I come from a non-fried chicken country. Australia is home to the “chicken shop.” Most Australians depend on it for a rotisserie chook to get them through a mid-week cooking slump. That local chicken shop was a stalwart fixture of our childhood, where “$2 worth of chips, please” was almost as good as Christmas morning: a cornet of blisteringly hot fries – chips – dusted in chicken salt, shared carefully – and quickly – with friends.
Australia today embraces southern American barbecue and fried chicken, but back in my day, it was all about the rotisserie chook. I’ve yet to find one in NYC as plump and juicy as my local Bronte chicken shop.
My chicken of choice since stepping off the plane three years ago has been fried chicken, and we’ve made it a mission to try them all, waistline be damned. We’ve hiked up to Harlem on a sweltering summer’s night for Charles Country Pan Fried Chicken, where the man fries his chicken the correct way, turning it in a cast iron pan. There have been highs – see the list below, plus my husband’s own fried chicken with the gorgeous buttermilk brine, and lows – Dirty Bird (bad) to Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken (worse). And I couldn’t leave out producing Josh Ozersky’s Ozersky.TV rant on fried chicken, on National Fried Chicken Day, no less.
NYC’s best fried chicken:
- Wilma Jean – taking over the Nightingale 9 spot in Carroll Gardens, the fried chicken here is succulent on the inside and earth-shatteringly crisp on the outside, with an addictive seasoning in the flaky coating. Read my Wilma Jean review here. 345 Smith St, Brooklyn.
- Root & Bone – this Alphabet City newcomer from Miami’s Yard Bird team with Aussie chef Janine Booth serves some of our favorite fried chicken du jour. Sweet tea-brined meat and a crispy coating angelically dusted with lemon sugar sounds like it shouldn’t work but hallelujah it does. 200 East 3rd St.
- Pies ‘n’ Thighs – we rarely venture into hipster territory but we’ve taken taxis at really odd hours to pick up boxes of Pies ‘n’ Thighs fried chicken in Williamsburg. The crust is flaky – our preferred fried chicken preparation – with seasoned, succulent meat. Plus the biscuits are excellent. 166 S 4th St, Brooklyn.
- Peaches HotHouse – get your fry on in Bed-Stuy. But be warned, their addictive Nashville-style hot chicken is seriously hot, and not fake-hot like you’ll find elsewhere. Fantastic cornbread and sides too. 415 Tompkins Ave, Brooklyn.
- Sweet Chick – a super crunchy shell and juicy meat. I always have to season it with a rain of salt, but the light-as-air waffles make up for it. 164 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn and 178 Ludlow St.
- Mad for Chicken – this late-night Koreatown haunt is the ideal place to sidle up to after a night of karaoke and kimchi. The chicken wings come battered in a super crunchy, lacquered coating that is totally addictive. 314 5th Ave.
- Hill Country Chicken – this is my kind of fast food. Two pieces of dark meat fried chicken with a biscuit and a side for $9. They offer a skinless fried chicken which is just as good as the skin-on version. 1123 Broadway and 345 Adams St, Brooklyn.