Travel 7 minutes 08 August 2018

New York City's Ultimate Fried Chicken Guide

Heading to the Big Apple? Check out these Michelin-recognized restaurants serving up some the best fried chicken in the city.

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Fried chicken is an enduring classic and usually conjures a specific image of dining: a heaping platter of varied chicken pieces with thick, crispy crust and juicy meat inside, accompanied by sides like mashed potatoes, gravy and biscuits.

These Michelin-recognized restaurants present this dish in ways that our inspectors noticed as exceptional, sometimes challenging tradition with unique twists. From a giblets platter at chef Antoine Westermann’s upscale poultry bistro Le Coq Rico in the Flatiron District to the yakitori bar Tori Shin to the Southern classics at Melba’s in Harlem—this finger-licking list leads you through as wide a range of interpretations as it does settings.

Clear the day, invite a friend or five and get ready for some delicious fried chicken. (Turn things up a notch by cramming as many spots as your stomach can handle into one day for a killer food crawl.)

(Photo: Buttermilk Channel Facebook page.)
(Photo: Buttermilk Channel Facebook page.)

Buttermilk Channel


What It Is: Doug Crowell's warm and relaxed Court Street favorite in Brooklyn.

What to Order: Buttermilk fried chicken sandwich served on house-made bread with butter pickles and savoy cabbage slaw (US$15) and Catskill Brewery Freak Tractor wild ale (US$7).

What Our Inspectors Say: "Buttermilk Channel is the sort of joint we’d all like to have at the end of our street. It’s warm and relaxed, run with care and attention, offers an appealing menu for all occasions—and has prices that encourage regular attendance. The name may refer to the tidal strait but also evokes feelings of comfort and cheer in a place that’s already cute and where the close-set tables and large bar both add to the animated atmosphere. The kitchen seeks out worthy suppliers and with no little skill imbues each creation with that little extra something, be it the cod with Littleneck clams, fresh linguini tossed with beets or indeed the buttermilk-fried chicken. This care is even evident at weekend brunches in standouts like the short rib hash."

Reservations: The restaurant accepts reservations for dinner for parties of all sizes, but does not accept reservations for brunch.

Hill Country Chicken

Gramercy, Flatiron & Union Square

What It Is: At Hill Country Chicken on Broadway and 25th, founder Marc Glosserman brings to life the Southern-style cooking of his mother and grandmothers (“Betty” and “Mama El”) he experienced growing up in Texas.

What to Order: A thigh (US$4), a drum (US$2.75), cheesy fried mash potatoes (US$3.75), buttermilk biscuit (US$1.50) and an ice cream float (US$4.50).

What Our Inspectors Say: "Gussied up in a happy palette of sunny yellow and sky blue, this 100-seat homage to deep-fried down-home country cooking serves exemplary fried chicken offered in two varieties. The “classic” sports a seasoned, golden-brown skin; “Mama El’s” is skinless and cracker-crusted. Both are available by the piece or as part of whimsically named meals, like the “white meat solo coop.” Step up to the counter and feast your eyes on cast-iron skillets of chicken, as well as sides like creamy mashed potatoes, pimento macaroni and cheese, or grilled corn salad with red peppers and green onion. And then there's pie. More than 12 assortments, baked in-house and available by the slice, whole or blended into a milkshake for a drinkable take on "à la mode."

Reservations: No.

Fried chicken piled high at Momofuku Noodle Bar. (Photo by Gabriele Stabile.)
Fried chicken piled high at Momofuku Noodle Bar. (Photo by Gabriele Stabile.)

Momofuku Noodle Bar

East Village

What It Is: David Chang’s über popular Momofuku Noodle Bar has drawn crowds for its ramen and pork buns since its opening in 2004.

What to Order: The US$150 meal (which you must order in advance) includes two whole fried chickens—one Southern-style and one Korean-style—served with mu shu pancakes, baby carrots, red ball radishes, bibb lettuce, four sauces and an herb basket. (There's also a fried chicken and caviar meal for those that want to spend a few extra Benjamins.)

What Our Inspectors Say: “This elder member of David Chang’s culinary empire is hipper and hotter than ever. A honey-toned temple of updated comfort food, decked with wood counters and a sparkling open kitchen, the service here may be brisk. But rest assured, as the menu is gutsy and molded with Asian street food in mind. Those steamed buns have amassed a gargantuan following thanks to decadent fillings like moist pork loin kissed with Hollandaise and chives. Additionally, that bowl of springy noodles doused in a spicy ginger-scallion sauce is just one instance of the crew's signature work. Korean fried chicken with seasonal greens is fit for a king; while more modest items, including desserts like candy apple truffle, are beautifully crafted and rightfully elevated to global fame.”

Reservations: Required for the fried chicken. You can reserve online up to four weeks in advance.

Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too

Upper West Side

What It Is: Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too is a country-style kitchen with a red-checkered floor that’s served the likes of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and both Bushes.

What to Order: Famous southern fried chicken (US$17.95) and a scoop of homemade peach cobbler (US$6.95).

What Our Inspectors Say: “Come to Miss Mamie’s and plan to indulge, Southern style. This tiny institution sports a bright, clean dining room, and is furnished with comfortable wicker chairs, roomy tables, and lots of flower arrangements. But despite its somewhat sophisticated appearance, the kitchen still embraces such tried-and-true classics as fried chicken thighs with black-eyed peas and collard greens, Louisiana catfish, and a creamy red velvet cake for dessert. Grab a fresh-squeezed lemonade and dive into the sampler, stocked with deep-fried shrimp, fall-off-the-bone beef short ribs, more fried chicken, and probably too many sides of cornbread stuffing and hoppin' John. And if on offer, devour a wedge of the decadent and classically Southern banana pudding.”

Reservations: No.

Fried chicken and waffles at Clinton Street Baking Company. (Photo by Mark Weinberg.)
Fried chicken and waffles at Clinton Street Baking Company. (Photo by Mark Weinberg.)

Clinton St. Baking Company

Lower East Side

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: “What started as a bakery is now a brunch-focused 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 that the owners now have outposts in Japan and Dubai. Here in Gotham, the space is comfy and the service, impressive. Light and lovely chicken tortilla soup sees a pile of fried tortilla strips over a hearty broth bobbing with carrots, celery and shredded chicken. But breakfast for dinner is always a treat here, especially when golden Belgian waffles are served with warm maple butter and buttermilk-brined fried chicken for a flawless union of sweet and salt. Speaking of breakfast, it's cash-only during the day but credit cards are welcome at dinnertime.”

Reservations: Available for dinner only.

Blue Ribbon Brasserie

SoHo & Nolita

What It Is: The Bromberg brothers’ Sullivan Street iconic mainstay that’s open until 4:00 a.m.

What to Order: Fried chicken served with mashed potatoes and collard greens ($28.50) and—after many hours drinking to your heart’s content—a banana split ($15).

What Our Inspectors Say: “Blue Ribbon stays open until the wee hours, serving somewhat simple but particularly memorable food to SoHo’s stylish set. Moreover, this unaffectedly warm and very classic bistro boasts zero pretense and deserves all praise that comes its way. Its décor may have stayed the same through the years—think timeless—but those bar seats remain a hot ticket. This "chef's canteen," as it is typically hailed, is well-tread for masterpieces like fresh shucked oysters; smoked trout salad tossed with sour cream and zippy horseradish; or matzo ball soup-enjoyable, aromatic, and full of root vegetables. Fried chicken with mashed potatoes takes home the gold medal for comfort classics, while banana-walnut bread pudding with caramel sauce is the very essence of decadence.”

Reservations: Available, but not required.

The giblet platter at Le Coq Rico. (Photo: Le Coq Rico.)
The giblet platter at Le Coq Rico. (Photo: Le Coq Rico.)

Le Coq Rico

Gramercy, Flatiron & Union Square

What It Is: Here, heritage breeds are cooked to poultry glory.

What to Order: The giblets platter (US$17), which features leftover parts of the animals including duck liver, heart and apple brochette, glazed wings, chicken liver on horseradish toast, and the spiced poultry cromesquis (a variation of the croquette). To drink, try one of the bar’s signature “Coq’Tales,” like the “Son of a Rooster” made of reposado tequila, spicy ginger syrup, crème de mure, chile and lime juice (US$16).

What Our Inspectors Say: “Chicken takes the spotlight at Le Coq Rico, but these birds go well beyond the basic. Tucked into a gleaming interior at the base of a Beaux-Arts building, the restaurant offers two distinct dining areas—the main room with its stylized décor of whitewashed brick and white oak floors, as well as a glossy counter overlooking the open kitchen. There is a list of chicken breeds to choose from including Plymouth Rock, New Hampshire and Rohan Farm Duck. The menu offers plenty to mull over-imagine eggs, soups and salads of sautéed guinea fowl and artichokes à la Barigoule. Finally, mains like chicken fricassée sided by rice pilaf or Maine lobster served with shellfish jus are just as delightful as a dessert of vanilla-raspberry vacherin.”

Reservations: Available, but not required.

Tori Shin

Midtown West

What It Is: Chefs Shu Ikeda and Atsushi Kono’s Tori Shin is best known for its skewered meat.

What to Order: Nagoya-style spicy fried chicken, a.k.a. deep-fried drumstick parts in a spicy sweet sauce (US$16), and Asahi super dry draft beer (US$8).

What Our Inspectors Say: “Featuring a manifold of rooms including a sunken area with close-quartered tables and a mezzanine with gold leaf walls, it is Tori Shin’s enclosed (read: select) counter that retains the X factor. Packed with a mix of expense account crowds and casual walk-ins, this labyrinth of a restaurant exudes a lively energy, as does its chefs who can be seen fanning charcoal over a sizzling grill. What emerges is a host of skewers best ordered as part of the omakase. The kitchen's focus is on such organically raised chicken parts as tenderloin with wasabi; boneless thighs with bell peppers; and smoky ribs with yuzu kosho. This worthy progression is then tailed by seaweed-seasoned sushi rice for a harmonizing feast. Shiso ice cream makes a fine denouement.”

Reservations: Accepted for the dining room and required for counter.

Fried chicken and biscuits at The Dutch. (Photo by Noah Fecks.)
Fried chicken and biscuits at The Dutch. (Photo by Noah Fecks.)

The Dutch

SoHo & Nolita

What It Is: NoHo Hospitality’s famed comfort fare hangout where oysters and fried chicken will fill most of the plates in sight.

What to Order: Hot fried chicken, which comes with honey butter biscuits and coleslaw (US$32), and sparkling wine by the glass (US$15+).

What Our Inspectors Say: “Buzzy and beloved since day one, Chef Andrew Carmellini’s The Dutch quickly became a major hit and SoHo institution. Its primo corner windows open on to the sidewalk, tempting guests inside with a stocked oyster bar, cozy banquettes and sharply dressed service staff. The menu is just as seductive as the space, familiar but with fresh updates. Highlights include a roundabout take on the plump fried oyster po' boy, made here with mustard-pickled okra remoulade. Tasty pastas refresh the menu consistently; you might find black rigatini tossed with tender squid and spicy pork sausage, finished with fiery breadcrumbs. Desserts are divine, with fresh pies made daily, such as salted lime with passion fruit, nata de coco and coconut sorbet.”

Reservations: Available, but not required.


Harlem, Morningside & Washington Heights

What It Is: At Melba’s in Harlem, the vibe is relaxed and homey, and the food is pure comfort.

What to Order: Southern fried chicken and eggnog waffles and a “Rose in Harlem,” a sour cocktail made of Alizé Rosé, tequila and triple sec.

What Our Inspectors Say: “With its colorful spirit and lineup of Southern classics, this comfortable spot—as charming and lovely as its namesake owner, born-and-bred Harlemite Melba Wilson—is a perfect reflection of the neighborhood’s flavor, culture and past. It’s a place to gather and relax over good food and drinks, from Auntie B’s mini-burgers slathered with a smoky sweet sauce to a golden-brown and berry-licious fruit cobbler that’s nothing short of heaven on a plate. Equally enticing is the Southern fried chicken—darkly bronzed, sweet and salty when paired with Melba’s iconic eggnog waffles. Expect other surprises like spring rolls stuffed with black-eyed peas, collards and cheddar cheese, as well as a healthy-minded grilled vegetable Napoleon with buffalo mozzarella.”

Reservations: Available, but not required.


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