You might not realize it, but we bet you could go for a plate of fried chicken right now. It's true. We know because it's impossible (for most of us) not to enjoy a well-prepared plate of fried chicken. There's something deeply satisfying about picking up a piece of crispy meat that's covered in a crunchy, salty batter. Maybe it's the combination of grease and meat and eating with your hands, but the bottom line is that good fried chicken is always good.
Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe
Hands down, Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe is where you'll find a plate of Phoenix's most famous fried chicken. It's even been featured on Food Network's The Best Thing I Ever Ate and once you try it, it's easy to understand why. In case you aren't familiar, know that Mrs. White's (named for owner and founder Mrs. Elizabeth White) has been serving classic soul food in downtown Phoenix since 1964. And not much about the place has changed since then. When it comes to fried chicken, you can pick either dark or white meat, but either way you'll get succulent chicken covered in a simple, lightly seasoned batter. For sides, we suggest the macaroni and cheese.
Phoenix Public Market Cafe
You might think of Phoenix Public Market Cafe as a destination for healthy-ish eats like salads and light sandwiches — and it is. But don't let that fact deter you from ordering the fried chicken. The dinner specialty, available only after 5 p.m., is one of best fried chicken dishes we've had in town and comes with three well-sized pieces of chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, and a kale salad. Chef Aaron Chamberlin's fried chicken features a salty, light, and crispy batter than falls off the moist chicken meat as you bite in. You'll want to pick up the extra bit and eat them on their own or with a bite of the irresistible mashed potatoes for a nice juxtaposition of textures.
Venture out to Bobby Q in northwest Phoenix and you'll find a little piece of often-forgotten Valley history. This eclectically decorated restaurant comes courtesy of restaurateur Bob Sikora (you may remember him from long-gone spots such as Bobby McGee's, Mr. Lucky 's, or Mabel Murphy's) and serves a unique brand of barbecue inspired by Sikora's travels. The brisket and ribs are some of our favorites, but when we don't feel like smoked meats we get the Southern Fried Chicken. Bobby Q's version of the dish comes drenched in a rich country gravy and served with a side of mashed potatoes. It's the kind of country classic that delivers instant comfort — and food coma.
LoLo's Chicken and Waffles
Can you get fried chicken without waffles at LoLo's Chicken and Waffles? Sure you can! But you won't because it's physically impossible to resist the smell. For a plate that's going to satisfy both cravings, you'll want something like the basic LoLo's special, which includes three pieces of fried chicken and two fluffy waffles. Though LoLo's was started by Mrs. White's grandson, Larry "LoLo" White, the chicken here isn't exactly the same as at her spot. From what we can tell, LoLo's chicken offers a slightly thinner coating of batter that's also a touch lighter than his grandma's version. Some people have a favorite iteration of the dish, but we respect both in their own right.
Justin Beckett's fried chicken at Southern Rail is easily one of the best dishes the restaurant offers. Of all the Southern specialties you can indulge in at the chef's second dining spot, we strongly encourage you to make a point to make time for the chicken. You'll get three pieces of moist poultry covered in a dark, extra crispy batter that feels just like comfort in edible form. The meat itself is nice and juicy, calling for absolutely nothing in the way of sauce or gravy. A side of simply dressed green tomatoes may not be the expected route, but the acidity makes for a perfect contrast.
Sitting outside on the back patio at Windsor feels a lot like enjoying dinner in a neighbor's backyard. And when you order up a plate of fried chicken — available only after 4 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday nights — the feeling really sinks in. The Upward Projects restaurant serves a plate of buttermilk fried chicken that's just like your friendly neighbor might make, assuming your neighbor is an excellent cook. The two pieces of juicy chicken get covered in a flavorful but not-too-salty batter that's fried to a perfect, golden crisp. You'll also get your choice of side; we like the chopped kale salad to add a little "healthy" to our dinner, though the restaurant's mac and cheese is always a hit.
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"Chicken Fried Chicken" might sound like some made-up dish your great-aunt would try to serve you, but in truth it's just the chicken version of Texaz Grill's famous Chicken Fried Steak. The steak version of the dish features a pounded beef patty that's double-dipped, fried, and covered in gravy, and the chicken version is exactly the same except ..you guessed it, made with chicken. The combination of moist chicken meat, crispy batter, and thick, creamy gravy with just a touch of pepper is pretty much perfect. Pro-tip: Get a side of cole slaw to counteract the richness of the rest of the dish.