A guide to the best New York fried chicken. Image by: Yulia Reznikov
A Guide to the Best New York Fried Chicken
New York fried chicken comes in a variety of styles across its five boroughs. Here’s where to find the best ones.
While NYC may not be the South, we do know our way around some fried chicken. It’s no secret that New York is a melting pot of cultures and tastes, and with that comes a plethora of “hot” takes on that delicious, crispy, crunchy bird. Whether you’re a wing person, a boneless bandit, or prefer a nice fried chicken sandwich, this city has got you covered. And what’s great is that if typical fried chicken isn’t your thing (for some odd, unexplainable reason), you can also find some unique and outside of the box variations of this classic. Here’s a guide to some of the best New York fried chicken.
If you’re craving Korean fried chicken
Mad For Chicken's chicken has some of the flakiest skin in the biz. Photo courtesy of Mad For Chicken
Mad For Chicken
With multiple locations to choose from, Mad for Chicken has solidified itself as one of the best Korean Fried Chicken spots in town. Ask anyone in Queens where to get some good bird, and MFC will inevitably come up. Their chicken has some of the flakiest skin in the biz, coming in flavors like soy garlic, kickin’ barbeque, and serrano chili. Other menu favorites include kimchi fries and their crispy chicken bowls. Each batch of wings is made to order so it may take a little longer than other spots, but that first bite will make it all worth it.
Pelicana Chicken has you covered when it comes to variety. Photo courtesy of Pelicana Chicken
Pelicana prides itself on being authentic KFC, founded in South Korea in 1982. Offering a range of options from boneless to bone-in, wings to drumsticks, they have you covered when it comes to variety. If you’re looking to elevate the chicken even more, consider tossing it in one of their signature sauces, including flavors like honey garlic, sweet and spicy lvl 3 (very spicy), or spicy barbeque. The chicken is the obvious star of the show, but it would be remiss of you not to add their mochi donut cheese balls to your order.
For the sandwich lovers
Beatstro, a hip-hop-inspired restaurant and bar in the Bronx, is a standout. Photo courtesy of Beatstro
The Bronx’s food scene has continued to surge in recent years, and hip-hop-inspired restaurant and bar Beatstro is one of the standouts. Not only is the interior decor cute and funky, but the food is amazing as well. The Charly’s Chicken Sandwich features juicy fried chicken on a potato bun, topped with bacon, cheese, pickles, and spicy mayo, with each bite equal parts crunchy and flavorful. If you are more of a brunch person, the fried chicken and waffles with pickled strawberries will knock your socks off. And don’t just go for the food — Beatstro has the vibes on check, playing the best bachata, hip-hop, and R&B music while you dine.
Sally's Southern holds the title of Staten Island's only Southern comfort restaurant. Photo courtesy of Sally's Southern
Going to Staten Island for Southern food might not have been on your 2023 bingo card, but Sally’s Southern might change that. Holding the title of Staten Island's only Southern comfort restaurant, you will find everything from fried chicken and catfish to babyback ribs and meatloaf. The fried chicken biscuit is a crispy chicken thigh, coleslaw and aioli on a buttermilk biscuit, which can be washed down with any of the craft beers or cocktails they offer. Sally’s is the perfect thing to meet you on the other side of that ferry ride.
When you’re craving soul food
Charles Pan-Fried Chicken is known for its skillet cooked chicken. Photo courtesy of Charles Pan-Fried Chicken
Charles Pan-Fried Chicken
Charles Gabriel, a James Beard-nominated chef and the “Fried Chicken King of Harlem,” has been dishing out his popular pan-fried chicken since 1990. After taking a brief hiatus, he’s back and better than ever with a revamped look and menu. There are Charles Pan-Fried Chicken locations in both Harlem and the Upper West Side, both of which are slanging out hot, crispy poultry that folks travel to just to try. Skillet cooked (a method he attributes to his North Carolina childhood), this well-seasoned chicken has the perfect crunchy bite on the outside, followed by juicy deliciousness inside.
Williamsburg's Pies 'n Thighs is known for its fried chicken, pies, and the butteriest biscuits you’ll ever try. Photo courtesy of Pies 'n Thighs
Pies ‘n Thighs
Delectable fried chicken paired with sweet-tooth satisfying pies and donuts? Sign me up! Pies ‘n Thighs represents everything you need when it comes to homestyle fried chicken, with the Williamsburg spot known for its fried chicken, pies, and the butteriest biscuits you’ll ever try. If you want the most bang for your buck, get a three-piece meal so you can indulge in chicken, biscuit, and one of their equally yummy sides. Then follow it up with a slice of banana cream pie or whatever dessert your heart so chooses.
If you’ve been wanting to try vegan fried chicken
VEGANHOOD's version of fried chicken might make you consider switching sides. Photo courtesy of VEGANHOOD
Located in Harlem, VEGANHOOD aims to bring vegan goodness straight to the hood. Merging familiar flavors and dishes with plant-based alternatives, they offer something for the long-time vegans and those just looking to dabble. Try their Fried Chicx’n and Waffles or go for the Saint Nick Fried Chicx’n with a side of collard greens. Even if you don’t consider yourself vegan, this version of fried chicken might make you consider switching sides.
Make sure you get Hartbreakers vegan fried chicken with a side of waffle fries. Photo courtesy of Hartbreakers
Don’t let the name fool you — nothing about this vegan take on comfort food will break your heart. Located somewhere between fast and casual dining, the ‘70s-themed Hartbreakers makes everything except their bread and cheese from scratch. That’s right, all the sauces are made right in house. Take your pick between salads, sandwiches, and good ole-fashioned, bucket fried chik’n. Throw in some waffle fries and a side of the jalapeño cilantro aioli if you want to do it big.
If you’re on a budget
The best part about Bob White Counter is that a solid meal here won’t cost typical Manhattan prices. Photo courtesy of Bob White Counter
Bob White Counter
Affordable does not equal a lack in quality, and Bob White Counter is proof of that. It’s an Alphabet City staple serving simple, perfectly fried chicken every day. And the best part is that a solid meal here won’t cost you typical Manhattan prices. You can get the popular Two Piece & A Biscuit Box for just under seven bucks. If you are strapped even more for cash but want a quick bite, a fried thigh will only cost you $3.49.
Filipino fast-food chain Jollibee is great for quick, cheap chicken. Photo courtesy of Jollibee
When it comes to fast-food chicken, the first name to come to mind for New Yorkers would understandably be Crown Fried Chicken. But Jollibee is really where it’s at. This Filipino fast-food chain is great for quick, cheap chicken that you can grab and take on the go. Over the years, Jollibee has garnered quite a following and their loyal fans swear by the Chickenjoy, their signature, hand-breaded chicken. The best part is that you can make it a meal with a side and drink for only $10. They also have family meals with buckets of chicken that can feed the entire crew for a pretty decent price. If you have some spare change, try some of their special jolly spaghetti to round out your meal.
If you’re looking to try something new
If a bahn mi sandwich with fried chicken isn't your thing, 5ive spice also offers rooster wings that are too good to pass up. Photo courtesy of 5ive Spice
The trend of incorporating crispy fried chicken into the Vietnamese banh mi sandwich is one that we are forever grateful for. 5ive Spice does it right with beer battered fried chicken, topped with the expected banh mi ingredients: pickled carrots, daikon, cilantro, cucumber, and mayo. It delivers the perfect blend of flavors all in one. If banh mi isn’t your thing, their rooster wings are deep fried and covered in a garlic chili sauce that is too good to pass up.
Rowdy Rooster has found a way to merge Southern fare with Indian cuisine in the most perfect way. Photo courtesy of Rowdy Rooster
If Indian fried chicken hasn’t been on your foodie bucket list, you are seriously missing out. Rowdy Rooster, the newest joint from Chef Chintan Pandya and Restaurateur Roni Mazumdar, has found a way to merge Southern fare with Indian cuisine in the most perfect way. Grab a Lil’ Rowdy chicken sandwich if you want some spice and heat, balanced off with cool mint and a yogurt dressing. If you are just looking for a small bite to pop into your mouth, opt for the boneless chili chicken and watch your tastebuds reach new heights.
If you have a little money to spend
Pecking House will cost you, but their chili fried chicken is worth it. Photo courtesy of Pecking House
From pop-up to brick-and-mortar, Pecking House is one of the latest places to break through the NYC chicken scene. Their spicy, sichuan-seasoned chicken packs a punch in the heat department and in the flavor department. A three-piece meal will cost you close to $30, but with it you’ll get a combo of dark and white meat along with two sides. As a bonus, they have ample options for the non-meat eaters to get in on the action too, whether that be cauliflower wings or an oyster mushroom po-boy.
Robin D. Thomas is a brunch loving, school social worker who was born and raised in NYC. When she's not writing about all things wellness, entertainment and love, you can find her eating her way through different countries and tending to her plants. You can follow along with her travel foodie adventures on Instagram @_MissRobin.
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