Bird breakdown:A thick, juicy Nashville-spiced breast with bacon, cheddar, and a runny egg on a biscuit
Spice level:3 out of 4
Crunch factor:Outstanding, especially given the diner breakfast heaped on top
The skinny:An impeccable fry job finds the center of the crispy-juicy Venn diagram and earns this sandwich top honors. Plus, the egg stayed runny, and the biscuit is tender enough to impress your Southern meemaw.
roostisgood.com for locations
Bird breakdown:A thigh marinated in a spicy paste of lemongrass, ginger, and galangal, breaded in rice flour, and topped with a green papaya salad
Spice level:2 out of 4
Crunch factor:Pretty much nil. The thin dusting of rice flour crisps up only at the edges.
The skinny:Could be juicier, but the marinade lends such a deep flavor you don’t care, and the zippy papaya salad — with slivers of lime, peel and all — and minced chiles provide freshness and upfront heat that amp up the marinade’s burn.
4356 W. Armitage Ave., Hermosa
Bird breakdown:A pounded-tender breast that keeps its moistness thanks to a buttermilk brine, with spicy mayo, spicy honey, bread and butter pickles, and shredded cabbage on a brioche bun
Spice level:1 out of 4
Crunch factor:Good. The craggy crust stays crisp from bag to car to home.
The skinny:It was conceived by no less a chicken maestro than Boka’s Lee Wolen, so the construction is solid: You get a bit of each topping in every bite. Think of it as a fast-food sandwich gone to finishing school.
1729 N. Halsted St., Lincoln Park; pickup and delivery only
Bird breakdown:A heavily dredged thigh just back from a tour of Asia, with Indian tandoori spices, Korean gochujang aïoli, Filipino atchara (pickled green papaya), and a Japanese moniker
Spice level:1½ out of 4
Crunch factor:Impressive, considering how slicked with sauce this thing is
The skinny:It’s sweet and easygoing at first, with an after-throb of chile. This is a glop-a-thon of a sandwich, but a delicious one.
850 W. Superior St., West Town; pickup and delivery only
Bird breakdown:An oversize breast topped with slaw, special sauce, and pickles. (There are six in-house heat levels, topping out at “lil insanity,” but even the “hot” level 4 will give you hiccups.)
Spice level:4 out of 4
Crunch factor:A heavy dose of red pepper in the dredge darkens and, unfortunately, decrunchifies the chicken.
The skinny:The breast is dry, though the garnishes help, and the buttered and toasted brioche bun offers a textural contrast.
frythecoop.com for locations
Bird breakdown:An enormous thigh that juts so far from its bun it could make a pork tenderloin cutlet envious, flavored with chef Jassy Lee’s Belizean (and Nashville-level-hot) marinade and topped with slaw and slivered raw jalapeños
Spice level:3 out of 4
Crunch factor:Very high, thanks to a crackly breading that seems to take on a life of its own
The skinny:The “hot” (at the middle of five in-house heat levels) packs a backslap but doesn’t flatten you, and while the meat impresses with its size — it’s so big it needs an oblong box — sadly, it’s as dry as that box.
2520 S. Halsted St., Bridgeport