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The 16 Best Fried Chicken Dishes in America, According to Chefs

This is where the crispy, tender, and juicy trifecta takes roost across the U.S.
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In the pantheon of all-American comfort foods, fried chicken reigns right up there with barbecue, apple pie, and hot dogs. The tried-and-true dish manifests in different forms, flavors, and traditions across the country, from classic recipes in the South to neoteric twists in restaurants large and small. We've already touted the best chain restaurants with fried chicken. Still, the fried staple is even better at independent eateries and mom-and-pop establishments as seasoned as the poultry.

Considering the near-infinite options for fried chicken in America, we tapped top chefs nationwide to help whittle it down and showcase the best of the bunch. Chefs have already steered us towards the best burgers, best bagels, and best steakhouses, so now it's time to get a little more crispy.

From iconic mini chains to indie chef-driven cornerstones, and from New York City to the Arkansas woods, these are the 16 best fried chicken restaurants in America, according to chefs.

Roots Southern Table

fried chicken dinner with a side of biscuits and wine.
Photo: Roots Southern Table

Considering chef Daniel Bazzinotti cooks up the fried chicken at Boston's Blue Ribbon Restaurant, it's safe to say he knows a thing or two about superlative comfort food. When he's not cooking fried chicken himself, he's feasting at Roots Southern Table in Dallas, proclaiming it the best he's ever had. "Chef Tiffany Derry makes duck fat family-style fried chicken that is crispy, tender, and juicy," he declares. "If you're ever in Dallas, it's a must!"

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sesame fried chicken at Sarma
Photo: Sarma/Facebook

Another chef from Blue Ribbon, Keith Pooler, sticks a little closer to home when the fried chicken cravings hit. His pick? Sarma in Somerville, Mass. "It hits all the right notes harmoniously," he notes. "The juicy, crunchy, well-seasoned chicken, accompanied by a tangy and refreshing sauce, definitely leaves you wanting more. I consider it a perfect bite for sure."

Honey's Kettle

a platter of fried chicken from honeys kettle.
Photo: Honey's Kettle

After doling out tasting menus at Los Angeles' n/naka, chef Niki Nakayama keeps things casual and comforting at Honey's Kettle in Culver City, Calif. "I like it because the batter is crispy without being hard," the chef says. "The seasoning is just salty enough, and the meat is always juicy. My favorite part of chicken is the wings, followed by the drumstick, and they always do a great job."

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Ad Hoc

ad hoc fried chicken
Photo: Ad Hoc/Facebook

For something on the higher end, Danielle Porter, director of food and beverage at Hotel Viata in Austin, Texas, heads to Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc in California's Napa Valley. The celebrity chef staple excels at fried chicken in an equally comforting atmosphere. "They also have a fun and intuitive wine list that pairs well with the crispiness of the chicken and all of the fun sides that come along with it, too," she says. "They have buckets of fried chicken available on Sundays, which is a crowd-pleaser!"

Rocky's Hot Chicken Shack

rockys hot chicken platter with coleslaw
Photo: Courtesy of Rockys Hot Chicken Shack

For Taylor Montgomery, executive chef of Urban Wren in Greenville, S.C., consistency is key. When restaurants can hit the mark, time and again, it keeps him coming back for more. Such is the case at Rocky's Hot Chicken Shack in Asheville, N.C. "Rocky's claim to fame is their Nashville hot chicken," he says. "It's consistent, fresh, and always good." Beyond the chicken itself, Montgomery recommends tinkering with different spice levels. "For a hair-tingling, euphoric sensation, go for the 'Rocky's Hot'—you may need an extra serving of slaw like me, but I survived to tell the tale!"

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The Bistro and Bodega

The Bistro Traditional fried chicken sandwich from the Bodega food truck in Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Photo: Bodega/Instagram

Following a recent trip to Jackson Hole, Wyo., chef Ryan Hardy of Delicious Hospitality Group in New York City touted the fried chicken at The Bistro and the crispy chicken sandwich at the Bodega food truck. "Growing up in Kentucky, I know when I come across delicious fried chicken," Hardy says. "The fried chicken sandwich at Bodega is not only perfectly crispy and tasty, it's also affordable and easy to enjoy on the spot or on the go when in Teton Village." Hardy adds that he also loved the fried chicken special at The Bistro: "It's no wonder it sells out every week!"

Charlie Bird

a cone filled with fried chicken
Photo: DoorDash

Likewise, Gavin Fine from Jackson Hole's Fine Dining Restaurant Group became an instant fan of the fried chicken at Hardy's restaurant Charlie Bird after a visit to New York City last winter. Fine calls Charlie Bird's Tuscan Fried chicken "the perfect appetizer to share with the table," adding that "the bite-sized chunks of fried chicken are perfectly crispy on the outside and cooked to perfection on the inside."

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Tokyo Fried Chicken

A fried chicken dinner with a beer.
Photo: Tokyo Fried Chicken / Facebook

When it comes to fried chicken cravings, Carlos Torres goes Japanese. The vice president of operations at The Dirty Rabbit Group and One K restaurant in Miami raves about the food at Tokyo Fried Chicken in Los Angeles. "For fried chicken, Tokyo Fried Chicken is by far the best in the country," Torres proclaims. "Their karaage-style fried chicken is super crispy and is served with some amazing spicy sauces and delicious sides—I try to stop there every time I'm in the city."

Lee's Chicken

lees fried chicken on a plate with mashed potatoes and biscuits.
Photo: Lee's

Often, the best fried chicken can be found at frills-free shops and beloved regional mini chains. Such is the case for Cameron Ingle, chef of Marisi in La Jolla, Calif., who touts the deep-fried wonders of Lee's Chicken in Plymouth, Mich. "The best fried chicken in the U.S., bar none, is Lee's Chicken," Ingle says. "It is the most beautifully seasoned, crispy, and consistent chicken I've ever eaten."

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The Post Chicken & Beer

fried chicken with a beer and mac n cheese.
Photo: The Post / Facebook

Exemplary fried chicken is often marked by the balance between crispy and juicy. Both hit a bullseye at The Post Chicken & Beer in Denver. That's according to Sheila Lucero, culinary director of Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar. "In Colorado, my go-to destination for exceptionally memorable fried chicken is the Post Chicken & Beer," Lucero explains. "It's always so crispy and juicy—even when you're eating it cold from the fridge later—and it gets bonus points for being gluten-free!"

Leon's Oyster Shop

a plate of fried chicken from leon's.
Photo: Leon's Oyster Shop / Facebook

There's no shortage of fried chicken institutions in the South, and Leon's Oyster Shop in Charleston, S.C., deserves top billing among the best. Despite its nautical name, Leon's serves some of the foremost fried chicken in the country, says Marcus Shell, director of culinary operations at Uptown Hospitality Group. "They've perfected the combination of spices in their breading as well as the procedure of obtaining crisp and retaining moisture," Shell says. "That, paired with char-grilled oysters and Red Clay Hot Sauce … paradise."

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Anajak Thai

Anajak Thai fried chicken
Photo: Anajak Thai/Facebook

Thai fried chicken is the top pick for Max Mackinnon, executive chef and partner at Libertine in New York City. Specifically, he's talking about that at Anajak Thai in Sherman Oaks, Calif. Describing it as the fried chicken he misses the most since moving to New York, Mackinnon says, "It's garlicky, salty, crispy, and is seasoned with things like turmeric and white pepper." While "comforting and familiar," the chef notes that the spice takes it to another level.

Monte Ne Inn Chicken

monte ne inn fried chicken and veggies on a plate.
Photo: Monte Ne Inn / Facebook

In the small Arkansas town of Rogers, chef Jeff Tunks finds a fried chicken oasis in Monte Ne Inn Chicken. As the chef of Florida's Corvina Seafood Grill explains, it's a choice that's equal parts sentimental and delicious. "My grandparents on my mother's side were farmers in Iowa, and they ended up retiring from a golfing community in Northwest Arkansas," Tunks recalls. "My mother ended up living in the same community for several years, and our Sunday family tradition was our weekly pilgrimage to Monte Ne."

With no written menu and all food served family-style and all-you-can-eat, it ticks all the boxes for nostalgic comfort. "Northwest Arkansas is the epicenter for raising chickens in the country, with Tyson headquarters nearby, and everyone loves chicken," the chef says. "Since chicken is all they do, the quality and technique are top-notch, and the value is ridiculous."

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Rowdy Rooster

rowdy rooster chicken sandwich.
Photo: Rowdy Rooster

For fried chicken, Jassi Bindra's recent obsession is the sandwich served at Rowdy Rooster in New York City. The chef of Amrina in the Woodlands, Texas, Bindra raves about the sandwich and its spice. "Their chicken is offered in three spice levels: Rebel, Rogue, and Rowdy. It is a fun element to choose from the different variations of spices. I love the Rowdy spice level—the flavors from the spices stay with me throughout my trip."

The Southerner

a plate of fried chicken.
Photo: The Southerner / Facebook

In southwestern Michigan, Farrand Hall's executive chef Dont'e Shaw needn't look far for a winning plate of fried chicken. "Located in Saugatuck, The Southerner features recipes passed down through generations of the founders' family," Shaw explains. "Their fried chicken uses whole cultured buttermilk, which tenderizes the meat and makes it super juicy."

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Blue Ribbon Brasserie

a plate of fried chicken.
Photo: Blue Ribbon Brasserie

Larry Finn gives his stamp of approval to the fried chicken at Blue Ribbon Brasserie in New York City. The chef behind Left Bank Brasserie and Petite Left Bank in the San Francisco Bay Area, Finn describes the restaurant as one of his favorites and among the most consistent. "Chefs Bruce and Eric Bromberg, alongside their culinary team, excel at creating unique and eclectic dishes, one of which is their fried chicken," Finn says. "The fried chicken at Blue Ribbon is hands-down one of the best fried chicken dishes I have ever had; it is perfectly seasoned and so crunchy and juicy. All the qualities you want and need in fried chicken!"

Matt Kirouac
Matt Kirouac is a travel and food writer and culinary school graduate, with a passion for national parks, all things Disney, and road trip restaurants. Read more about Matt