Honey Butter Fried Chicken (Illinois)
True, the Windy City is home to so much good food, but Honey Butter Fried Chicken exists to curb fried chicken cravings in an instant. Order solo or bring in a group and order a solid mix of fried chicken breasts, drumsticks and thighs, and don’t forget about the sides (pimento mac n’ cheese and kale and cabbage slaw are all the rage). And as the name implies, each order comes with corn muffins and their famous honey butter.
Inspired by the scent of fried chicken bubbling away on the stove top during his South Carolina childhood, chef Thomas Boemer of Revival (with locations in Saint Paul and Minneapolis) has learned the craft of making fried chicken. The perfectly seasoned, golden, crackling crust draws return fans. "Revival enables us to bring the South to the Midwest, even when snow is piled high outside our doors," he says. And there are options: Southern fried, Tennessee hot, poultrygeist, and even a gluten-free option.
Martin’s Restaurant (Alabama)
Food from this legendary Montgomery soul-food restaurant has fueled locals since the 1930s. Though many regulars have their favorites, the most-famous dish is the fried chicken. From crisp breading with a hint of seasoning to the juicy meat inside, these breasts and thighs are perfectly prepared. The dish has been frequently named the best in the city by the local paper, and is often paired with their much-loved corn muffins.
Eischen's, the oldest bar in the state, was established in 1896 by Peter Eischen and has remained a staple to Okarche residents and beyond. It’s wise to order a whole fried chicken with bread, onions and pickles, plopped down on wax paper, meant for table sharing. Plus, order fried okra and a serving of Frito chili pie to make it even more memorable.
In Seattle, Sunday supper is a prime event for city dwellers, and luckily for Southern food fanatics, chef Edouardo Jordan’s family recipes, passed from generation to generation, are a mainstay at JuneBaby. The fried chicken dinner, only served on Sunday evenings, usually sells within a couple hours, so get there early or risk walking away with an empty stomach.
Grace Meat + Three (Missouri)
In St. Louis, Grace Meat + Three is a hip meat-and-three counter-service spot known for its inventive Southern-American fare, fried chicken included. Diners consistently tout chef Rick Lewis’ ability to perfectly master the Southern delight, best enjoyed with skillet cornbread, collards and marinated beets.
Love & Honey Fried Chicken (Pennsylvania)
In Philadelphia diners crowd the restaurant to indulge in Love & Honey Fried Chicken’s famous bird. Each piece of poultry is brined for eight hours, coated in buttermilk and seasoned flour, fried and finished off with honey to add a sweet-meets-salty element to the dish.
Southern Kin Cookhouse (Massachusetts)
Take a shopping break at the Assembly Row in Somerville for a fueled-up bite: fried chicken from Southern Kin Cookhouse. If looking for something more adventurous than traditional Southern-style, there’s Southwestern-style (in a Fresno-chile-maple glaze). Or better yet, opt for the chicken and waffles where fried chicken, a cheddar-chive waffle, Fresno-chile-maple syrup and Louisiana honey-hot pepper sauce collide.
Regional Kitchen & Public House (Florida)
Sweet tea is a Southern favorite with a good meal, but West Palm Beach’s Regional Kitchen & Public House incorporates the tea into its actual food. A North Carolina native, chef Lindsay Autry’s signature fried chicken is brined in sweet tea, earning her a loyal following. The dish is available as a platter, in a sandwich or over waffles. Whatever the case, you won’t leave hungry.
Carson Kitchen (Nevada)
Just off the strip in downtown Las Vegas, Carson Kitchen is a step back in time to the 1950s, where social plates and innovative comfort food come together. While Vegas is filled with fancy restaurants, folks appreciate the laid-back vibe and, of course, the crispy fried chicken skins served with a mouthwatering smoked honey sauce for double dipping.
The Waiting Room (Oregon)
"Fried chicken takes time," says Thomas Dunklin, co-owner and chef of The Waiting Room in Portland. "We have a special brine and flour mix that we make in house," which takes four days to prepare. Served with charred lemon and bread-and-butter pickles, the chicken is even better doused with Bee Local’s cherrywood-smoked housemade, barrel-aged hot sauces.
King Chicken Fillin’ Station (Mississippi)
Tupelo’s King Chicken Fillin’ Station, housed inside of converted gas station, is consistently rated the best fried chicken in the state, but it’s not your typical, rewarmed greasy gas station fare. Chef Mitch McCamey goes the extra mile to brine, air-dry, season and fry his birds in flour and meal. Grab the perfect craft beverage in the convenient store refrigerators and voila, the perfect meal awaits.
Kiki's Chicken & Waffles (South Carolina)
In Columbia, Kiki’s Chicken and Waffles is home is home to some of the best soul food in the state, fried chicken included. The signature dish, four fried chicken wings, epically seasoned and served on a Belgian waffle, is the way to order, but you really can’t go wrong here.
Hattie’s (New York)
Hattie’s, in Saratoga Springs, has received many accolades for their standout fried chicken over the years, and even beat Bobby Flay in fried chicken on Throwdown! with Bobby Flay. Hattie’s famous fried chicken has been served since 1938, and there’s a reason it’s still around: it is that good!
The two locations of Denver’s Steuben’s are renowned for one thing : mouthwatering, buttermilk brined chicken. "Back in 2006, Steuben’s was rocking fried chicken, winning all kinds of awards before fried chicken became a hot concept," says owner Josh Wolkon. The ideal serving includes mashed potatoes, gravy and a biscuit, all the better to fortify before heading out into Colorado nature.
Worthy Kitchen (Vermont)
The Worthy Chixwich, a buttermilk fried chicken thigh with dill pickles, nestled between a noteworthy bun, is the way to go when ordering at Worthy Kitchen in Woodstock. Maple bacon and buffalo are also available, but we suggest sticking to the traditional buttermilk. The chicken and waffles are also a solid bet and come housed on a savory parmesan waffle topped with ricotta, vegetable salad, fried chicken, pickled shallots and more.
Zehnder's of Frankenmuth (Michigan)
Go to Frankenmuth to check out the Bavarian-style architecture, but stay for a family-style chicken dinner at Zehnder's. The beloved institution has been serving chicken dinners for over 70 years, and seats an average of 1,500 people at a time. That’s a lot of chicken! It was ranked the number one independent restaurant in Michigan and number three in the country for number of meals served among U.S. independent restaurants, according to a Restaurant Business report in 2018.
Chicken Shack (Alaska)
Serving some of the best comfort food in the state, Chicken Shack, in Anchorage, does its namesake proud with updated spins on classic fried chicken. The locally owned restaurant takes pride in rolling each piece of chicken in special breading by hand, as well as brining their own pickles and cutting each fry by hand. The resulting perfectly crisp fried chicken can be ordered as a standalone, in a sandwich or as chicken and waffles.
H&H Restaurant (Georgia)
Opened in 1959 by Inez Hill and Louise Hudson, H&H Restaurant is a Macon institution, particularly for the city’s music scene. The late "Mama" Louise Hudson cooked up some of the city’s best soul food for The Allman Brothers Band, Chuck Leavell, Charlie Daniels, Marshall Tucker and more, and even went on tour with the Allman Brothers at one point. Her fried chicken, served daily, is still on the menu and best paired with fried okra, collards, potato salad and deviled eggs.
Greer’s Chicken (Connecticut)
Consistently voted the best fried chicken in Bristol and beyond, Greer’s Chicken is known for its Southern fried chicken. Owner Rich Plantamuro ensures every piece is cooked and fried to his high standards, including a well-spiced batter for the chicken. Upgrade the whole thing with sides like macaroni salad and Connecticut-style clam strips.
Nexus Brewery (New Mexico)
Fried chicken? At a brewery? In Albuquerque, New Mexico? At Nexus Brewery, suds are ideal with fried chicken. Available as a fried chicken sandwich, fried chicken breast meal and fried chicken and waffles, the chicken is crisp and juicy, but the best match for beer might be the NM Hot Chicken doused in hot oil and cayenne pepper that rivals Nashville’s fiery birds.
Pretty Bird (Utah)
When the only two options on a Salt Lake City restaurant menu are a fried chicken sandwich and a quarter bird, the chicken must be standout. At Pretty Bird, chef Viet Pham, who beat Bobby Flay in a hot chicken battle, focuses on serving awesome fried chicken. Order at your spice level discretion (mild, medium, hot or hot "behind") and experience some of the crispiest, crunchiest chicken around.
Honey Eatery and Social Club (Idaho)
"We wanted a chicken that has Southern style to it but with a little modern flavor and twist," says Adam Hegsted, owner of Honey Eatery & Social Club, in Coeur d'Alene. Chicken is marinated in buttermilk brine, dry-dredged and batter-fried to ensure it remains tender and moist. The golden results are served with butter and, fittingly for the establishment name, local honey.
Winner Winner (Rhode Island)
If you dine at a place with a name like Winner Winner, it’s ok to expect an exceptional chicken dinner. A small BYOB operation in Newport, the restaurant specializes in moist and crispy fried chicken. Add a side of mac n’ cheese and biscuits and you’ve got a winning takeaway meal for the night.
Mean Bird (Virginia)
Located in Richmond, Mean Bird is a take away shop, food truck and catering service that’s widely known for its fried chicken. Owners Mike and Sarah Moore began as a food truck in 2016 feeding hungry festival-goers, brewery crowds and attendees at other events. Fried to order, the chicken sits for 24 hours in a special dry rub seasoning to take on ultimate flavor. Vegans also line up for the made-from-scratch "chicken," crafted from fresh vegetables, whole grains, rice, chickpeas, herbs and seasonings, and delicious coconut milk breading.
The Beal House (New Hampshire)
In Littleton, crispy fried chicken, served with potato hash, sautéed greens and housemade hot sauce and sausage gravy, is a way of life. Its claim to fame? The Beal House serves the juiciest fried chicken in the state. The owners once tried to remove it from the daily menu to serve as a Sunday night special, but customer uproar sent it right back into the daily rotation.
Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles (Arizona)
Lo-Lo’s owner Larry White perfected his fried chicken recipe by working alongside his grandmother. A staple since 1997, Lo-Lo’s Chicken and Waffles, with locations throughout Arizona and beyond, serves made-from-scratch fried chicken and delightfully syrupy waffles all day long — plus notable Southern sides like grits and collards.
Kroll's Sit Down and Eat Diner (North Dakota)
Famous for its fleischkuechle, this beloved retro diner with locations in Fargo, Bismark, Mandan and Minot also specializes in fantastic fried chicken. Get the four-piece special, with sides. Golden and crisp, the breading contains a touch of honey to create the perfect salty-sweet flavor. Get it with soup or salad and your choice of potato or cottage cheese, in the diner-approved way.
Family Meal (Maryland)
Set in a former car dealership in Frederick, Family Meal serves homey American dishes from breakfast through dinner, including standout fried chicken. Bryan Voltaggio brines the birds to keep flavor intact while the birds turn golden. The accompanying buttermilk biscuits, pickles and hot sauce (during lunch and supper) won’t disappoint, and plus, it comes housed in playful chicken-shaped container. In the mornings, it’s served as chicken and waffles.
Café Genevieve (Wyoming)
The iconic Willie Mae's Scotch House in New Orleans serves as recipe inspiration for chef Joshua Governale’s highly acclaimed fried chicken from Café Genevieve. On any given day, find both Jackson Hole locals and tourists alike feasting on his mouthwatering concoctions, including the chicken and waffles, which are next-level. The skin boasts an extra crunch thanks to soda water mixed into the batter and subtle spice from a little Crystal Hot Sauce.
Tin Roof (Hawaii)
Chef Sheldon Simeon’s Tin Roof on Maui gets a lot of acclaim for plate lunches with garlic shrimp and pork belly, but chicken fans know not to miss the mochiko chicken. The kitchen marinates chicken thighs in a bath of ginger-sake shoyu, then dredhes them in a mochiko sweet-rice batter, before double-frying them. Topped with housemade su-miso sauce, gochujang aioli and mochi crunch dime bag mix, it’s a ideal for fortifying exploring the rest of the island.
Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken (Tennessee)
Finding the best fried chicken in Tennessee is tough — it is the home to Nashville and its hot birds, after all. But even against stiff competition, Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken stands out. Known for its unbeatable fried chicken and secret spice, the chicken is made from a family recipe dreamt up over 60 years ago in Mason, Tennessee. Originally sold sandwiched between two slices of white bread out of the back of a tavern, the dish became so in-demand that there are now 22 locations in 11 states. Fresh and never frozen, the crisp chicken is battered in a secret spice recipe and fried in peanut oil for the perfect amount of crisp on the outside.
Ox Yoke Inn (Iowa)
The Ox Yoke Inn, a historic family-style restaurant serving German and American food, is a National Historic Landmark, in a home built in 1856. The restaurant has remained a popular spot since 1940 thanks in large part to its fried chicken. Dusted in well-seasoned breading and deep-fried, the chicken is so popular, the restaurant serves over 41,000 pounds of it each year.
Price’s Chicken Coop (North Carolina)
In Charlotte, folks have been lining up at Price’s Chicken Coop to get their hands on fried chicken that "yields crunch, succulence, won’t scare-the-horses seasoning, and the trace of grease that goes with deep frying" for more than five decades now. The secret? A buttoned-up family recipe that involves frying the chicken in peanut oil. It’s so tasty even Lenny Kravitz fell in love with the chicken while filming the "Hunger Games" and you best bet the Carolina Panthers teammates, Cam Newton included, flock to the joint on the regular.
The Cozzy Corner (Wisconsin)
Having lived in both Florida and Alabama, Cozzy Corner's owner, Natasha Banks, has a serious knack for Southern food. After moving to Wisconsin, she found herself missing home. "So homesick, I came up with this crazy idea to open a restaurant that would mimic my family's love of music and showcase my mother's recipes," she notes, of her restaurant situated in Appleton.
Big Mama’s Kitchen (Nebraska)
For oven-fried chicken that will wow the palate, Big Mama’s Kitchen, in Omaha, is where it’s at. Big Mama recently passed away, but her delicious recipe and legacy live on at the restaurant, which has a devoted loyal following. Treated with her special rub, marinated in buttermilk and dusted with flour, the poultry is next-level at this joint.
Roost Fried Chicken (Montana)
If Southern cravings kick in when visiting Big Sky country, be sure to stop by timeless Roost Fried Chicken in Bozeman. There’s a whole page on the menu dedicated to Southern-style fried. Stick to the classic-style bird or opt for Nashville hot or sweet heat. The restaurant’s roots can be traced to the owners’ grandparents now-closed Tennessean staple, Chow-Time. We love the classic Southern fried on its own, but there are chicken and waffles and chicken sandwiches to satisfy all.
Lettie’s Kitchen (Delaware)
Many will vouch Lettie’s as the best fried chicken in the state, full stop. The Hockessin establishment, named after owner Susan Alexander’s late mother, continues to serve as a place where diners gather around the table for a great meal — ideally on the covered porch. Fried chicken is thoughtfully broasted (broiled and roasted for extra tenderness) to make it even more palatable. "Our chicken is less greasy, always juicy on the inside and nice and crispy on the outside."
Belgrade Gardens (Ohio)
Barberton is the "Chicken Capital of the World," serving 7.5 tons of chicken each week between a mere four restaurants. The oldest of these is Belgrade Gardens, where Serbian-style fried chicken is a coveted menu item. Opened by immigrants in 1933, the restaurant has been accumulating accolades ever since.
Chicken Galore (New Jersey)
Don’t let this unassuming Fair Lawn joint fool you — its fried chicken is all the rage. Chicken Galore, formerly Chicken Delight, has specialized in fine fried chicken since 1978. Insiders know to buy it by the bucket as an easy, crowd-pleasing dinner solution, with onion rings, salad and rolls.
Miss Ollie’s (California)
California might be a large state but when it comes to the fried-bird discussion, Miss Ollie’s, in Oakland, is a common thread. Owner Sarah Kirnon opened the Caribbean-meets-Californian spot in 2013, paying homage to her grandmother, Ollie. Chicken is stuffed with herbs and vinegar beneath the skin, fried in a skillet, and served alongside potato salad and field greens with lemon pepper sauce.
Hot Suppa (Maine)
In Portland, Hot Suppa is known for serving the best fried chicken in the state. The chicken is locally sourced, brined in sweet tea (a nod to the South) and served with a buttermilk waffle and syrup from Maine to sweeten the deal. Load up on sides lie mac and cheese or sweet potato salad and enjoy a great meal.
Hollyhock Hill (Indiana)
Founded in 1928, Hollyhock Hill helped start the Indiana fried chicken movement, and has been a sought-after stop ever since for a true, home-cooked family style meal in the Indianapolis area. The entire menu appeals, but the Indiana fried chicken dinner transcends, served with a bevy of sides and apps go.
Lot 12 Public House (West Virginia)
Forget plain chicken: In West Virginia, game meats like venison, pheasant, bison, elk and other game meats all grace plates around the state. But tucked away in a small circa-1913 house in Berkeley Springs is Lot 12 Public House, where James Beard Foundation-honored chef Damian Heath one-ups the traditional preparation of a wild game dish. His buttermilk-fried quail atop a wild ramp waffle drizzled with sriracha-bourbon maple syrup is West Virginia’s delicious answer to the South’s chicken 'n' waffles. (You’re welcome.) And it’s one of just several can’t-miss New American dishes served with flair here.
AQ Chicken House (Arkansas)
Owner Roy C. Ritter began serving what he called "Southern-style chicken" in 1947 to show tourists and road trippers passing through Springdale by way of Hwy 71 just how awesome chicken could be in the Ozarks. AQ Chicken House now serves over a million happy customers each year. Fun fact: AQ stands for "Arkansas Quality," which the owner notes you’ll taste in every bite.
McHardy's Chicken & Fixin' (Louisiana)
Takeout-only spot McHardy's Chicken & Fixin’ turned heads in 2018 after taking home the gold at the National Fried Chicken Festival in New Orleans. Run by mother-and-son team Alvi and Rahman Mogilles, the restaurant aims to serve quality food at affordable prices. The namesake Fixins include green beans and cornbread.
Barrera’s Fried Chicken (Texas)
Barrera’s Fried Chicken, just 20 miles west of Corpus Christi, has remained an iconic stop for fried chicken since 1978. It’s the secret seasoning sprinkled on tip, plus the side of yellow gravy, that wow customers’ palates.
Mama's Phried & Phillys (South Dakota)
Sioux Falls locals line up at Mama's Phried & Phillys for two things only: philly cheesesteaks and top-notch fried chicken. Some say it’s the light and not too greasy batter and moistness of the chicken that makes it standout; others vouch for the spicy kick that gives it extra personality.
The Harland Sander Cafe and Museum (Kentucky)
Where to go in the state that gives its name to an iconic, crispy fried chicken chain? The Harland Sander Café and Museum in Corbin, of course. A museum portrays the story of how world-famous Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) came about. Colonel Harland Sanders operated this restaurant from 1940 to 1956, where he developed the still-secret legendary KFC recipe. Visitors can still taste a slice of real deal Kentucky flavor when eating here.
Chicken Annie’s Original (Kansas)
Established in 1934, Chicken Annie’s Original is the crown of Crawford County, known as the "chicken capital" of Kansas. The family-owned and -operated restaurant is known for delicious and unique recipes and sides that’ve been passed down over the generations. And apparently, its famous fried chicken, along with onion rings, potato salad and German-style coleslaw, are executed just as Annie Pichler made them back in the day.