Once upon a time, Americans ate fried chicken about once a month, for Sunday supper. It was an event, complete with mashed potatoes, gravy, white bread, and something green because mom said so. Factory farming and fast food changed that dynamic, and now there are more than 20,000 chicken joints nationwide—and that’s just outlets whose main product is chicken (e.g., KFC, Church’s, Popeye’s, etc.). Factor in fast food and chain restaurants, and the number triples.
Local restaurants aren’t immune to the temptation to add chicken to the menu. Burger joints are likely to add a chicken sandwich before they add a veggie burger, and brunch menus are overrun with chicken and waffle options. None of this should be read as a complaint, just an awareness that choice paralysis is a real thing, especially with something delicious and affordable. We searched the metro and beyond for excellent fried chicken, and these 10 ought to be in your regular rotation.
- Florence’s Restaurant. She’s only been at it for 70 years, so if you haven’t been before, you should fix that. It’s Southern-style fried chicken the way all our grandmothers wanted to make it. Get the greens and mashed potatoes.
- McClintock’s Saloon & Chop House. Chef Ethan Williams makes chicken for brunch and dinner, and both are excellent, like “might be the best in town” excellent. You’ll have to decide, and the great thing about McClintock’s is that its strips are as good as the regular fried chicken.
- The Press. This Plaza District hideout does comfort food extremely well, including the fried chicken. It’s pickle brined (like a certain fast food joint), and served with mac ‘n’ cheese and green things.
- Chicken Shack. We loved this Luther restaurant-bar-venue so much we wrote about it in 2020. The fried chicken, including the gizzards, is absolutely worth the drive, and on a beautiful day, you can sit in the big backyard and enjoy actual fresh air. If you’re headed to Stillwater for a game, pull off at Seward Rd. in Guthrie and you’ll find Chicken Shack To Go; while it doesn’t have the full menu, it has all the chicken.
- Hot Pot Heroes. The Korean fried chicken is the best thing on the menu at this new Asian District restaurant; juicy, crispy, and perfectly seasoned. Korean fried chicken is popping up everywhere for good reason.
- Ma Der Lao Kitchen. Chef Jeff Chanchaleune’s Plaza District concept built around traditional Lao food opens Wednesday, Sept. 29 in the old Goro location, and if you ever had his Tokyo hot chicken at Gun or kara age at Goro, you know how masterfully he handles fried chicken. The dish at Ma Der is no exception, and you can get it with a red curry sauce.
- Kitchen 324. At this popular downtown brunch spot, the fried chicken comes with grits, and even if you don’t like grits, you can probably trade them for something off your neighbor’s plate, because the fried chicken, which it’s been making since it opened, is delicious.
- Bobo’s. It’s legendary for a reason, and it’s one of the rare places that has food worth lining up for. Be sure to try the honey, even if you think you don’t like honey. Friday and Saturday evening only, and definitely be prepared to wait.
- Railhead BBQ. It’s a barbecue joint, and it’s in Guthrie, but it does chicken very well; just ask the locals. Take a barbecue lover with you, and you’ll have someone to talk to on the short drive north.
- Nashbird. You can find Chef Marc Dunham’s hot chicken concept from Edmond to Norman now (including the stadium for OU games), so it’s a short drive from wherever you are. If the hot chicken is too spicy, you can get Buttermilk Ranch or Southern Fried with no heat. It’s the one strip joint (sorry) that’s worth including in a list of concepts that do chicken on the bone. Definitely get the onion rings.