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Fried Chicken in San Francisco

I am looking for great Fried Chicken within the city limits of San Francisco. Style or type of restaurant is not an issue. Any recommendations?

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  1. I had some great fried chicken at Town Hall several weeks ago. Not only was it good but there was a lot of it. Only drawback to the dish was they put brown gravy on the biscuits, it was some sort of "etouffe" gravy according to the manager. Being from the south I would have been much happier with good ol' cream gravy. Still, the chicken was very good.

    3 Replies
    1. re: rtmonty

      Before this topic got bumped, the most recent post was from March 2007.

      Here's another topic started in September 2007 that has 36 posts:


        1. re: wineguy7

          Try The Street on Polk Street. Kinda hate to give this secret away...but I know what it is like looking for good fried chicken. They only serve it on Sun nights!

          And if you can cross the GG bridge, try Bungalow 44 in Mill Valley. They have "kickin' fried chicken" on the regular menu. Pretty good.

          Haven't tried all the E Bay places yet...but my favorite so far is House of Chicken & Waffles on Embarcadeo W near Jack London Square.

    2. honestly... popeye's has always been able to fix my cravings in a hurry... ive heard bluejay cafe has good fried chicken but ive never been.

      1. A couple years ago, I bought wings at Popeye's on Divisadero. When I got home and started to eat them, I noticed lots of white feathers, threw them out and never went there again. The fried chicken at Hard Knox Cafe on 3rd is good, also cheap.

        1. Hard Knox is the place I go when I want some great fried chicken.

          8 Replies
            1. re: anna

              I've wanted to get to Hard Knox for a long time now, but my husband says the service is glacial and the meal will take forever. Is this true?

              1. re: Atomica

                I've never had that experience at Hard Knox, even when it's busy. The longest part of our meals has always been the amount of time it takes to finish your meal. The portions there are LARGE!

                1. re: anna

                  Okay, we finally tried Hard Knox. Didn't get the fried chicken this time, as we often have to wrangle a 9 month old while we eat, so we tend to order something that requires only one hand using a utensil. I had the fried pork chop, eggs, and grits, and I had to try the corn muffins. Many people around us got fried chicken, and it looks great. The corn muffins were awesome, and I am a corn muffin fanatic.

                  The service was really friendly, but I do have to say that things did move at a snail's pace. The food took quite a long time to come out, others who came in after us were served their food first, and we were never offered drink/water refills. Not that I won't go back, because I definitely will.

                  1. re: Atomica

                    Had to register my dissent re the service at Hard Knox. I went for the first time last night during the dinner rush and service was prompt and great. The servers were attentive, we got our water and drinks straight away and the corn muffins were piping hot straight out of the oven. Didn't try the fried chicken last night but the ribs were awesome. I'll be back again soon.

                2. re: Atomica

                  Skip the chicken fried steak. blech

                  1. re: Atomica

                    I am wondering which location are you referring to -the 3rd Street location or the one on Clement?

                3. I've been on a F.C. quest too. So far, the best I've had was at House of Soul in Vallejo, but that's rather inconvenient when you live in SF. I'll hit up Popeye's in a crunch, but I'm planning on doing a more formal tasting between there and Hard Knox. Most recently, I went to Maverick's special Southern Fried Night and was really disappointed in the chicken. It was over fried and very oily. The rest of the meal was pretty good, hush puppies and a peach and little gem salad. You can read the full review on yelp http://candice.yelp.com

                  Most people seem to report better luck at places in the East Bay (Nellies, etc.).

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Candice

                    I agree, there seems to be more of this in the East Bay. I have had both positive and negative experiences at Popeyes. I really want to find a solid FC in the City. I know that Jack Falstaff is good for an upscale FC too. Thanks to all posters.

                    1. re: wineguy7

                      A New Orleans friend told me the trick for Popeye's: order only "spicy" fresh out of the fryer. If it's been sitting around, wait, or give up.

                  2. I can't believe nobody has mentioned Powell's! It used to be on Hayes and Octavia but moved to a nicer (but less convenient) location on Eddy near Fillmore, I think. Service is a little slow, but the chicken is fantastic.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: asarwate

                      I used to be a big Powell's fan, but the last time I was there (about two months ago), I was disappointed. While owner Emmitt Powell sat at a back table, enjoying his dinner, the chicken we were served was dry and overcooked. It had either been fried too long, or it had been sitting under the heat lamps too long. The breast was inedible. I hope it was only an "off" night for the kitchen, but I'm not rushing back to find out. Frankly, the new Louisiana Famous Fried Chicken franchises make better chicken. Have tried two locations -- 6th & Market in SF and Broadway (near 21st or so) in Oakland.

                      1. re: foodlover

                        My experience exactly...very dissapointing...not cooked fresh...sitting under heat lamps..ask for it fresh...very attractive space...

                    2. A Louisiana Fried Chicken opened up on 6th and Market. I'm not sure how it compares to the Oakland location.


                      1. We just went to Farmer Brown's in the Tenderloin on Saturday night and all ordered the fried chicken dinner. It's an organic, modern take on traditional soul food. The chicken was good, not too oily, but the breading could have used a tad more flavor in my opinion. Also I wish they would let you choose between white and dark meat. (I vastly prefer dark) However, the chicken meat itself was very good and the serving size is generous, with 3 pieces of chicken. It comes with a side of mac n cheese, which was good, but not the best I've ever had. The flavor was just right, nice and sharp and made with Tillamook cheddar, but I would've liked the consistancy to be a tad thicker and not as saucy. The southern-inspired cocktails were refreshing and reasonably priced. Even the water was special, it comes with a sprig of mint and lime wedges. The owner (same owner as Bluejay) and staff were attentive and gracious. Worth checking out.


                        1. Sunday night is FC special night at Street on Polk

                          1. I'm on a FC quest as well and have had the bird at several SF locations recently. Farmer Brown, Mavericks, Hard Knox and Chenery Park. I agree with Ludovika regarding Farmer Brown's chicken. The coating was too bland, didn't care for the mac & cheese either and the salad was underdressed, but the owner Jay and his staff couldn't have been nicer and the cocktails were great. Mavericks which serves the 3rd Tues. of every month was just as Candice described, over fried and oily with an odd, not bad spice that I couldn't name. The biscuts were great with honey butter, but the mac & cheese was too runny for my taste not crusty enough on the top. Hard Knox was cheap and just okay. So far my fave is Chenery Park Cafe in Glen Park which serves fried chicken only on Mondays. I love this restaurant and its understated yet comfortable atmosphere with really good service and overall consistent food preparation.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Jim

                              I swear that I detected cinnamon in the batter at Maverick's, which I found odd but interesting to try and figure out and we loved the honey butter and biscuits too. I'll have to give Chenery Park a try.

                              I prefer an abundance of thick, crunchy batter that is well peppered and spiced but hate deep frying at home, which explains the quest.

                              1. re: Candice

                                I think you're right Candice, it seemed like cinnamon. It was odd but not in an off putting way. Hope you enjoy Chenery Park.

                              2. re: Jim

                                I love the little bar at Chenery Park (mostly because the bartender is so great), and I agree that the fried chicken is good, though I am not all that fussy about fried chicken as long as it isn't way overcooked (it's fried, it's got chicken skin, what's not to like?). Desserts can also be very good there, especially the bread pudding, and I agree that service is always very good (really nice people). However, I don't think it is consistent overall; more a place where you have to choose carefully to get a good meal.

                                Can be surprisingly pricy too. Last time I ate there all I could think was, wow, for this much money I could have had dinner at the other CP, Chez Panisse Cafe. Of course Chez Panisse Cafe isn't walking distance from both my house and my BART station (sigh), which does make Chenery Park call my name now and then when I've had a tough work day and want hubby to meet me for a well-made martini...

                              3. The Southern fried chicken wings at Johnson's BBQ on San Bruno are great. Unfortunately they are the only thing I like there.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Civil Bear

                                  J's Pots of Soul has good fried chicken wings. Hot, juicy, crisp (but not spicy...)
                                  Tues-Sunday 9am - 3pm for breakfast, 11 am - 2:30 pm for lunch/cash only
                                  It's on Octavia at Page.

                                2. Firefly has a great plate of fried chicken!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: peppatty

                                    I totally agree. YUM. Love the peas and carrots, the biscuits are fantastic, yummy mashed pots! Great choice.

                                  2. I finally tried fried chicken at BlueJay Cafe. It was very good. Crispy skin, juicy inside. I didn't like the mac and cheese it came with though. Big portion for $10.

                                    1. I got a fried chicken fix in a most surprising venue. The cafe in the Asian Art museum. Three pieces, a thigh, a leg and a wing. However I can not remember if it was on the regular menu or a special

                                          1. re: potatoe

                                            Powells can be characterized by inconsistency - dependant upon how long its been sitting under the heat lamp.

                                            Last weekend, I ducked into Louisiana Fried Chicken on Sixth Street between Market and Mission Streets. While the area is definitely dicey, chicken was solid, not greasy, fairly crisp, with a latent heat that comes on while you're eating. Would I go back, sure, but probably not the best - still searching...

                                          2. There are so many yummy FC places in the bay area, but as someone mentioned above... Getting Fresh out of the Fryer Chicken is the key...

                                            Chicken that's been under the lamp for too long is nasty.

                                            Some of my faves are Chenery Park, Popeyes, Merritt Bakery (Oakland), Chinese style - San Tung on Irving, Pyrimid Brewery on Gilman in Berkeley used to have killer fried chicken wings, but I'm not sure if they're still making them.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: biotech bob

                                              Pyramid still makes the fried wings. They are very good. They have a Happy Hour special, $4.50 before 6:30 p.m. during the week.

                                            2. Let's talk fried chicken. I must say that I am very picky about my friend, the fried chicken. I've also got to admit, that my tastes may not run like the rest of you. I was vegetarian for 5 years, and do you know what I missed most? KFC. It almost broke me a couple of times, but I held up. (I became unveggie because I was not too good at getting enough protein without waaaay too many carbs. But I still don't eat much meat, and love love love beans. People at work actually think I'm vegetarian, rather amusing.)

                                              But chicken! With skin and a perfect battering (I'm not an extra-crispy gal, it's all the wrong ratio). I've tried Popeye's and Church's, and they just weren't my style. But I'm actually into organic, sustainable eating, and KFC isn't really on that list. I've been trying out restaurants in this here bay area, looking for a piece of good ol' good for the world fried chicken.

                                              So far I've tried Farmer Brown twice and Maverick once. I've read the reviews, they said "good!". But you know, neither really kicked my bucket over. Both times Farmer Brown's chicken had the right ratio of breading to bird, a moist piece of chicken inside, but... not enough salt or any ol' flavor. Twas bland. The horror!!! It might as well have been a bunch of flour soaked in oil. And the very odd thing, Farmer Brown doesn't put pepper on the tables, just salt. So I couldn't even help the wee chick out.

                                              Maverick also has an earth-friendly fried chicken available (comes with greens! grits! a black pepper sauce). I also liked their ratio of breading to bird, the chicken was super moist inside, the crispyness was there. But the breading was sweet almost. Sweet is not what I was looking for, in my hushpuppy maybe, but not on my chicken. So again, I will head out to see if I can find a good piece of fried chicken.

                                              And just so you know, I did find it once. My friends, D & R, made some mighty fine chicken one evening. We sat out in the garden out back as they fried the chicken, and oooowwweeee, savory! So good!

                                              1. I too love fried chicken and have been on a quest to find some.

                                                I recently went to Max's - a Filipino restaurant chain that has a location in South San Francisco - known for their Fried Chicken!! So they sell it either by half or whole, a whole costing about $12.99. Its not a traditional battered fried chicken, but I believe they season the whole bird, and then drop the entire thing into the deep fryer. When brought to the table, its still whole (and hot!) and you can break off your own piece. Very Crispy, and nicely seasoned.

                                                I'd love to know what other people think if they have tried it!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: lamster

                                                  There used to be a Max's called Max's Son connected to the Max's deli restaurants that had amazing fried chicken. As I understand it, the son married a Filipino woman and the menu was a nutty combo of foods that really worked somehow. It was pretty amazing stuff but this was in the 80's. I wonder if this would be the same Max's family? Don't recall them frying a whole bird those...that's odd.

                                                2. I've had the fried chicken twice at Farmer Brown, and three times at the Front Porch. All were good experiences, but the fried chicken I had at the Front Porch the last time-- about 2 weeks ago-- was sublime. The coating was crisp and tasty, and the meat was flavorful and very moist. I shared a bucket with a Southerner, who loved it, too.

                                                  1. My vote is for the fried chicken wings at Capital Restaurant on Clay St in Chinatown. Comes piping hot out of the fryer with scallions and jalapeno as garnish. That's about the only thing I'd recommend there.

                                                    Capital has been around forever, specializing in ABC-type food (ie. roast beef w/canned vegs and rice) and Western-style breakfasts.

                                                    1. I ate lunch today at the Louisiana Fried Chicken place in Oakland (Broadway and Grand, across from Luka's). It was everything I expect from good fried chicken, no more and no less. Crisp batter with a noticably peppery spice blend and piping hot, moist chicken. The mac n' cheese was a little gloppy but it was a natural white, not bright orange, and it tasted like real cheese so it worked for me. If the SF location is as good, it might be your answer. Have not been to the new Powell's but after a couple of horrible experiences at the old location I am in no rush.

                                                      1. Please post any new opinions on this topic.

                                                        6 Replies
                                                        1. re: wineguy7

                                                          1300 Fillmore has a very good, but non-traditional (boned meat) fried chicken dish. I also had a really nice plate of fried chicken at Rocker Oysterfeller in Valley Ford.

                                                          Rocker Oysterfeller's
                                                          14415 Valley Ford Road, Valley Ford, CA 94972

                                                          1300 On Fillmore
                                                          1300 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

                                                          1. re: kresge86

                                                            If you are going non-American / Southern style... i would also recommend sleuthing around the Michoacanian places around Redwood City etc., for "naked" deep fried Chicken & Quail. Although my favorite version of that is Mexicali style you find at the Chinese-Mexican places there (wings marinaded in soy sauce, orange peel, honey, tequila & garlic prior to frying).

                                                            1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                              I'm very late to this post, but thought it might be worth a try. Is there a specific place you can recommend for this type of fried chicken or quail? I go to the area several times a month to shop at Chavez and I have looked around the last few times, but haven' t found any.

                                                              1. re: Spinal Tap

                                                                Might not be what you want, but I like the fried chicken wings at So restaurant (a spicy Chinese food place). And most Chinese restaurants (Cantonese cuisine) in the city have fried quail in the appetizer section for about $5-6.

                                                                So Restaurant
                                                                1010 Bryant St, San Francisco, CA

                                                                1. re: L C

                                                                  Last week we made our first (but not last) visit to zero zero. Despite the name it isn't just a pizza (not my platonically favorite food) restaurant. The fried chicken was 3 or 4 boneless thighs and was ideal. Also good were the fried chicken livers. Throw a salad into the mix and there's a meal."Hey waiter, make mine fried!"

                                                                  1. re: little big al

                                                                    Love their fried chicken, didn't know about the chicken liver. Will have to check it out.

                                                        2. I really enjoy fried chicken!

                                                          Front Porch: A little greasy, too much lemon in the brine/dip overpowered everything, batter fell off after one bite.

                                                          Hard Knox: Breast meat dry, coating had so much garlic powder in it that I burped garlic for HOURS (sorry if that's gross but because of that I will never eat their chicken again)

                                                          Farmer Brown: BLAND - not enough salt and not enough pepper - just blah.

                                                          Maverick: I am not a fan of cinnamon so it's pronounced flavor in the batter was off putting.. . people would find it subtle but I think but since I don't like cinnamon . . it was overwhelming for me and I found it oily as others have commented.

                                                          Powell's - the old place on Fillmore was horrible. . .pre-fried chicken that had sat under a lamp for hours. . .. dry as sawdust. Horrible. I was not surprised when they closed. The new place in the back of Vera's on Jerrold is no better. .. I was hoping with a smaller operation the chicken would come back from it's faded glory, but no - same problem. . chicken that's sits too long.

                                                          I don't eat at fast food places so I can't comment on Popeye's, KFC or the like. ..

                                                          In my opinion, you have to drive to the east bay to get really good fried chicken. The queen of all fried chicken for me was Southern Cafe - the wait once you ordered was tortuous but the pay off was worth it. Freshly fried, perfectly seasoned chicken and the sides were just as good. Unfortunately, after being "closed for repairs" since April, it is apparent that Southern Cafe is closed for good. The phones are disconnected, the signs are off the door. It is a great loss to fried chicken lovers.

                                                          Nellie's: Nellie's has good, made to order fried chicken. It was my alternative to Southern Cafe as I found SC's chicken and sides to be one cut above Nellie's. The only problem with Nellie's used to be the service but they seemed to have stepped it up. The wait for your food is usually quite long but it's worth it. Juicy, well seasoned cooked to order fried chicken. A note about one side: when the cornbread muffins are cooked correctly (they are somewhat inconsistent) they are the best cornbread I have ever had.

                                                          Dorsey's Locker - one cut below Nellie's (Nellie opened her eponymous restaurant after working at Dorsey's for years) - sometimes the chicken is over fried but usually it is very good - small restaurant sometimes hard to get a table.

                                                          Merritt Bakery: Please, their chicken is a joke. Overfried, underseasoned and dry as dust.

                                                          Lois the Pie Queen: Formerly, really good. Currently, not. A case of chicken-sitting-around-itis. Altho the fried pork chop is quite good.

                                                          Declancy's: Not a fan - the wait is ridiculous and unlike Nellie's not all is forgiven once you get your chicken just okay.

                                                          Simpson's - When the chicken is hot out of the fryer, it's quite good.

                                                          Scend's - REALLY good fried chicken wings in a no frills setting.

                                                          And, of course, honorable mention must go to Ad Hoc's fried chicken night. While $48.00 is steep to pay for fried chicken, it is good - crispy, well seasoned, well-farmed (hence very flavorful) and served in abundance and the other courses are usually stellar as well (altho I get a little tired of the roasted baby potato thing - mashed would be lovely!). I would really love to see them try their hand at a fried chicken night with soul food sides - that would be my dream come true!

                                                          1. I just had fried chicken at Sauce on Gough Street. Here's the description from the menu: Breast & Wing w/ Truffled Mushrooms, Green Beans & Bacon Whipped Potato& Pan Gravy. Since having it, I have declared it my new personal favorite over Town Hall. However, I haven't been to the other places that folks are listing here. I was very impressed with Sauce and am going back in a couple weeks to try more things off their share menu! http://www.saucesf.com/

                                                            Town Hall Restaurant
                                                            342 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: bellemdm

                                                              Hands down....Wayfare Tavern.

                                                              1. re: Jim

                                                                Seconding Wayfare Tavern. Especially with mac & cheese, omg.

                                                                Wayfare Tavern
                                                                558 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                                            2. Frisco Fried on 3rd St near Thomas Ave in Bayview SF. A newer restaurant that has excellent fried chicken and soul food sides. Much better than Powell's which had moved nearby but is now gone. Very affordable too, hard to beat the prices (unless you go to Popeye's or KFC).


                                                              Frisco Fried
                                                              5176 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94124

                                                              10 Replies
                                                              1. re: waltmor

                                                                It's so worth it to venture up to Yountville and have the Fried Chicken at Ad Hoc. We had it last Monday (2/7) and just died over it. The rest of the meal was incredible too. They have it 2 Mondays a month and it is so worth it to go...you won't find better in California as far I know.

                                                                Ad Hoc
                                                                6476 Washington St., Yountville, CA 94599

                                                                1. re: JENNYBEEAY

                                                                  if you're willing to try the recipe at home (time consuming, but manageable), you'll get a better fried chicken than anywhere else in the bay area besides ad hoc.

                                                                  1. re: vulber

                                                                    You forgot to say 'after a few practice runs'!! We haven't tried Ad Hoc's packet yet, but we're looking forward to it.

                                                                    Ad Hoc
                                                                    6476 Washington St., Yountville, CA 94599

                                                                    1. re: JENNYBEEAY

                                                                      don't use the packet - do it from scratch

                                                                  2. re: JENNYBEEAY

                                                                    I've been twice for the fried chicken, have not been in at least a year. I called Feb 7 to make a res for Feb 21 and they were already booked up with 22 on the wait list. (I don't know if they were extra busy because that Monday is a holiday for some.) That's where I wanted to go for my birthday dinner! Will have to try again but maybe will wait for some good spring weather.

                                                                    Have not tried the recipe yet, but I will. It's a lot of work and I think it's very important to get really good quality chicken (he stresses this).

                                                                    They've increased the price to $52 from $49 but I think it's a bargain for 4 courses. The one thing I don't like is the tumbler style glasses for wine, you have to request better glasses. (I guess you get the better ones if you order expensive wine.)

                                                                    1. re: walker

                                                                      The server there told me the chickens they served were commercial Texas birds.

                                                                      1. re: bdl

                                                                        ha., sounds like how keller emphasizes the importance of freshly cut fries tasting the best in the bouchon cookbook and then buys frozen ones for use at bouchon

                                                                      2. re: walker

                                                                        Ad Hoc takes reservations on Open Table at least a month in advance (may 2). That's how we reserved.

                                                                        Ad Hoc
                                                                        6476 Washington St., Yountville, CA 94599

                                                                        1. re: JENNYBEEAY

                                                                          Thanks. I've been in the habit of making reservations directly to save the restaurant the fee, but, in the future, I guess I should try open table.

                                                                    2. Had to jump on to say I thought Boxing Room's Fried chicken was the most overrated, disappointing FC I've had in this city in a long time, and I've been around the FC block! Mostly, though, i was paging through this thread bc I was curious if anyone else had recommended Frisco Fried. Found myself there by accident (April's was closing early) and man, what a lucky find! I was indifferent about the waffles, but the chicken, the chicken. mmmmmm. You wait, because it is definitely fried to order, but when it comes, hot, crispy, moist... IMHO it beats the pants off the likes of Hard Knox, Front Porch, etc. Super friendly service, too!

                                                                        1. re: wineguy7

                                                                          Which do you recommend on that list?

                                                                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                            From the list my preferred is Frisco Fried. But I would rather go to Maverick than any of the other spots on the list.