BUXTON HALL BARBECUE
This bustling brick-walled eatery boasts some of the best whole-hog barbecue in the country, but you definitely don't want to miss the legendary fried chicken sandwich. At Buxton Hall Barbecue, the chicken is first smoked, dipped in buttermilk, and fried to a golden crisp. Then it's topped with pimento and American cheese, bread-and-butter pickles, and white barbecue sauce, and served on a plush buttery bun, delivering a powerhouse of smoky-tangy-cheesy flavor.
FRED'S MEAT AND BREAD
At this casual sandwich and burger counter inside Krog Street Market, you'll find a stellar fried bird worth waiting for. The hugely popular chicken sandwich at Fred's features plump, farm-fresh chicken with a delicately crisp crust, and is topped with spicy cucumbers, lettuce, red onion, lettuce, a peppery harissa mayo, and a mango sauce to balance the heat, all served on a thick, sesame-studded bun. Also, don't leave without ordering the famous fries.
Austin offers plenty of great fried chicken options, including quality fast-casual options such as Flyrite and now Shake Shack. But if you're looking for an exceptional option any time of day, look no further than 24 Diner. This comfort-fare favorite features a breakfast-inspired version with choice of crispy dark or white meat, red chili flakes, brown sugar butter, and honey on a flaky buttermilk biscuit, and the same great chicken on a pain au lait bun with apricot slaw and chipotle remoulade.
You know you have a quality sandwich when there's an entire day devoted to it. This small gourmet sandwich shop outside Boston, run by a well-seasoned husband-and-wife duo, celebrates Super Cluckin' Sunday only once a month. On that day, Cutty's ceases making other sandwiches and instead fries up delicious buttermilk-brined chicken coated in 12 herbs and spices. You can opt for the New-School with tangy barbecue sauce and house ranch dressing or the OG with honey mustard and sharp cheddar, both with shaved sweet onions, shredded iceberg lettuce, and a buttered, griddled sesame bread. Be sure to get there early.
ROOST FRIED CHICKEN
This cozy shack brings the flavors of the South to Rocky Mountain country, and its fried chicken sandwich is not to be missed. At Roost, you can opt for the classic Southern fried version with a crunchy, bronzed exterior or, for a bit of heat, go for the fiery Nashville Hot, both served on a fluffy bun with crunchy lettuce, pickles, and the addictive housemade comeback sauce — a mayonnaise-based mix with a garlicky spice.
A relative newcomer, Boxcar Betty's has a signature Boxcar sandwich featuring crunchy, fried-to-order chicken made tender and juicy thanks to a long brine, and served on top of oozing pimento cheese with peach slaw, house pickles, and spicy mayo on a freshly baked bun. You're going to need a few napkins.
HONEY BUTTER FRIED CHICKEN
A sustainably minded favorite in the city's Avondale neighborhood, Honey Butter Fried Chicken is committed to using top-notch, local ingredients, and that devotion comes through in its superlative fried-chicken sandwiches. It begins with antibiotic-free, humanely raised chickens that are butchered in-house and brined for up to 18 hours with chili and citrus. The chicken is dredged in buttermilk and seasoned flour before receiving a wonderfully light, crisp fry. Go for the OG with its excellent candied jalapeño mayo and crunchy purple slaw, or try the sweeter namesake with honey butter.
Tucked inside the popular Old Major restaurant, Royal Rooster is a weekday lunch-only spot that devotes much of its short menu to excellent fried chicken sandwiches. The Classic features crisp fried thighs topped with dill pickles, house mayo, and lettuce on a squishy bun. Variations include spicy, French with house ham, Swiss and thyme, or Korean with kimchi and kewpie mayo.
HOWLIN' RAY'S HOT CHICKEN
Los Angeles, CA
The talented husband-wife duo behind Howlin' Ray's brought the heat of on-trend Nashville hot chicken to L.A. and have kept the bar high (and lines long) with a phenomenal sandwich. It features a huge boneless breast with a flavorful crust, topped with sliced pickles, cole slaw, and Southern-style comeback sauce on a buttered and toasted bun. Pick a heat level on a scale from cool Country to the searing Howlin' — just be ready for the delicious burn.
This ode to Southern hospitality in South Beach features a fried chicken sandwich that comes as a pair in case you want to share – but you probably won't. Using a recipe from one of the owner's grandmothers, Yardbird brines the chicken for more than a day, then dredges it in cayenne-spiced flour before frying. It's served on flaky and buttery biscuits with the sweet heat of pepper jelly. Yardbird is also in Las Vegas, Singapore, and soon in L.A.
HATTIE B'S CHICKEN
In a town famous for its hot chicken, relative newcomer Hattie B's has become a contender. The tender chicken breast with a fiery red crust is served with coleslaw, comeback sauce, and a kosher pickle on a squishy, buttery bun. Choose a heat level and be ready for some serious spice.
As a major foodie destination, Portland offers plenty of excellent fried chicken options, but Basilisk has grabbed the crown with a monstrously towering sandwich. A huge juicy thigh with a flaky crust is served with house pickles and cabbage slaw on a buttered bun. You might want to use a napkin as a bib.
San Francisco, CA
The Bird has expanded its menu gradually from fried chicken sandwiches, curly fries, and beer, but that's still what to order first. Just $8 gets a crispy free-range bird with a gluten-free crust that's seasoned with a North African berbere spice blend and topped with house-made celery-onion-apple slaw, mayo, and pickles on a freshly baked bun.
At this Southern comfort-fare specialist, Aunt Annie's fried chicken sandwich comes with many compelling options. The crowd favorite at the Wandering Goose features skin-on chicken thighs that have been brined in buttermilk and fried to order. The chicken's topped with a tangy housemade Creole mustard, bread-and-butter pickles, and honey from the rooftop hives, sandwiched between warm house biscuits. It's a winner.
New York, NY
There are plenty of exceptional fried chicken sandwiches in New York, but chef-extraordinaire David Chang has devised a deceptively simple version that leads the pack. At Fuku, the chicken is first brined in a habanero puree for an underlying heat, then coated in buttermilk and spices and fried to a golden crisp. It's served on a squishy potato roll with housemade butter and pickles.