For years, menus often skipped over chicken in favour of trendier cuts of meat like skirt steak or pork belly. But these days, chicken is back. Whether it’s a crispy thigh fried to golden perfection or a juicy whole bird that has spent hours on a rotisserie, the humble chicken is being elevated to delicious new heights at these spots.
Cluck ‘n’ Cleaver, Calgary
Sister chefs Nicole and Francine Gomes opened this much-anticipated fast-casual takeout spot in March, and it has definitely lived up to the hype. The fried chicken coating recipe is so coveted that it is made off-site to ensure ultimate secrecy. Come in with a few friends so you can try a mix of Southern fried chicken specialties like ribs, wings and drumsticks. Or, opt for the rotisserie bird with freshly baked buttermilk biscuits and addictively rich house-made chicken gravy.
The Crack Shack, San Diego
Chef Richard Blais’s Crack Shack (pictured above) is the newer, more casual little sister of his popular contemporary restaurant, Juniper and Ivy, which is located next door. At this outdoor counter-style eatery, the all-day menu focuses primarily on chicken and eggs. Don’t debate over which came first—instead, order a smattering of dishes like chicken salad deviled eggs or the Brick House sandwich with crispy chicken breast, caper aioli, shaved fennel and peppery arugula on a Kaiser roll. Wash it all down with one of the microbrewed beers on tap.
The Dirty Bird Chicken + Waffles, Toronto
One of Toronto’s most popular places to go for an indulgent plate of chicken and waffles is The Dirty Bird—with locations in both Kensington Market and on Bloor Street. Go outside of the box here with The Dirty Club, a sizeable sandwich featuring fried thigh and leg meat, crispy beef bacon and maple aioli between two buttermilk waffles. Budget some time for a nap after this one. Bonus: all the chicken is hand-breaded in a gluten-free flour mix.
Hattie B’s, Nashville
When visiting Nashville, it would be foolish not to dabble in the spicy world of its signature hot chicken, and Hattie B’s is where to get it. While there are many places throughout the city that offer a unique take on the dish—from old standards like Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack (the dish’s birthplace) to brunch hot spots like Biscuit Love—Hattie B’s is the hot ticket as of late. Be warned, though: if you order it Damn Hot or Shut the Cluck Up (the hottest level), make sure to have a glass of sweet tea beside you.
Streetbird Rotisserie, New York City
Golden and crispy chicken is but the tip of the iceberg at this funky eatery in Harlem. Owned by well-known chef Marcus Samuelsson, Streetbird features a street-food inspired menu full of fun dishes accented by exotic flavours. Try the New Jack Fried Rice with kimchi and pulled chicken tossed together with seared rice and topped with scrambled eggs, or Mr. J’s Chicken Wings coated in a light and bright honey citrus sauce with cucumbers on the side. Even the classic Juicy Fried Chicken platter is boosted by a honey and black bean chili oil glaze and Harissa potato salad.