8th Avenue is the Fried Chicken Corridor of NYC
I have never met a piece of fried chicken I didn’t like. Sure, there have been some transcendent fried chicken moments. My first visit to Roscoe’s Fried Chicken and Waffles in L.A. comes to mind (although you may say the waffle had a little something to do with that.) And of course there was Dunbar’s in New Orleans, which is still the best fried chicken I’ve ever eaten. Hopefully the rumors of its return are not exaggerated. But I don’t mind slumming it either, and it doesn’t take much to please me. Hot Oil + Chicken (+ Salt & Pepper) = Good.
There is some damn good fried chicken in Midtown. I’ve mentioned Cafe Cello as one of my favorites (on 46th btw. 5+6th) and even KFC has gotten the obligatory mention on the site. But if you want to be at ground zero for NYC fried chicken there is only one place to go. Eighth Avenue. The stretch of that road between the Mid 30′s and Mid 40′s is jammed packed with fried chicken goodness. Here is your guide to navigating the corridor. (A Fried-Chicken-Palooza if you will)
Nickname: El Sucio
Location: 36th btw. 7+8th
Price: 2pcs w/ french fries, $2.50; 2pcs w/ french fries, rice & beans, $4.50
I like a good adventure, and while NYC Fried Chicken is mildly scary this little fried foods diner is a real horrorshow (in the best possible way.) It may even be the cheapest fried chicken in all of New York City. The big downside: they don’t season their chicken at all- but it’s nothing a little hot sauce can’t fix right quick. Read more about Chicken House here.
Nickname: The Newbie
Location: 8th Ave. btw. 44+45th
Price: $6.49 for 2pcs, biscuit, side dish & drink
Ok, so maybe it’s not new to some of you- but Church’s is new to the Midtown Lunch landscape. This small branch opened in a strange food court on 8th Ave. a few months ago, and while I don’t think it’s quite good enough to unseat the King (aka Popeye’s) it is a suitable alternative for those who don’t want to walk the extra 5 blocks south. The thing that will set them apart from the competition: a honey glaze on their biscuits, and fried okra as a side dish. Nice.
Location: 8th Ave. btw. 38+39th
Price: $6.99 for 2pcs, rice, beans, and plantains
Golden Krust, the Caribbean chain, is not exactly known for their fried chicken- but if you happen to order it you might be delightfully surprised. Nicely seasoned, and served with rice and peas and plantains, it’s the one place where you feel like you’re getting some good homemade fried chicken. Because as much as I love Popeye’s and the rest of the chains, it’s tough shaking the feeling that you’re eating some kind of processed food that comes out tasting the same every time.
NYC Fried Chicken
Nickname: The Bastard Son
Location: 8th Ave. & 39th Street
Price: $4.25 for 2pcs, mashed potatoes and a roll
It’s hard to beat the price at this Midtown eyesore that has been serving fried chicken on the same corner for god knows how long. Most common response expected at the mention of NYC Fried Chicken: “I’ve always wondered about that place!” Skip the terrible rolls, and the strange looking mashed potatoes and gravy… you’re not there for side dishes. You could only be there for one reason… price, price, and price. Well that, or if somebody dares you. The fried chicken is fine, and it’s fun for the adventure factor, but with other better options so close (i.e. Popeye’s) I wouldn’t bother more than once.
Piece of Chicken
Nickname: The Real Deal (will also answer to “Variety Central”)
Location: 45th btw. 8+9th
Price: $1 for each piece of chicken, $1-3 for side dishes
What Popeye’s and Church’s try to replicate all over the country, Piece of Chicken actually is. Out of the ashes of Jezebel, an upscale soul food joint, this little window hit the scene, serving up fried chicken, collard greens, black eyed peas, cornbread, and more. And it’s modeled after the McDonald’s $1 menu. What more could you want? Read more about Piece of Chicken here.
Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits
Nickname: The King
Location: 40th btw. 7+8th
Price: $5.99 for 2pcs, biscuit & one side dish
I’m sorry, but Popeye’s still reigns supreme in my book. They just know how to make damn good fried chicken. They offer spicy or mild, but who would order the mild? Their biscuits are amazing (you may say the secret ingredient is a shitload of butter), and their red beans and rice will remind you why people who live in Louisiana still eat at (and love) Popeye’s. Read more about Popeye’s here.
It’s a great time to be a fried chicken lover in Midtown… I only wish Ressie Mae’s Soul to Go had lived to see the day.