I heard Pope's Fried Chicken was a rundown, super-sketchy chicken place near Carroll Avenue that even some grown men are openly afraid of approaching. You had me at "Pope's." The guy is super angry old and he's pretty busy being the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, but the pope also has a shady fried side business?! High five, Benny XVI! (But, Ben, don't you think it would've made more sense for you to open a place that serves eggs Benedict? No, you're right. Fried chicken is way cooler.)
Sadly, before I drove over there, I looked up reviews of Pope's online (in case I needed to bring a shiv or pack that giant value-sized Tabasco in my purse) and came across some very interesting commentary from one Mr. brian "little b" h. on Yelp. He claims the original owner of Pope's was not the pope (sad face), but in fact was David Pope, who based his recipe on ingredients in Church's chicken recipe because Pope "use to be a sales at Church's cooperate office back in the late 1970's and 1980's." Free secret recipes? I want to be "a sales." Also, do you think "cooperate" is a punny Church's name for their corporate offices? Man, I really hope it is.
The scene at Pope's when I drove up (James Lipton voice): A homeless gentleman slowly stands up from the outdoor table on which he had been napping and pushes his full-of-cats cart away. Pigeons eat (attempt to smoke?) cigarettes in the parking lot. Firetrucks scream their fucking heads off down the street.
4502 E Side Ave.
Semi-dead cricket on the floor count: 1 Pigeons eating trash in the parking lot count: 1 billion
Pope's has a ridiculous amount of combos for your fried-chicken-plus-side-item needs. For $3.99, you get two pieces of dark meat chicken plus a side and a drink ($4.99 if you want white meat). The chicken was all right—tasted just like you could get from a Church's or KFC. Nothing epic here, like you'd get from a Big Mama's or Henderson's. This is the perfect training-wheels place for someone who likes chain-restaurant fried chicken but who's ready to try something that's just barely off the beaten path.
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The highlight of my meal at Pope's was the corn fritters. They were little doughnut-hole lookin' fried corn bites that were extremely crispy and delicious. If you go here and skip these, you're a douche zoo.