Sure, Parson’s owned the Summer with a dual threat of fried chicken and Negroni slushies, and the line outside Honey Butter speaks for itself, but what if you don't have time for lines/ aren't anywhere near Avondale? Get your chicken lickin' love at these 8 spots, both old and new, that are well-worth the time and grease.
At the start of any fried chicken discussion, you must kiss the ring of the chicken godfather, Harold’s: the booming South Side chain now with dozens of locales across the city. The half-fried birds, tossed in seasoned flour, are finished to-order and stay phenomenally moist. A dunk in their hot sauce and you're good to go.
Taking a page out of soul food pioneer Edna Lewis’s recipe book, Big Jones' fried chicken lunch special is cooked in a cast iron kettle with fresh leaf lard and a ham hock for good measure. Paired with sides like mashed potatoes and gumbo gravy, voodoo greens, red beans, and rice & banana pudding, it's a meal best consumed when you don't have anything to do for the rest of the day. Or week.
Corn flakes have never looked as appetizing as when they’re incorporated into a chicken & waffles platter. The Hearty Boys offer up a corn flake-crusted boneless thigh on a waffle, with honey/black pepper/butter/bourbon/brown sugar syrup.
GT Fish & Oyster
"What's that you say, more chicken and waffles? Ok Bobby, just promise not to hit your sister". GT Fish & Oyster drops the boom for brunch with their boneless fried chicken and waffles drenched in Burton’s Maplewood Farm syrup.
Possibly the best-kept secret by Midway is this butter-crusted fried chicken. For more than 30yrs, Mini Hut has avoided a Napoleon complex in order to churn out fried chicken that is unbelievably juicy with the perfect balance of salt.
1. Mini Hut6659 W Archer Ave, Chicago
2. Harold's Chicken Shack1208 E 53rd St, Chicago
3. Three Dots and a Dash435 N Clark St, Chicago
4. Big Jones5347 N Clark St, Chicago
5. Crisp2940 N Broadway, Chicago
6. Hearty3819 N Broadway, Chicago
7. Yusho2853 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago
8. GT Fish & Oyster531 N Wells St, Chicago
Hidden on a one-way side street past Midway in a location that would make a pool hall feel classy, this is the Southwest side’s antidote to everything trendy about fried chicken: just perfect bird, extendedly marinated and slow-fried for 20 minutes, with a famously rich, buttery breading. The frill-less décor -- a tiny weather-beaten canopy outside, stark walls and low ceilings inside -- proves to be the ultimate Chicago restaurant bluff.
Harold's has many locations, so be sure to hit them all and indulge in some popcorn chicken, fried fish, or just get one of everything and rejoice in eating the best fried chicken in IL.
Three Dots and a Dash is a tiki-themed speakeasy in the back of Bub City that's pouring out crazy tropical cocktails in vessels like glass skulls and treasure chests.
If you’re looking for real Southern comfort in Chicago, then Big Jones in Andersonville is for you. The menu is filled with authentic Lowcountry dishes adapted from antique cookbooks, like cornbread muffins taken from an 18th-century plantation recipe and traditional Cajun gumbo. The sustainable menu changes seasonally, but no matter what, expect the signature fried chicken every night. Big Jones’ weekend brunch is also a stunner, especially if you nab a table on the back patio.
Objectively speaking, the only thing better than a fried chicken wing is a jumbo fried chicken wing, which explains why the not-so-jumbo Crisp -- a Korean counter-serve in Lakeview -- is always packed. Everyone wants a taste of those juicy, jumbo Sassy Seoul wings (the sauce is just a garlic-sesame-soy glaze, but Sassy Seoul is more fun to say). There are other sauces, and also other Korean comfort dishes like kimchee and bibimbap-like Buddha Bowls, but those jumbo wings are unequivocally the main event (it’s called Crisp for a reason). It’s BYOB, so be sure to bring something that pairs well with sass.
This killer brunch spot has been solidified as one of the city's best fried chicken joints... well, in our books, at least.
Because apparently not everything in Japan gets lost in translation, former Charlie Trotter's exec chef Matthias Merges drew on the energy and community he discovered in the country's street food scene when conceiving Yusho. His architect wife channeled his vision into an eclectic space with a bar made from century-old wood beams and a skylit back room projecting anime. Crunch on salmon and chicken skins while you sip a boozy soda or one of the formidable offerings of Japanese and domestic beers. Then share a bowl of mentaiko carbonara, a seaside leaning take on the Italian pasta with spicy cod roe and bucatini from sister restaurant A10.
Helmed by Michelin-starred chef Guiseppe Tentori, this fine dining restaurant in River North is the place to go for anything seafood-related. GT serves fish shack-style eats like lobster rolls, fish and chips, and oyster po' boys alongside way more luxurious items like caviar and seafood towers. The beautifully-designed space includes a date-worthy oyster bar and a private dining room with a whale mural. Though Friday and Saturday nights are GT's peak hours, the restaurant has stellar weekday lunch and weekend brunch service.