Philly’s fried-chicken game has come a long way of late, with birds of many ethnic and regional backgrounds joining the traditional Southern-fried efforts.
Sixers top draft pick Markelle Fultz says he likes Chick-fil-A (“A crispy chicken sandwich for breakfast. It’s kind of like my good luck charm”).
Chick-fil-A is fine for a well-traveled basketball star who wants to know exactly what he’ll be eating wherever he is.
How about when he’s in town and wants to branch out beyond Chick-fil-A — perhaps on a Sunday, when the chicken giant is closed?
Here are 10 tasty options that make up a mere wingtip of the crunchy deliciousness here in the Philadelphia area.
And hey there, reader — no calling fowls here. By no means is this the be-all-and-end-all ranking of the top birds in the region — just our sampling. Have a tip for a future round-up? Kindly add your suggestions in the comments.
Andy’s Chicken: Incredibly crunchy Korean fried chicken in the heart of Fishtown at Memphis and Norris Streets, and takeout is a must. (Eat in your car at your own risk. Fultz may dribble for a living, but you don’t want to dribble sauce all over your pants or auto’s interior.)
Corinne’s Place: Restaurant critic Craig LaBan digs the chicken at this long-running Camden soul-fooder, only 10 minutes from the Sixers’ practice facility. It’s the last of the cast-iron pan-fryers, as he says.
Deborah’s Kitchen: LaBan likes this humble but delicious soul food takeout nook at 2608 W. Girard Ave. in Brewerytown. For a change-up, he recommends the smothered turkey chops.
Federal Donuts: The hype is real for this local chain-let, which serves a honey doughnut with each order — though Fultz simply may opt for the chicken sandwich, which starts with a boneless breast seasoned with buttermilk ranch flavor, and it’s topped with American cheese, dill pickle, and a spicy sauce. Being from Maryland, our man Fultz should be familiar with the Martin’s potato roll, baked in Chambersburg, Pa., and considered the gold standard for rolls.
Foghorn: Chef Artie Cavaliere, who owns the Italian bar In Riva just off Kelly Drive in East Falls, turns out one of the crunchiest birds in town at his boldly decorated poultry palace at 4213 Ridge Ave.
Henri’s Hotts BBQ: This simple, Texas-style joint on the way to the Jersey Shore (1003 E. Black Horse Pike, Hammonton) puts out outstanding chicken — jerk, BBQ, or fried — that draws ‘cue cognoscenti. As it “seals juicy meat inside a thin crust that explodes with zesty flavor,” LaBan says, the fried chicken “should easily be counted among the region’s best.” Note: The all-you-can-eat brunch on weekends is a true deal.
Jones: Inquirer alumnus Rick Nichols is partial to the birds served at this comfort-food destination at Seventh and Chestnut Streets. (Perhaps a stop after the Liberty Bell.) Nichols says Jones’ fried chicken has a seasoning profile very close to Kentucky Fried Chicken, and comes with “exceedingly light waffles that you can ladle with a creamy, Pennsylvania Dutch-like chicken gravy at your discretion, because it is served — or mine was, at least — on the side if you ask.”
KeVen Parker’s Soul Food Cafe/Ms. Tootsie’s: Want Southern? LaBan recommends KeVen Parker’s soul-food stand at Reading Terminal Market — a must-stop on its own — as well as the sit-downer at 1312 South St., where he found “boneless strips over salad, zippy with lime and a faint honey sweetness, or classic Southern style, a crackly crisp leg and thigh sparkling with seasoning and gushing juice from inside their microcrust.”
Love & Honey: Two chefs trained at the Culinary Institute of America are doing nothing fancy at all — just crunchy, well-seasoned chicken, sides, and desserts at their new shop at 1100 N. Front St. under the El (and near the Fillmore) in Northern Liberties.
Wishbone: This chicken specialist with locations at 210 S. 13th St. and 4034 Walnut St. knocks out crunchy and juicy boneless/skinless chicken, encrusted with pretzel batter. Also great is the pricing policy. You can buy as much or as little as you want, for $8.95 a pound.