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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Jean
Jean

It’s not a restaurant but if you are looking for fried chicken to eat at home, I need to toss in a plug for Publix 🙂 (If you ever do a comparison between the fast foods – I’d love to see them tossed into the mix 🙂 )

I’ll be looking for the side comments on the meat + 3 ‘s ….. my early career was in Columbia, SC and I miss (the old) Lizard’s Thicket ….

Bart
Bart

Daddy’s in Acworth pretty good, $8 all you can eat buffet for lunch including some very good yardbird.

Carvers was the best until the passing of Mr Carver a couple years ago. Unfortunately they closed shortly thereafter.

And for those who travel to the FL panhandle, AJs in Appalachicola is great!

Noway2016
Noway2016

Had breakfast at Daddy’s this am. Good recommendation!!

chefdavid
chefdavid

Champy’s Fried Chicken in Chattanooga has the best in Georgia. This “forties and a fowl” place has recently opened in Athens.
http://champyschicken.com/locations/#42

Ellynn
Ellynn

I can second Mrs. Wilkes in Savannah and the Lunch Box in Kingsland. I would also add; Lil Chick – Savannah. (no website, just a carry out lunch joint on the west end of Bay Street, fries are frozen from a bag, but the chicken is outstanding. Olde Pink House. – Savannah high class over priced setting with red potatoes and skinny little steamed green beans., but the chicken is marinate in buttermilk for hours and it slides off the bone. If it makes you feel better, order it from the pub or the street café on Julian. Ask for… Read more »

Lea Thrace
Lea Thrace

I must vehemently second ALL of Ellyn’s suggestions.

As well as add an extra plug for Busy Bees and Mary Macs.

Will Durant
Will Durant

Edna’s in Chatsworth.

Benevolus
Benevolus

Bell’s in Toccoa. Mmmmmm.

Jason ORouke
Jason ORouke

Charlie, this is my personal passion. I am willing to drive from Bainbridge to Blue Ridge and Helen to Hahira to help on this quest.

There are 3 massive gaps in your list. All have amazing fried chicken and interesting proprietors.

The Beautiful Restaurant in SW Atlanta
H&H Soul Food in Macon (h/t to Seth Clark for directing me there)
Food for the Soul in Athens (I understand if people want to defend Weaver D’s as their Athens chicken joint of choice, as it is historically significant, but FFTS long surpassed Weaver in terms of value and quality).

Elliot
Elliot

Take a trip north and stop at Bea’s restaurant just a minute across the border in Chattanooga.

Simply the best!

Elliot
Elliot

Second that opinion on Champy’s if they opened a location in Athens. The owner Seth, will drink you under the table though with those forties.

Saltycracker
Saltycracker

I agree with Publix, Greenwoods and Mrs. Wilkes. My latest go to place on the road, was there 2 days ago, is Cheddar’s ( out front of Gander Mountain Sports) in Valdosta after we gas up at SAMs.
The chicken is good but the vegetables and even a veggie plate is southern good.

But Fried chicken ? Let’s get serious and talk shrimp, GA wild shrimp, not something grown by super feed and a stop watch in under 7 weeks…..

jwbeal
jwbeal

Loving the enthusiasm for our state’s crispiest export. There is only one true place to eat fried chicken in our wonderful state:

Blakely Chicken
212 N Main Street
Blakely, GA

Hands down the premier establishment peddling poultry in its most perfected form. Their sides are also magnificent. It’s a bit of a drive down to beautiful Early County for many readers, but if you’re ever nearby be sure to stop at this local institution.

wolfskinga
wolfskinga

Finally!!!! A debate that matters, as Fried Chicken is serious buisness in the Peach State.
Big Chick in Washington,GA. Hands down the best fried yard bird in GA. Go see Wilson and he will set you up.
Walk up to the window or drive thru. Ms. Ruby Nel and Little Bit will be glad to see ya.

Lee
Lee

Country Buffet in Milledgeville – Well off the beaten path, and if you didn’t know about it, you wouldn’t know about it. The building itself is nothing special, and it’s not in the nicest part of town, but once you’ve been there, you make a point of going back. Definite Meat and 3, and worth the trip, particularly if you happen to be in that neck of the woods around lunchtime. Open 11-5.

1465 S Jefferson St Se
Milledgeville, GA 31061

Demonbeck
Demonbeck

I’ll second Buckner’s in Jackson and Lil’ Chick in Savannah, and add Johnny Harris’ in Savannah as well. (better get to JH soon though – it’s closing.)

blakeage80
blakeage80

The Piggly Wiggly (they somehow have the name without it actually being a regular Piggly Wiggly) Hazlehurst, GA. It’s where the entire town gets their chicken since Omar died and The Chic King went out of business.