Few things scream "summer" quite as loudly as a hearty plate of fried chicken. While it gets a bad rap for being messy and, practically speaking, unhealthy, recent out-of-the-box approaches to the beloved comfort food by world-renowned chefs, including David Chang of Momofuku fame, have rendered it the new It meal. Below, seven places to try ASAP.
1. The Churchill (Los Angeles, Calif.)
A southern man with roots in Virginia, chef Michael Bryant sought to bring classic fried chicken to the west coast at this gastropub, located in The Orlando Hotel in Beverly Grove, Los Angeles. Using a family recipe, he pairs the savory dish with country style green beans cooked with bacon and onions, mashed potatoes mixed with Gruyere cheese, pickled cucumbers, and, to top it off, cheddar-jalapeño biscuits. Customers can enjoy the chicken family-style at the easy-to-swallow price of $25, and complement it with a beverage from The Churchill's extensive craft beer selection. "I began craving fried chicken one night in early 2015... and the rest is history," Bryant tells InStyle.
2. Fuku (New York)
If there's one buzzed-about item in the foodie community worthy of the hype, it's David Chang's new chicken sandwich at Fuku, his standing-only outpost down the street from the original Momofuku Noodle Bar in N.Y.C.'s East Village. Equal parts juicy, spicy, and crunchy, and served with pickles and the chain's special Ssäm Sauce ($8; store.momofuku.com), you won't be bothered that the chicken portion is far larger than the bun itself. We also recommend sampling the off-the-menu daikon sandwich, which comes topped with a sizable scoop of pickled daikon radish. Wash it down with something off Fuku's drink list, like a canned michelada.
3. Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken (Memphis, Tenn.)
It's called "world famous fried chicken" for a reason—if the above photo isn't enough to convince you, the delicious, juicy, and flavor-packed meat is. While owner Gus Vanderbilt prefers to keep mum on the family recipe, it's sure to keep you coming back for seconds (and thirds, and fourths). The homey sides of mac and cheese, collard greens, baked beans, and coleslaw don't hurt either.
4. Hill Country Chicken (New York)
The Texas-style fried chicken restaurant located in the heart of N.Y.C.'s Chelsea neighborhood is so keen on their signature dish that they recently rolled out an entirely new fried chicken menu (and grilled, for that matter). Highlights include the "Clubwich" (fried chicken, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and homemade ranch dressing), the "Wickedwich" (spicy fried chicken, honey, red onion, cheddar cheese, and sour pickles), and the "Kickin' Chicken" (fried chicken, chipotle mayo, and kale coleslaw). "Fried chicken is extremely versatile and has a ton of flavor, and plays well with almost any topping," chef Charles Grund tells InStyle. We'd have to agree.
5. Federal Donuts (Philadelphia)
The only thing that could be better than fried chicken is a donut, and the creative geniuses over at Federal Donuts choose to supplement each order with one of the fluffy desserts in a highly addictive honey flavor. Customers have their choice between a whole fried chicken, a half fried chicken, or wings with exotic seasonings ranging from coconut curry to za'atar, a Middle Eastern spice.
6. Yardbird (Miami)
A little piece of the Old South in Miami, Yardbird boasts farm-fresh ingredients, classic southern cooking, and hospitality to boot. The wide-ranging menu features deviled eggs, fried bread and butter pickle spears, and, of course, their signature old-school fried chicken (pictured above), topped with hot sauce honey, chilled watermelon, and served next to a cheddar cheese waffle with bourbon maple syrup. Your next Instagram awaits.
7. Mary Mac's Tea Room (Atlanta)
This 1945-era restaurant—recently named "Atlanta's Dining Room" by the State of Georgia—draws crowds of tourists and locals alike for its homey southern cuisine, a focal point on the menu being the fried chicken lathered in buttermilk (pictured above). It can be enjoyed solo, or with an array of side dishes, including fried okra, sweet potatoes, and classic fried green tomatoes, among the bevy of famous faces that adorn the walls (yes, Beyoncé is a fan).