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Best Fried Chicken

Well I just finished reading the Washingtonian Magazine Best of Issue. I am taking some exception to the Best Fried Chicken in DC and surrounding areas. Popeye's was number one. KFC, GBD, Central Michel Richard were also mentioned. I just can't believe these are the only good best places for fried chicken. If so I am going to need to go downtown and make myself some money. Do you have the names of any other places where they make great fried chicken in DC and surrounding area?

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  1. My favorite right now is probably at Rays to the Third. Super golden and crispy. They have a great system there, even though it's not as good as the late lamented smoked then fried chicken at Rays East of the River.

    Central is very, very good in a very different way - so rich that you need two to share.

    GBD has a weird set up. You can only get their chicken breast at dinner. It's a half breast for $5.50, so it's expensive for what you get, but it's my ideal of a picnic basket fried chicken.

    There are some other good ones, but I don't say they are better than Popeye's.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Steve

      Does Flavors still have a chicken in this race? That place used to be one of the first mentioned when the subject of fried chicken came up. Maybe nobody goes there any more because it's too crowded? ;)

      Hard to believe that Popeye's is at the top (or near, depending on whose list) of the list. Surely there's enough variation between individual shops and times of day that it can't always be that good all over town. I stopped going to the Popeye's in Willston because the chicken always tasted like fish. Any consistently good NoVA Popeye's that I should try when I feel like a cholesterol boost?

      1. re: MikeR

        My local Popeye's is Willston, and I've never noticed the fish problem. Maybe you're a super taster!

        Flavors fried chicken is very good as is Horace and Dickie's at 12th and H, NE. But I don't think people need to go out of their way as I can't promise they're better than Popeye's.

        1. re: Steve

          Well, maybe it's better now. I gave up on it more than 5 years ago. Maybe I should try it again.

        2. re: MikeR

          The trick is finding a Popeye's that does a high volume.

          1. re: MikeR

            I haven't been in a year, maybe, but Flavors was empty when I was there last. Fried chicken still good. It looked like they were doing a decent take out business, though I don't think fried chicken does well when it's been packed.

            1. re: chowser

              I'm gonna fry up some chicken on the back deck this weekend. Maybe some shrimp. Black beans, coleslaw and corn fritters, too. You all have talked me into it.

              1. re: flavrmeistr

                That sounds like the best bet of all. Hope the heat stays away!

                1. re: chowser

                  You'll have to get past the neighbors, which won't be easy.

                  Here are my tips for a successful fry orgy:

                  I like to do my frying outside. All you need is a good-sized wok with a ring and a decent burner. Canola oil works fine. Skin-on legs and thighs. Put 'em in a big bowl and pour in enough half and half to coat them all thoroughly. Chill in the icebox for an hour or so. Dredge them in seasoned flour (which you can buy at the store) and lay them out on a cookie sheet with wax paper in between each layer. Dredge them again when you see the half and half has soaked through the first layer of flour. Put them back in the icebox to chill. Same treatment works good for shrimp. I like big shrimp, big as I can get.

                  For corn fritters, Bisquick works just fine. Mix it a little thicker than you would for pancakes, but not too thick. Use milk and an egg. Cut the kernels off 3-4 ears of cooked sweet corn (uncooked makes a mess) and mix it in. Get your wok oil nice and hot (it takes longer than you think) about 325-350. Drop the batter in with a teaspoon (you don't want your fritters too big). Not hot enough, your food soaks up the oil and gets nasty, too hot and you have burnt food and a fire hazard. I use big steel bowls with a few paper towels between batches. Don't cover the bowl so everything stays crispy.

                  Shrimps fry pretty quick, no more than 3-4 minutes. Chicken thighs and legs take longer about 12-15 minutes. Don't put in more than 6 pieces at a time with a standard-size wok. Get one of those long-handled fry scooper-strainers for loading-removing food so you don't burn yourself.

                  Above all, watch what you're doing. Keep children and drunks/idiots away from the fryer and stay fit for duty (don't get to f**cked up to fry). Roulez bon temps et bon apetit! Tell Popeye's to go to hell.

                2. re: flavrmeistr

                  Great. What time shall we be over?

            1. It's hard to beat Central.

              Busboys & Poets is good as well, but not as good as Central.

              1. Dempsey's Grill in Middletown, MD. Fabulous.

                1 Reply
                1. I recently wrote about the fried chicken at Pearl Dive (I think also included in the Washingtonian article): http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/905040

                  It's AMAZING!!!

                  You also might want to check out these threads: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/855863
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/890609

                  1. The fried chicken at Family Meal in Frederick is really good. I am partial to the chicken in the AC&T gas station in Hagerstown outside the outlets. (Yes, I am 100% serious about this. That place has been there before the AC&T in a different gas station and before the outlets it's good stuff.) Fried chicken at Green Pig Bistro is good too, but nowhere near the AC&T.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: ktmoomau

                      Had the fried chicken at Family Meal the other night. I was a little disappointed, as it came to the table neither hot nor crispy and a little dried out. They were pushing it hard, so I suspect they fried up a big batch and let it sit. The biscuits were good, though. Everything else was way too salty, which probably accounts for the vigilance of the staff in making sure your water glass is filled at all times. It's a necessity.

                      1. re: flavrmeistr

                        I am sorry about the bad meal. I hate overly salty food.

                    2. Donno if it is still there, but, the Red Rooster in Damascus was great!

                      1. I hope Central fried chicken in DC is better than the other items I tried at Central - in Caesar Palace Vegas it was a huge disappointment.

                        1. This has been discussed before. The best is in Oxon Hill, but most responders will never go there.

                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/855863

                          8 Replies
                            1. re: agarnett100

                              You are welcome. Go there some time.

                            2. re: law_doc89

                              you don't mention the Henry's location at 3rd and K. I went there when they first opened. Got the turkey wings, very good, the sides not so much.

                              But I was turned off with your snark about the U st location, which I found strange because I didn't think of myself as a hipster until I had ligament repair.

                              1. re: Steve

                                Oh, my! this was discussed on the other thread. Is there some reason you avoid Oxon Hill? That IS where to go.

                                1. re: law_doc89

                                  I don't avoid Oxon Hill.

                                  Have you been to the 3rd and K location?

                                  1. re: Steve

                                    Yes. Already commented. Tell us about your experience in Oxon Hill.

                                    1. re: law_doc89

                                      I avoid Oxon Hill and the rest of PG whenever possible.

                              2. re: law_doc89

                                Sorry, I still don't see your comment about the 3rd and K location. That's a lot closer to where I hang out than Oxon Hill.

                                Not that I mind traveling for good food. I list Pimento Grill in my Top Five profile, and I've been to Smoke Shack in Ft. Washington, and Lefty's in Waldorf. I passed by Henry's in Oxon Hill, but my timing was not good.

                              3. Hitching Post reopened under a new owner, but they kept the fried chicken recipe the same.

                                http://hitchingpostdc.com/

                                1. I want to reply to the person who said their Popeye's taste like fish. I have noticed that Popeye's doesn't separate their Frying Oil. They fry fish, fries, shrimp and chicken in the same fryers and this will impact the taste of the chicken. If you have ever saved frying oil from fish or chicken at home and you get them mixed up when frying it can be a disaster.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: jennyjo

                                    That was me. After discovering that Buenos Grill died, I decided to give Popeye's a try after many years of avoiding it.

                                    Darn! It was good fried chicken, and not fishy at all. A little heavy on the breading (and hence a little more greasy) than I like, but the meat was tasty and juicy, and a wing and a breast for $3 was plenty of meat for a quick lunch. Next time my heart needs some exercise, I'll stop by again. I doubt that I'll ever become a steady customer, but I enjoyed what they're doing now.

                                  2. Has any one ever been to Kantouri Fried Chicken in Columbia Heights? My Dad and I were to go a year and a half ago but he passed away and I never went. I have to say some of the Best Fried Chicken I have had was at the Valero Gas Station off of Route 3 in Fredericksburg, VA. I laughed at first when my boyfriend said he was getting chicken there but I stopped laughing and sent him back to get more chicken and biscuits.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: jennyjo

                                      The Royal Farms stores around Baltimore have pretty good chicken also. In fact, I would generally take gas station fried chicken over grocery store chicken because it moves out the door quicker. Also, stale dated chicken in the grocery store winds up in the deli fryer. True story.

                                      1. re: flavrmeistr

                                        I never new this about the grocery store chicken. You are right about that gas station chicken. The lady was making it in small batches and it was clean and beautiful in her kitchen area. Watching her make the biscuits reminded me of how my Mom made biscuits from scratch when I was a kid. I need to come by your house to get that Chicken, Shrimp and those fritters by the way. (lol) ; ) It sounds good tell me how it turns out it sounds delish.

                                        1. re: jennyjo

                                          Thanks, I can't wait. I've been told to expect a crowd. It will be awesome.

                                    2. Also there is BonChon for Korean Fried Chicken. And other places that serve that style, as well.

                                      11 Replies
                                      1. re: ktmoomau

                                        I tried Bonchon a few times. I wanted to like it, but it's kind of cloying for my taste. Candied, almost. A couple wings and I'm done. The kimchi and the kimchi slaw are pretty good, though.

                                        1. re: flavrmeistr

                                          I thought it was okay, liked the crispiness but wouldn't eat more than a piece or two, at most, because of the sweetness. But, I'd never get organized enough to call ahead a few hours early to order it. It's just fried chicken--why does it take that long?

                                          1. re: chowser

                                            I don't recall waiting more than about 15 minutes at lunch, but that was eat-in. Maybe they had it ready to go. It might take longer to apply that patented candy-like coating. I think they would be better with beer. Regrettably, the Bonchon in Ellicott City doesn't have a beer license even though they have a bar with beer taps. Maybe it's for the best.

                                            1. re: flavrmeistr

                                              Is it different at the locations, I wonder? We stopped by at the one in Annandale and they looked at us like we had two heads when we wanted to order. They told us we had to order in the morning for the evening. That was about a year ago. I've only had it when others have gotten it but I never asked when they placed the order.

                                              1. re: chowser

                                                I've been to the EC location twice, both at lunch time maybe a year apart, and there were only 3-4 tables occupied. Maybe Annandale is busier. Frankly, I can't see standing in line for this stuff, but that's just me.

                                        2. re: ktmoomau

                                          I totally dig Bon Chon. Great stuff. Everyoen should try it at least once. Some people swear by the spicy version though I prefer the soy garlic.

                                          The lemon pepper wings at Oohhs and Aahhs are righteous.

                                          1. re: Steve

                                            I see there's a new Bon Chon in Arlington on Pershing Drive, looks like it's in one of those new buildings on Pershing Drive across Route 50 from the back (Henry) gate of Fort Myer.

                                            The review in the Falls Church News Press said that they get the chicken out faster (about 15 minutes) than the other locations. Maybe that means that some times it won't be out-of-the-fryer fresh. Or maybe they've figured out how to do it in less than the half hour that's usually reported here.

                                            1. re: MikeR

                                              They were slammed for lunch the other day, and it was more like 30 minutes. i think the 15 minutes is just a ruse to get people to stay.

                                              1. re: Steve

                                                Could be because of the fresh review in the Falls Church News Press, and I assume the same review ran in the other similar local papers. I figured I'd try it some time in October.

                                                1. re: MikeR

                                                  Go at a weird time to avoid crowds. Bar menu is good too, decent draft list. Food is great. Make sure to ask for a side of pickled radish (it's free, but they won't give unless you ask).

                                          2. re: ktmoomau

                                            Worked in Springfield, tried BonChon.
                                            Hell of a wait for it #1.
                                            We had to come back four times just to order.
                                            When we got it there were two camps, loved it, and those that thought it was chewy and way too sweet, not like normal chicken.
                                            Bottom line, IMHO, check it out, and vote with your pocket book.
                                            Hyped, over hyped wings, at crazy prices.

                                          3. Royal Farms chicken is excellent!

                                            If you've never tried it PLEASE try it and I promise you that it WILL be at the top of your list for some of the best fried chicken you've ever had.

                                            http://www.royalfarms.com/

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. Well I am going to have to try Bon Chon. I just thought of a great Fried Chicken Place not in the DMV area. In Tappahannock, Virginia I eat at Lowry's Seafood Restaurant. Not only is the seafood good but the fried chicken is great they give you packets of honey to put on the chicken. We used to stop there when I was a child on road trips to my Grandma's house in Newport News, VA. They also have a buffet OMGoodness, but I don't think it is daily.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: jennyjo

                                                Wow, I stop at Lowery's semi-regularly when driving to Newport News to visit my parents. It never occured to me to try their fried chicken. I'll have to do that next trip.

                                                Lowery's tends to have very good oysters.

                                                They do usually have a buffet, nowadays, but I hate buffets so that's not an attraction for me.

                                                1. re: Hal Laurent

                                                  I wonder if you can get that buffet to go. I was down there last year and I was driving through so I had to do the take out but the buffet made me salivate when I saw it.

                                                1. Farmers Fishers Bakers' honey pot chicken is delicious. They also serve unlimited portions (freshly fried and gooey honey sauce) during brunch on weekends.

                                                  1. I've always found Georgia Brown's chicken to be pretty darn good.