Perfect fried chicken isn’t something that you come across every day. The meat must be tender and juicy on the inside, crunchy and flavorful on the outside. The skin should never be soggy, but crisp, addictive, and finger-licking good. When we get a craving for fantastic fried chicken, we head to one of the following places.
1 Wayfare Tavern
Tyler Florence’s fried chicken is famous—and for good reason: it’s one of the best fried chickens we’ve ever tasted. Florence uses small (2 pounder) organic chickens. He partially cooks them with a sous vide, then lets the chicken rest in a buttermilk bath. The dredging mixture is a combination of all-purpose and rice flour. The chicken pieces are fried in canola oil and garnished with fried whole herbs and garlic. What makes it special is a squirt of fresh-squeezed lemon. Delish!
558 Sacramento Street San Francisco, CA 94111
2 1300 on Fillmore
For the past ten years chef David Lawrence has been serving sensational soul food at his restaurant 1300 on Fillmore. One of his signature dishes and must-order at the eatery’s Sunday gospel brunch? Fried chicken. The bones are removed from the chicken before it’s coated in a garlic powder and flour mixture. Note that it doesn’t come with sides, so be sure to order your favorite Southern fried chicken accoutrements: whipped buttermilk chive potatoes, spicy macaroni and cheese, biscuits, or braised collard greens.
1300 Fillmore Street San Francisco, CA 94115
3 Town Hall
Downtown at Town Hall, the chefs soak the chicken in buttermilk and inject it with a flavorful mixture of clarified butter, onion, and garlic juice. The oil is kept at a low temperature, so the chicken fries slowly. The resulting meal is wildly crunchy and perfectly moist. Plus, it’s nice and salty. It comes with a buttermilk waffle and rosemary honey.
342 Howard Street San Francisco, CA 94105
4 Hard Water
Hard Water is Charles Phan’s Embarcadero Street New Orleans-style whiskey bar. The restaurant serves oysters, deviled eggs, melted pimento cheese, and fried chicken. The cool thing about Hard Water is they let you choose between two different kinds of fried chicken. Phan serves an Asian-inspired fried chicken that’s dry-brined, dredged in a spice mixture of turmeric and coriander, and served with sriracha butter. The second kind is classic Nashville style: spicy and served with corn cake and pickles.
Pier 3, The Embarcadero San Francisco, CA 94105
5 Ad Hoc
Ad Hoc is Thomas Keller’s casual American eatery in Yountville. If you’re a fan of fried chicken, it’s worth the trek to head up to Napa on one of the evening’s that the restaurant serves it. Call ahead to find out when it’s next on the menu, then book your reservation. Keller brines the raw chicken for 12 hours in a lemon, honey, garlic, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf liquid. Then he lets the chicken come to room temperature before dipping it in buttermilk and a flour mixture seasoned with onion and garlic powder, cayenne, paprika, and freshly ground black pepper. He precision fries each piece of chicken for a certain amount of time—the weight of the chicken depends on the time it takes to cook in the oil. The resulting chicken is amazing!
6476 Washington Street Yountville, CA 94599