The Best Fried Chicken in Chicago: A Plump, Juicy List

We’re filling in a few local names left off of Food & Wine’s list of the Best Fried Chicken in the U.S.

photo: kari skaflen / bavette’s

Bavette’s fried chicken. Yum.

In a recent Food & Wine gallery of the 27 best spots for fried chicken in the U.S., two restaurants in Chicago made the extra crispy cut. Lake View’s Crisp (2940 N. Broadway) and Harold’s Chicken Shack chain are on the magazine’s list.

Those are both fine restaurants. The late Harold Pierce began dishing out oiled-up white and dark meat with hot sauce from his first shack in 1950, and now Wicker Park, Bloomingdale and Champaign are home to some of the 65 Harold’s locations. Crisp is a funky twist on Korean fried chicken—its six flavors include a ginger/soy/garlic type called Seoul Sassy, and Bud’s Buffalo uses sauce from Chicago hot dog stand Budacki’s Drive-In.

But we fear the F&W team lacks a local’s expertise on the current fried chicken landscape. We at Chicago magazine eat fried chicken full-time in this town. And today, more than a few new kitchens can hang with a classic like Harold’s.  Here’s a rundown of the places that we feel are really frying up some fine fowl right now:

Hearty: Often, the crispier the fried chicken, the drier the white meat. Not so with the bird at @heartyboys in Wrigleyville. Crispy and juicy. Good job.

Bavette’s Bar and Boeuf: This basic bird comes out picnic-perfect, with a side of hot sauce and buttermilk ranch. 

Big Jones:  Don’t be put off by the idea of “heirloom” cooking happening at this Andersonville restaurant. Paul Fehribach’s lovingly researched, smartly executed fare is never pedantic. Dishes like the fried chicken come out homey but not heavy.

Luxbar: Crispy, herby crust covers every nook and cranny of the Amish fried chicken at @LUXBARChicago.

Little Goat Diner: Stephanie Izard’s offshoot of the excellent Girl & The Goat, the Little Goat Diner, is a casual place with a killer menu. Fried chicken comes with wings, thighs, and a leg.

Honey Butter Fried Chicken: This is one we’re looking forward to. Christine Cikowski and Josh Kulp, who run the underground dining club Sunday Dinner, discovered how glorious fried chicken tastes with honey butter when their staff tried it. “From that moment on, we have always served our fried chicken with a big dollop of honey butter on it,” Cikowski says. Now they’re taking it one step further and naming a storefront after it—coming in mid-June.

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1 year ago
Posted by Rooster

Alway's love DishChicago and what Penny has to say. However, I was surprised that any Fried Chicken survey of Chicago diidn't include Stanley's Kitchen & Tap. Stanley's has been frying the best in Chicago for 19+ years. Yum, Yum, Yum!

1 year ago
Posted by FoodieForReal

The food and wine magazine list is ridiculous. Why is it that Harold's chicken shack keeps getting considered good? It has no flavor in the crust bits just plain and boring. Yet get tons of hype for some reason.

Great fried chicken shouldn't need a side of sauce or anything added and should have great flavor or spices or things like honey in the batter or on top

Your local list here looks far better! I can't wait to try them all!

My personal fave is Chalkboard. It's got tons of flavor and spices in the crust.

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