Mary Mac’s Tea Room
There’s a lot of history at Mary Mac’s Tea Room, and you feel it as soon as you walk in. So much more than a chicken shack, Southern hospitality and white tablecloths abound. As for the chicken, simple salt and pepper is all that it takes to make the fried chicken at Mary Mac’s something special. A double coating of batter makes for an intense crunch and juicy interior. Of course, the fact that you’re enjoying your chicken at an Atlanta legend doesn’t hurt. While you’re there, try the classic sides and sweet tea. And don’t miss the pecan pie for dessert.
The fried chicken at Franco’s Restaurant is just one of the options on the cafeteria line at this local soul food gem in the Shively area of Louisville, but this should be the fried chicken that made Kentucky famous. Here, you’ll get a thick crust that stands up to sides like hearty pork-seasoned greens (with optional pig foot meat), pinto beans, and macaroni and cheese that definitely does not come from a box. And don’t miss out on Franco’s renowned cobbler for dessert. While all of them are excellent, word on the street is that you should grab the cherry if it’s available.
Old Country Store
The Old Country Store might not be much to look at from the outside. Originally a general store, the building has been around for a long time, and it shows. But this place serves up amazing fried chicken on its buffet line. It’s crispy and perfectly seasoned, and, if you’re lucky, it’ll even come with a song from proprietor Arthur Davis. Fill your plate with sides like greens, sweet potatoes, and dirty rice, but don’t expect them to be the same every time you visit. Mr. Davis likes to serve what’s in season, so you might find watermelon and sweet corn at the peak of summer and perfect apple pie in the fall.
Mama Dip’s Country Cooking
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Mama Dip’s Country Cooking is a legend in Southern cooking and deservedly so. Going to eat here is more like going to Grandma’s than going to a restaurant. Wide porches with rocking chairs and big windows are just the start of a great meal. The chicken here is encased in a rich, well-seasoned batter that’s both crisp and moist. Maybe that’s because this is pan-fried chicken the way your grandmother did it. The options for sides are almost overwhelming, but while you can’t go wrong with any of them, Mama Dip is almost as famous for her greens as she is for her chicken. And you’ll regret it if you skip dessert.