Boston will never be mistaken for the South, but mighty fine fried chicken can still be enjoyed across the metro area. Some of the best fried birds are found in classy joints with white tablecloths and attentive servers; others are served in more casual, low-key environs. Many of these eateries offer the chance for a full Southern-style meal, with fixins and desserts to complement the fried poultry. If you’re looking to further bolster your comfort food cred, seek out the best burgers in Boston, best pizza in Boston, and best diners in Boston.
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Best fried chicken in Boston
Somerville’s Highland Kitchen, through its fried chicken and Tiki Mondays, spawned Highland Fried in Cambridge, where you can pair your fried chicken with a classic tiki drink like the Painkiller any night. Buttermilk-brined fried chicken is available in single pieces or a whole chicken. Make it a meal with sides like biscuits, gumbo, coleslaw, and mashed potatoes.
Classic Southern and Lowcountry-style cuisine is on the menu at this stylish South End restaurant. The fried chicken comes from Joyce Farms and is tea-brined. The classic version comes with lemon, thyme, and black pepper honey. If you can handle the heat, try the House Hot version with fresno vinegar, chili spice, and pickles.
This dark, retro neighborhood hangout in Inman Square serves up cocktails, craft beer, and a menu of Southern-style comfort food. The fried chicken is a standout, with hot pepper syrup, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, dirty gravy, cornbread, brussels sprouts, and red onion. At brunch, try the fried chicken and waffles or fried chicken with cheese and pickles on a biscuit.
Rosebud’s menu features a number of Southern-inspired dishes like shrimp and grits, pulled pork, and meatloaf. On the dinner menu, the fried chicken thigh platter is a delicious option. It’s served with a black pepper gravy, mashed potatoes, and slaw. For brunch, fried chicken is served with belgian waffles or “classy” style, which means Vermont cheddar, sausage gravy, a farm egg, and a Stone & Skillet English muffin.
Tiffani Faison’s barbecue joint in Fenway serves up pulled pork, brisket, and pulled chicken on metal trays with a variety of classic sides. The crunchy buttermilk fried chicken is worth a try, too. All the sides are worthy accompaniments, but try to make room for a Bucket o’ Biscuits too.
While famed for its expertly-smoked ribs, brisket, and pork, this local barbecue mini-empire has other options including a crave-worthy fried chicken basket. The battered and fried thighs come with fermented honey hot sauce and a choice of sides like cornbread, pit beans, bacon collards, and pimento mac & cheese. Try the fried bird as a sandwich, which comes with a slathering of pimento cheese.
For this in-demand fried chicken sandwich, you’ll have to arrive early on “Super Cluckin’ Sunday”, which happens just once a month. Check the website for upcoming dates — the wait is worth it. Buttermilk fried chicken is sandwiched between a soft brioche bun with lettuce and onion. Get it with BBQ ranch or honey mustard, then add “Spicy Goo” made with six kinds of peppers for an extra kick. The sandwich — the only option on “Super Cluckin’ Sundays” — is available from 10am until sold out.
This hip Chinatown spot serves up creative takes on Asian favorites like ramen and bao. The menu changes based on seasonality and constant innovation. Chicken & Waffles has stuck around, and as an example, “Version 3.0” sees the fried bird served on a Hong Kong waffle with five spice butter and “sizzurp.”
This Jamaica Plain spot morphs from a hip cafe during the day to eclectic/French American dining by night. The menu has many surprising dishes, including the fried chicken. A small or large portion comes with maple umeboshi, lime, and an herb slaw. Go for the “really spicy” if you can handle it.
This funky Southie spot features comfort fare such as grilled oysters, deviled eggs, and chicken wings. The Nashville-style hot chicken is fried and then finished with a cayenne and brown sugar glaze.
The Lowcountry menu at this J.P. spot includes ribs, po’boys, succotash, and crispy fried chicken, which was once a weekly special but is now available nightly. The "bucket o' fried chicken" includes a half chicken with choice of sides like collard greens, cornbread, or Hoppin’ John. At brunch, try the chicken and waffles.
In addition to choosing from the dozens of creative, flavorful Mediterranean small plates on Sarma’s menu, diners should be prepared for surprise, off-menu specials passed around the room by servers. The fried chicken has earned “always say yes” status. The crispy thighs are seasoned with green harissa, a sesame and nigella seed coating, and tahini remoulade.
Tim and Nancy Cushman of o ya offer up their take on tasty fried chicken with Ms. Clucks at Time Out Market Boston. Crunchy karaage chicken is served with waffle fries, miso-maple syrup, umami salt and yuzu kosho aioli. The Cajun karaage chicken sando—spicy crispy chicken thigh, Nueske's bacon, heirloom tomato, iceberg lettuce, dashi pickles, nori buttermilk ranch—is not to be missed, either. No order is complete without the chicken, broccoli and cheddar gyoza that features a frico crust and comes with spicy miso dipping sauce.