We're only a week away from the 2017 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, our annual event honoring the best in local food and drink. As part of our run-up, we've elected nominees in all categories of food and beverage, from best chefs to the best restaurant in Dallas-Fort Worth.
Now we take a look at the contenders in one of the hottest cuisines in Dallas right now: fried chicken. Here are the nominees:
Babe's Chicken Dinner House
Local chain featuring fried chicken was founded in 1981 and now has nine branches. The menu has expanded from its original focus to include some of the area's best fried chicken, along with chicken-fried steak, smoked chicken, fried catfish, and family-style sides such as mashed potatoes, corn, and green beans.
bbbop Seoul Kitchen
In addition to the popular bibimbap rice dish, this Korean fusion mini-chain has been serving its rendition of Korean fried chicken on the side. The chicken is brined and battered with an extra-crunchy crust, then drenched in a sweet, spicy chili sauce. Its chicken is such a thing that the owners just opened Chicken Moto, a chicken-centric place in Richardson.
Brick & Bones
Casual Deep Ellum bar has a small menu that specializes in fried chicken. The chicken gets immersed first in a brine infused with chiles, giving it a spicy undertone. The crust has a shaggy, corn-flake crispness while still staying clung to the meat. There's also a Nashville-style "hot" chicken drizzled with hot sauce that adds smoky heat.
Farmbyrd Rotisserie & Fry
Plano spot is from Ryan Carbery (Bailey's, Patrizio) and Tim McLaughlin, pitmaster from Lockhart Barbecue. They submerge their chicken in a buttermilk brine and coat it in a crunchy crust. It comes with sauces such as sweet molasses, jerk, and green goddess. A condiments bar includes pickles and other add-ons.
Ritz-Carlton restaurant is hardly a fried chicken joint but chef Dean Fearing's paper-bag shook fried chicken, served only at Sunday brunch, has amassed fans including Bon Appétit, who ranked it one of the world’s top 10 fried chicken experiences; who are we to argue with Bon Appétit? The chicken is fried in a cast-iron skillet, producing a tender chicken with a gentle crust.
Max's Wine Dive
This Houston-based chain shows its priorities with its mantra, "Fried Chicken and Champagne?...Why the Hell Not?!" That pairing manages not only to convey a devil-may-care attitude, it also subtly elevates fried chicken. Max's fried chicken is marinated in jalapeño buttermilk, then fried, with the result being greaseless and lightly crunchy.
Quincy's Chicken Shack
The latest concept from the Twisted Root burger chain folk serves chicken rotisserie-style and fried. They've devised a clever technique to cook fried chicken successfully: The chicken gets rotisserie'd first, then a quick-fry when someone places an order, to get it to the right temperature and right crust.
Sissy's Southern Kitchen & Bar
Owner Lisa Garza-Selcer was ahead of the 2017 chicken curve when she opened Sissy's in 2012. Her technique is novel: The chicken gets brined for 24 hours, then cooked in a pressure fryer, resulting in an extra moist chicken with a crunchy crust. The retro-Southern menu also includes deviled eggs, gumbo, and fried green tomatoes.
Street's Fine Chicken
Latest concept from Black Eyed Pea founder Gene Street and his family obsesses over chicken, with fried, roasted, and grilled. As for the fried, it gets brined for 24 hours, as has become common, and has a peppery crust. But its French-inspired seasoning mix, consisting of herbes de Provence, mixed into the brine, is unique and flavorful.
The Slow Bone
You wouldn't expect fried chicken at a barbecue place, but Slow Bone is full of surprises, including having a chef — Jeffery Hobbs — behind the line. The chicken gets brined, but he gives it a barbecue twist by smoking the water first, to imbue it with an appropriately smoky taste.