In the 1960s and before, fried chicken was considered a gourmet dish. Then, just as they did to the hamburger, the mass-production restaurants moved in on fried chicken and ruined its reputation. Fortunately, good fried chicken still exists. Below are the dozen restaurant’s I think fry the best chickens in the New Orleans area.
The main criterion for fried chicken excellence is the crust. Different from most fried foods, a crispy coating on fried chicken is not necessarily essential. More important an interesting flavor dominated by herbs, with pepper as a background flavor.
The next two hallmarks of great fried chicken are that it comes out hot and greaseless. Frying to order is the trick there. But frying a chicken takes fifteen or twenty minutes. Being told that it will take awhile to is a good sign. Fried chicken on a buffet is to be avoided.
1. Dooky Chase. Mid-City: 2301 Orleans Ave. 504-821-0600. One of the great names in Creole cooking, Leah Chase’s fried chicken isn’t her signature dish, but it stands up with the best of them.
2. Jacques-Imo’s. Riverbend: 8324 Oak. 504-861-0886. This is the chicken recipe of the late Fried Chicken Master of the Universe, Austin Leslie. He worked at Jacques-Imo’s when it first opened, and left the recipe behind.
3. Mr. Ed’s. Metairie: 1001 Live Oak. 504-838-0022. Fried to order, generously abetted with sides, just like you remember from the days when every neighborhood restaurant made fried chicken.
4. Lüke. CBD: 333 St Charles Ave. 504-378-2840. The fried chicken turns up at lunch and brunch here, with waffles!
5. Porter & Luke. Old Metairie: 1517 Metairie Road. 504-875-4555. Wherever Chef Vincent Manguno goes, her is accompanied by his first-class fried chicken, fried to order, served mouth-burning hot. A half-bird with a salad is just over $10.
6. Deanie’s on Hayne. New Orleans East: 7350 Hayne Blvd. 504-606-1458. An obscure but long-running seafood house in the oldest part of New Orleans East, the fried chicken is always on the menu. Which they were open for dinner more often than just Fridays. Not associated with Deanie’s in Bucktown.
7. Joey K’s. Uptown: 3001 Magazine. 504-891-0997. Few restaurants around town are more adept at frying than Joey K’s. Although they’re best known for their fried catfish and seafood platters, they’re also good at fried chicken. It comes out hot and well seasoned.
8. Sal and Judy’s. Lacombe: 27491 Highway 190. 985-882-9443. What is fried chicken doing in an Italian restaurant? Don’t know, but there it is, all four pieces, right out of the fryer, Pretty good with some spaghetti marinara on the side.
9. Willie Mae’s Scotch House. Mid-City: 2401 St Ann. 504-822-9503. Happy to serve the people in her neighborhood for four decades, Willie Mae Seaton became one of the most famous restaurants in New Orleans overnight in the aftermath of Katrina. Suddenly, it was the best fried chicken in America and a James Beard award winner. The crush of new customers stressed the nonagenarian Willie Mae, but her third and fourth generation descendants have got things under control. The chicken is a little heavy in the crust, but the flavor’s good.
10. Praline Connection. Marigny: 542 Frenchmen. 504-943-3934. Excellent chickens, both fried and baked, with the city’s best crowder peas on the side.
11. Cafe 615 (Da Wabbit). Gretna: 615 Kepler. 504-365-1225. Not only good fried chicken, but wonderful barbecued chicken, too. Very, very busy.
12. Fury’s. Metairie: 724 Martin Behrman Ave. 504-834-5646. “Honey, that’s going to take twenty minutes,” they’ll tell you. Pass the time with a cup of gumbo or a pile of onion rings. And tell them to season it a lot more than they usually do.