The sun’s out, the temperature is soaring and cravings for summery comfort food like fried chicken are at an all-time high. Especially considering that July 6 is National Fried Chicken Day, it’s an apt time to round up some of Chicago’s finest fried chicken dishes. From new creations to time-worn staples, here’s where to get the goods right now.
Blue Door Kitchen & Garden
Art Smith is one of Chicago's godfathers of fried chicken, having amassed national acclaim at his restaurant Table 52, and at special dinners across the globe. Everyone from the Dalai Lama to Demi Lovato has raved about his fried chicken. Now that Table 52 has morphed into Blue Door Kitchen & Garden, the chef has honed his recipe for buttermilk fried chicken, and he’s celebrating National Fried Chicken Day with a special combo plate of two pieces and a wing with honey butter and hot sauce for $16.
52 W. Elm St.; 312-573-4000
La Sirena Clandestina
Chicken and rice is the new chicken and waffles. You’ll agree with one forkful of the frango frito at La Sirena Clandestina, which emboldens its brunch offerings with this fried chicken dish true to the restaurant’s South American ethos. Although the chicken morsels are perfect in themselves — crunchy, properly salted and not greasy — they’re made even better by the bed of rice and black beans on which they sit. It’s all finished with a spritz of hot sauce.
954 W. Fulton Market; 312-226-5300
Sable Kitchen & Bar
Drawing upon his Southern roots, growing up in North Carolina’s Appalachian Mountains, Shane Graybeal is cooking up legit fried chicken at Sable Kitchen & Bar. It’s a new take on an old-school classic, starting with a sweet tea brine for the birds before they’re battered in buttermilk, pan-fried and topped with chive blossoms from the farmer's market. At once slightly sweet from the tea infusion, salty, crispy and oniony from the chives, it’s one of the most complex (and prettiest) fried chicken interpretations in town.
505 N. State St.; 312-755-9704
When some of the most lauded restaurateurs in the world start slinging fried chicken and fried chicken sandwiches, you can rest assured they will be revelatory. At Roister, Alinea's more casual sibling, the oft buzzed-about fried chicken is part of an elaborate whole-chicken presentation that comes with sunchokes and chamomile, while the sandwich is dressed with sunchoke hot sauce, imparting earthy headiness, along with a pat of chamomile mayo.
Honey Butter Fried Chicken
The reigning champion of fried chicken in Chicago, Honey Butter Fried Chicken draws hordes of hungry patrons to its Avondale digs, and for good reason. The boneless, locally sourced birds are fried until succulent and perfectly golden brown, available straight up as a platter of breasts, drumsticks and thighs, or in various alternative preparations like sandwiches, mac 'n' cheese, nachos and even tacos. The best part is the honey butter, a sweet and creamy enhancement to any of the dishes.
3361 N. Elston Ave.; 773-478-4000
Who knew a little Mexican soul food spot could serve such addictive fried chicken? The chicken-fried chicken has been a breakout star of One Off Hospitality’s Tex-Mex restaurant since day one. Chalk it up to the comforting combination of buttermilk fried chicken and zesty chorizo verde gravy. The hearty dish is brightened by sweet peas and pearl onions. The pops of color also make the plate Instagram-friendly.
1545 N. Damen Ave.; 773-645-4060
Considering its East Coast–inspired nautical environs, you could be forgiven for assuming fried chicken isn’t the thing to order at Oyster Bah. But you’d be mistaken. The Chesapeake fried chicken is a hidden gem. One order contains a massive portion of Old Bay–seasoned Miller’s Farm chicken, with coleslaw and fries heaped alongside. The spice blend adds just a pinch of heat and herbaceousness. Bonus: Oyster Bah’s takeout and delivery-only sibling Seaside’s offers the same fried chicken.
1962 N. Halsted St.; 773-248-3000