At some point, fried chicken went from the everyman's inexpensive indulgence to a high-priced commodity at upscale restaurants. Setting aside the dish's obvious trendiness, we wanted to explore fried chicken that does not cost four times as much as what someone in their right mind would pay. We want deep-fried goodness served at places that tend to be open late, tend to only accept cash and where there is usually a thick sheet of glass that separates you from the person taking your order. These signs are strong reminders that you're about to enjoy some no-frills food — and when it comes to fried chicken, that's all we really want.
3115 S. Lancaster Road
If you eat fried chicken and haven’t visited Rudy’s, you have a serious hole in your game. It's not unusual for the line of cars to spill into the street and create traffic — some people just activate their emergency lights and abandon their cars in the middle of the road. This chicken comes resting on slices of white bread that soak up all that flavorful grease. If you can get the tenders before they run out, do it — they may be the best in town. But no matter what you order, you're getting a masterful blend of bold spices. A meal comes with a jalapeno, pickles and some mysterious tangy orange sauce that feels addictive. The chicken and fries are both heavily seasoned, but go ahead and ask for extra seasoning. The breading is thin but crispy, putting the focus on the meat. Rudy’s is cash only and it is almost always busy, but you can save a lot of time just by getting out of your car instead of sitting in the drive-through.
Chicken House Plus
909 N. Fitzhugh Ave.
Maybe they should call it Chicken House Minus after they clean up outside. The dead rat with orange teeth in the parking lot was a bit off-putting, but on the up-side, they actually take credit cards at Chicken House. The mashed potatoes and gravy were bland and tasted like whipped potatoes and butter. The fried okra, however, was as good as the high-end version at Pecan Lodge. This is good chicken. The seasoning is slight, but the crust is a perfect shell for the surprisingly tender meat. This fried chicken is not especially greasy, which is great news for your stomach.
Pope’s Fried Chicken
4502 East Side Ave.
Everything is some sort of combo at Pope’s, which is not run by the Bishop of Rome but it is patronized by some friendly guys who may ask you if you're interested in a tattoo while you dine at one of the cozy tables in front. The coating on the chicken is crunchy and seasoned mildly, but effective. The meat is a little dry, but still good; it breaks right off the bone. The rolls are boring and taste like day-old bread — rescue them with hot sauce or left over gravy. The perfectly-mashed potatoes and gravy game is particularly strong here; go with the rich, dark gravy.
What makes the Williams name so formidable is freshness — everything here tastes like it came off the grill two seconds ago. If you're a chicken tenders person — reluctant to eat your meat off the bone — give this a try. The chicken is a little on the greasy side, but still moist and soft. The seasoning is minimal here. Like a good barbecue place, the focus is on the meat. It’s easy to tear off the bone, and the sweet tea here is candy. Having said that, the crinkle-cut fries are crispy, golden and salty.
Louisiana Famous Fried Chicken
While eating my way through these chicken spots, Louisiana’s finest gave me a shot in arm. The Louisiana spicy coating recipe sent shock waves through my body. The soft, buttery sweet rolls disappear fast. There are also crazy drinks options, like Thai tea and pineapple slushies. Red beans and rice, dirty rice and fried rice are also curious sides for fried chicken. The gravy is dark and tangy, and the fried okra game here is as strong as it gets. But the fried chicken is just perfect in a way that is reminiscent of a beautifully baked chicken. With a soft texture, it slid right off the bone before it was dunked in hot sauce. The meat is slightly pink but not rubbery. I actually licked these bones after this meal.
This is, in a word, awful. Greasy as hell is the only flavor they seem to know here. The fried chicken meat was chewy and hard in unexpected places, and there was no seasoning. This is garbage disguised as food, and Chicken Express isn’t giving it away for free. The only positive thing you can really say about this place is that it's fast. They throw it out the drive-through window at you like a Frisbee. The buttery rolls are pretty good here, and they fill you up. But who brags about that?
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Hall’s Chicken Shack
2327 S. Buckner Blvd.
Hall’s is one of the oldest and greatest fried chicken institutions in Dallas, and for good reason. Welcome to spicy town. Why yes, I would like a huge jalapeño, pickles and carrots on top of my chicken basket. The wonderfully skinny fries are salty and greasy as all get out. The meat, boldly seasoned, comes on slices of bread. The fried chicken is awesome, but proceed with caution. This is — literally — the hottest chicken in town. The meat is particularly moist, even a little tough, but somehow glorious all the same. This is just a different bird, and Hall’s is essential Dallas fried chicken.
The rolls here are perfectly soft and hot, but this is wildly inconsistent fried chicken. The exterior is an odd, forgettable crust that seems to disappear to the touch. In one spot, the meat was a bit rubbery and another spot was downright slimy. Some of it was pink and veiny, perhaps a little under-cooked. I eventually located a nice spot; perhaps a bit dry, but a nice piece of chicken complemented by the crunchy crust. Golden Chick is better than Chicken Express, but that’s not saying much.