It’s always difficult to choose the best food. Food can be “good” for many reasons, and many different flavors taste delicious. I feel that’s especially true for fried chicken.
Generally, we want juicy, flavorful meat and a crust that’s crisper than a dollar bill. The key is to not make the crust too crunchy or let it get too soggy. The ideal texture and consistency are locked in, but the flavors are not.
Best Fried Chicken in the US
Let’s explore the 13 best fried chicken restaurants in America and what makes them the best.
Mary Mac’s Tea Room
224 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30308
Phone: (404) 876-1800
Mary MacKenzie opened Mary Mac’s Tea Room in Atlanta in 1945 at a time when women couldn’t open a restaurant.
That’s why she and many other women called them tea rooms. They proudly uphold their traditions, so not much has changed in almost 80 years.
That includes their recipes. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s why they have some of the best fried chicken in the US.
Choose from regular fried chicken, chicken fried chicken, fried chicken wings, or fried chicken tenders. Each piece is mouth wateringly delicious, so you can’t go wrong.
If you can manage it, you’ll want to save some room for the sides and dessert. They bake their bread from scratch daily and use the freshest vegetables.
Their fried green tomatoes and mac and cheese will blow your mind. This is also one of the best soul food restaurants in the US!
Willie Mae’s Scotch House; New Orleans, LA
2401 St. Ann Street, New Orleans, LA 70119
Phone: (504) 822-9503
Willie Mae Seaton opened a bar in 1957 in the Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans. They moved to their current location after just a year.
In the 70s, they expanded to a full restaurant to their customers’ demands. Willie Mae’s granddaughter runs things at present.
They won the James Beard Award in 2005. The Food Network and the Travel Channel named them America’s best fried chicken.
If you get the chance to visit, you can choose between regular fried chicken, a fried chicken sandwich, or fried chicken tenders.
No matter which you choose, you won’t be disappointed. Their chicken, as well as every item on the menu, will have you raving.
Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack
5814 Nolensville Pike, Nashville, TN 37211
Phone: (615) 810-9388
James Thorton Prince opened the Hot Chicken Shack in 1945 in Nashville, Tennessee.
They claim to be the first to come up with hot chicken, which is hard to verify. At the very least, they perfected and popularized it to everyone’s benefit.
They’ve been nominated for several awards, including Nashville’s best place to get fried chicken. They picked one food, and they do it very well.
You can get chicken whole, halved, or in pieces and at any spice level you desire. There are wings, tenders, and chicken salad as well.
Roscoe’s House of Chicken ‘N Waffles
1514 N Gower St, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Phone: (323) 466-7453
Herb Hudson founded the chain in 1975 in Hollywood. It’s a soul-food restaurant that’s most known for serving the dish in its name: chicken n’ waffles.
The chain is very well known in LA and has been mentioned on several TV shows and movies over the years.
If you’re going by, I recommend trying their signature dish, especially if you’ve never had it. It’s super common where I’m from, so I’ve never questioned it, but I can see why it’s unusual.
You won’t believe how well crispy fried chicken goes with hot waffles until you taste them.
1219 Second Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Phone: (267) 687-8258
Five people came together and opened Federal Donuts in 2011 in south Philadelphia.
Their business didn’t take long to expand, and now they have 11 locations across Pennsylvania.
They kept their menu simple by only serving donuts, chicken, and coffee. Their chicken is on the list because it’s double-fried and super crispy.
You won’t find a crisper or more delicious fried chicken. And you won’t find better gourmet donuts, so it’s a win-win.
Beasley’s Chicken + Honey
237 S. Wilmington St., Raleigh, NC 27601
Phone: (919) 322-0127
Chef Ashely Christensen opened Beasley’s Chicken + Honey and filled the menu with incredible southern home food.
You’ll always get some variety of fried chicken and sides that are in season. The signature dish, fried chicken with honey, pays tribute to both of her parents.
She brines the chicken, dips it in buttermilk, coats it with flour, and then throws it in the pressure fryer. Afterward, she drizzles this crispy chicken with honey.
You can get brunch favorite chicken and waffles here too. My favorite dish is the chicken biscuit with tomato, dijon, and honey. Add an egg on top for an incredible experience.
45 Phila St, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
Phone: (518) 584-4790
Hattie Gray opened Hattie’s Chicken Shack in 1938 in Saratoga Springs. She was born in St. Francisville, Louisiana, and lived there until she got a job working for the Staley family in Chicago.
As soon as she saved enough, she moved to New York and opened her shack.
People loved her southern cuisine and her southern hospitality. She and her husband were well known for their kindness and their fried chicken.
Luckily you can get her chicken any time of day with any number of scrumptious sides.
166 S. 4th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Phone: (347) 529-6090
Sarah Sanneh and Carolyn Bane opened Pies-N-Thighs in 2006 near the Williamsburg Bridge.
They first opened their small dining room in a former beer storage closet, and eventually opened a larger location in 2010.
Pies-N-Thighs won several awards for its food, obviously including one for Best Fried Chicken.
You can fill up with a fried chicken box, chicken sandwich, chicken biscuit, or good ol’ chicken and waffles. You won’t be disappointed with anything you order.
Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken
340 W 145th St., New York, NY 10039
Phone: (212) 281-1800
Charles Gabriel was born in South Carolina in 1947 to a large sharecropper family.
He had a long, interesting journey on his way to opening a restaurant in New York in the early 90s. He first learned to cook at home from his mother and refined his skills over 50 years.
Charles is known as the “Fried Chicken King of Harlem,” and he earned that title. You can have chicken pretty much any way you want it here.
And there’s a whole mess of genuine Southern sides like okra, grits, and collard greens.
116 West Crosstimbers Road, Houston, TX 77018
Phone: (713) 695-8112
Louis and Nell Skrehot founded Barbecue Inn in 1946. Their two sons took over running the restaurant after serving in the army and are still in charge today.
Customers say that everything on the menu is delicious.
Originally they just served barbecue but eventually expanded to add other items like fried chicken.
Travel & Leisure and Food & Wine magazines and others recognize theirs as the best fried chicken in the US. You’ll have to head in to find out why.
6476 Washington St, Yountville, CA 94599
Phone: (707) 944-2487
Chef Thomas Keller opened Ad Hoc in 2006 in Napa Valley. He opened it as a placeholder restaurant until he could come up with a different concept, but everyone loved it.
They serve a four-course family-style menu that changes daily.
Their buttermilk fried chicken is so popular that it has scheduled days every week. You’ll have to go on Friday or Saturday at lunch to catch this tantalizing crispy chicken.
Busy Bee Cafe
810 Martin Luther King, Jr Dr, SW, Atlanta, GA 30314
Phone: (404) 525-9212
Lucy Jackson, or Momma Lucy, opened the Busy Bee in 1947. She was a self-taught cook who drew inspiration for the restaurant’s name from her real life.
She successfully ran the restaurant for more than 20 years before selling the business and retiring.
The menu is made up of all kinds of classic southern soul food. The star of the show is their fried chicken though.
You can choose between chicken and waffles or a variety of fried chicken pieces served over rice. I recommend following either plate up with a piece of cobbler.
Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken
505 US-70, Mason, TN 38049
Phone: (901) 294-2028
Last but certainly not least, is Gus’s which has its roots in Mason, Tennessee.
Napolean “Na” Vanderbilt and his wife, Ms. Maggie, started by selling chicken sandwiches out of a tavern back door in 1953. Some locals donated supplies and Na built them a restaurant. It’s still there today.
Their son, Vernon “Gus” Bonner, took over the restaurant with his wife, Gertrude, in 1984 and renamed it.
Their hot and spicy fried chicken is now world-famous. People fly from all over to get a taste of the best fried chicken in the US.
Best Fried Chicken in the US
- Mary Mac’s Tea Room
- Willie Mae’s Scotch House
- Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack
- Roscoe’s House of Chicken ‘N Waffles
- Federal Donuts
- Beasley’s Chicken + Honey
- Hattie’s Restaurant
- Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken
- Barbecue Inn
- Ad Hoc
- Busy Bee Cafe
- Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken
This list of the best fried chicken in the US isn’t in any particular order; I’m not sure I could rank them even if I tried. They’re all so delicious and for different reasons.
The crispness, juiciness, and flavor are hard to put into proper words. I think the best thing you can do is take a road trip and try them all.