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Best fried chicken in NYC?

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  1. Most of the southern/soul food joints in the city do fried chicken that's at least competent and often much better than that.

    But the best fried chicken in NYC has to be at Charles' Southern Style Kitchen, Eighth Avenue at 152nd St. (Eighth Avenue that far uptown is also called Frederick Douglass Boulevard.)

    The chicken is marinated, then fried expertly in huge iron skillets. The result is the platonic ideal of fried chicken: crunchy/crispy skin, interior very moist without being the least bit greasy. It's just on another plane from most of the fried chicken I've had, and I grew up in the South, so I know from fried chicken. ;-)

    You can order the fried chicken alone, I think, but we always go for the all-you-can-eat Southern buffet, which at around $10 is a total steal. The buffet will allow you to sample the excellent cornbread, collards, blackeyed peas, okra, etc. as well. Go hungry, because you'll be kicking yourself if you can't manage more than one trip to the steam tables.

    - er

    4 Replies
    1. re: enrevanche

      I've gone to Charles' a couple of times and been disappointed. The stuff they bring out is cold and greasy. Maybe if I got it fresh out of the frying pan it would better, but I think it's overrated.

      The best FC I've had is at Corn Bread Cafe, 434 7th Avenue (between 14th and 15th St.) in Brooklyn, 718-768-3838.

      1. re: KRS

        >> I've gone to Charles' a couple of times and been
        >> disappointed. The stuff they bring out is cold and
        >> greasy. Maybe if I got it fresh out of the frying
        >> pan it would better, but I think it's overrated.

        Wow, I'm surprised to hear that. Out of curiosity, were you there at "odd" (that is, non-peak-meal) times? The reason I ask is that when my wife and I have been there, there's usually a crowd, and a pan of fried chicken brought out of the kitchen doesn't have a *chance* to get cold; it's gone pretty fast.

        Thanks for the tip on Corn Bread Cafe; will definitely check it out.

        - er

      2. re: enrevanche

        Enrevanche got it right. Charles's is the best. Worth the trip in spades. Don't leave without a side of stewed Okra & tomato of they have it.

        1. re: enrevanche

          Please listen to KRS's review. The fried chicken at Charles is sub-par according to any standards.

        2. There is a little spot called Chicken Stop on 87th or 88th and Amsterdam that is the best fried chicken I have had yet. Great place to grab the chicken and head to the park for a picnic. Strictly take out.

          2 Replies
          1. re: bj

            I second that place (i think its called Fried Chicken?), it was very good (crispy, flavorful and not too greasy) when I had it last summer.

            1. re: bj

              Chicken Stop!!! I used to live near there and eat it all the time..weird place run by russians you can also get Borscht and other eastern european food...I think their chicken is preetty damn good. juicy, hot crisp and tasty but I wouldn't say its the best. it could use more crust and more spices..but definately worth trying..mmm yummmy.

            2. check out MAROONS version in chelsea. good but not cheap. POPEYES aint too shabby either.

              1. I would have to vote for Jezebel in 9th Avenue.


                1. NOT dirty bird. STAY AWAY.

                  love maroons and popeyes spicy. haven't done charles, been meaning to. amy ruth not bad.

                  1. La Cabana Rodriguez on Flatbush Ave. by Beverly Rd. in Brooklyn. They make endless baskets of Dominican fried chicken. It's crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. It has a nice spicy flavor and amazingly enough is not greasy at all. They also make great fried pork skin to go with it.

                    1. I have been to Charles, M&G, Amy Ruth's, Spoonbread, countless Dominican and chinese places and most definitely to Popeyes/

                      Best Fried Chicken hands down is Jacques-I-Mo's. A lot of their food is hit or miss but the fried chicken is phenomenal. True for the original restuarant in New Orleans as well. A little pricier than, say, Popeye's, but a huge portion with good sides. And you can get an Abita Restoration while you are there, which is a very tasty and hard to find beer (I think its a limited edition, perhaps with proceeds going to restoration related to Katrina?)

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: TJ47

                        I second everything you just said about Jacque's. Abita Restoration can be found in stores that carry Abita, usually. But, the proceeds do go towards Katrina relief efforts.

                        1. re: TJ47

                          People have complained about their outlet in Grand Central....is the main restaurant very different?

                          1. re: ChowFun_derek

                            I haven't been to the outlet in Grand Central so I can't compare. I'd give the real restaurant on the UWS a visit though.

                        2. Charles is great! The trick is to wait for a fresh batch to come out.

                          1. HENRY'S END on Brooklyn Heights has the most amazing Fried Chicken. Get there early, because it is often sold out later on in the evening.

                            1. Lots of legendary joints mentioned here. Good to see.

                              I'd like to weigh in with a nod towards Korean Fried Chicken. On a recent trip to Seoul, visiting my wife's aunt and uncle, I was hipped, in the dead of winter, to seemingly thousands of "Hofs", little hole in the wall joints where people went on a lazy sunday with friends to wolf down fried chicken and beer.

                              Don't look now, but this tradition, with the influx of more and more korean immigrants, is now making its' way along the byways and sidestreets, infusing its' way onto our shores. Damn good thing, too. Manhattanites need go no further than 32nd street, to a place called Baden Baden. In Queens, in the heart of a long strip of Northern Boulevard that could double for Seoul, is a gem of a joint, name of Mani Mani. Although the beer and alcohol is way overpriced, perhaps due to extensive, out-of-control overhead - fifteen bucks for a pitcher of their cheapest beer! - the heaping plate of chicken, served with a small salad, is something of a revelation, unique both in taste and appearance. You can order two kinds, one being smothered with a smokey, woodsy sauce, the other plain but served with an excellent hot sauce. Please, take note: although I stand by the chicken for its' own sake, I wouldn't recommend ordering anything else on the extensive, generic menu, that features noodles, sushi, etc. This is also a place that you go to with friends, the more the merrier. You can sit for hours on couches and dig the so-bad-it's-good korean pop/rap and the arbitrary, almost accidental, no-theme interior decoration. My wife, who went to college in Seoul, noted that Mani Mani made her feel like she was back there all over again; it's a hot spot for lots of Korean high school kids.

                              Baden Baden, on the other hand, serves up delicious chicken - again, both styles - but just as many diners seemed to be ordering the stir-fried octopus with udon-style noodles, which we would like to try the next time we go there.

                              If anyone out there knows of any other Korean fried chicken joints, please give a shout-out.

                              And, rest in peace, Carmichaels Diner, home of the best southern fried chicken I've tasted this side of Mississippi.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Polecat

                                Thanks, Polecat. I now have Baden Baden on my radar and on the lookout for more.

                                1. re: Polecat

                                  I like BBNY's chicken, too. The secret is nice subtle seasoning and two-step cooking: first it's rotisserie roasted, then (only after you order) briefly fried with a handful of vegetables. Not much of a secret, come to think of it, if bartenders and servers are telling me all about it.

                                  Unfortunately the white meat tends to come out dry. Thin but serviceable hot sauce and the accompanying fried garlic cloves, onion and bell pepper can help to a point. This dish also comes with crisp, slightly sweet pickled radish, a perfect match.

                                  In case anyone else was wondering why a Korean pub is named after a German resort town, I've heard a couple of explanations. One: the owner's brother, who apparently contributed the chicken recipe, lived in Germany for a time. Two: Baden-Baden is where it was announced that Seoul had won the '88 Olympics, an event that even now seems to stir warm feelings in some Koreans.

                                  1. re: squid kun

                                    Squid-kun, yeah, I noticed that the regular chicken at Mani Mani dries out quickly as well. Perhaps this is par for the course with Korean Fried Chicken in NYC to this point. Lucky for the excellent sauce, which all but saves it. (Once again, I highly recommend the overall experience of Mani Mani, Flushing, Queens. Go for the chicken, the ambience, the mushy Korean pop music, the chicken, avoid all other menu items at all costs).

                                    Thanks for the info on the name, "Baden Baden", which sticks out on 32nd Street like a brautwurst bagel. Interesting. Now, how about the origin of "Hof" (a name that can be read on the awnings of many Korean Fried Chicken joints, but that doesnt sound all that Korean)?

                                    1. re: Polecat

                                      Appreciate the Mani Mani tip. I'll have to check it out one of these nights. I'm used to the Korean pop-rap soundtrack from BBNY. They don't really blast it, but it's often on.

                                      Unfortunately I tend to visit that neighborhood only during the day, way before the hofs get going. You know of any other good hangouts around there? There's a live seafood place near Murray Hill LIRR that's been on my list for a while now.

                                2. Oh man!!! Can't wait to try Baden Baden. Korean food and Fried Chicken, two great tastes that apparently go great together.

                                  Just dropping in to give a little report on the place mentioned by Bigmackdaddy, La Cabana Rodriguez on Flatbush Ave. by Beverly Rd. in Brooklyn. My wife went and picked a bunch of chicken for us one night. We were both in the mood for something homey at home. The chicken was coated with something like cornmeal and very done. The thighs were good, but nothing special. The breasts were no better than those at a supermarket - maybe worse, since they were dry all the way through to the coating. The wings might've faired us better if they weren't rancid. I'm goat like and will eat anything, but even I knew these were dangerous.
                                  However, we will most likely give the chicken a second shot, and maybe check out some other things because the fried pork skin (is there more specific name for these things) was pig fat heaven!!! Chewy but not too, crunchy but not only, fatty but cut by the chewy/crunchy. A variant of rinds, ciccarones etc, and while not smoked so not related to bacon in taste, each chunk was kind of a more "3D" bacon. Damn, how about 4D??? Simply, awesome.

                                  1. At Minangasli in Elmhurst they make a few stellar versions of spicy fried chicken.

                                    Minangasli menu (the chicken page):

                                    And don't forget the fried chicken at Sripraphai. The fried chicken, somtom, coconut rice set is one of my favorite things to get there.

                                    Thais & Indonesians love their fried chicken. There are KFC's everywhere in Thailand.

                                    1. I just got back from Mitchell's on Vanderbilt Ave. and St. Marks in Prospect Heights where I had 1/2 a fried chicken with cabbage and mac and cheese and a side order of frid shrimp. The chicken was pretty tasty. The coating isn't overly bready or greasy or salty and the skin is crispy. The white meat is moist and has flavor. The dark meat is a tad dry but good none the less. The problem is that when they say half a fried chicken they literally fry a whole half instead of cutting it up so when one side is overly done the other is just done. Even though this subject is on fried chicken I will tell you what the other items are like. The mac and cheese is standard, something your friend's mom would make at home. The cabbage is firm, not too oily and has a nice earthy flavor. The shrimp was a dissapoinment only because it's texture is that of being previously frozen. Otherwise the coating is decent enough. The biggest plus is that Mitchell's gives you a choice of Coke and/or Pepsi, diet and regular, and they carry ice cold 12 ounce Heinekens.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: bigmackdaddy

                                        Yeah, I was disappointed by Mitchells. Worth a visit but not special.

                                      2. I heard Juniors in Brooklyn on Flatbush avenue has really good fried chicken besides their famous cheesecake which I think is OK. If any of you try it let me know.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: designerboy01

                                          Yup, best fried chicken I ever tasted. They make it fresh.

                                        2. Maroon's in Chelsea has awesome fried chicken. DEf. worth trying.

                                          1. Charles is wayyy overrated. They have good sweet potatoes and decent mac n cheese. Fried chicken dry and i went for a second helping when a new batch came out and it was still dry and rather bland. Cornbread was weak and the sweet tea was average. The spot on 1st avenue between 6 and 7th was the best I've had, though not everything on that menu is par excellence. Just the collards and fried chicken. Not cheap, but far better than Charles.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: sneferu

                                              Okay I have two suggestions:

                                              POPEYE'S - YES, their Fried Chicken (esp, dark meat) is FANTASTIC!!!

                                              Also, believe it or not...KOSHER DELIGHT on Broadway!!! I brought a friend who is from the South and yes, she's Black and yes, she said: "PTL!!! Praise the Lord"!!!
                                              Again, the dark meat is what to order here. WOW!