For many Southerners, fried chicken is both an after-church tradition and an everyday staple, the “gospel bird” of Sunday supper and the go-to choice at the local meat-and-three. High, low or in-between, here are five places where fried chicken rules the roost.
Busy Bee Cafe, 810 Martin Luther King Drive, Atlanta, 404-525-9212, thebusybeecafe.com
Open since 1947, Busy Bee Cafe in southwest Atlanta is a soul food institution, with good reason. The wonderful fried chicken tops the menu every day. Marinated for 12 hours, lightly breaded and well-seasoned, it’s deep-fried in peanut oil. As the menu promises, the skin is “a crisp golden brown” and the meat is “moist, juicy and beelicious.”
JCT Kitchen, 1198 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta, 404-355-2252, jctkitchen.com
Though it’s available daily at lunch and dinner, chef Ford Fry’s signature JCT fried chicken is limited and often sells out. Delicately battered, well-seasoned, lightly crispy and uber-moist, it’s served with gooey-good macaroni and cheese and garlicky green beans.
Watershed, 1820 Peachtree Road N.W., Atlanta, 404-809-3561, watershedrestaurant.com
The Watershed chef mantle has been passed from Scott Peacock to Joe Truex. But the famous and wildly popular Wednesday night pan-fried chicken special, with mashed potatoes and veggies, remains — starting at 5:30 p.m. and usually selling out by 7:30.
Wisteria, 471 N. Highland Ave. N.E., Atlanta, 404-525-3363, wisteria-atlanta.com
Wisteria chef-owner Jason Hill likes to spice up Southern cooking with Southwestern flavors. His iron skillet fried chicken gets its kick from ancho chili powder and cayenne pepper. Served with bacon-braised collard greens and sweet corn pudding, it’s a hefty meal deal.
Carver’s Country Kitchen, 1118 W. Marietta St., Atlanta, 404-794-4410
The menu at Carver’s is no-nonsense meat-and-two, with eight or more offerings every day, plus at least a dozen sides. Fried chicken comes in multiple configurations, including quarters and legs, but the ample, double-size “Dolly Parton” breast is a kitschy, crunchy, juicy favorite.