The South’s Best Fried Chicken

Photo by Wendy Lang

Willie Mae’s Scotch House
New Orleans, Louisiana
Willie Mae’s Scotch House was almost a casualty of Hurricane Katrina. But when a group of folks from the Southern Foodways Alliance heard how close this treasure was to disappearing, they showed up to help rebuild what could have been lost. And there are no words to thank them enough. Crispy isn’t really a good enough word to describe the skin on the chicken at Willie Mae’s. It’s paper thin, light but well seasoned, and it clings to the juicy meat beneath it like a cloak. Yes, there are sides, and you can’t go wrong with any of them, but the chicken is what you’re there for. Just be prepared for a wait. Willie Mae’s is a chicken destination.

Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken

Mason, Tennessee
“World famous” is a pretty big claim to make, but Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken can do it. When visitors to Memphis are taken out for fried chicken, odds are they’re going to Gus’s. Mason, about 20 miles east of Memphis, is the original (but not only) location for this unique fried chicken. The coating on the skin is light but salty, spicy, and incredibly crisp. The secret? No one knows because at Gus’s, it really is a secret. Your options for sides are limited, but that’s OK since you’re there for the chicken.



Seafood & Chicken Box
Trussville, Alabama
You might not expect to find great fried chicken in a strip mall, but that’s exactly what you’ll get at Seafood & Chicken Box near Birmingham. Of course, that’s because the folks here take their chicken seriously. They don’t fry until you order, so you’ll wait a bit. Take advantage of the seafood side of the menu by ordering an appetizer to keep you going. The fried crab claws are especially tasty. The view out the windows might not be impressive, but when your chicken hits the table, you’ll see all you need to see anyway. It’s all about the skin here. It’s crispy, light, and well seasoned, keeping the meat inside nice and juicy.


Monte Ne Inn Chicken
Rogers, Arkansas
Country charm fills the atmosphere of Monte Ne Inn, but if you don’t want fried chicken, this isn’t the place for you. Dinner here is family style and all-you-can-eat, with fried chicken as the star. The skin is crisp and lightly seasoned, and the meat is juicy and tender. But don’t overlook the sides, especially the homemade bread with picture-perfect pots of apple butter on each table. Dessert is included in the dinner price, but don’t expect to have room for it.



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