In Search of the Fried Bird

If You Know Where to Look, the Gables has Fine Fried Chicken

January 2019

African-American slaves created what we now call “fried chicken” in the early 1800s, by combining Scottish frying and African seasoning techniques. It was a rare dish, reserved for special occasions. With the explosion of poultry production in the 20th century, however, chicken became cheap and plentiful, and places like KFC and Popeye’s thrived.  

Not to knock the chains, we wanted something less greasy and more sophisticated in taste. We searched for fried chicken with more flavor, and the best balance between crispy, juicy, spicy, and salty. Here are places that serve the best in town, with their dinner prices. 

Tarpon Bend 

Gourmet Fried Chicken 

Owner/Chef Wayne Eldred calls it a ‘Moorish’ taste, but whatever you dub his secret combination of 26 herbs & spices (cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg among them) it is delicious, with a light, slightly nutty flavor, and using only brined, brown, and boneless cuts. It also comes with the best side “pairings” anywhere, including truffle mac & cheese and roast garlic & onion mashed potatoes. $25.  

The Local 

The Sweet Side of Fried 

Chef Juan Bedoya wants to create a “local” pub feeling with comfort foods. His “comfort” fried chicken is brined then dredged in flour mixed with BBQ spices. Served on a short stack of cheddar cheese pancakes with bourbon maple syrup, it’s amped up by watermelon jelly on the side for a sweet, spicy bite. $26. 

The 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 Blvd., where the fried chicken is served with waffles and candied Applewood-smoked bacon. $26. 

The Yard House 

Southern Style  

The menu lists it as ‘Southern fried chicken breast’ and that’s just what it is, thickly battered but boneless and fluffy inside, with a creamy bourbon gravy just like momma made. Comes with spinach mashed potatoes, BBQ beans and creamed corn. $17.45 

Spring Chicken 

Best Cluck for the Buck 

Yes, it’s a fast-food chain, but the 2.0 version (i.e. not greasy). And it’s only $11 for the dark meat combo (2 pieces, 2 sides) or $12 for the combo with breast. There’s not much crunch, but it’s juicy and tasty, basic fried chicken you get at a good diner or at home.