Fried chicken has been on my mind lately.
After enjoying the Nashville-style hot chicken at Bolton’s Chicken & Fish this week, I’ve been hankering (jonesing, aching, etc.) for fried chicken like never before. This latest chicken craving-I call it “the chickening”-began when Lamar’s Restaurant, one of my favorite fried chicken destinations in the city, closed up shop.
It hasn’t stopped, no matter what I try to stuff in my mouth.
And just this week, we learned that a new fried chicken restaurant-Henpecked Chicken-is opening in the former Noodles & Co. location on Broad Street. There’s not a better time to be living in Chattanooga if fried chicken is your vice.
I read this Reddit thread a few years ago about the best places to get fried chicken in town, but I’d like to offer my own list this week. Several of my favorites were omitted, although I do need to credit those who responded in the thread for introducing me to the surprisingly legitimate East Third Street Mapco chicken option. It’s not one of my favorites yet, but for a 24/7 chicken option, you could do far worse. It’s my girlfriend’s favorite chicken. No kidding.
As always, remember that food is subjective. I am certainly not claiming the chicken listed below is better or worse than other fried chicken places; they just happen to be my personal favorite spots to pick up some juicy bird (that sounded gross and I apologize).
Let’s consider this a conversation, OK? Where is your favorite place to get Southern-style fried chicken in Chattanooga? What am I missing out on? School me.
Champy’s World Famous Fried Chicken
Love it or hate it, Champy’s has certainly made a name for itself among Chattanoogans. The kitschy mix of garage-style blues décor and simple food presentation is popular with both locals and tourists. And the chicken is pretty tasty, too. Both the dark and white meat pieces are the saltiest, briny-iest chicken on my list. That’s not a bad thing, but I’ve had it several times when I thought they were a little heavy-handed with the sodium. That’s only happened a few times. More often than not, Champy’s offers as good of fried chicken as you’ll find in the city-juicy, slightly crispy and oh-so-salty. If you’re looking for something different, try a plate of fried chicken livers on the side. Seriously.
Like your chicken with a little sweetness? Public House and The Social offer my favorite “wild card” fried chicken in town. At first taste, I was a bit put off by the slightly sweet flavor-one Reddit commenter said it is because the chicken is brined in sweet tea-but their version grew on me over time. The flavor is savory with a slight sweetness that might throw you at first, but by the second or third bite, you’ll be wondering why nobody else makes fried chicken this way. I particularly enjoy the lunch portion. This is the only fried chicken on the list I can enjoy and still be somewhat productive for the rest of the day. Easy fried chicken, in other words.
Loosen your belt and put away the calorie counter. A trip to Bea’s Restaurant is an occasion to be celebrated without worrying about being health-conscious. If you’re looking for what I call “old-school granny chicken,” it doesn’t get much better than Bea’s. Guests sit at a circular table and servers bring steel containers of fried chicken, greens, cobbler and other Southern-style goodies to your table so you can consume as much as your body can handle. The fried chicken is the star of the show, as it should be. Somewhat greasy and always perfectly cooked, this fried chicken will remind you of your grandma’s kitchen on a Sunday afternoon. The menu hasn’t changed in years and I hope it never does. I highly recommended Bea’s; it’s some of the most flavorful chicken in Chattanooga.
The Flying Squirrel
Burt’s fried chicken at The Flying Squirrel is my favorite fried chicken in Chattanooga. For $12, you’re served four pieces of chicken in a bowl (two pieces are $7 if you’re only slightly hungry). I always order the full order because I know I’ll end up eating more than I should. As I mentioned in a Date Night Dining article at the time, I became emotional when I tried this chicken. The skin is extra-crispy-none of that loose, soggy stuff you find at other restaurants-as in crunchy. You’ll get the “grandma”-style flavor if you order the original recipe, but the real treat is the spicy version seasoned with tingle-inducing ghost pepper seasoning. This chicken makes me forget about Nashville hot chicken. If anybody asks, “Where’s your favorite fried chicken?” I always lead with The Flying Squirrel.
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