On the Road Eats: Fried Chicken

Discover Food Network-approved fried chicken across the country with these fried chicken hotspots.

Categories:
American, Southern, Chicken, Comfort Food

When you have a craving for fried chicken, these Food Network-approved restaurants will provide you with crunchy, juicy, comforting birds that really hit the spot.

24 Diner — Austin
One bite of 24 Diner's crunchy boneless chicken and you'll understand why this eatery is open 24 hours a day. The chicken delivers on both savory and sweet, as each order is plated atop a waffle, then topped with brown sugar butter and a generous drizzle of maple syrup. The Chicken & Waffle is served on the breakfast menu, but you can still order this dish, and comforting sides of biscuits and bacon-braised greens, anytime of day.

Chuck's Southern Comforts Cafe — Burbank, Ill.
If you're a fan of Cajun-Creole, Mexican and Southern barbecue, Chuck's Southern Comforts Cafe has you covered. Chuck Pine opened his restaurant originally for barbecue only under the name Chuck's BBQ. One thing led to another and Chuck expanded his menu to offer comfort food from all across the South, including his finger-licking-good Chicken Fried Chicken. The boneless chicken is served with Chuck's garlic mashed potatoes, a healthy portion of homemade sage gravy and Cajun green beans.

The Glass Onion — Charleston, S.C.
Named after a song from The Beatles, The Glass Onion aims for rock-out flavors in all of its dishes. As Guy Fieri discovered, this includes using local, fresh ingredients for the shrimp and grits to making the signature Crispy Chicken Leg without a fryer. Instead of the typical frying method, The Glass Onion's chicken is baked in a pan of hot oil. The confit technique leaves the chicken leg thoroughly cooked before being seared on both sides. No flour batter here — it's the chicken's skin alone that gives it crispiness. To finish it off, The Glass Onion's chicken is served with collard greens, creamy mashed potatoes and a little bit of sweet pepper relish on top.

South 21 Drive-In — Charlotte, N.C.
In Charlotte, N.C., South 21 Drive-In keeps tradition alive with curbside service since 1955. Drive up, park and place your order, as there's no dining room. The Super Boy burger is South 21's signature item, but the fried chicken is a tried-and-true feast. Choose a two-piece or four-piece serving size that comes with french fries, coleslaw and bread. As for the name, it's a tribute to the nearby Highway 21.

Harold's Chicken Shack — Chicago
With more than 60 outlets throughout Chicago and beyond, Harold's Chicken Shack reaches legendary status. Since 1950, Harold's has been opening no-frills chicken shacks all over the South and West sides of Chicago. The chicken begins humbly enough with a dip in milk. After a solid shake in plain flour, it's dropped in a mixture of beef tallow and vegetable oil. The extra fat makes for a supremely moist chicken that will satisfy any comfort food craving. Order Harold's chicken by the bucket with sides of okra, mashed potatoes and the signature fried gizzards.

Table Fifty-Two — Chicago
Table Fifty-Two may be in Chicago, but the fried chicken comes courtesy of a Southern culinary master. Known for his "real food" cuisine of low-country shrimp and grits, and melt-in-your-mouth macaroni and cheese, Chef Art Smith makes his prized fried chicken on Sunday night only, ensuring that it remains a special treat. Although Art serves the chicken on Sunday, he begins preparing it two days earlier. The chicken needs both a 12-hour saltwater brine and a 12-hour buttermilk soak before being fried in a cast-iron skillet of hot oil. The restaurant's elegant surroundings shouldn't deter you from diving right in with your hands.

Stroud's Restaurant & Bar — Fairway, Kan.
Stroud's pan-fried chicken is worth the trip to Fairway, Kan. Iron Chef judge Simon Majumdar admits he "would move heaven and Earth" for a bite of the homestyle fried chicken. The chicken is kept tender and moist by frying with good old-fashioned shortening. Locals love the crunch almost as much as they love the "mix-up" plate that includes a combo of fried liver and fried gizzards.

Max's Wine Dive — Houston
On Crave, Troy Johnson learns the secret behind the low-and-slow technique for fried chicken. At Max's Wine Dive, the chicken requires a 36-hour buttermilk marinade that helps tenderize the bird. But, in this case, the marinade doesn't stop at just buttermilk. Max's takes things a step further by infusing it with jalapenos, limes and a handful of hot spices. And whereas frying temperatures typically surpass 300 degrees, the frying temperature at Max's tops out at 250 degrees. But the proof is in the taste, and Max's is not only delicious, but as Troy says, it's "tender to the bone."

The Old Country Store — Lorman, Miss.
While visiting Mississippi, Alton Brown took a detour to The Old Country Store. It was well worth it when he met legendary Chicken Cooking King, Arthur Davis. Here, the chicken and cornbread have a song ("chicken and a biscuit, get it while it's hot!"), and the secret to Arthur's Grand Mama's Fried Chicken remains a secret. The front porch and country-style, 100-year-old dining hall add to the authentic Mississippi dining experience, as do the shelves of antiques and artwork along the walls. The chicken is served buffet style, along with plenty of beans, collard greens, cornbread and more.

Three Angels Diner — Memphis
For a twist on Southern classics, visit Three Angels diner in Memphis, where they're serving piping-hot fried chicken that's heavy on the crunch. As Guy learned, the chicken undergoes a 24-hour saltwater brine, then gets dusted in a light coat of flour and dipped in buttermilk. Then, co-owner Jason Sever tightly presses flour onto each piece of chicken, ensuring a completely "crunchified" piece. To top it off, he serves the chicken with a side of turnip greens and corn on the cob.

Little Tea Shop — Memphis
Little Tea Shop not only has the honor of being one of Memphis' oldest restaurants (it opened in 1918), but it also has the honor of being one of the most beloved. Originally opened as a tea room for the ladies, Little Tea Shop has both men and women hungry for its Southern-style menu of sweet tea, scalloped tomatoes, fried okra, squash and more. But when Guy dropped by, it was all about the Southern Fried Chicken that has been given a touch of Middle Eastern spice. Owner Suhair "Sue" Lauck grew up in Jerusalem and adds a little bit of hot sauce, Cajun seasoning and allspice to her buttermilk brine, then dusts the chicken with flour before it hits the fryer. Suhair's take on cornbread sticks also gets a twist, as her sticks are a little bit lighter and sweeter than typical Southern cornbread.

Uncle Lou's — Memphis
Situated in a strip mall by the airport, Uncle Lou's has become a Memphis icon for its honey-dipped homestyle chicken infused with Cajun-Creole butter. The secret dipping sauce was re-named Sweet Spicy Love after Guy paid a visit. But the earlier name, Corruption, still rings true. Made with a secret blend of vinegars, honey and spices, the sauce will leave you "corrupted" after the first taste. Luckily, you can order this bird whole to get your fix, or order a bottle — or a gallon — of the Sweet Spicy Love sauce to take home.

Jamaicaway — Nashville
At Nashville's Farmers' Market you might not expect to find a Jamaican restaurant. But that's what happened to Guy when he visited Jamaicaway. Jamaicaway's authentic cuisine has been a hit with locals looking for true island flavor. Because it's served cafeteria style, you can mix and match different dishes for the ultimate plate. But make sure to ask for the spicy jerk chicken. Guy learned that although the pan-fried chicken is "crunchentatious" on its own, the mango chutney spooned on top gives it a special kick. The blend of mangos and a number of peppers (from yellow, red and green peppers to the spicy Scotch bonnet) give this chicken huge flavor.

Loveless Cafe — Nashville
There's no shortage of old-country charm at Loveless Cafe. Here you'll find the quintessential checkered picnic tablecloths and rocking chairs out front. Regulars come from miles away for the signature all-natural fried chicken served in either a half or quarter of dark or light meat. Each chicken also comes with two homemade side dishes, like stone-ground grits or homemade creamed corn. The fried chicken recipe hasn't changed since 1951 and still comes with the fluffy biscuits that have become a must-order for every Loveless customer.

Big Mama's Kitchen & Catering — Omaha
Big Mama's Kitchen & Catering repurposed a school cafeteria into a bustling restaurant. Today's menu skips chicken nuggets and instead features Southern classics like sweet potato pudding and collard greens with bacon drippings. But it's Patricia "Big Mama" Barron's chicken that keeps her customers coming back. Instead of using the typical deep-fry method, Patricia cooks her chicken in a convection oven in a pan of oil. This way it "bakes while it fries," resulting in super-moist chicken covered with a layer of crunch all around.

Bobwhite's Lunch & Supper Counter — New York
This East Village restaurant owned by Virginia native Keedick Coulter brings two Southern staples together: sweet tea and fried chicken. Keedick doesn't offer the sweet tea as a drink, though. Instead he brines the chicken overnight in his mix of sugary tea. And although he follows tradition with a flour dredge, he opts to fry his bird in a pressure fryer, leaving the chicken sweet, succulent and perfectly crisp. It passes the crunch test, and when served with a buttermilk biscuit and a green salad for $11.50, it passes the bang-for-your-buck test too.

The Redhead — New York 
Meg Grace's East Village gastropub isn't named after her red locks (she doesn't have any). Instead, this eatery gets its name from a famous Prohibition speakeasy named The Redhead Bar. Today The Redhead serves a variety of upscale bar food, like pretzels and beer cheese and house-made waffle chips. But the menu leans more to the South with low-country shrimp and stuffed trout. It's Meg's insatiable buttermilk fried chicken, with its buttermilk brine and flaky crust, that keeps customers coming back. The plate comes with a side of sweet cornbread and a market green salad — simple sides for chicken that's heavy on Southern flavor and charm.

Eischen's Bar — Okarche, Okla.
As Oklahoma's oldest bar, Eischen's also holds the title for possibly serving the most fried chicken. Each week Eischen's sells more than 24,000 pieces of its delectable fried chicken. On Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Guy learned why there's so much demand for this chicken that it requires an entire wall of fryers. It starts with a recipe dating back nearly 50 years. The flour mixture includes cornmeal, wheat flour, paprika, sugar and secret spices. The chicken takes 15 minutes in the fryer to turn that perfect shade of golden brown.

Ms. Tootsie's Restaurant Bar Lounge — Philadelphia
Keven Parker's Ms. Tootsie's Restaurant Bar Lounge calls itself an "opulent ode to everything now, next and new." Robert Irvine called the Southern fried chicken (served with the mac and cheese and collard greens) one of his all-time favorites. He warns diners about becoming a "chicken monster." And although the recipe remains a secret, it's clear there's a little kick at the end. Don't expect to find farm tables here. The modern decor includes chrome chandeliers and elegant lounge seating.

Moseberth's Fried Chicken — Portsmouth, Va.
As the name suggests, Moseberth's Fried Chicken serves one serious plate of chicken, and the 1940s recipe passed down through four generations is still the same. There's no secret to the flour batter that has a pancake-like consistency, but they do cook this chicken low and slow for nearly 17 minutes in the fryer. Best of all, every dinner packs a half a chicken with a thigh, a leg and a breast, as well as sides of potato salad and hushpuppies.

Babe's Chicken Dinner House — Roanoke, Texas
On The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Melissa d'Arabian calls Babe's chicken "the quintessential fried chicken." Known throughout Texas for family-style cuisine, Babe's Chicken Dinner House has very few secrets when it comes to preparing its signature dish. The trick is using saltwater brine for 24 to 36 hours. The brine helps tenderize the chicken and retain moisture, but the "double-dip" method gives the chicken its golden crust. After dipping it in milk, it goes into the flour, then back into the milk and into the flour again. It's "uncomplicated by crazy spices," says Melissa. She calls it "the perfect Sunday supper," and it's really complete when you include the restaurant's buttermilk biscuits topped with honey.

Cha Cha Chicken — Santa Monica, Calif.
This island-inspired, shack-like spot features festive decorations in every corner and Coconut Fried Chicken that's worth a special trip, according to Iron Chef Michael Symon. The secret may be in the marinating process that uses a special jerk seasoning of ground pepper, coriander, allspice and more. Add a crispy coconut batter and you have a recipe that Michael calls "unbelievable."

Hattie's Restaurant — Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
When in Saratoga, Bobby Flay knows there's only one place to visit for fried chicken. Dating back to 1938, Hattie's Restaurant opened with Hattie Moseley Austin's menu of Southern-style cuisine that today remains largely unchanged. Chef Jasper Alexander took over the restaurant in 2001 but keeps Hattie's recipe intact, using only simple ingredients like flour, salt, pepper and vegetable oil for frying. The same can be said of Jasper's macaroni and cheese, which is baked with extra-sharp white cheddar as well as breadcrumbs (from leftover Hattie's biscuits), then garnished with rosemary and scallions.

The Wilkes House (Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room) — Savannah 
For more than 68 years, The Wilkes House has been serving meals family style. You won't order off a menu, but instead, sit shoulder to shoulder with your family — or strangers — and wait until the dishes are carted in. For Roger Mooking, the best plate has to be the fried chicken, where the "steam starts rising" once you break into it. It's a staple of the menu for this historic Savannah restaurant, formerly a boarding house. With nearly two dozen sides that include all the Southern classics, like pickled beets, okra and tomatoes, black-eyed peas, candied yams, mashed potatoes and coleslaw, you certainly won't leave hungry.

Southern Kitchen Restaurant — Tacoma
Those in Tacoma know when they want a taste of the South, they need to hitch a ride to Southern Kitchen Restaurant. Owner Gloria Martin learned the recipes for her Southern cooking from her father, a military cook, and has been dishing out the classics since opening in 1995. Everything on the menu is scratch made and simple, from the eggs and grits to the chicken fried steak with ladles of brown gravy. But it's her Southern Fried Chicken that has diners lining up. The classic fried chicken takes up half the plate and has a super-juicy, yet crunchy, bite.

Dell Rhea's Chicken Basket — Willowbrook, Ill.
What started as a small operation back in 1938 is now home to Dell Rhea's "world-famous fried chicken." On Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Guy waited patiently for the chicken that's become a go-to meal for those traveling on the iconic Route 66. Owner Patrick Rhea leaves the chicken in a special breading mix for up to six hours. He then fries it at the low temperature of 260 degrees. Twenty minutes in the fryer and the chicken is done. It's not a "hard-fried" chicken, Guy says, but it's certainly a falls-right-off-the-bone chicken, with plenty of juice to spare. Cheese lovers should note: Dell Rhea's macaroni and cheese, baked with a "Colorado River of Cheese Sauce," is a creamy and addictive side.

For more FN-approved destinations, check out Food Network On the Road.

For more fried chicken destinations, check out Where to Eat Great Fried Chicken from Coast to Coast.