In Search of Fried Chicken

Where Has the Gables’ Fried Chicken Gone? Today It’s a Rare Bird.

There was a time when good fried chicken could be found in Coral Gables with some ease. Over at Tarpon Bend, the nutty flavored bird was a delight. It is not on the menu of The Gramercy, the restaurant which replaced TB. The Local, under then-Chef Juan Bedoya, served a delicious fried chicken with watermelon jelly and a side of cheddar cheese pancakes. No longer. Yard House served a real Southern-style version, with a creamy bourbon gravy and spinach mashed potatoes. No more. Even our fast food version, at Spring Chicken on U.S.1, has gone with the closing of that outlet (please reopen!). So, what’s a fried chicken lover to do? We scoured the city and found a few places that still serve top-notch versions of this classic Southern dish – crisp, juicy, spicy, and salty – one of the great contributions by African Americans to our national cuisine. Enjoy. 

The Best

Redfish: Gourmet Fried Chicken

How ironic it is that the best fried chicken in town should be served at a seafood restaurant? But that is the case with the amazing fried chicken at Redfish by Chef Adrianne, which is brined and then fried in a buttermilk batter that is laced with honey. Yes, it is also the most expensive in town (with no sides) but you do get an entire half chicken, and it tastes wonderful! Plus, the view of the lagoon and the bay beyond at Redfish is so pleasant you won’t want to leave. $35. 

Fried Chicken - Redfish

Really Good

Eating House: The Salty Side of Fried

Is there any better way to salt up your fried chicken than by serving it with slices of salty meat? Not according to this popular spot on the north end of Ponce de Leon Boulevard, where the flavorful fried chicken is served with waffles and candied Applewood-smoked bacon. The only problem is that they are now only open for dinner or weekend brunch. Otherwise, a fine job by Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli. $26. 

Doc B’s: A Juicy Stack

A first, the double stack of fried chicken breast at Doc B’s seems a little underwhelming since it is only mildly seasoned. But the meat itself is off-the-charts succulent and juicy, and the more you eat the more you want. The secret is their 24 hours of marination. It is also served with a toothsome creamy coleslaw, with honey mustard and BBQ sauces for dipping. $25. 

Worthy Variations

Tap 42: Fingerlings of Chicken

Real fried chicken means the whole bird – wings, legs, breast and thighs. So, serving only fried chicken tenders seems a little too “twee,” as the British would say. Nonetheless, the meat is wonderfully tender with a good crunch to the batter. And the “Asian style” coleslaw may be the best in town. $16.50 

Fried Chicken - Tap 42

Cheesecake Factory: Seoul Food

We were suspect of something called “Korean Fried Chicken,” but we had to leave no stone unturned. And yes, it is nothing like the Southern classic. It consists of chicken chunks, fried and tossed in spicy (mild) Korean BBQ sauce and served on steamed rice, with some Kimchi, cucumbers and avocado thrown in. Not the real deal, but darn tasty. $14.95. 

The Worst

The Local: Breaded Beast

If someone gives you a choice between being shot or eating the fried chicken at The Local, take the bullet. This place used to serve some of the best fried chicken anywhere. But the rectangular patty of tough, dry breast meat they now serve really should be taken off the menu. Even the cornbread that comes with it is desiccated. Not worth $16. 

Yard House: Hot Mess

Since when has a coating of blistering hot sauce been the way to serve fried chicken? Yes, the coupling of their Nashville Hot Chicken with sweet potato pancakes gives you a mouthful of carbs to cool the burn. But what happened to their wonderful, old fashioned fried chicken with gravy and mashed potatoes? $17.99.