I've thought about this one a lot. Researched it. Written about it. Traveled and eaten indefagitaby through most of the 50 states. And I think that at last, I can form the rudiments of the Fried Chicken Canon. There may be a few I missed; but go to these places and you will have seen the best that America has to offer when it comes to our most traditional dish.
There's a couple of things you need to know about Roscoe's. First of all, it's no joke. This isn't a theme restaurant, but real soul food, as real as it gets. Second of all, don't go thinking Roscoe's only has chicken and waffles. The smothered pork chops are worth a trip by themselves.
The brilliant young chef Edward Lee is doing something special out there in Louisville -- creating flavors, and textures, and ideas, that are somehow utterly southern and yet utterly new and original. His fried chicken is worth the trip by itself.
Dooky Chase is rightly considered an American classic, one of the definitive soul food restaurants in America. If a foreign diplomat were to come to me and ask what fried chicken is, this is where I would take him.
Some of the best fried chicken in the deep south is to be found at this superb Charleston soul food restaurant, which delivers the usual delicious MSG-loaded food at jaw-dropping prices.
The chicken at Prince's isn't just hot; it's diabolically hot. But it's also diabolically good, and it would be worth going to anyway just by dint of its supremely old-school authenticity and its status as a true Southern landmark.
"Best fried chicken in Texas" is a big title, and one sqarely held by this roadhouse. Its magnificent gravy puts it over the top.
Linton Hopkins, the owlish and professorial chef at this superb restaurant, doesn't look like a commanding presence -- but his vision is so powerful and his authority over his cooks so absolute, that the amazing food here seems like the expression of a single mind. Which it is.
Thomas Keller's take on American comfort food doesn't depart far from its inspiration, except by getting better ingredients and cooking them as well as they can be.
Adam and Jackie Sappington's brilliant restaurant looks like just another Americana / lardcore joint, but make no mistake: this is nose-to-tail cooking at its most sophisticated. That said, you can't, CAN'T, miss the fried chicken.
LA's best version of Korean fried chicken is especially tender, luscious, crispy, rich, spicy and....where can I get some right now??
It's at the very farthest tip of Manhattan, in an area rarely visited by gastronomes. But the pan-fried bird here is the pole star of fried chicken greatness in New York. It simply has no equal.
Superchef Sean Brock's tribute to Southern heritage foods is righly famed the world over. Obviously, fried chicken is the ticket here, but if you go at lunch don't miss the stupendous double cheeseburger, a true hidden gem. The bourbon bar next door is your next stop.
Restaurants that pan-fry their chicken are few indeed, and not all of them are great, but this Kansas City landmark is both.