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Chicken is the heritage bird in African-American cuisine. Each state has it own localized fried chicken joint or restaurant where it is highly respected by both young folks and elders alike. African-American fried chicken has many iterations with areas like the Southern Gulf region and coastal towns in Alabama, Mississippi, and New Orleans, who are routinely mentioned when discussing fried chicken royalty, but that conversation is nothing if Florida is omitted mentioned. Florida has some of the nation’s most delicious fried chicken and on today, July 6th—National Fried Chicken Day, I am happy to share our TOP 5 in FLORIDA!
#1 The Hangar Bay Café and Gallery
2294 Mayport Rd #22, Atlantic Beach, FL 32233
Phone: (904) 247-3301
BEST FRIED CHICKEN IN FLORIDA RIGHT NOW GOES TO HANGAR BAY! Hangar Bay is located in an unassuming strip mall with a giant chicken statue out front. The restaurant has a unique culinary theme pairing together southern fried chicken and Japanese Ramen. The chicken’s depth is a real stand out, with flavor woven down to the bone. The bite comes with a lite, flavor bursting crunch fused with fresh cracked black pepper and a slight fleeting citrus taste that returns with an anonymous poultry seasoning blend that will dumbfound as you collect yourself from the temporary loss of consciousness from the culinary euphoria. The seasoning and brine are the stars. I have had fried chicken that was amazing with just salt and pepper, and those that are a bit more complex, but I could usually figure out the flavor profiles. With this space, I couldn’t figure it out. It was just so damn good that I stopped trying. What’s fascinating is owner and operator, Mr. Chris Shaw is not a chef by profession. He’s a decorated U.S. Navy pilot with nearly 30 years of service, including two tours in Afghanistan, who retired and wanted to start a business. He took his knowledge of Ramen from his extensive travels, a family recipe for the fried chicken, hired veterans as staff and created pure magic. This chicken recipe has been passed down three generations, so consider yourself lucky to enjoy a bite of not only amazing fried chicken, but Black History as well.
#2 Loyd Have Mercy Restaurant
3434 S Washington Ave, Titusville, FL 32780
Phone: (321) 269-1008
The chicken here is so good, it will have you rejecting any other form outside of from scratch recipes. I couldn’t go back to eating any form of pedestrian fried chicken prepared using store bought pre-made seasonings (with the exception of lemon pepper, which is a Miami thing). Each bite of this incredible bird was met with elevated emotions and endorphins counteracting all the cholesterol seeping through my veins. Each bite was fried to golden perfection, not greasy, while bolstering flavor letting you know that the brine or marinade did its damn job! What you have at the Space Coastal town is truly one of the nation’s most delicious fried birds creating a light, crisp, golden-brown batter, encapsulating tender, juicy, and piping hot dark and white meat chicken.
#3 Chicken and Waffle at Kinfolk and More
7319 Indrio Rd Suite 5, Fort Pierce, FL 34951
Phone: (772) 742-8942
I have had some of the nation’s most noteworthy fried chicken and the bird here could easily join the ranks as some of the nation’s best. A good fried chicken should have the basic characteristics of bone in moistness, flavorful, tender, crisp, meat easily falling-off-the-bone, juicy, and not greasy, and that’s exactly what this quaint roadside eatery serves. Every piece consistently boasted a flawless combination of crunchiness, softness, and seasoning that I can only assume was underscored by an in-house brine. The exceptionality of this bird rests in its remarkable equilibrium of flavor.
#4 Smith & Webster Restaurant and Bar
486 NE 167th St, Miami, FL 33162
Phone: (305) 333-8272
I know you’ve probably had a huge variety of fried chicken in your lifetime. Some just acceptable, while others were positively memorable. As with anything, your reference point is key in determining likes and dislikes, especially when it comes to food. My reference point would be my great-grandmother’s fried chicken. It was heavenly.
I knew from the jump that Smith and Webster would be a bit different, since it’s twice fried Asian (Korean to be exact) style; which was just fine because this chicken was inspired by the legacy of African-American soldiers who after WWII taught Korean cooks how to fry chicken the soulful way to begin with. So yeah, if you enjoy Asian fried chicken just a little too much, now you know why. Smith and Webster’s fried chicken has an incredible crunch and bold flavor that can be eaten at any temperature. This bird is slightl exotic, fragrant, garlicky, crunchy, savory, and has a slight citrusy finishing flavor from Chef Gerald Harvey’s secret powder.
#5 Chik’N Jones
1601 Drexel Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Phone: (305) 335-0538
Chef Amaris Jones is one of the nation’s most innovative and skilled chefs specializing in elevating international comfort cuisine to unpatrolled heights. Most of Miamians know Chef Jones as the personal chef to Rick Ross, where her irresistible cooking helped the rapper drop an impressive 80 pounds. However, her newest concept is what Ross might have had on his cheat days! CHICK’N JONES is chef’s interpretation of modern southern fried chicken with delicious sides and a sweet potato biscuit that melts in your mouth! Many fans of Chef Jones have been patiently waiting on this brand to open after a series of successful pop ups throughout years past. Well, the wait is over. Her signature hot-honey crispy chicken sandwich piled with southern slaw on a brioche bun is a great companion to her fresh kale salad and her juicy grilled green tomatoes. Whether you’re a chicken sandwich type or a two piece and a biscuit type, Chik’N Jones has you covered.
#6 Perry Wings Plus
10817 NW 27th Ave, Miami, FL 33167
This amazing fried wing spot started out as a food stand at a popular gentleman’s club in Miami, which is the story for about 50% of the businesses in Miami, including some esteemed law firms. When a celebrity patron requested what has become the popular restaurant’s signature sauce on his wings, that’s when everything changed and this small stand became one of Miami’s Miami most sought-after eateries. The small wings pack incredible and memorable flavor with their signature sauce, Perry Wing Sauce. The sauce drenched on the naked fried chicken wings is simply magical! You have the option to try various sauces created inhouse at this small eatery. The flavors were so irresistible, unforgettable and addicting, I felt like a crack fiend once I finished eating my last wing that I went back in line right before that happened to ensure I would have an immediate replenishment of my original order.
7127 NW 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33150
Phone: (305) 631-2496
The chicken here is tender with a beautiful usage of smoked paprika giving the entrée a slightly smoky flavor that is accompanied by homemade pickles that should be paired with their vanilla waffles for a truly nostalgic Chicken and Waffle. This plate is served with a beautiful brown butter reduction sauce that I smothered over the damn chicken, biscuit, and the waffle along with hot sauce. Listen, I went in. I created my own chicken biscuit sandwich only to find out they have an incredible one on the menu. And yes, I ordered that, too. Both the chicken sandwich and fried chicken entrée come with homemade pickles that creates an added value to truly be appreciated. You may want to order additional pickles because eating the chicken and pickle together is the way winners eat and I’m sure you don’t want to be a loser and all.