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Eternal Fried Chicken Quest

I am sure this is asked often - but things change - including the best fried chicken joints - so where might one currently find the best in Manhattan (and also Queens), folks?

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  1. Ever have fried chicken from a James Beard award winner? Try "Dirty Bird" , its about as good as it gets.

    3 Replies
    1. re: iknowwhatitmeans

      No way! Tiny & few pieces, hardly any good spices but just salt & pepper, and pricey.

      1. re: pinkylechat

        Agree - don't waste your time or your money. It's not "bad" but it's way too oily, very little flavor and small pieces. 4 miniscule pieces is about $10. I get that it doesn't use genetically enhanced super-breasted chickens like KFC does, for example, that give you huge white meat pieces, but still. Not worth a trip at all - frankly the Popeye's down the street on 14th is much much better.

      2. re: iknowwhatitmeans

        it was tasty but WAY overpriced for those tiny portions.

      3. Don't go to Queens looking for great chicken at UFC.

        1. If you ask this on the Outer Boros board, you might get to hear about Pies and Thighs. Downtown Manhattan, Birdies on First Avenue; uptown, any branch of Manna's.

          1. Consensus on this site has been (1) Charles' Kitchen, Harlem; (2) Birdie's, LES, (3) Mama's and last (yeah, only 4 viable options in all Manhattan!) (4) Popeye's (!). And also a lot of negatives for Dirty Bird.

            1 Reply
            1. re: addictedtolunch

              i liked the chicken at charles' but it was by no means spectacular. that place is mainly worth going to for the sides at the buffet. the journey there can also be pretty "real", haha.

            2. Let me strongly suggest Jacques-Imo's on the Upper West Side. Not as good as the New Orleans location by a long shot, but better than Popeye's.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Michael Ambrosio

                I second Jacques-Imo's and raise you Big Daddy's Diner (believe it or not).

                1. re: guttergourmet

                  ya that place (big daddy's) has some pretty outrageous food, and dirt cheap for the volume. don't get the greek platter tho (sucks); and watch out for the trio of sliders, they're practically 3 regular hamburgers and served atop a pound of tater tots. scary.

                  1. re: bigjeff

                    But their fried chicken is really good.

              2. ya pretty much, it doesn't exist.

                1. mama's is bland and soggy
                2. dirty bird dry
                3. ruthie's soulful, but bland
                4. chicory is dry and weird
                5. charles southern not good
                6. M&G diner terrible
                7. crown/kennedy's is bad
                8. church's uses weird parts
                9. kentucky's is too battery
                10. clinton st. baking company is aight
                11. popeye's is whatever
                12. junior's was hella bland

                on the hunt myself, heard about good fried chicken at chat n' chew, and at gravy in carroll gardens/cobble hill. might have to go with "alternative" fried chicken like some of the stuff you can find at japanese places (kara age), and even local neighborhood chinese chicken wings (4 for $2.50 for some of the best wings).

                5 Replies
                1. re: bigjeff

                  Where do you like the chicken at BigJeff.. I respect your quest.

                  1. re: Daniel76

                    well I figure the OP meant typical fried chicken like southern-style or at least, in drums, legs and thighs (thighs only for me) but I've only found some really good wings; see my post below.


                    what I'm looking for is a nice crust (I don't mind a little batter at all; the cornmeal crust doesn't count, for me, as a crust at all), a lot of pepper, either in the flour or in the chicken itself, some great color (chicory's was dark as mahagony, but no flavor and dry), and some juiciness. what comes to mind is my childhood memory of KFC when you could get extra crispy AND spicy, which I now recollect as probably a mouthful of fried crust. plus, they cheat because I swear they don't trim the fat off the chicken, if not actually stuffing chunks of fat into the meat itself.

                    but, I will check out gravy sometime (apparently it's honey-dipped, whch I'm open to), and chat n' chew (don't really like that place tho) and in the meantime, find myself some chicken-fried steaks, probably the only thing that beats fried chicken.

                  2. re: bigjeff

                    In my experience the fried chicken at Gravy is dry and flavorless. Not worth hunting down!

                    1. re: bigjeff

                      my friend just had the fried chicken at chat n' chew and gave it a thumbs down. and add another to the list, Enid's in Williamsburg; it said "chicken fried chicken" on the menu which made me think it was pounded thin and o so delicious but it turned out to be not chicken fingers, but like a chicken hand (whole chicken breast breaded and fried to a crispy toughness, no pounding). no good.

                      1. re: bigjeff

                        what about forte baden baden on 32nd st?

                        1. re: Lucia

                          If you're open to non-southern style, Bon Bon Chicken on Chambers St is awesome. It is korean, and has a very thin, crispy batter and then gets a light dip in sauce (sweet or spicy) after being fried.
                          I had a box of strips on Saturday and it was awesome. Mouth tinglingly spicy and incredibly moist.
                          I also like BonChon chicken on 5th ave.

                          314 5th Ave, New York, NY 10001

                          Bon Chicken
                          98 Chambers St, New York, NY 10007

                          1. re: wanderluster

                            Bon chon chicken is kind of different. It has a nice crispy skin but they deep fry the chicken so much that the meat inside is dry. I like it though.

                            You can try "piece of chicken" on 45th and 9th. Its around the corner from the jezebel restaurant. 1 dollar , 1 piece of chicken. I used to like popeyes over it but I;ve been eating there alot and like it more now. Its not very consistent as sometimes you'll get a piece that seems to have been sitting around for awhile. The people on the line usually order the leg piece though, so maybe that piece is usually fresher. The collard greens are good. Though i've had luck with their mac and cheese , most of the time it tastes like its been sitting there for a while. ick.. (no clue why i continue to order it)

                            1. re: randumbposter

                              yes forgot about that place, meant to go there also. and, spoonbread (both locations) apparently has a nice spicy fried chicken too . . . . the quest must go on!

                            2. re: wanderluster

                              had bon chon last night in k-town, and I gotta say, they were pretty damn good. high-class digs for this fingerfood; I'd recommend just getting the wings as the drumsticks were just made of bad cheap chicken so it just tasted slimy underneath the excellent crust. we had the soy garlic marinade, but I hear the hot spicy is a stickier coating; should be very good eats.

                              1. re: wanderluster

                                i was very happy with the spicy legs at bon chon. haven't tried the soy yet. korean fried chicken is worth the hype.

                                1. re: wanderluster

                                  Yes, in my limited view, Bon Bon is my favorite. Crisp and moist, slightly sweet and spicy.....divine-ish.

                                2. re: Lucia

                                  I second Maroons. On top of waffles. Oh YEAH!

                                  1. re: GoddessofFood

                                    I third Maroons for their fried chicken. It doesn't get enough love on this board.

                                3. Which reminds me: Since Popoeye's is such a rare example of a good chain, why are there so few in NYC? The two midtown ones have closed in the last year or two!

                                  I keep thinking that all the NYC chowhounds should get together, pool their pocket money, and finance a new one.

                                  9 Replies
                                  1. re: Fida

                                    is it really that good? I dunno about all that; but, there seem to be plenty of outlets (I know of the 125th street on in harlem, a few in downtown brooklyn, one on union turnpike in queens)


                                    the link lists 89 but that includes near-ish jersey, but check it, you might find one quite close to you!

                                    1. re: bigjeff

                                      They're redoing the Popeye's in downtown Brooklyn (Court & Joralemon). From the looks of it (it's still under constrcution) they might be adding another floor for "dining".

                                      1. re: bigjeff

                                        Is it "really that good"? Well, compared to the gourmet places, I don't know. But as an ultra-fast way to pick up something cheap to sneak into a movie theater, it can't be beat. As as to "plenty" of outlets, I don't think there's anything between 40th and 125th, or so, which is a pretty major gap. The one in Times Square was always bustling, so we were startled when it closed.

                                        1. re: Fida

                                          yeah if were sitting next to you in a theater, i'd definitely ask for a piece.

                                          1. re: Fida

                                            There's one on the UES, Third Avenue, a block north of the 86th Street movie theaters.

                                              1. re: UES Mayor

                                                I think there has been a lot of talk in the outerborough board about UFC...in jackson heights. I'm been meaning to go myself and see if the chicken holds up to the hype.

                                              2. re: floretbroccoli

                                                There's also one on Lexington and 26th Street.

                                                1. re: Hurner

                                                  I liked Popeye's but it is way salty.

                                        2. BIRDIES, Grandma’s Chicken for the people
                                          149 1st Ave., New York 10003 (btw 9th & 10th st)

                                          if your in East Village go to Birdies, get the fried chicken, but do not NOT get the baked it SUCKS!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: youngjung

                                            I just walked by that spot last night.. Chicken for the People, doesnt get better then that slogan..

                                          2. Went to Bon Chon tonight.. Not the best fried chicken in the city.. My favorite still might be Forte Baden Baden.. Rotisserie style chicken then deep fried.. Served with your typical Soul Food hot sauce..

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Daniel76

                                              there is also a tuesday happy hour I believe at third floor cafe with unlimited fried chicken and unlimited beer. the fried chicken is three-bite-size chunks of chicken, some bone in, typical korean-style frying, and actually quite good. a bit more refined than the baden baden stuff, in terms of it being batter dipped chicken.

                                            2. I've always liked the chicken at Amy Ruth's, especially as part of a chicken-and-waffles breakfast plate, but the amazing fried chicken at Miss Mamie's Spoonbread has it beat. That's the Spoonbread version below, with collard greens and the weekends-only cornbread stuffing.

                                              Amy Ruth's
                                              113 W 116th St, New York, NY 10026

                                              Miss Mamie's Spoonbread Too
                                              366 W 110th St, New York, NY 10025

                                              1. I LOVE the Fried Chicken and Waffles (it's served for weekend brunch) at Alias. They use fennel seed which gives it an unusual flavor - in a good way, of course. Otherwise, Mama's is pretty good.

                                                1. Check out Rack and Soul. It is Charle's recipe -it is quite good.

                                                  1. I like the chinese salt and pepper wings at 69 bayard.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                        1. re: DarthEater

                                                          oh I have, it's excellent; that along with the beef chow fun (ask for it with jalapenos). avoid the dumplings though, half-moon monstrosities.

                                                    1. haven't been, but there's a newish outlet called 'piece of chicken' on 45th near 9th that people seem a bit crazy about -- just a walk-through window, i think it's part of another sitdown restaurant around the corner...

                                                      1. Best fried chicken I've had is served at Rack and Soul at 108th and Broadway. Best BBQ place too in my estimation

                                                        1. I was rather impressed with Baden Baden New York (on 32nd St in Korea Town) recently. Korean-style, yet rather southern in their seasonings. No batter, roasted first for tenderness and juiciness, and then fried at the end for crispiness. Served with the traditional vinegar based hot sauce on the side, and a large pile of respectable french fries. Mmm...

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: keith

                                                            The fried chicken at Virgil's Real BBQ is great and juicy with a lot of crust. Like many nYC natives, my favorite fried chicken in NYC is at Margie's Red Rose diner in Harlem, but you have to like real authentic Southern cooking to dig it. Its nothing like KFC...

                                                          2. Jacques-Imo's NYC on Columbus great fried chicken...

                                                            1. this is not a fried chicken joint, but I had an excellent special at Jane Tavern in the West Village (this was sunday night) of fried chicken and, it was excellent. as good as clinton st. baking company if not better, this was an entire half chicken (in 4 pieces), expertly fried, very well seasoned, great crust, a bit of kick, and served over excelent mashed potatoes with white gravy. for $15, an excellent excellent meal and great fried chicken. might be good to call the place to find out when they have that special.

                                                              1. Just tried Birdies on 1st avenue-will have to go back but the fried drumsticks were perfect as were the biscuits and the lemonade was almost worth the price of admission. I need to investigate further but to me it blew away Dirty Bird for example.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: guttergourmet

                                                                  Birdies comes through with some excellent and very reasonable homestyle chicken.

                                                                2. Bon Chon Chicken!

                                                                  I like to eats.

                                                                  1. I recently ate Popeye's for the first time in maybe six years; it is SO good.

                                                                    I've been dissapointed by the chicken in this city. Fried legs out of carts in Chinatown are actually quite nice though.

                                                                    1. I love fried chicken and have to say Charles is the best in the city but a bit of trip for a chicken fix. I recently had the fried chicken special at At Home on Cornelia Street which was amazing. The breading was crisp and not overly oily. Great product, I highly recommend trying it if it on the menu.

                                                                      1. In case anyone is trolling these old posts, Alias on the lower east side has REALLY crispy, tasty fried chicken!

                                                                        1. I Once traveled to Guatemala and on the return trip home the entire plane brought back pollo campero fried chicken for thier families , they finally brought this chain to queens after several outposts in Cali I believe its at the stop before shea I would check that out

                                                                          1. place called Piece of Chicken, 45th St just off of 9th Ave - take out only, but it's awesome (and cheap, most items $1 or $2)

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: UniRules

                                                                              Second Piece of Chicken and their fried chicken livers are funky too! P.S. RIP Al Copeland-founder of Popeyes.

                                                                            2. Outside of traditional Southern fried chicken, I have to agree that the chicken at Forte Baden Baden is absolutely delicious. I am also a huge fan of the buttermilk fried chicken at Devi.

                                                                              1. I haven't been in a long time but I love Charles Sothern Style Kitchen's.

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: tpigeon

                                                                                  Ummmmm...what about KFC? Honestly that place is awesome.

                                                                                  1. re: jgradieoakes

                                                                                    I like KFC too, but it pales before charles and if you eat at the AYCE charles' is also a superior value.

                                                                                  2. re: tpigeon

                                                                                    We had excellent fried chicken at Rack and Soul 2 weeks ago...Upper West Side, on Broadway..

                                                                                  3. Don't know about other branches, but Lincoln Fried Chicken on 125th Off of Broadway gets my vote. (next to the Subway sandwiches as well as the 1 train's 125th street stop. There's a Bank of America on the corner).

                                                                                    I only get thighs. They are best not fresh out of the special fryer/steamer, but just had enough time to cool slightly. The crust IS the skin - thin, crisp, dark, and savory. Plenty of black pepper, but not spicy, juicy inside with just enough fat. Occasionally the thighs are small, but that happens at Popeyes, too. Most of the time though, it's a good size, and not over-marinated like many other places, so it still has the fresh chicken taste. It passes the cold chicken test, too. Doesn't get soggy if it's had a chance to cool down properly (as in not stuffed in a bag for a long time)

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: HLing

                                                                                      whoo that sounds excellent. also heard about a place (the name escapes me) on broadway, around west 155th street, has a latin name and has latin-marinated chicken, then fried. might have boneless pieces as well. supposed to be excellent.

                                                                                      1. re: bigjeff

                                                                                        Sounds like a Fried Chicken field trip is in order. I haven't been up by 155th area in a while now, so will have to investigate soon.

                                                                                        By the way, the few times I had the fries at Lincoln had been very good. They are similar in size and looks to the McDonald fries, pale, and not too greasy.

                                                                                        * thinking back, I might have seen another Lincoln Fried Chicken up in the 150's near the AAAL but if so I've not eaten it there.

                                                                                    2. It's up in the Bronx, but US Fried Chicken is fantastic. It's at 161 St and Gerard. I dream of it all the time. The seasoning on the skin is so good we are trying to convince the owner to just sell that by the bag.

                                                                                      The burgers are amazing as well. We could not go foe months and when we walk in, he is already shouting out our orders to the guy cooking away.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: deborah24

                                                                                        Co-freaking-sign. Been getting chicken there before Yankees games for as long as I can remember. The biscuits there are great too!

                                                                                      2. I like Virgil's but haven't been in a long while. Blue Ribbon has good friend chicken--pricey meal though.

                                                                                        1. Recently, New York magazine said that the best fried chicken in the city was at Blue Ribbon bar and grill in the 6 Columbus hotel (west 58th right behind Time Warner center). I was in NY at the time I read that article and was staying at the 6 Columbus hotel so I decided to give it a try. It was very good. It is pretty costly, it costs around 22$ if my memory is correct. It has 3 pieces..a wing..a drumstick and a piece of white meat. The white meat was to die for! It was so juicy. It came with a wasabi/honey sauce. I can't say that I fell for that sauce but some people say it is excellent.

                                                                                          1. Has anyone tried the fried chicken at Mama's Food Shop in the East Village?

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: misnatalie

                                                                                              Haven't been for a long time but Mama's fried chicken was always very good and their mac and cheese was awesome. Anyone try KFC's new chipotle flavor yet?

                                                                                            2. I finally tried Piece of Chicken on 45/9th and I was pretty darn impressed. It was flavorful (but, I can see how people can find it salty), fresh, crispy on the outside and ridiculously juicy on the inside. I would put it up above Charles', Popeyes, Bon Chon and whatever else you throw at it. Maybe I got lucky because I got a fresh batch, but I will definitely be back.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: will_4food

                                                                                                When I had it, it was lukewarm, dry and way too salty. But there was no line, so I think I got a really old piece. As it's so cheap, I should probably try it again at some point.

                                                                                              2. Egg in Williamsburg.

                                                                                                I hear that Mitchell's in Prospect Heights is very good too.

                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: sushiman

                                                                                                  Blue Ribbon Bakery in the West Village has some excellent fried chicken. It is just difficult to order there considering all the other great items on the menu.

                                                                                                  1. re: nikklos

                                                                                                    With regards to the first reply, about Dirty Bird being a James Beard winner, having eaten fried chicken at another James Beard winner, Willie Mae's Scotch House in New Orleans, I have come to the conclusion that the James Beard people do not know fried chicken.

                                                                                                    1. re: roro1831

                                                                                                      Why do you feel that way? Is it because you think it's overpriced or is there something about its preparation? Is it because people are so used to the huge factory chickens that they're upset by Dirty Bird's smaller pieces? I've been confused by all the hate because I think the chicken is pretty good.