Of Important Matters: Fried Chicken

Greenwood's on Green St, Roswell GA
Greenwood’s on Green St, Roswell GA

Georgia’s leading agricultural crop is chicken. We’re pretty much the center of the chicken universe.  We’re home to Chick Fil A, Zaxby’s, Popeye’s, Church’s restaurants.  I like them all.  But heaven can be found on a plate of many lesser known “meat & three’s” in all corners of our state.

A while back we undertook a BBQ tour of Georgia and I got to sample some regional variations of our Barbecue institutions across the state.  There’s others I still need to try, and I’m going to get to them.  But I feel I’ve been ignoring another Georgia culinary institution in our discussions and arguments over “Georgia” BBQ (Pulled pork, nothing green in the Brunswick stew).

So….who has the best Fried Chicken in Georgia?

As I begin to put my Lenten diet in the rear view mirror, I’m going to add the occasional sampling of fried food back into my diet.  But I want to try the best.  I want the calories and fat to count.  And I plan to write about some of the best in our occasional “Sunday Reader” bits where we stray a bit from Georgia Politics.

Fried chicken is special to those with Georgia roots. I learned how to eat and appreciate it at Cruise Inn in Fairburn. Mr. Gene Cruise was like a member of the family, to us and most other residents of Fairburn and its surroundings. Later, his daughter Paula carried on the family name and tradition of the southside’s best chicken. Cruise Inn has been closed for a while now. I still hope to track her down one day and see if she’ll share the recipe.

I’m familiar with some of the great places around Atlanta that still offer golden fried goodness, though I’ll admit I’m remiss in trying some of the rumored best.  Those will be easy to catch.  I’m interested in others that are a bit outside the perimeter, and even off the beaten path.  I’m not looking for fancy silverware or white table cloths.  I don’t care if it’s served out of a cinder block building that is standing room only.  I just want the best.

Rules?  Let’s say I’m not looking for the newest, hottest, trendiest place.  I want Georgia history.  Think local institutions.  At a minimum, let’s say 1 year in business.

And I’m looking for chicken on the bone.  Filets are easy.  Cooking wings, legs, thighs and breasts and having them all come out crispy golden brown with similar consistency is a lot harder than it looks.  I’ve tried.  Which is one of the reasons fried chicken is one of the few foods I would rather eat out.

And, preferably, I want a place that serves fried chicken every day.  I’m not terribly fond of the Atlanta marketing practice where restaurants do southern pretense one night a week – with limited quantities.  I want restaurants that offer fried chicken when I want to each lunch or dinner – not when I have to try to schedule my meal as if it were a flash sale.

So with that, here’s some nominees I’ll start with, with an assist from the Georgia Tourism & Travel site.

BBQ Kitchen – College Park
Colonnade – Atlanta
Silver Skillet – Atlanta
Busy Bee – Atlanta
Mary Mac’s – Atlanta
Nick’s – Brunswick
Wifesaver – Augusta
Mrs Wilkes – Savannah
Minnie’s Uptown – Columbus
Lockett Kuntry Cooking – Culloden
Yoder’s – Montezuma
Greenwood on Green St – Roswell
Blue Willow Inn – Social Circle
Winder – Magnolia Place
Buckner’s – Jackson
Paschals – Atlanta
Watershed – Atlanta
Mathews Caffeteria – Tucker
The Lunchbox – Kingsland
Ann & Bill’s – Forest Park
The Dillard House – Dillard
The Smith House – Dahlonega

I’ve eaten at 10 of the above. The others are new. It may take a year but I hope to try them all. And there’s room for others. Y’all give me some ideas, and make a strong case. Might even be willing to meet some of you for some meat and three eating. Others, not so much.


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