It’s hard to say no to the crispy, crunchy and oh-so-golden goodness that is a plate of freshly fried chicken, although it’s hard to imagine why you’d want to. A staple of summer picnics and Independence Day barbecues, fried chicken is in a dining league all of its own, with restaurants across the country dedicating entire menus to doing it justice. This National Fried Chicken Day (July 6), sink your teeth into one of our favorite fried chicken restaurants.
Mary Mac’s Tea Room, Atlanta, Georgia
When it comes to seeking out the country’s best fried chicken, you just know you can’t go wrong in the south. And when it comes to comfort food in Atlanta, there’s one must-visit place on our minds: Mary Mac’s Tea Room. This homey joint has been serving some of the city’s best soul food since 1945, and you can bet their bottom dollar that the double-dipped fried chicken here will have you licking your fingers for days. Make a meal out of it with southern classic sides like fried green tomatoes, baked mac and cheese and okra.
The Chicken Shack, Evanston, Illinois
Locals will argue for days on end when it comes to who’s really serving the Windy City’s so-called best fried chicken, but there’s no denying that the crispy and juicy golden birds at The Chicken Shack will never disappoint. The first bite crackles with fried batter as crispy and seasoned as it’s meant to be, and as you work your way through that first layer, you’ll reach the real prize: tender and juicy meat just begging to be dipped in The Chicken Shack’s house barbecue sauce.
ChocoChicken, Los Angeles, California
Love chocolate? Love chicken? Then you’re going to flip over the latest spin on fried chicken that’s taking L.A. by storm: ChocoChicken. Opened in June 2014 in downtown, ChocoChicken is challenging everything you thought you knew about fried chicken by serving it in a bittersweet cocoa coating, complete with chocolate ketchup for dipping. Even the starches at ChocoChicken are getting the chocolate treatment, as evidenced by the duck fat fries with chocolate seasoning and the mashed potatoes infused with white chocolate butter. Did we mention they’re serving flaky, melt-in-your-mouth bacon biscuits, too?
Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken, New York, New York
There are a lot of culinary delights that drive foodies to New York City. This is the city, after all, that brought us eggs benedict, showed us that food carts can be considered their own food group (pizza and hot dogs, anyone?), and always has a new foodie craze that draws people from around the world to line up for hours for a taste (we’re looking at you, cronut). Still, the Big Apple isn’t exactly the first place that comes to mind when one thinks of fried chicken. But with a mindset like that, you might miss out on the city’s best southern secret: Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken in Harlem. The technique is North Carolina-style, the skin is never greasy, and the plates are all-you-can-eat (soul food is served buffet-style here).
Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, Memphis, Tennessee
If you dare to call yourself a true fried chicken aficionado, you already know there’s only one bucket list trip you must take to satisfy your inherent need for deep-fried poultry. Your destination? Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken in Memphis. The menu here is no-nonsense, meaning you won’t find common culprits like beef or pork vying for your taste buds’ attention. No, you’ll only be making three simple decisions at Gus’s: what part of the bird you want, how much of it you want, and which tasty southern sides you’ll pair with it. After all, if it isn’t broke (and after nearly 60 years, they’re clearly doing something right), why fix it?
What’s your favorite fried chicken destination?
(Main image: thebittenword.com)