Nothing is more disappointing than chomping down on a flavorless, dry, chewy piece of (alleged) fried chicken. Some even might call it… *fowl* play.
Luckily in a seemingly endless sea of fried options across the southland, there are a number of gems that deserve your attention, each bringing their own recipe and unique spin to the chicken game.
From an almost extinct fried chicken joint, to a killer stuffed sandwich and this year’s trend of hot chicken from Nashville, the options will all have you reaching for a wet nap during your glorious meal (and loving it).
So let’s begin our exploration!
List starts after the jump, in no particular order.
1. Honey’s Kettle
What’s the hype with Honey’s Kettle? Could it be the secret batter? The fact they fry their chicken in peanut oil? Or the kettle drums they use to try to replicate the traditional frying technique of black kettles over a open fire. Either way the Culver City eatery dishes out a crispy chicken coating without the grease served with finger licking house made honey.
2. Plan Check
Plan Check’s smokey fried chicken is a labor of love before it even gets to your plate. The jidori style chicken is cold smoked in hickory wood, brined in buttermilk and spices for six hours and then finally fried and served with smoked milk gravy, yam preserves and spicy pickled okra.
3. Jim Dandys
Ordering food from a bulletproof window seems a bit strange but once you taste the classically fried chicken and it’s juicy meat you might not be so concerned about that glass. At Jim Dandys they seem to have old school fried chicken down to a science. Moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside you can choose between crispy or spicy as your flavor and even order more fried goodies like the corn fritters and hushpuppies. Make sure you have some cash on hand they don’t accept credit cards.
4. Howlin’ Ray’s
This food truck has been roaming the streets of Los Angeles slinging some of the hottest Nashville style chicken in town and now they have a brick n mortar in Chinatown to boot. Howlin’ Ray’s take their hot chicken very seriously- they don’t joke around when it comes to their spices and hot factor, offering country fried (for the weak!), mild, medium, hot, xhot and howlin’ hot. With an option to go white or dark meat, each chicken is breaded with the spice of your choice, fried until the skin is crispy and served on top of a piece of white bread and pickles. I got the “hot” and it was no joke. Even the mild will be sufficiently spicy for the hot-averse eaters out there.
5. Son Of A Gun
Of course Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo (the power team behind Animal Restaurant and Trois Mec) created one of the best fried chicken sandwiches in the city. The fried chicken sandwich at Son of a Gun is inspired by Oakland’s Bakesale Betty bakery’s famous sandwich. Jon and Vinny’s version is a buttermilk-battered fried breast topped with a spicy b&b pickle slaw drizzled in a rooster aioli sandwiched between a toasted bun.
The Pearson Family has owned and operated Dinah’s Chicken in Glendale since 1967, dishing out classically spiced, fried and juicy chicken to kids and adults alike. Dinah’s chicken is “Fried Under Pressure” with a broasted method that seals in the juices of the chicken and keeps the cooking oil from penetrating. Side orders like mac n cheese, pineapple cole slaw and some other tasty usual suspects make this place a great family chicken joint.
Although the concept of A-Frame switched to a Hawaiian joint Roy Choi did keep the cracklin’ beer can chicken on the menu. Available during Luau Hour (Happy Hour) Choi’s famous chicken is marinated in beer, herbs and spices before being tossed in the fryer. Once the chicken crackles and makes a sound like a beer can being stepped on its done! Served with kimchi, century egg, salsa roja and verde.
8. Flores and Sons
Only available during lunch and happy hour the three piece southern fried chicken meal comes with hot sauce and spiked honey for dipping. If you are lucky enough to make it to happy hour the meal will cost you just $9 with an option to add a canned beer to your meal for $3.
9. Pioneer Chicken
In 1961 H.R. Kaufman opened the first Pioneer Take-Out in Echo Park. If you were a kid growing up in Los Angeles Pioneer Chicken might have been the fried chicken joint your parents took you to. In my case it was and these day’s it’s like going back in time! Most people might be surprised there are still a handful of these around but I am just happy to have a small token of my childhood still standing. The chicken still taste the same (to me anyway) crispy, juicy, salted nicely with just the right amount of grease. The real kicker is it’s still super affordable. My meal was around $4! If you liked KFC but question their quality in poultry go here instead.
10. Superba Food + Bread
Served only on the Sunday supper menu the is a half-chicken, fried to a crisp on the outside but soft and juicy once you take a bite. Served with collard greens slaw and a very tasty biscuit this is probably the most popular dish served that night.
11. Major Dave’s Chicken [Update: Closed]
Major Dave’s Chicken in Pasadena serves Nashville hot chicken, regular fried chicken and an array of savory sides (I’m a fan of the the whipped garlic cauliflower!) Owner Dave Caldwell is meticulous with his chicken process skinning the fat from the chicken himself, using his fathers recipe from childhood and sourcing non- GMO, hormone and antibiotic free, ethically raised chickens. The three time Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran came home with a dream to open a home-town fried chicken joint that offered healthier options and he did just that. The casual eatery is the perfect place for a quick and informal meal, trust us this is not fast food by any means. Just good honest fried chicken that might not clog the artery.
Pro tip: If you are ever lucky enough to try something off the menu like their fried chicken sandwich do it! Served on a thick but soft roll the sandwich is over stuffed with pickles, creamy coleslaw and grape tomatoes.
12. Pann’s Restaurant
Pann’s Belgian waffle and wings is really the house specialty at this old school diner in Westchester. The Belgian waffle is crispy and the chicken wings are meaty and tender. Sometimes simple is better, and in this case it absolutely rings true.
For 13 years in South Korea, KyoChon has been voted best fried chicken in the country and now with over a thousand restaurants around the globe it made our list (among other lists in L.A.) Preparation takes about 15 minute, and KyoChon uses non frozen natural chicken, flavored with natural ingredients never msg and a double frying technique that uses less grease. The results are addicting with flavors like honey, soy garlic and spicy. K-town’s favorite wing shop is open till 2:00am on weekends which also makes this the perfect spot for a fried chicken after-party.
Here’s a few joints just a small cut below (in my opinion) the the 13 I mentioned above, but still deserving of mention nonetheless:
As always leave your comments below and let me know where your favorite fried chicken is!