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best fried chicken in san francisco

where can I get it?

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  1. From my experience, there is none.
    I've recently heard that Hard Knox Cafe over on 3rd St. is pretty good, but I can't vouch for it myself.

    I like the fried chicken at Casa Orinda (in Orinda), but that means a trek into the East Bay.
    If you're in the area though, I'd whole-heartedly recommend it. Been eating it for years and it's consistently good.

    Best of luck in your search!
    (I'm looking forward to the other posts, so I can learn where to get good fried chicken here in the city as well!)

    13 Replies
    1. re: tastethis

      I love Hard Knox! I frequent it often, partly because i work and live in the area. I also love love love the mac and cheese! The mashed potatoes are a little to peppery for my taste. Collard greens are prepared very well (so i've heard, not a fan myself) But the fried chicken is really good! Also, great corn bread muffins! YUMMM!

      1. re: tastethis

        Hard Knox is awful. The pieces are dry, small, greasy, with barely any meat fried in stale tasting oil. I took one bit of my sides and didn't want any more.

        I love friend chicken and wish I had a better suggestion.
        Maybe someone here can vouch for Farmerbrown, Front Porch, or 1300?
        The Kentucky Fried Chicken on Taravel in the Avenues is the best fast food fried chicken I've ever had, with meaty breast pieces. Still fast food though.

        1. re: sugartoof

          Front Porch is very good. Comes in a bucket in a nod to the fast food joints.

          1300 was poor. Among the worst I have ever eaten. Was deboned and just awful.

          Ad Hoc on Fried Chicken Night is incredible but its up in Yountville.

          I've heard great things about Maverick (in the mission) and farmerbrown.

          1. re: Senor Popusa

            I liked Nellie's in Oakland, but I haven't been there for a while.

            Front Porch is sad and pathetic. Tiny, boned, unspiced pieces of chicken for a rip-off price with awful sides. 1300 is terrible.

            I am also looking forward to trying Maverick.

          2. re: sugartoof

            That's not my experience with Hard Knox. Got 3 large pieces with sides for $10 that were fantastically moist yet crispy. I usually don't like breast meat but even that was delicous.

            The sides however are not so good, other than the corn muffins.

            1. re: sugartoof

              Just ate at the front porch on thursday, Loved the the atmosphere. Service was great. The chicken was tasty. Not your typical straight forward fried chicken. It had a lemon flavor to it which was a pleasant surprise. The dishes there have a kinda of a hip twist. My friend and I ordered the Miss Ollies fried chicken in a bucket w/ coconut red beans and dirty rice. I didn't really like the sides ;(
              My friend also ordered the frisee and house cured bacon salad w/ soft boiled eggs and commercial crusted fried oysters. She loved it!
              And we had plantains.
              All for about $60
              I think I'll stick to Hard knox for my usual soul food / fried chicken cravings! A little more up my alley for fried chicken.
              I'll save Front porch for more special occasions, and only order the chicken.

            2. re: tastethis

              The "fried"Chicken at Casa Orinda is pretty lame.

              Imagine KFC Chicken without any crust or special herbs and spices...thats Casa Orinda chicken.

              Its does not taste bad,but it certainly is not anything but average.

              Good place for Cocktails,Bad place for food unless you think Applebees,Carrows and TGIF is good eating?

              1. re: Mission

                Since I've never eaten at fast food places*, my taste preferences are obviously not derived from their recipes. (*I once was forced to toy with a fast food burger because my companion was the landlord and the franchisee insisted; politesse left me no choice.)

                Other than, perhaps, a little fresh garlic (although anathema to Southern traditionalists), salt, pepper, and cayenne, the idea of "spices" in fried chicken seems grotesque to me and intended to cover up old, poor-quality oil and/or less-than-ideal chicken.

                My standard is based on my mom's marvelous version, which was the chief "picnic food" of my childhood. I'm not sure, but I think she probably cooked it mostly in fresh chicken fat, perhaps with a little fresh vegetable oil added.

                I can't bring myself to deep-fry anything, but I do sometimes marinate the organic and fresh chicken in buttermilk with some garlic before "breading" with either wholewheat flour or cornmeal.

                I've enjoyed Farmer Brown's each time I've eaten it, but it's so darn loud and so darn dark at the restaurant, I'm reluctant to return.

              2. re: tastethis

                I tried Hard Knox last night based on this thread and I have to say I agree with sugartoof and say thumbs down. The chicken was very mediocre and small pieces. yes its 3 pieces for 10 incl 2 sides. The mac & cheese was very runny and the fries sucked. Dry and cardboard like. friendly service but I came there for great fried chicken and that I did not find.

                1. re: tastethis

                  Is this the same Hard Knox people that are on Clement out in the Richmond? If so I can't imagine their chicken would be much to talk about. Had one meal there and me and the S.O are still laughing about it. Basically it seemed like what you'd get at an american bbq restaurant in China. Everything was inept, from the Jiffy corn muffins to the mealy over-mixed meatloaf to the flavorless gravy to the chalky mashed potatoes to the swanson-quality mac and cheese to the straight-from-the-can-nothing-added red beans and black-eyed peas.

                  The only decent items were the greens (still flavorless but real greens, I guess you can't get greens in a can) and the yam (perhaps they had run out of canned yams and had to go to the corner store and buy one. It was microwaved but defintiely not canned.)

                  It was worth it because it's fairly cheap and gave us some priceless comedy to rememeber forever. But come on people, is this your idea of good soul food??

                  1. re: Josh90004

                    Yes, its the same folks. Sounds like the food is the same too.

                    1. re: Josh90004

                      "But come on people, is this your idea of good soul food??"

                      That's the question that kept echoing through my head too.

                      1. re: Josh90004

                        Once I ate at the place on 3rd St and they admitted the greens were from frozen packages.

                      1. Ella's serves up a pretty good friend chicken. I think its either Tuesday or Thursday on their lunch special. Its pretty classic and not greasy. They have the best chocolate cake on one of those days as well.

                        I like Hard knox but I do not like their chicken, sorry I saw this below and wanted to chime in. They don't have great food in general but a handful of comfort foods that most places don't offer.
                        Firefly in Noe use to have some really good fried chicken but its been some time for me.

                        1. I've been on a fried chicken quest for a while now and I have to say, Town Hall is my favorite in SF. The batter is delicious, not too think, not too thin, with totally deboned chicken so there's nothing to fight with. Served with brussel sprouts and mashed potatoes. I usually hate brussel sprouts but these were wonderfully fresh and well cooked but still had a nice texture to them. Officially my favorite restaurant fried chicken in SF.

                          I've had the Maverick fried chicken and I love it but the cinnamin gets a little overpowering as you continue eating. Also served with some sort of potato.

                          The fried chicken at Hard Knox is great for a cheap, quick fix but not nearly as great as Town Hall. As mentioned, it comes with two sides of your choice. White meat can be dry.

                          I've also had the fried chicken at The Front Porch and my biggest complaint there is that the fried batter tends to just fall off as you try to eat it. I like to be able to crunch into it. Also, their chicken is dryer than Town Hall's.

                          Firefly in Noe Valley also has FC. Their Fried Chicken is only available on limited occasions. Call before you go. Its wonderful, basic batter with mashed taters and peas. I think you get almost half a chicken with your order.. and no substitutions. I'm on their email list so I know when its available...Its coming back on Wednesday, November 12, 2008 for a short time. Reservations are a good idea if you want to go here.

                          There's also Chenery Park! Their's is good too, and from what I recall, a pretty large portion. Not a standout though.

                          Recently, I've noticed that Pete's Tavern, across the street from AT&T park also has Fried Chicken, but only on Tuesdays, as their Blue Plate special. I haven't had the opportunity to try it yet, but would love to hear from someone that has.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: lamster

                            RNM in the Lower Haight has fried chicken on wednesdays...I haven't tried it yet so I can't judge, but others have spoken well of it.

                          2. Popeye's Fried Chicken is good eating.

                            Make sure to get the Red Beans & Rice as a side dish.

                            Good biscuits, too.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: sfmitch

                              SPQR serves fried chicken on Tuesdays. If you are willing to brave the wait, it's some good eats.

                              For the record, I disagree with those that thought the 1300 fried chicken was terrible. It's certainly whitewashed in that it's deboned fried chicken but that buttermilk / duck fat taste is incredible. I crave that dish all the time.

                              1. re: PulledPork

                                Well, I went with a large group to 1300, so we ordered a wide swath of the menu and were, across the board, gravely disappointed with pretty much everything we ordered.

                                1. re: Atomica

                                  The same thing happened to me. All of us left saving, never again.

                            2. OK, seriously, just go to Oakland/Jack London Square and go to Home Of Chicken And Waffles
                              It's cheaper than any of the places anyone else has mentioned (maybe not Hard Knox) and you can get waffles with your chicken. Come on.

                              J's Pots Of Soul in Hayes Valley (SF) has pretty good fried chicken, but their pumpkin pancakes are worth it regardless.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: deadbrother

                                I wouldn't necessarily order anything else there but for just fried chicken at a fraction of the price of most of the places listed, I like the Broaster Cafe at Polk and Market. They use the patented broaster appliance that deep fries under pressure and the chicken turns out nice and salty, crispy and moist throughout. There's no atmosphere and the couple of sides I've tried were nothing special but the chicken is really good.

                              2. Surprisingly (well, I thought it was a pleasant surprise) Mrs. Wineguy and I had good FC at Rex Cafe. It was served as "Chicken and Waffles". 3 pieces of fried chicken and a waffle with a little carafe of maple syrup. We asked for the whipped cream to be left off the waffle. Anyway, the chicken was very moist inside a crisp crust that stayed on the chicken when you bite into it.

                                -----
                                Rex Cafe
                                2323 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                1. SPQR on Tuesday nights. No biscuits though...