Out of Bounds: Piece of Chicken

Midtown has its boundaries, but every once in awhile I’ll discover a place that just might be worth the extra few blocks, and profile it in a category I call “Out of Bounds”.  Since Ressie May’s Soul to Go closed, there has been a soul food hole in the Midtown Lunch’ing landscape.  Anything good and cheap would be welcomed.  A place that sells fried chicken for a $1 a piece, collards and mac & cheese for $1-2 a scoop- well now you’ve got me excited, and willing to walk those extra couple of avenues for an Out of Bounds lunch.

Piece of Chicken is that place, and their sandwich board doesn’t lie.  As unbelievable as it seems to passersby, they do in fact serve fried chicken for $1 a piece, and side dishes for $1-2.  Add to that rib tips, fried fish, corn bread and soup, sold out of the back window of a kitchen that once belonged to upscale Caribbean restaurant Jezebel (with nothing costing over $2), and you’ve got a winner.

The menu, piece of chicken porn and a +/- after the jump…

I’ll take variety over quality any day of the week, and Piece of Chicken is all about variety.  The price structure is possibly the greatest of all time, allowing you to choose four or five different things, and having it only cost $5-7 for your whole lunch.  With so much to choose from, and so many possible combinations for your money- it helps to do a little planning, so here’s the menu in advance:

Piece of Fried Chicken – $1
Piece of Fried Whiting – $2
Piece of Fried Catfish – $2
Crispy Chicken Livers – $1
BBQ Chicken Wings – $1
BBQ Salmon – $5 (the only thing over $2)
Chicken Soup – $1
Fish Soup – $1
BBQ Rib Bit – $1

Okra – $2
Mac & Cheese – $2
Collard Greens – $1
Blackeyed Peas – $1
Potato Salad – $1
Home Fries – $1
String Beans – $1
White Rice – $1
Corn Muffins – 2 for $1

Of course, no bit of planning is perfect, as oftentimes they will be out of things, causing you to have to scramble at the last minute.  Ordering is easily the hardest part of Piece of Chicken,  leaving a lot of room for second guessing, even after you’ve made your decision.  The first time I stopped, here’s what I ended up with:

Clockwise from upper left:  Piece of Whiting, Collard Greens, Mac & Cheese, BBQ Rib Bit, Piece of Chicken.  Total Cost: $7

I didn’t realize you could choose what kind of chicken you ordered, so I ended up with the breast, which not surprisingly, for $1 is actually a half a breast.  Everything was really good (but not great), although it’s hard to complain for $7.

The second time I went, I adjusted my strategy a little:

Clockwise from upper left:  BBQ Wings (there’s actually two in there), Mac & Cheese (to see if it was the same as the first time), Corn Muffins, Fried Chicken Thigh.

Plus a side order of Okra:

Total Cost: $6.  This time I asked specifically for the thigh, which they gladly gave me.  I also asked for the wings (2 for $1) thinking I would get fried chicken wings, but apparently they only do BBQ wings, which I’m pretty sure have the same sauce as the rib bits.

All in all everything was once again really good, especially when you consider the price.  And that’s pretty much it.  Nothing about Piece of Chicken necessarily stands out as outstanding, except for Piece of Chicken itself.  Their service has flaws, sometimes they charge you the wrong amount, oftentimes they will run out of things (I have never been able to get the fried chicken livers), and the freshness of the food is always hit or miss.

But in the end, who cares!?!  Everything costs $1 (or $2), which means you can get 17 different things for the price of a sandwich at Cafe Metro (slight exaggeration, I’m not so good at math).  And it’s served out of the window of a real restaurant kitchen.  A great find for those of us looking for variety, and willing to walk the extra few blocks.  I know some of you have already discovered this place on your own, and everybody has their favorite choices.   Mine would have to be-  2 Thighs, 1 Rib Bit, Okra, Collards & Corn Muffins for $7.  Feel free to post your perfect Piece of Chicken combo as a comment below…

The + (What someone who likes this place will say)

  • Is there anything better than fried chicken, $1 per piece?
  • Wait, there is something better.  $1 fried chicken, with $1 collard greens and $1 corn muffins.
  • I love soul food, and have been looking for a place ever since Ressie May’s closed

THE – (What someone who doesn’t like this place will say)

  • The service sucks sometimes.  They try to write your order down, but sometimes end up screwing it up.  (Make sure to check your container before leaving).
  • The quality and freshness of the food is hit or miss
  • There is better fried chicken in Midtown (even though it doesn’t cost $1 a piece)
  • The Mac & Cheese is a casserole more than a creamy, goeey mac & cheese.  And you should get more for your $2.  (Possibly the most complained about Piece of Chicken dish)

Piece of Chicken, 362 W. 45th St. (just East of 9th Ave.), 212-582-5973


  • I agree – Piece of Chicken is quite good – however, the flaws are that its a bit out of the way and you cant eat there, so you have to walk back to work and fried food that is not piping hot isnt that great. Plus you have to wait forever.

    Chicken is damn good though – so is the whiting.

  • How was the Mac and Cheese!?

  • I love this place!!

    if its a bit of out the way, you people are either: 1) lazy…2) too caught up in your work 3.) boring!!

    we could have so much more to talk about if we open midtown lunch boundaries!

  • Auuuuugh your mac and cheese is touching the BBQ rib bit! Yuck! I can’t stand it when two different food flavors touch eachother like that. My eyes! MY EYES!!!

  • Ressie May’s is gonna be turned into a Subway I hear…

  • >>

    Sara, pearl of ML, this may the single most anal gripe I have ever heard.

  • Auuuuugh your mac and cheese is touching the BBQ rib bit! Yuck! I can’t stand it when two different food flavors touch eachother like that. My eyes! MY EYES!!!

    Sara, pearl of ML, this may the single most anal gripe I have ever heard.

    (Weird, didn’t print her comment the first time. Had to do a do-over, as I am very anal and hate it when my posts are imperfect.)

  • Grilled wings!? Man I havent found good grilled wings anywhere, this is a tad bit outside my normal ML trekking grounds, but I’ll have to hit this some time soon.

  • Crackhead – I’m quite okay with it. I have come to terms with my own food issues. I have two different plates at Thanksgiving so that the cranberry sauce won’t touch anything else. :)

  • Sara: are you frightened of casseroles then? or that hideous bowl thing at KFC?

  • Actually, yes! Completely terrified. Shepherd’s pie is my nightmare.

  • Boulabaise would send Sara into shock.

    My friday breakfast would most prolly kill her.

  • Rudy your very late today. I thought you might be a no-show.

  • No, bouillabaisse is actually okay. All fish can be mixed together in my opinion. Crab-stuffed lobster, fritto misto, all those kinds of mixed things are totally cool. Maybe that’s just from growing up in MA where these kinds of things are completely unavoidable.

  • Fried goodness for a buck. It’s a dream come true.
    Now pour some country gravy over all that and add a biscuit!

  • Matt- If you want the BEST grilled wings in Manhattan (but wayyyyy outside the Midtown Lunch range) – you gotta check out Dinosaur BBQ on 131st st. I would go up there just for wings and pie.

  • Jordan – Ill definitely check it, thanks for the suggestion, I dont get why grilled wings are such a novelty up here.

  • Zach, glad you finally got here. I always go for THREE thighs and mac & cheese. Now we are in $5 territory and it’s a ton of food! Think of it as a way to get payback for your Ess-a-Bagel boning

  • your mistake was not trying the catfish. Its the best damn catfish i’ve had here and i’m from texas where catfish is a staple. Also, the black eyed peas are ALWAYS out of this world.

  • I visited this place today and found that the food was quite tastey and the services was good. My friend and I got there at a reasonable time and the line was not too long. Overall, I had a good meal and will probably go back, but maybe a month from now. We all know too much fried food will give you a heart attack. Peace!

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