Where to Find Boston’s Best Fried Chicken Right Now
From kicked-up classics brined in buttermilk to double-fried Korean-style bites, bird is the word.
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Americans are well-acquainted with fried chicken, often served Southern-style, or tenderized with a buttermilk brine and dredged in seasoned flour for a thick and crunchy crust. But despite the oft-limited understanding of its history, fried chicken is a universal comfort food, and Boston is full of top-flight versions reflecting a world of styles. From Korean-style double-fried to fiery Nashville hot to chef-driven spins that defy categorization, here’s where to find the best versions in Boston.
Status: Cambridge restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday for outdoor dining, takeout, and delivery. Time Out Market location is temporarily closed.
Chef Alex Saenz often switches up the small plates at his original Inman Square wine bar, but thankfully his famous fried chicken is always on the menu at Bisq’s counter-service stall inside Time Out Market. The extra-crunchy menu staple (served as a sandwich or a plate of boneless thighs) is an homage to the chef’s South Carolina upbringing. It gets a kick in the crust from Thai-style bird’s eye chili, and it’s served with a cooling side of buttermilk ranch.
1071 Cambridge St., Cambridge, 617-714-3693; 401 Park Dr. (Time Out Market), Boston, 978-393-8088, bisqcambridge.com.
Brassica Kitchen & Café
Status: Open Wednesday through Sunday for outdoor dining, takeout, and delivery.
In chef Jeremy Kean’s repertoire since his former Whisk pop-up days, this perfectly juicy fried chicken is now available all day at his standout restaurant. During lunchtime, it’s in sandwich form on house-made brioche, care of co-owner Philip Kruta; and it anchors must-order chicken and waffles during Sunday brunch. It’s available as a half-size or full portion during dinnertime—and while it certainly doesn’t need any more flavor, it’s a great vehicle for the funky, house-fermented hot sauces.
3710 Washington St., Boston, 617-477-4519, brassicakitchen.com.
Buttermilk & Bourbon
Status: Open daily for indoor and outdoor dining, takeout, and delivery.
The name of this place—which comes courtesy of Hell’s Kitchen star chef Jason Santos—says it all. The menu boasts the full gamut of buttermilk-brined bird, from wings, to boneless thighs, to a bone-in half chicken, with a variety of spice blends and sauces. Try the Nashville-style dry-rub with the savory, tangy, not-to-be-missed white barbecue sauce.
160 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-266-1122, buttermilkbourbon.com.
The Coast Cafe
Status: Open Wednesday through Saturday for takeout and delivery.
Chef Tony Brooks promises “food from the soul” at this ’97-founded Cambridge classic, where the “Chicken Boxes” come loaded with some of the best fried wings you’ve ever tried; sandwiches are available, too, plus plates of fried thigh, breast, or chicken fingers accompanied by sides like five-cheese mac and sweet candied yams. Every option can be enhanced with one of Brooks’ signature sauces, including Buffalo and jerk styles—or take home a bottle to spice up your homemade chicken dinners anytime.
233 River St., Cambridge, 617-354-7644, coastsoulcafe.com.
Status: Open Wednesday through Monday for takeout and delivery.
With all due respect to the Boston-area outposts of the international chain Bonchon, we prefer to hit up this small, stellar Allston spot whenever we’re craving the signature light and crispy coating of Korean-style fried chicken. The tiny, tender wings at Coreanos are brined, double-fried, then tossed in your choice of sauce—try the house-made yum yang sauce for a sweet and spicy take, the sweet-garlic-soy for an umami fix, or the pa dak (sweet mustard) for a tangy kick. Alternatively, the boneless chicken poppers, sauced up atop a pile of French fries, are an equally fine way to get your comfort-food fix.
172 Brighton Ave., Boston, 617-208-8822, coreanosallston.com.
Status: The restaurant is open Thursday through Sunday for takeout and delivery. Super Cluckin’ Sundays are a monthly event.
Though it’s only available one day per month during the popular Super Cluckin’ Sunday event, Cutty’s fried chicken is worth marking on the calendar (and waiting in the inevitable line). Tender chicken breast, buttermilk-brined and thickly breaded in well-seasoned flour, it’s inspired by eminently craveable fast-food fried chicken sandwiches, topped with Hellman’s mayo, shredded iceberg lettuce, Cabot cheddar, and thinly sliced raw onion. It’s classic for a reason.
284 Washington St., Brookline, 617-505-1844, cuttyfoods.com.
Status: Open Wednesday through Sunday for outdoor dining and takeout. Limited indoor seating is offered when the weather makes outdoor seating unavailable.
Fried chicken, every night: It’s what the people want, so it’s what chef-owner Mark Romano gave them when he took over the famed East Coast Grill and opened Highland Fried in 2017. His Somerville staple Highland Kitchen first made his birds famous with a fried-chicken special on Mondays (since expanded to the daily takeout menu), but you can head to its more-dedicated sibling Highland Fried any time for the same recipe: Dark and white meat pieces, soaked in salt water for 24 hours before a subsequent buttermilk brine, dredged in secret spices and pressure-fried to order. Pick your favorite pieces or go for the whole bird—and if you’re feeling particularly spicy, opt for the Nashville Hot variation.
1271 Cambridge St., Cambridge, 617-714-4662, highlandfried.com.
Hot Chix Boston
Status: Currently operating as a takeout-only Tuesday pop-up at Pagu restaurant (310 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge).
Local restaurant vets Alex Nystedt, William Yoo, and Alex Kim intend to open a Hot Chix brick-and-mortar around Boston, so soon enough we’ll have a permanent place to find their hefty hot chicken sandwiches, loaded with pickles, ranch, and slaw to cut the spice of a craggy Nashville-style coating. In the meantime, though, they’re a prolific pop-up with frequent events at breweries, restaurants, and festivals in the area. And during the pandemic, they’ve been hosted by Pagu restaurant in Cambridge every Tuesday.
Lily P’s Fried Chicken and Oysters
Status: Temporarily closed.
Many years into his career, well-known seafood chef Chris Parsons decided to take on fried chicken “because of what it represents to people,” he told Boston. It’s approachable, and pleasurable—and as a chef with decades of experience, he could perfect it. Parsons’ pressure-frying method yields “luxury” fried chicken, as the menu reads: crisp and juicy, whether served classic, hot, or tossed in black pepper-honey. A Cambridge flagship location has a raw bar and billiards, while Parsons is also working on an outpost at the forthcoming North Station-side food hall, Hub Hall.
50 Binney St., Cambridge, 617-225-2900, lilypschicken.com.
Status: Hojoko is open Tuesday through Saturday for indoor and outdoor dining, takeout, and delivery. Its sibling, Ms. Cluck’s Deluxe at Time Out Market, is temporarily closed.
Fried chicken comes in the Japanese karaage style at Hojoko, a fun-loving izakaya from the same team behind downtown’s chic O Ya restaurant. Marinated with ginger, soy, and garlic before frying, then sprinkled with togarashi spices, the boneless strips hit the basket full of flavor, making it requisite during any visit to the Fenway-side bar. Meanwhile, at Hojoko’s nearby offshoot at Time Out Market, Ms. Cluck’s Deluxe, the fried chicken goes for a dip in chili-spiked schmaltz for a Cajun chicken sandwich served with dashi pickles and nori buttermilk ranch; you can also find it drizzled in spicy miso maple syrup atop a tower of waffle fries.
1271 Boylston St., Boston, 617-670-0507, hojokoboston.com.
Maxine’s on Saint James
Status: Open Tuesday through Sunday for takeout and delivery.
Southern-style fried chicken makes for a must-order at Maxine’s, where the wings are accompanied by homespun sides such as cider-braised cabbage and garlicky green beans. Really, though, you’ll want to pair these birds with delicious Belgian waffles—the chicken-n-waffle po’boy actually uses those waffles to sandwich crispy golden tenders to spectacular effect.
304 Dudley St., Boston, 617-427-0927, maxinesonsaintjames.com.
Status: Open Tuesday through Sunday for indoor dining and takeout.
Haitian- and Asian-inspired cuisines come together at chef Eddie Georgie’s Neighborhood Kitchen, and the results are inspired: See the fried-chicken spring rolls, for instance. Crispy breasts also make an appearance in sandwiches, topped with accoutrements like bacon jam and chipotle mayo, while exceptionally seasoned fried wings or tenders can be paired with your pick of waffle—including Asian scallion, sweetish “pink velvet,” and more.
84 Spring St., Medford, 781-391-9000, nkboston.com.
Next Step Soul Food Cafe
Status: Temporarily closed.
In 2016, home cook-turned caterer Michelle White and her family opened Codman Square’s first sit-down restaurant, and now it embodies their hospitality, from the friendly service to the generous portions. The fried chicken is a favorite, with light seasoning and an exterior so crisp and fresh, it’s like you’re sitting down to Sunday dinner at home.
657 Washington St., Boston, 617-514-6456, Facebook.
Status: Open Wednesday through Sunday for takeout (pick up at sibling-neighbor Molti on Moody).
At this fried-chicken specialist, sibling to Waltham’s Molti on Moody, fans of the fry are satisfied with plenty of options—even before perusing the lineup of house-made sauces. There are juicy boneless tenders, plus dark- or white-meat plates, all with a thick and savory crust. The coating stands up to the toppings of the sloppy-good fried chicken sandwich, too, including pimento cheese and bread-and-butter pickles, herbed coleslaw, honey butter, and hot sauce.
456 Moody St., Waltham, 781-693-9191, polloclubwaltham.com.
Status: Open daily for takeout; also open for indoor and outdoor dining Thursday through Sunday.
Chef Cassie Piuma’s Turkish-inspired twist on fried chicken has long been a local standout. The boneless thighs are cured with a dry-mustard-based spice blend, dredged in flour with toasted sesame and nigella seeds, finished off with flecks of dried green harissa, and accompanied by a tahini remoulade. It’s a vibrantly flavored menu mainstay that never wears out its welcome.
249 Pearl St., Cambridge, 617-764-4464, sarmarestaurant.com.
Status: Open daily indoor and outdoor dining, takeout, and delivery.
The rotisserie gets ample use at Kendall Square’s fowl-fueled all-day café, as is to be expected at the second effort from the Branch Line team. But don’t sleep on the buttermilk fried chicken—even at breakfast time. Craggy and well-seasoned with spices like coriander and paprika, it’s a morning meal as a scrambled egg-sandwich, drizzled in hot honey on a Portuguese muffin. Later in the day, and once the bar drinks start flowing, the fried chicken is served with Polynesian, pecorino ranch, and other sauces—and it certainly pairs well with cold glass of brut.
1 Broadway, Cambridge, 617-714-4200, shybird.com.
Status: Temporarily closed.
The fried chicken at this dive-ish bar is a legacy of the owners’ late, great, Southern joint, Hungry Mother, though they’ve since updated their brining recipe to use Mamaleh’s pickle juice from their next-door deli, instead of buttermilk. Try it Nashville hot-style, finished with a truly fiery paste made of lard, ghost chilis, cayenne, a touch of sugar, and select other spices; or opt for the house original, served with a side of Tabasco-spiked honey.
One Kendall Sq., Cambridge, 617-848-4355, statepark.is
Sweet Cheeks Q
Status: Open Tuesday through Sunday for outdoor dining and takeout.
As one of Boston’s best smokehouses, star chef Tiffani Faison’s first Fenway restaurant is known for prime beef brisket, pulled pork, and gigantic, honey-buttery biscuits. But buttermilk fried chicken has been a day-one standout, thanks to its perfectly crispy crust and juicy interior. Try it drizzled with hot honey, or tossed with a “hot shake” of spices—just keep a fresh biscuit handy to help cut the richness.
1381 Boylston St., Boston, 617-266-1300, sweetcheeksq.com.