photo: kari skaflen / bavette’s
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:
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.
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.