishment northeast of Natchez, originally opened as, yes, a country store in 1875. The chicken is the star of the all-you-can-eat buffet, served daily from 10 a.m. to early evening. TV food personality Alton Brown has visited, and he says that the only fried chicken he’ll eat is his own or the one served here.


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: 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 serves various chicken combinations in eight degrees of heat, from plain to extra hot. Wings and chicken and waffles are also on the menu, as are grilled and rotisserie chicken and chicken pot pie. There is a second location in Arden, just south of Asheville, and an offshoot in Greenville, South Carolina, is in the works. Rocky’s is currently open only for pickup and delivery.

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. 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), two sandwiches (fried chicken and fried chicken salad), and chicken-tender-enriched kale salad and mac & cheese are the fare served here. Spice levels stretch from no-heat Classic Fried to Gonzo. There’s a second Royals in Louisville besides this Market Street location, as well as one in suburban Jeffersontown, Kentucky.

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.

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 — but patrons won’t experience the interior right now as the restaurant is open only for takeout and delivery. 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.


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 set up this permanent shop last year 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.” A second location has just opened in Alexandria, Virginia.


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 within 100 miles of 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.

We eliminated 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 smaller chain operations (we did not include massive fast-food chains like KFC or Popeyes), but only listed the highest-rated example of each chain, so that no chain appears more than once.

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