Finally. Good fried chicken!
Been awhile since I've written an honest-to-gosh review, but here it is...
Was thinking about lunch today on one of our rare sunny January days and had a hankering for fried chicken. Being obviously disappointed with the fast-food pretenders such as KFC and yes, Ezell's.
I've tried Ezell's numerous times and, as much as I wanted to like them, Ezell's has never done it for me. I'd consider them above-average fast food chicken, but nothing to write home about. Oddly, their chicken is better as a cold nighttime snack than right out of the fryer. I even considered a run to Renton for Popeye's or possibly Federal Way for Church's but no. No fast food chicken. (See below.)
So, I went on a bit of an Internet quest to see what else was available around here.
What I found was that beyond fast food, real fried chicken pretty much doesn't exist, particularly at lunchtime. We have Captain Blacks on Capitol Hill, except they don't open 'til 4 and the reviews have been a bit spotty. Next was a place the Google listed as Seattle's Kick 'n Chicken & Waffles down around Renton somewhere, except that some reviews mentioned they're out of business and they didn't answer their phone when I called.
Next on the list was a chicken & waffles place in Federal Way, except there are damn few reasons I'll drive to Federal Way and fried chicken isn't one of them.
I even considered Flying Fish, which is across the street and I haven't been to in years. (Shame on me.) They've always had fantastic fried chicken as an option for people who are deathly allergic to fish, like me. Since I was looking for a sunny-day January afternoon adventure and didn't want to pay twenty bucks for fried chicken from across the street, The Fish was out.
Which leaves the winner, Marco Polo. An old-school bar on the North edge of Georgetown on 4th Avenue S. about 1/2 mile South of Costco. They've been there since 1950 and I have no idea how the hell I missed them, particularly since I fancy myself as a bit of a Seattle shithole dive-bar connoisseur. Trouble is, despite their dive bar pedigree, the place is actually very clean inside with some very cool things like a gas fireplace built into a circular barstool table by the front door. Oh... and did I mention the fried chicken?
It would seem on the surface there should be nothing special about their fried chicken. They use a conventional pressure fryer and do whatever chicken places do to their chicken, except there's a catch. They cook all their fried chicken to order and it makes all the difference in the world.
True, you have to wait 20 minutes or so for your food, but the wait is worth it. When your chicken is served, it's so freaking hot you need to wait ten minutes or so to avoid magma burns... which is a good reason to have another vodka. Taste-wise, it's pleasantly zingy, with a crunchy crust and unbelieveably fresh. Think Ezell's spicy +10%, except that it doesn't suck.
I've been going to the 4th Ave S. Costco for longer then I can remember. Now I have a reason to drive a bit farther South and get the good stuff. It really is very special. They have a full bar with friendly and generous pours and, as far as I know, are the only place around where you can have a double vodka at lunchtime while waiting for the best chicken in town.
P.S. Next up. Captain Blacks on Capitol Hill.
My two favorites are Chicky Pub in Lynnwood and (somewhat embarrassingly) University village QFC.
I don't know... I liked Marco Polo (good blue collar vibe) and I love that it's made to order, but i didn't find it to be worth the hype that others had lavished on it.
Perhaps you should've had more vodka. :-)
Either way, I respect your opinion but absolutely reject the notion that QFC chicken from their 'deli' is better than the lunch I had at Marco Polo.
Who knows? I'm willing to give QFC a try and see how it all shakes out. After all, one doesn't look for the ultimate fried chicken to arrive at a conclusion...
Sincerely, (and good eatin')
In my defense, I'll note that I'm talking specifically about the U-Village QFC, it's usually fresher and somehow better than the stuff at other QFCs (where stuff sits in steam trays for inappropriately long times).
Also, I'll mention that I'm pro-brine, which I know many fried chicken purist reject as something that changes the flavor and the texture of the meat. But I'm not sure I can deal with unbrine white meat (which, even done excellently still ends up being kind of dry). QFC brines their meats, I don't think that Marco Polo does.