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These are The 75 Best Fried Chicken Places in America

These are The 75 Best Fried Chicken Places in America

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Fried chicken is one of the most delicious foods on earth, and these spots do it best

Is there anyone out there who honestly, seriously hates fried chicken? The answer to that question is no, because fried chicken is physically impossible to dislike. There's a reason why it's become a thing of cultish devotion, one of the primary reasons being that it's much harder to get right than you might think. Some places, however, don't just get it right; they turn the dish into a transcendent experience. These 75 places do it best.

The 75 Best Fried Chicken Places in America Gallery

To compile our ranking of America’s fried chicken spots, we assembled a list of more than 200 popular fried chicken joints, from Seattle to Miami, and asked our panel of food — and especially Southern food or fried chicken — experts to vote on the best fried chicken spots in various geographic areas. The South reigns supreme (unsurprisingly), but restaurants from all across the country have earned their well-deserved spots on this list as well. Click here to learn which 75 fried chicken spots are America's best.

These restaurants have the best fried chicken in America

Colonel Sanders may be the face of fried chicken in the U.S. But that doesn't mean KFC is the only place with a secret recipe.

Many of the country's most memorable fried birds are made in small batches at local restaurants. They don't have drive thrus, but they're no strangers to long lines and sold out specials. In honor of National Fried Chicken Day, which is July 6, here are some of the best places in the country to find fried chicken that is so hot, so crispy, so juicy and so finger lickin' good it's worth traveling for.

America’s 75 Best Fried Chicken Spots

Fried chicken is much loved in America, yes, but many cultures around the world fry chicken with great success. The best part about eating it in America is that these countless international styles of fried chicken, be they Korean or Serbian or anything else, are embraced, and restaurants that serve them have earned their spots in the canon — arguably the most delicious canon in existence.

Here are America’s 75 absolute best places to savor this universally loved meal, as picked by an expert panel that includes one of America’s foremost fried chicken experts, Lee Schrager, author of Fried & True: More than 50 Recipes for America’s Best Fried Chicken and founder of the South Beach Food and Wine Festival.

Let’s talk about what makes good fried chicken. As Schrager puts it, “I always look for something that’s perfectly crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside.” Dominique Love, founder of the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival, says: “Perfect fried chicken will burst with juicy flavors. If you don’t have to wipe juice from your chin, then your chicken missed the mark.” And how do we achieve that kind of flavor at home? “Personally, I’m a fan of the brining process (or, hint, get a kosher chicken if there’s no time to brine) and skillet frying,” says Schrager. “No overcrowding the skillet, though!” Love agrees that it is all about the brine.

So let’s enjoy a mental feast of the country’s best fried chicken. Think of this as the first step in planning your next culinary road trip across America.

Alaska: Lucky Wishbone

For a heavy dose of nostalgia served up with fried chicken and hamburgers, head to Lucky Wishbone. It opened in 1955 and still sports a retro sign, diner feel, and family-friendly atmosphere. Grab a 3- or 5-piece meal, or a bucket of chicken to take home. Wash it down with a "famous milkshake" in flavors like root beer, orange, and strawberry.

So-So: McDonald's

McDonald's revamped its premium fried chicken sandwiches with a chicken breast fillet and bun this year. Consensus among reviewers seems to be that the chicken is a big improvement, but that the sandwich still isn't as good as most other restaurants. The only thing that makes the spicy version spicy is the creamy pepper sauce, with its "lingering peppery aftertaste that begs for follow-up bites."

#SummerTravel The BEST Fried Chicken in America

From Nashville hot to Pacific Rim panko-crusted, there’s one thing we can agree on when it comes to fried chicken: we want it — now.

So does Food Network South Beach and New York City Wine & Food Festival founder Lee Brian Schrager. Last June he took his “Cluck Team” (writer Adeena Sussman, photographer Evan Sung, trusty right hand “wing” CJ Tropp) on the ultimate comfort food road trip to search out America’s best fried chicken and side dishes. They sampled more than 150 recipes in 13 different cities along the way, compiling the results into Fried & True (Clarkson Potter).

“A fried chicken road trip may not be the healthiest journey,” says Schrager, but damn if it isn’t “one of the tastiest.”

What he discovered is that there’s no more Southern ghetto for this crispy bird. From both hole-in-the-wall restaurants and white table-cloth establishments, chefs and consumers have embraced this dish’s humble roots while also managing to bring all sorts of ethnicities and regional specialties to bear.

Today, fried chicken can hold its own in any state and any style of the union. Here are 10 of Schrager’s favorites to prove it.

Cochon - New Orleans, Louisiana

What: Sunday Night Fried Chicken and Lake Charles Dirty Rice. Prepared just the way that chef Donald Link’s granny used to make it, this chicken-in-rice stunner is a recipe from Link’s Real Cajun cookbook and makes an appearance now and then as a special at his famed New Orleans restaurant. The open kitchen at Cochon boasts an enviable collection of cast iron vessels, used nightly to prepare Link’s modern-traditional take on Cajun cooking.

What: Chicken Livers, Braised Turnip Greens, and Fried Green Tomatoes. A line forms outside the long, narrow brick “meat-and-three” mainstay—customers choose a meat main with three sides—long before Arnold’s Country Kitchen opens its doors at 10:30 a.m. daily. Arnold’s fried chicken, served with braised turnip greens and fried green tomatoes, is to die for. There is no reason food this simple should taste this good.

Holeman & Finch - Atlanta, Georgia

What: “Naked” Fried Chicken and Old-Fashioned Coleslaw. Chef Linton Hopkins declares that fried chicken is the food of memory, history and family. His “naked” fried chicken is served with a chaser of ice-cold Cruze buttermilk, which cuts through the richness of the chicken, cleansing our palates for the next bite.

What: Country Pan-Fried Chicken and Candied Yams. It’s hard to believe that some of the very best Southern fried chicken can be found smack in the middle of Harlem, but it’s true. Charles Gabriel’s Country Pan-Fried Chicken, prepared in a long-handled coal black cast iron skillet, is the true definition of “slow food” without the posturing.

What: Honey’s Kettle Home-Style Smashed Garlic Fried Chicken. Chef/owner Vincent Williams has concocted one of the most original and delicious recipes I’ve tasted to date. Marinated in a thick paste of spices, battered in a seasoned slurry, and then passed through a heavily seasoned flour before skillet frying, Honey’s Kettle’s Home-Style Smashed Garlic Fried Chicken reminds me that fried chicken is open to constant renovation.

Federal Donuts - Philadelphia

What: Federal Donuts Fried Chicken and Sauce. James Beard award-winning chef Michael Solomonov’s Korean-style fried chicken has pretty much bested Philly competition since day one. In a whimsical take on chicken and waffles, this dish is served with Chef Solomonov’s house-made cake donuts. They’re fried chicken sells out fast, so arrive early.

Blackberry Farm - Walland, Tennessee

What: Sweet Tea-Brined Fried Chicken. A two-hour drive from my parents’ summer home in Asheville, NC, Blackberry Farm is a bucolic paradise set at the foot of the Smoky Mountains. Their Sweet Tea-Brined Fried Chicken with its masa harina coating (typically the main ingredient in Mexican tortillas), makes perfect sense. After all, what could be more Southern than corn?

What: Ma’ono’s Hawaiian Fried Chicken and Sesame Roasted Carrots with Tamarind Goat’s-Milk Yogurt. Seattle chef Mark Fuller takes a page from the Proustian playbook — in a recipe passed on from his Hawaiian grandmother — adding soy sauce powder to several elements to create a densely crispy, mahogany brown chicken that literally makes your mouth water.

Husk - Charleston, South Carolina

What: Husk’s Southern Fried Chicken Skins with Hot Sauce and Honey. Chef Sean Brock says that his fried chicken skins are a guilty pleasure that you can only eat once in a while. A gentle buttermilk bath tenderizes the chicken while leaving just enough of the skin’s distinct flavors intact. Served with a crazy hybrid of potato chips and pork rinds, Husk’s Southern Fried Chicken Skins are the perfect combination of sweet and spicy.

Seven Sows Bourbon & Larder - Asheville, North Carolina

What: Seven Sows Fried Chicken with Egg and Giblet Gravy, and Macaroni and Cheese. Despite opening a restaurant with a pig in the name, Chef Mike Moore proudly boasts that his Fried Chicken with Egg Giblet Gravy and Macaroni and Cheese is the most popular dish on the menu, and I know why.

Lee Brian Schrager is the founder of the Food Network South Beach and New York City Wine & Food Festivals. He is also the vice president of corporate communications and national events at Southern Wine & Spirits of America and the author of The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Cookbook. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, he lives in Miami and New York City.

Clinton St. Baking Company

What It Is: Neil Kleinberg and DeDe Lahman’s 32-seat darling offers up breakfast and brunch specialties. (Tip from the staff: the least busy times are Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.)

What to Order: Fried chicken and waffles ($17) and a hard blueberry lemonade ($11).

What Our Inspectors Say: “Having finally expanded to include the space next door, the comfort level and service of this brunch-focused bijou has greatly improved. And what started as a bakery is now a legend—one that draws a perpetual crowd waiting for ample rewards. A little bit country and a little bit food lab, this kitchen has achieved such success in NY that the owners now have outposts in Japan and Dubai. Breakfast for dinner is always a treat, especially when golden-brown Belgian waffles are served with warm maple butter and topped with buttermilk-brined fried chicken for a flawless marriage of sweet and savory.”

Reservations: Available for dinner only.

Colorado: Juniper Valley Ranch

The best fried chicken in the state of Colorado can be found in the middle of nowhere at a family farm that has been around for more than 100 years. Juniper Valley Ranch, located about 20 miles south of Colorado Springs, has been serving fried chicken since 1951, and patrons continuously sing their praises, with the fried chicken taking center stage. Order the yummy Skillet Fried Chicken, which comes with an appetizer, sides, a dessert, and a drink.

1. Popeye's

When only #Bonafide will do.

A post shared by Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen (@popeyeslouisianakitchen) on May 18, 2015 at 9:56am PDT

Oh man, do we love that chicken from Popeye's. The Louisiana-style chicken is the best rendition you're gonna find at any fast food joint. Their restaurants feel more like a traditional fried chicken shack than any other chain. With all of the classic Southern sides and the levels of TLC that go into each piece of bird, you're almost transported to a mom-and-pop fried chicken spot at any of their thousands of locations. Nobody else has yet to fully replicate the cultural resonance of fried chicken the way Popeye's has, and it's why they take the top spot on our fast food list.

If you agree or disagree with our choices, definitely let us know. If you've never heard of some of these spots, check them out and see why they're all dropping fire with their poultry. Fried chicken is a beloved and sacred food in this country, and it's great to have so many delectable options for a comforting, on-the-go meal.

Panko breadcrumbs are made using a special process. The crumbs absorb less oil than other types of breadcrumbs, and they maintain their crispiness when cooked. The coating for these juicy, baked chicken thighs includes some butter and spicy mustard along with a combination of plain Panko crumbs, Parmesan cheese,