You might not realize it, but we bet you could go for a plate of fried chicken right now. It's true. For most of us, it's impossible 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. In any case, the bottom line is that good fried chicken is always good. And here are the best places in metro Phoenix to get it:
Bobby-Q (8501 North 27th Avenue, plus other locations)
At Bobby Q 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). It serves a unique brand of barbecue inspired by Sikora's travels. The brisket and ribs are favorites, but the Southern Fried Chicken does not disappoint. 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.
Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe (808 East Jefferson Street)
Hands down, Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe is where you'll find Phoenix's most famous fried chicken. It has even been featured on Food Network's The Best Thing I Ever Ate. 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. 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 mac and cheese.
LoLo's Chicken & Waffles (1220 South Central Avenue, plus other locations)
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 grandma's version. Some have a favorite between the two. We respect both.
Stacy's Off Da Hook BBQ and Soul Food (1804 West Glendale Avenue)
Off Da Hook Soul Food serves made-to-order southern and soul food and is known for crispy fried chicken. The secret recipe was concocted by owner Stacy himself, who will most likely be in the restaurant. The chicken is deliciously hot, well-seasoned, crispy, and served with sides like creamy mac and cheese, salty green beans, and a corn muffin. Off Da Hook pops off at night and on the weekend, but if you go in for a quiet lunch, just enjoy the R&B, photos of icons like Rosa Parks, Wilson Pickett, and the Obama family, and of course, the plate of fried chicken in front of you.
Phoenix Public Market Cafe (14 East Piece Street)
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 deter you from ordering 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, crispy batter than falls off the moist chicken meat as you bite in.
Southern Rail (300 West Camelback Road)
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 here, we strongly encourage you 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.
Texaz Grill (6003 North 16th Street)
"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. 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.
The Horny Toad (6738 East Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek)
This classic Cave Creek patio spot offers beer and an essential order of fried chicken. An order grants a variety of chicken; the breast, thighs, wings, and drums are crunchy, greasy, salty, and incredible. Decide on feasting over either a half chicken or a whole. And this being the Old West, sort of, the chicken basket comes with house fries or mashed potatoes and (brown) gravy, as well as a weighty cup of coleslaw.
Welcome Chicken + Donuts (1535 East Buckeye Road)
Sure, the donuts are great here. But the chicken is incredible. Welcome Chicken + Donuts offers natural, antibiotic-free Red Bird Farms fried chicken that you may couple with any of the house sauces (either tossed or on the side). Sauce choices are Korean Chili, Japanese BBQ, and Vietnamese Herb. Menu items range from breast and sauce; to breast, drum, thigh, and sauce; to a chicken sandwich; to wings. Combos rope in sides like Thai Yum Slaw, and, of course, a hot cake doughnut.
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Welcome Diner (924 East Roosevelt Street)
One of your favorite patio restaurants in town also has some pretty good fried chicken weaved into some popular menu items. The Garfield neighborhood’s Welcome Diner is known for its biscuits, and that’s probably because of the deep-fried, piping hot poultry in the Big Jim, the Koko, the Bumblebee, and the Little Birdy. The Big Jim is actually an essential dish of metro Phoenix, and the Koko is a beautiful mix of tomato, arugula, chipotle ranch, biscuit, and crunchy fried chicken.
Windsor (5223 North Central Avenue)
Sitting outside on the back patio at Windsor feels a lot like enjoying dinner in a neighbor's backyard. And when you order a plate of fried chicken – available only after 4 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday nights — the feeling really sinks in. 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.