Food & Drink

The Best Fried Chicken Spots in New York City

Published On 06/30/2016 Published On 06/30/2016
Root & Bone
Root & Bone | Cole Saladino/Thrillist
Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken

Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken

East Village

Part of the Bromberg brothers’ empire (Blue Ribbon Sushi, Blue Ribbon Brasserie), this fast-casual, order-over-the-counter joint comes in handy in a variety of scenarios. Buzzed, hungry, and want to reward yourself after an intense night of karaoke? Good news: it’s open ‘til 2am seven days a week. Hankering for a single drumstick in the middle of the night? You’re in luck: in addition to family-style platters, the 65-seat space also serves up individual matzo-crusted pieces (breasts, thighs, drumsticks) for a few bucks a pop. Looking to broaden your foodie horizons? Order the Beak to Butt, a hodgepodge of fried necks, backs, hearts, and gizzards lathered in hot sauce. And the list goes on…

Charles’ Country Pan-Fried Chicken

Harlem

North Carolina-born chef Charles Gabriel got his start over two decades ago, peddling some serious comfort food from a truck. Today, he makes Southern soul food magic from his Harlem hole-in-the-wall. Using an old-fashioned frying technique in a cast-iron skillet, Gabriel coats the meat in a peppery dry rub, softens it in an egg wash, and dredges it in flour. What that means for you: greaseless-on-the-outside, juicy-on-the-inside birds that are bursting with flavor (it’s seasoned three times, BTW). It’s so tasty that you’re probably going to want to go with the all-you-can-eat dinner (which is just $13.99!). Collard greens, okra, and black-eyed peas are there to assist, should you need a healthy boost.

Sweet Chick | Lani Lee/Courtesy of Sweet Chick

Sweet Chick

Williamsburg

Outfitted with blackboards and wood paneling, this charming Williamsburg spot doles out delicious Southern eats like smoked paprika-laced shrimp & grits, and crawfish hush puppies with jalapeño jam. But the real headlining act is the sweet & savory chicken & waffles. Made in sweet-tea brine, dipped in buttermilk, and dredged in a spice blend, the whole impressively crispy shebang sits on a bed of flavored waffles (bacon-cheddar, rosemary-mushroom, walnut-parmesan).

Peaches HotHouse

Bed-Stuy

A bite of the Nashville-style hot fried chicken from this Bed-Stuy restaurant is almost as good as taking a road trip down to Tennessee. Seasoned twice with a killer combo of cayenne and ghost chili peppers -- the hottest in the world -- the crunchy, flavor-packed specialty is so good it will, quite literally, make you bawl. We suggest pairing it with a side of sweet corn on the cob or mild mashed potatoes, which will have your back when things get heated.

Pies-N-Thighs | Flickr/Bionicgrrrl

Pies 'n' Thighs

Lower East Side and Williamsburg

Since opening inside a beer closet in 2006, Pies 'n' Thighs has relocated and expanded into two neighborhoods. No matter the scenery, the irresistible fried fowl -- which comes in the form of a bucket, box, sandwich, or chicken & waffles -- has remained top-notch. Opt for the free-range fried chicken box, which comes with three-pieces of crispy, juicy chicken, a buttermilk biscuit, and your choice of a side (burnt end baked beans, cheese grits, and smoked pork collards).

Somtum Der

East Village

Sure, good ol' Southern fried chicken will always hold a special spot in your heart. But if you want to see other birds from time to time, there’s plenty of exploring to do as well. Expand your taste buds (and inevitably, your waistline) with the deep-fried chicken at this East Village Thai spot. Marinated in garlic, white pepper, coriander root, lemongrass, and red curry paste before hitting the fryer, Somtum Der’s fried chicken offers a nice kick that you won’t get elsewhere. If you want to take things from lukewarm to hot, dunk the chicken in a special dressing made up of chili powder, fish sauce, tamarind sauce, and palm sugar.

Root & Bone | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Root & Bone

East Village

Leave it to Top Chef vets Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth to make comforting country grub feel surprisingly refined. The bird, which pulls from McInnis’ grandmother’s recipe, is brined in sweet tea, pressure-fried for utmost moisture, topped with dehydrated lemon & dill, and plated with a side of bourbon Tabasco honey. Slightly citrusy, slightly spicy, and completely addictive, it's just as good as the stuff served south of the Mason-Dixon line -- or so you might wind up thinking. (Oh, and there’s a takeout counter for those who feel like having their bird on the run.)

Yafa Deli and Grocery

Clinton Hill

At first glance, this Clinton Hill spot looks like your average deli… and it would be, if not for its glass case of heavenly fried chicken. Sold by the piece, its thighs, drumsticks, and breasts are everything you could want -- salty, crunchy, and most importantly, cheap. Once you’ve crunched through the crispy cocoon (fried to the perfect bronze shade), you’ll find nothing but sweet, tender meat on the inside. Just $1.50 a pop ensures you’ll be back at Yafa’s for lunch, dinner, a late-night snack -- and let’s be honest, probably breakfast the next morning, too.

Wilma Jean

Wilma Jean

Gowanus

Husband-and-wife team Rob Newton and Kerry Diamond pull out all the stops at their Southern-fried Gowanus restaurant. Drawing from the Arkansas family recipe of Mr. Newton, the chicken is soaked in salty brine and doused in buttermilk before it hits the fryer. The result: a divinely golden-brown bird that comes in several disguises. (Get it on a stick, straight-up in a bucket, by the piece, on a potato roll, or mixed in a collard green salad). With sides like tater tots and pimento cheese, braised collards with country ham, and mac & cheese, Wilma Jean won't do you wrong.

Sylvia's Restaurant

Harlem

This Harlem soul-food staple has been drawing in folks for its mouthwatering fried chicken since 1962, so there’s really no reason why you haven’t checked it off your bucket list yet. Sinking your teeth into the crispy, tender light or dark meat is a truly religious experience. Coat it in hot sauce or devour it bare. It’s so good, in fact, that the restaurant’s late owner, Sylvia Woods, was even dubbed the "Queen of Soul Food."

Bobwhite Lunch & Supper Counter | Flickr/bionicgrrrl

Bobwhite Lunch & Supper Counter

Alphabet City

You can’t discuss fried chicken in the city without acknowledging this Alphabet City eatery. Here, the free-range chicken is brined overnight in sweet tea (hence the hint of sugar), then popped into a pressure cooker. Order the boneless chicken sandwich or bone-in fried chicken supper, which comes with a flaky hot biscuit and side salad. Chef/owner Keedick Coulter uses only humanely raised animals and local, sustainable produce -- so somehow you feel better after stuffing your face with pounds of meat (and an out-of-this-world pecan pie bread pudding).

Paula's Soul Food Cafe

Edenwald

The menu at this Bronx soul-food joint is packed with hearty classics like beef short ribs, fried whiting sandwiches, and BBQ chicken, which are all perfectly tasty, but the buttermilk fried chicken is worth the trek alone. Arriving at the table dressed in nothing but a layer of grease, Paula’s fried bird is as no-frills as it gets -- and pairs perfectly with sides like candied yams, cornbread, rice & beans, or collard greens (it comes with your choice of two). End things on a sweet note with banana pudding or pecan pie.

The RedHead

The Redhead

East Village

No, it’s not a superficial nickname used to describe a girl you once met at a bar -- it’s an East Village gastropub dispatching some of the most mercifully delicious fried chicken in the city. New Orleans-born chef Meg Grace dunks the bird, after several hours of brining, into buttermilk before rubbing it in a house mixture and frying it until it’s crunchy. Juxtaposed with the crispy, well-seasoned (and greaseless!) exterior, the meat inside is as gentle as a John Legend tune. Top off the hearty affair with amazing sides like kung pao escarole and chickpea-kale fries.

Buttermilk Channel

Buttermilk Channel

Carroll Gardens

At this Carroll Gardens restaurant, fried chicken rules all. Fried not once, but twice, after spending all night in a buttermilk batter, the tantalizing, crisp-skinned bird is plated atop a cheesy cheddar waffle with savoy cabbage slaw and a balsamic maple syrup concoction. Sides like the buttermilk-whipped potatoes and cauliflower gratin round things out nicely, and the homey atmosphere (the communal table is fashioned from ceiling beams from an old Red Hook warehouse) seals the deal.

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

The Commodore

Williamsburg

The guy behind this late-night, hipster-packed restaurant/dive bar is the same (Stephen Tanner) churning out soul food gold at Pies 'n' Thighs. Much like his other Brooklyn/LES space, the fried chicken here just melts in your mouth. Order the fried chicken plate, which arrives with three sizable, peppery thighs that crunch with each bite, alongside biscuits and hot sauce and honey butter for dipping. Cocktails like the namesake Commodore (a piña colada with amaretto) are sure to get a good buzz going. But whether you're sober or not, the fried fowl never disappoints.

Birds & Bubbles | Andrew Zimmer/Thrillist

Birds & Bubbles

Lower East Side

Combining Champagne and fried chicken, this Lower East Side hangout has everything you could want from a Southern-style joint, and more. Chase a glass of bubbly with dishes like the Splitty-Split, a half-chicken that’s cooked and served in a skillet, or Winner Winner Chicken Dinner, a whole bird which comes with the works -- three sides, jalapeño cornbread, a buttermilk biscuit, and more. Head to the backyard to house it all down under twinkling strings of light.

Sugar Freak

Astoria

Trust us when we say this New Orleans-inspired restaurant is worth the trek to Astoria. Taking the fried chicken game to the next level, the geniuses here whip up bird in five different flavors: cinnamon sugar, chili honey, cherry pepper, spicy, and classic. Choose between white or dark meat, and one side (deep-fried popcorn okra, sweet potato fries, or sautéed collard greens with bacon, to name a few). If that’s not enough Southern hospitality for you, the cheerful ambiance -- with its quilted patchwork pillows and exposed brick walls -- should do the trick.

Bonchon | Flickr/Young Sok Yun

Bonchon

Midtown East & other locations

This Midtown East (and Midtown West, and Astoria, and FiDi, and Bayside!) restaurant -- whose name literally translates to “my hometown” -- puts up stiff competition against its K-Town counterparts. And that’s all thanks to its addictive Korean fried-to-order wings, which come covered in a choice of spicy or sweet soy garlic sauce. For indecisive types, going halfsies is also an option.

Mitchell's Soul Food

Prospect Heights

Harlem isn’t the only ‘hood that can satisfy your soul-food cravings. At Johnsie Mitchell’s Prospect Heights joint, the prices are cheap and the portions more than generous. The move here is to order the dark meat -- the crispy, peppery crust puts up a tough front, but one bite into it will unleash the moist and tender meat inside.

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1. Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken 28 E 1st St, New York, NY 10003 (East Village)

The Bromberg Brothers' success with Blue Ribbon Sushi and Blue Ribbon Brasserie continues with an East Village fast-casual spot devoted to all things fried chicken. Breasts, thighs, wings, and drumsticks, and tenders come crisp and juicy with a side of coleslaw, while fried chicken sandwiches are gussied up with blue cheese, red onion, and bacon (in the case of the Blue Bird). Don't discount the fries: the thin and golden sticks are glued together by cheddar, sprinkled with bacon, and topped with a dollop of sour cream when you get them "with the works." You may need a milkshake to get that down.

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2. Charles' Country Pan Fried Chicken 2839-2841 Frederick Douglass Blvd, New York, NY 10039 (Harlem)

This crispy, crunchy, juicy greatness is worth the trip to Harlem. Charles' Country Pan Fried Chicken does fried chicken the right way, and offers excellent sides like yams, mac 'n cheese, collard greens, rice, cornbread.

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3. Sweet Chick 164 Bedford Ave, New York, NY 11211 (Williamsburg)

Sweet Chick is the place to score chicken and waffles, plus other Southern-inspired soul foods. The one-room Williamsburg space has a down-country, homey feel with a huge blackboard, waffle irons dangling from the walls, and wainscoting salvaged from a retired fireman in Bed Stuy. But the main draw here is the soul food -- the fried chicken is made in a sweet tea brine, a house spice blend, and comes with biscuit and collard slaw. And of course you need to pair it with waffles, which come in flavors like bacon and cheddar or mushroom and rosemary.

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4. Peaches Hothouse 415 Tompkins Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216 (Bed Stuy)

This Nashville via Bed-Stuy hotspot doles out Tennessee style hot chicken and wings by the platter in a cozy, country cafe-like setting. It's a chill spot to stop by for a low-key lunch or brunch and dine al fresco when the weather's nice; by night, Peaches turns into a popular neighborhood watering hole because what else pairs well with fried chicken besides whiskey?

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5. Pies-n-Thighs 43 Canal St, New York, NY 10002 (Lower East Side)

Pies-N-Thighs serves exactly what its name suggests. Its signature menu item is the fried chicken box that includes three pieces of fried chicken with a buttermilk biscuit and choice of side -- and the pies on the dessert menu are equally noteworthy. If you're feeling guilty about going into a food coma afterwards, and take comfort in knowing all of the food and meat is certified organic and humanely raised.

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6. Somtum Der NYC 85 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009 (Alphabet City)

Originating from Bangkok, this beloved restaurant serves the same authentic Northeastern Thai cuisine (also known as Isan) right in Alphabet City. Complete with an assortment of dishes and flavors (including chilis, lime juice, palm sugar and fermented fish sauce), Somtum Der is warm and welcoming. The casual atmosphere has many modern fixtures, but is boldly reflective of traditional Isan in its use of utilitarian clothing and patterns representative of the region as decor.

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7. Root & Bone 200 E 3rd St, New York, NY 10009 (Alphabet City)

Top Chef veterans Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth dominate Alphabet City's fried chicken scene with Root & Bone. It's a Southern kitchen doing takeout-able, down-home (yet sneakily refined) eats, in a spot that could easily be the ground floor of some country B&B somewhere. Irresistible offerings include gooey corn spoonbread, BBQ brisket biscuits, and, of course, fried chicken.

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8. Yafa's Deli and Grocery 907 Fulton Street Clinton St & Fulton Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11238 (Bed Stuy)

At first glance, this Clinton Hill spot looks like your average deli… and it is, save for the fact that its fried chicken is an incredible cheap eats life changer. Order legs and thigh meat by the piece (at $1.50 each, your meal won't cost more than $10) and top them with fries for a truly satisfying experience. Open late (read: 24 hours, this is a bodega after all), you can count on Yafa’s for lunch, dinner, and a late-night snack.

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9. Wilma Jean 345 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11231 (Gowanus)

Armed with Southern hospitality, Wilma Jean in Gowanus serves up stackable portions of double cheeseburgers, fried bologna sandwiches, fried pickles, and its signature fried chicken, the latter of which is served atop a potato bun, on a stick, and in half-portions. Run by a husband and wife duo, the counter-service spot is a solid option for brunch, happy hour (its daily beer and wine deals are an added bonus), or for a late dinner, with the kitchen open until 10pm seven days a week.

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10. Sylvia's Restaurant 328 Malcolm X Blvd, New York, NY 10027 (Harlem)

Founded by the self-proclaimed "queen of soul-food," Sylvia's has been has been serving up Southern delicacies since 1962. At this Harlem staple, all-white-meat fried chicken is served alongside either eggs or grits, and for breakfast, the Southern-style chicken can come piled atop hotcakes, fresh off the griddle. The baked ham and the mac & cheese are equally worthy of note, and the full service bar at the helm of the casual, unpretentious eatery, will help you wash it all down. But for a truly enlightening experience, stop by for Sunday Gospel Brunch, where steak & eggs come with Bloody Marys and Hail Marys, courtesy of live gospel musicians -- a gentle reminder that food, itself, is something of a religious experience (even while you consume a sinful number of hot butter-drenched waffles).

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11. Bobwhite Lunch & Supper Counter 94 Ave C, New York, NY 10009 (Lower East Side)

The East Village foodies behind the cozy delicatessen, Bobwhite Lunch and Supper Counter, serve up local-sustainable farmed fare with a down home twist. This friendly little spot is known for a wide variety of Southern style dishes like tasty fried chicken platters and boneless chicken sandwiches. The bone-in fried chicken supper comes with a flaky hot biscuit and your choice of side (think mac & cheese, fried okra, potato salad, and all the other hearty country staples that are like what your mom makes, only better).

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12. Paula's Soul Cafe 746 E 233rd St, Bronx, NY 10466 (Bronx)

This tiny counter-service joint in the Bronx should be your new go-to for hearty comfort food on the cheap. Don't expect much in ambiance, but what Paula's lacks in decor, it makes up for in large portions and charm. While the journey to Paula's no trip around the corner, the buttermilk fried chicken is worth the trek alone. Other menu items (beef short ribs, fried whiting sandwiches, and BBQ chicken) are equally satisfying.

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13. The Redhead 349 E 13th St, New York, NY 10003 (East Village)

This warm, brick-walled East Village gastropub traffics in some truly savory Southern fare. The vibe is part local watering hole (a solid lineup of original craft cocktails doesn't hurt), part casual Soul Food eatery. Stop in for New Orleans born chef Meg Grace's buttermilk fried birds-- they pair especially well with innovative and tasty side plates like kung pao escarole and chickpea-kale fries.

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14. Buttermilk Channel 524 Court St, Brooklyn, NY 11231

This charming, Carroll Gardens cafe is known for its popular brunch offerings, which include a variety of American comfort food dishes. Among pancakes, housemade granola, and burgers, Buttermilk Channel also boasts creative scrambles (with lox, sausage, or mushrooms) and a sought-after pecan pie French toast: a gloriously decadent plate of custardy brioche that's smothered in bourbon molasses and toasted nuts. Dinner includes the signature buttermilk fried chicken, in addition to oysters and other comforting plates.

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15. The Commodore 366 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211

The Commodore is a Southern/tropical-themed dive bar in Williamsburg. Open late, hipsters flock to its incredible fried chicken sandwiches, burgers, biscuits, and seriously dope grilled cheese. Its cocktails are also top-notch: get the eponymous Commodore, which is a Pina Colada gone buck-wild with an extra shot of amaretto thrown in there for good measure.

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16. Birds & Bubbles 100B Forsyth St, New York, NY 10002 (Lower East Side)

Sarah Simmons' upscale restaurant on the Lower East Side is dedicated to two things: Southern food and champagne. The menu changes with the seasons but you can always expect the signature buttermilk fried chicken, available by the half or full bird, and an extensive selection of champagne and sparkling wines. The subterranean space opens onto a large outdoor patio, and though it's popular for brunch and dinner, Birds & Bubbles serves a late-night menu with the aforementioned fried chicken and biscuit sandwiches that's a huge draw on Friday and Saturday nights.

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17. Sugar Freak 36-18 30th Ave, Astoria, NY 11103 (Astoria)

At Sugar Freak in Astoria, they bring the best of the South right to you, with a menu full of authentic Cajun-Creole cuisine. The extensive po'-boy menu -- including chicken fried french fries, mac & cheese, and fried chicken & shrimp varieties -- is tantalizing. The restaurant is all about Southern hospitality, decorated with quilted patchwork pillows, exposed brick, sponge-painted paper towel holders, and salt and pepper shakers that come in mason jars.

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18. BonChon Chicken 325 5th Ave, New York, NY 10016 (Korea Town)

With outposts across NYC, the Korean mega-chain BonChon is known for its perfectly crispy, huge wings, with flavor choices of soy garlic or "hot" (which contains red chili peppers and 'gochugaru,' a smoky Korean spice). If that weren't enough to whet your whistle, the Midtown East location of the chain is also decked out with large HDTVs for sports fans to watch games. Score!

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19. Mitchell's Soul Food 617 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238

At this no-frills soul food restaurant in Crown Heights, generous plates of soul food -- in the form of collard greens, mac 'n cheese, corn bread, and, of course, crispy fried chicken -- are the star of the show. The prices are cheap, and the dark meat is especially juicy -- the crispy, peppery crust might put up a tough front, but one bite into it will unleash the moist and tender meat inside.

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