Fried chicken with mild sauce at Uncle Remus
One of the best things you can do for yourself in Chicago is to embark on a fried chicken crawl. Be warned fellow fried fowl seeker, the options are abundant and scattered throughout this fair city. This vocation is not for the weak among you.
I recently accepted this challenge along with my editor on for Chicagoist. We covered six restaurants in seven hours. From picnicking in a Wal-Mart parking lot to fine dining, we ate our hearts out in maybe the tastiest assignment ever.
The key to longevity in the fried chicken game is not to over stuff yourself at any one restaurant. It can be hard to stop yourself from tearing into another crispy thigh, but think of all the birds yet to come!
On our crawl, we tried to limit ourselves to one piece per restaurant. We only ordered sides that were unique or noteworthy. We brought Tupperware containers along to divvy up all the leftover chicken. Just imagine the leftovers.
Don’t miss the full article of staff recommendations: The Best Fried Chicken in Chicago
For our crawl, we focused on the South and West sides of Chicago. Check out my highlights from the epic fried chicken adventure below and follow along with this Google Map.
Uncle Remus (pictured above)- 4650 W. North Ave.
I didn’t know there were Wal-Marts within city limits, let alone one housing a delicious chicken chain. We took our thick, crispy crusted chicken out to the parking lot for a picnic on the hood of the car. The crust had a bit of spice, which I like, and a great citrusy sauce.
Mini Hut – 6659 W. Archer Ave.
Winner winner, chicken dinner! Really though, if you want the best fried chicken in the city get in your car and drive to Garfield Ridge. Make sure to call ahead, because your chicken will be freshly prepared and needs to spend at least 20-25 minutes being pressure deep fried. While you wait, head next door to Tom’s Tap for a pint. You’ll notice plenty of patrons with gloriously greasy Mini Hut boxes in tow. If you’re looking for the door to enter, notice it’s actually located on Normandy Ave. on the side. Unwrap the tightly taped white box to reveal your butter crust chicken bounty. I know you want to dig in, but it’s piping hot so give yourself a moment to reflect on the chicken’s journey to you at this moment. Marinated overnight, battered in buttery flour with a bit of seasoning and freshly fried. With bright, citrusy notes, Mini Hut’s hot sauce is an excellent pairing. Enjoy its crispy, tender perfection. In Garfield Ridge, bird’s the word.
Crazy Bird Chicken – 1138 S. California Ave.
It’s a toss-up between Mini Hut and Crazy Bird for my favorite fried chicken in the city. This unassuming Lawndale spot comes from a husband and wife who deal in juicy brined chicken, sublime yams, and a cozy atmosphere.
Brown’s Chicken – 6909 W. Archer Ave
With over 30 Chicagoland locations, Brown’s boasts a local legacy that started in Bridgeview in 1949 and includes ownership by the Portillo’s family. We visited the Archer Ave. location and were pleased to be served a juicy bird with a robust crust so thick it took two bites to get through. Aside from their buttermilk and cottonseed oil batter, Brown’s devotees tout the freshly prepared golden brown mushrooms. However, it’s the cloud-like powdered corn fritters that will have me coming back.
White Fence Farms – 1376 Joliet Rd. in Romeoville, IL
This suburban staple has enjoyed a cult following for several generations. The chicken coating is a thinner, only lightly seasoned version that invokes classic Midwest dinner tables. Don’t miss the powdered sugar corn fritters.
Taus Authentic – 1846 W. Division St.
Forgive us for eating with our hands in this chic space, but Taus’ fried chicken is worth digging into. The light, flaky coating offers a distinct flavor we haven’t tasted in other birds about town, owing to the use of winter spice. Top this family recipe with honey butter and savor the bright lemon finish. According to Chef Michael Taus, they put it on the menu just for fun and now “we go through fifty dishes a night.” Some chefs have all the fun.