The arrival of fall (even if it’s taken awhile for the weather outside to reflect the season) is exciting for a number of reasons. Fall means cozy sweaters, changing leaves and pumpkin spice everything. For some of us, fall means indulging in comfort food and there is no comfort food like fried chicken.
If you love fried chicken, Chicago is a great place to live. In almost every neighborhood in the city or suburbs, you’ll find perfectly fried chicken at every price point. It’s hard to pick one favorite spot, so we have rounded up a few of the best chicken joints to get your next fix.
This roundup wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Crisp in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood.
You can get the crispy wings plain or sauced, and Crisp is especially well known for its Seoul Sassy wings in addition to their traditional BBQ and Buffalo options. Seoul Sassy is a sweet sauce, made with ginger, soy, garlic and some other spices and it makes Crisp really unique.
Drumstix Market, Northbrook
Dine in or carry out your next chicken fix from this farm-to-table Northbrook market that offers comfort food for all palates, from tacos to macaroni and cheese to Chicago-style ribs to good old-fashioned meatloaf like mom used to make.
Among it all, the fried chicken is easily a bright spot on the menu. Choose your favorite sauce to dip or glaze your crispy fried bird: Honey Butter, Garlic Parmesan, Korean BBQ, Honey Sriracha, Nashville Hot, Texas Gold, Chimmichurri, Buffalo or Spicy BBQ.
There are salads on the menu for guilt appeasement, but we can talk about those another day.
Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, West Loop
Hailing from Tennessee, Gus’s Fried Chicken is serious stick to your ribs fried chicken.
This might go without saying, but this is in no way, shape or form light eating. If you visit Gus’s first Chicago location in the West Loop, plan to hit the gym the next day. The dark, crispy skin is both salty and spicy, while the bird underneath is juicy and hearty. Insert “this is why I’m fat” joke here.
Honey Butter Fried Chicken, Avondale
Not only is the bird at Honey Butter Fried Chicken antibiotic-free, cage-free, humanely-raised, non-GMO and fried in trans-fat-free canola fryer oil, it’s one of Chicago’s very best. Enjoy it slathered in house-made honey butter, crafted from local dairy and honey.
If you dine in, you can sip on a small batch “front-porch” cocktail or a local craft beer. If you order in or take out, you can enjoy your meal in sweatpants, just as authentic fried chicken was meant to be.
Leghorn Chicken, Humboldt Park/River North
If you want to experience unadulterated bliss, go to one of Chicago’s two Leghorn Chicken locations for hot fried chicken and crinkle cut French fries.
Though the menu is limited to chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders or a grilled chicken bowl, what Leghorn lacks in variety it makes up for in flavor. Pick the chicken sandwich served one of two ways: Nashville Hot or Pickle Brined.
The chicken is crispy and juicy, peppery and flaky, served on either a homemade biscuit or bun. Add house made spicy mayo and extra pickles — always extra pickles.
Roosters Barn and Grill, Bloomingdale
This made-to-order, hand-dipped chicken dinner is one to write home about. Order yours with a side of fresh cut French fries and coleslaw, or go big with homestyle garlic mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese or a loaded baked potato.
Roosters Bar and Grill offers a full bar, plasma screen TVs, video gaming machines and a downstairs pub area where you can watch major sporting events over cocktails or craft beers. In other words: come for the experience, but come back again and again for your Sunday fried chicken dinner.
Prime & Provisions, The Loop
Fried chicken is a classic comfort food, but it’s also very much on trend right now.
“There is a new place opening with fried chicken on the menu quite often,” said Prime & Provisions’ executive chef Joseph Rizza.”Chicago is very competitive, so there are competitions and challenges between chefs and restaurants for [the best].”
Sure, you can brine or marinate chicken for up to 24 hours before cooking to keep it from drying out, but it’s better if you just let Prime and Provisions do it for you. The fried chicken at the downtown steakhouse is brined for a minimum of 24 hours, followed by a three step batter process to ensure ultimate juiciness and crispness alike.
“It’s the spices and ingredients in both the flour and the batter that make it so crunchy and delicious,” said Rizza.
The Roost Carolina Kitchen, Irving Park/River West
Friends don’t let friends eat bad fried chicken, right?
So bring a buddy to The Roost Carolina Kitchen for Nashville-style hot chicken in one of two ways: a boneless hunk on a biscuit sandwich, or the more traditional style fried pieces on white bread. The chicken is fried to order, a hallmark of authentic Nashville fried chicken.
You’ll also find side dishes – macaroni and cheese, biscuits as fluffy as they are rich – and traditional Southern peach cobbler, if you’re jonesing for something sweet.
White Fence Farm, Romeoville/Riverside
With 63 years in business under its belt, White Fence Farm has perfected the art of cooking chicken. With a secret breading recipe milled exclusively for the White Fence bird, the chicken is pressure cooked and then flash fried until it’s golden, crispy and delicious.
The side dishes represent simplicity at its finest: coleslaw, corn fritters and fries or mashed potatoes. Even if you aren’t local, we don’t doubt for a second that the homestyle chicken dinners from White Fence Farm would be worth the road trip.