Originally published July 2015. This post has been updated with new content for 2016.
In the south, fried chicken is a time-honored tradition. And once a year the nation takes the time to appreciate the deliciousness of this perfectly crispy dish by anointing July 6th for National Roast Chicken Day. There are more than a few ways to enjoy fried chicken. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the city’s best specialties that will satisfy your taste buds.
Fixed photo of Claire Hogan; Flyrite Chicken Sandwiches Photo by Cory Rivademar; The Townsend photo courtesy of The Townsend / Instagram
Best new (ish) kids on the block
Tie: Fixe, Flyrite Chicken Sandwiches, and The Townsend
Since we originally published our favorite fried chicken dishes in July 2015, several new places have captured our hearts. While you can eat super classic with southern chicken at the Fixe restaurant downtown, we have a soft spot for the homemade fried chicken sandwiches on the bar menu (perfect for happy hour – not to mention a certain bourbon tea cocktail that is ideal for hot dishes on summer days) served with sweet cucumber on a Benne seed roll. Speaking of chicken sandwiches, fast-casual drive-through Flyrite has been making some delicious Sammies in East Austin since spring, and we’re absolutely delighted. Even the vegetarian version is a delight. And while the cocktails at The Townsend have received rave reviews, the food at this little watering hole shouldn’t be missed, especially the intake of hot chicken. Though touted as “hot North African style chicken,” this plate will remind even homesick Nashvillians of their local home dish.
Preferably with champagne
Max’s Wine Dive
The Max’s Wine Dive website says, “Roast Chicken and Champagne? Why the hell not ?! “The restaurant serves gourmet home-style cooking, which means fried chicken, of course, and an extensive selection of wines. The jalapeño and buttermilk marinated chicken is accompanied by collard greens, mashed potatoes, and Texas toast. Don’t forget the bubbly.
Photo by Kevin Marple
Best hot chicken
Red Star South
Powered from a 1970s Airstream off the Wunderland, this food truck provides hungry East Side Austinites with much needed comfort food for the south coast of the south coast. The shining star on Chef Erica Waksmunski’s menu is her buttermilk marinated Tennessee chicken that is breaded, fried and seasoned with cayenne pepper, lemon and thyme. It will melt your face – in a good way.
Photo by Jenn Hair
Best Chicken Fried Steak
Hoover is cooking
Hoover’s has been delivering honest home cooking to Austin for over 15 years. The restaurant cultivates relationships with local farmers to keep ingredients fresh and local, and its dedication to chicken is hard to miss. Sure, it’s technically beef that’s been beaten and fried in typical southern chicken batter, but we’ll let it slide on this golden opportunity.
Photo courtesy of Hoover’s Cooking
Best bar chicken
East Side King
East Side King is synonymous with Austin’s booming restaurant scene. Top chef winners Paul Qui and Moto Utsunomiya created the trailer as a side project during their work at Uchi and Uchiko to practice inventive and creative cooking. Cooking one of the stars of the food truck, Chicken Karaage, takes eight and a half hours to cook. But don’t worry – the wait for the guests is nowhere near that long.
Photo by Marshall Wright
Best KFC (Korean Fried Chicken)
Located in a mall where most stores have signs in Korean, including a private late-night karaoke venue, Rockin ‘Rice cooks a mean Korean fried chicken. BYOB from the liquor store next door and bring a few friends to tackle three different types of fried chicken: original, flavorful, and sweet. The crispness is unparalleled and you will go home crammed full.
Photo by Peter Tsai
Best Sunday meal of chicken
Come on two
After a few years as a supper club, Dai Due opened its doors as a restaurant and butcher shop with the aim of exploring what regional cuisine in central Texas might taste like. It turns out that fried chicken is a staple of this cuisine. While the restaurant’s menu changes almost daily, every Sunday the restaurant cooks a roast chicken dinner with all the ingredients.
Photo by Jenn Hair
Best cold chicken
Lucy’s Fried Chicken
With two locations on South Congress Avenue and Burnet Road, Lucy’s Fried Chicken is one of the best known fried chicken establishments in town. The restaurant offers a wide variety of chicken dishes, but for many hungry Austinites who crave fried chicken on the room temperature side, Lucy’s can’t be beat. The three-part basket is served cold with potato salad and is perfect for a picnic.
Photo courtesy Lucy’s Fried Chicken
Best Memphis Style Chicken
Gus’ fried chicken
This Memphis-based chain of chicken joints has 10 restaurants in four states, half of which are in Tennessee and only one in Texas (which is luckily in Austin). The key to Gus’ success was the “world famous” fried chicken recipe that Gus and his descendants keep under wraps. Only five living family members know it these days, so get it while it’s hot.
Photo by Andrew Holmes
Best fried chicken sandwich
Luke is inside out
This trailer is outside the Gibson Bar on South Lamar Boulevard and its chicken sandwich offering with its flavorful Szechuan coleslaw is to die for. Guy Fieri’s presence on the Food Network Show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives adorned the truck for good reason: the food is delicious. Bring a few friends for the full experience of divisible entrees and fluffy crinkle fries.
Photo by Thomas Chen
Best roadside chicken
First class, top notch
Top Notch is more than a set in the movie Dazed and Confused. It’s best known for its burgers, but the Burnet Road Drive-In gives diners a serious bang for the buck. Their fried chicken breast meal consists of a fried chicken breast, french fries, gravy, side salad, and Texas toast for less than $ 9. Even better? You don’t even have to let the air conditioning blast in your car.
Photo courtesy of Top Notch Hamburgers
Best chicken ‘n’ waffles
Eating the self-explanatory dish of fried chicken on a large waffle drizzled with syrup has been described by some as a “religious experience” because it is so good. The dish is part of the restaurant’s daily menu for $ 15.95. However, if you’re not in the mood to ruin your diet, a smaller serving is available for $ 10.95.
Photo by Vanessa Escobedo Barba
Best fried chicken
We may love local chains in the capital, but sometimes you have to go to a fast food place to have a quick and tasty meal. Todd Graves opened this chicken finger chain in 1996, named after his first dog. Raising Cane focuses on one thing, fried strips of chicken, and it shows. The simple menu includes three, four and six-part baskets and a sandwich with french fries, toast and the typical Cane’s sauce.
Photo courtesy of Raising Cane’s