With the tragic loss of Flossie’s, L.A. lost a legendary staple of fantastic Fried Chicken. Flossie’s was affordable, down-to-earth, and delivered great Fried Chicken for years. Thankfully we’ve been blessed with a newcomer recently that has more than filled the void.
But hearing discussions about other places here and there for Fried Chicken, and then the arrival of multiple “gourmet” versions, it felt like a good time for a Fried Chicken Journey. (Note: We were looking only at traditional, bone-in Fried Chicken for this adventure.)
Flores & Sons
This popular little restaurant along Sawtelle has flipped a few times in recent years, but we heard about their Fried Chicken, served only during Happy Hour.
Wilted Swiss Chard:
I wanted to eat a little healthy before we started on this crunchy, crispy adventure, so we started with their Wilted Swiss Chard. Flores & Sons’ Swiss Chard was OK. It was a generous amount of Rainbow Chard sauteed with Garlic.
There was some slight crunch, but the skin was still undercooked in parts (gross), and the the Chicken was a tad overcooked. It also tasted old. At $9 (+ tax & tip) during Happy Hour Only, it’s rather fairly priced.
This isn’t something I could see myself returning to Flores & Sons for, but the rest of the menu looks to have some interesting offerings.
Flores & Sons
2024 Sawtelle Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Tel: (424) 273-6469
Gus’s Fried Chicken
Much has been said about this popular chain restaurant from Mason, Tennessee. Its first Southern California expansion arrived a few months back. It was time to revisit and see if they improved.
One nice thing is that they fry their Fried Chicken to order. It arrived piping hot.
However, taking the first bite, it was a salt bomb! Out of all the restaurants we tried on this journey, Gus’s was by far the saltiest. The Fried Chicken Breast was still juicy, with a very thin, crisp batter.
But it lacked a satisfying crunch, and it was just salty.
Lastly, both the dark and white meat Fried Chicken suffered from freezer burn. The edges of the Chicken were stringy, dryish and chewy. The rest of it was fine, however.
Ultimately, I think @ipsedixit’s description is still apt: It’s like elevated Fast Food Fried Chicken. It has that type of taste / feel. At $16 (+ tax & tip) for Half a Chicken, it’s not too expensive, but the parking situation and saltiness don’t really make us want to return.
Gus’s Fried Chicken
1262 Crenshaw Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90019
Tel: (323) 402-0232
This classic L.A. diner, with its charming Googie-style architecture is always a lot of fun to visit. From the waitstaff to the customers, it just feels like a great, welcoming, family restaurant.
Fried Half Chicken Dinner:
Since 1958, Pann’s has been serving up down-to-earth American Diner classics. Their Fried Chicken is still fried to order to this day.
When it arrives the beautiful golden brown color and hot oil smell brings a smile to my face. Taking a bite, it’s piping hot, the batter has a decent crunch and is crispy. Pann’s Fried Chicken has that “classic Diner taste”… it’s also the lightest seasoning out of all the Fried Chicken places we tried, which is nice for those not looking for heavy salt.
The Fried Chicken Breast is overcooked, slightly dryish, but the crispy crust helps to even things out a bit.
However, their dark meat Fried Chicken (Drumstick, Wing, Thigh) are perfect! Juicy, crispy, crunchy. It’s just enjoyable, simple Fried Chicken. And it reminds me of earlier, happier times.
It also comes with 2 Sides and their famous Biscuit:
Their Biscuit was Servorg’s favorite, and I can see why. It’s flaky, fragrant, but maybe a touch dry on this visit (last visit was better).
One of the complimentary sides we ordered was their French Fries.
WOW! I don’t remember Pann’s French Fries being so good before, but these Fries were piping hot, crunchy, with a good outer crispiness, and a soft, potatoey interior! They were SO GOOD! Some of the best Fries I’ve had recently.
At $13.65 (+ tax & tip), it’s a bargain, and the ambiance is always welcoming.
6710 La Tijera Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90045
Tel: (323) 776-3770
Sitting atop the “Best Fried Chicken” list for many locals, Jim Dandy serves Fried Chicken behind bullet-proof glass. Their first location has no seating, while their second location has 2 tables, but realistically both are Take-Out Only.
For our 6th visit to Jim Dandy, it had been a few months, so I was hopeful it was still consistent.
Fried Chicken (Regular & Spicy):
Their Fried Chicken Breast is crispy, but overcooked (badly). Sadly too dry. They seem inconsistent in this area. During our 1st, 2nd, 4th visits the Chicken Breast was still juicy. But the 3rd, 5th, and 6th visits have been overcooked and dry.
Their dark meat Fried Chicken has been consistently juicy however. The Spicy Fried Chicken Drumstick has a nice crunchiness, only a slight bit of heat. It’s well-seasoned and moist.
At $4.99 (+ tax) for Half a Fried Chicken, it’s absurdly affordable, and by far the cheapest price of any of the Fried Chicken places we tried. It’s tasty, but their lack of consistency, and general seasoning don’t reach the heights of our favorites.
Jim Dandy’s Fried Chicken
11328 S Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90044
Tel: (323) 779-5567
1824 W Manchester Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90047
Tel: (323) 758-1411
I’ve heard about Farmshop’s Sunday Night Fried Chicken Dinner for years now. But while I adore Farmshop for Brunch, I just never felt like going (nor any of my friends), especially at their prices. But it was time to visit.
Farmshop has a nice gourmet market attached to it, which adds to the ambiance.
I love Farmshop’s simple, rustic feel. Its ambiance is one of the reasons we go back for Brunch so often.
Their Sunday Night Fried Chicken Dinner is a set menu, so I’ll mention everything that comes with it.
Salad of Sweet Gem Lettuce (Prosciutto Americano, Artichokes, Drake Family Goat Cheese, Black Mission Figs & Grapes):
This was absolutely delicious! Impeccable ingredients, the Little Gem Lettuce, the Artichokes, the Black Mission Figs were so sweet and earthy. Truly a fantastic salad!
Salad of Haricot Verts (Murray Farm Peaches & Toasted Almonds):
Another excellent dish. The Haricot Vert… perfectly cooked. Lightly blanched, tender, but firm. The Murray Farm Peaches were perfectly ripe and sweet.
Braised Cranberry Beans (Red Shishito Peppers & Brentwood Sweet Corn):
Cranberry Beans are really interesting. They have a unique density and chew to them. They were quite good as well, and the Red Shishito Peppers were very good.
Fried Chicken (Half):
However, the most important thing was the Fried Chicken, which arrived shortly after. Looking at the crust, it looked off and rather strange. It was also a bit greasy.
They claimed it was inspired by Zuni Cafe’s Chicken (San Francisco), but taking a bite, the crust was hard and really thick. I guess you could say it’s “crunchy” but so dense and hard that I felt like I could chip a tooth on it!
To make matters worse, the Fried Chicken Breast was overcooked and dry!
Clover Honey Cake (Poached Figs, Whipped Mascarpone, Honey Mead Reduction & Toasted Almonds):
Thankfully, dessert was splendid! The Clover Honey Cake was moist, luscious and delicious! The Figs and and Toasted Almonds perfectly matched the Honey Cake, which had this deep, interesting lightly sweet, fragrant Honey infusion. Really good.
But despite all the sides and the salad, the reason we came here was for their Fried Chicken. Paying a whopping $60 per person for the worst Fried Chicken out of any of the places we ate was very disappointing. Of course, the Salad, Sides and Dessert were very good, but I didn’t pay the $60 price tag to eat that. It’s the Fried Chicken that’s supposed to be the main course and star, but instead everything else was good and the Fried Chicken was disappointing.
It’s stunning to think Pann’s simple, down-to-earth Fried Chicken (at $13.65) and Jim Dandy’s ($4.99) are far superior.
225 26th Street, #25
Santa Monica, CA 90402
Tel: (310) 566-2400
Thanks to Thor for this recommendation, this was another gourmet Fried Chicken offering.
The Brentwood serves a complementary Bread Basket, filled with various fresh-baked breads from their sister Bakery (Red Rooster).
Side Order - Sauteed Spinach:
I needed to see something green in this golden crispy adventure, so we ordered their Sauteed Spinach. It was fantastic! A generous amount of Sauteed Spinach, simply cooked with Garlic and Olive Oil, it was really satisfying and hit the spot.
Jidori Fried Chicken Dinner:
We were glad to see that The Brentwood’s crust was much softer than Farmshop. It was maybe too soft, though, with a slight crunch. The fat & skin underneath was also still unrendered and undercooked, leaving portions of the Fried Chicken a bit flabby.
In general, however, it was much better than Farmshop’s Fried Chicken, and we’d rather eat this version in the battle between gourmet Westside places. While the menu touts that it’s “Jidori” Chicken, we couldn’t really taste any difference in vibrancy or pure flavor that set it apart from the other places we tried.
At about $44 ($33.50 + tax & tip), this isn’t cheap either, and we’d rather eat Pann’s and Jim Dandy’s over this (at a fraction of the price).
148 South Barrington Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90049
Tel: (310) 476-3511
It was time to drive out to La Canada Flintridge and see how newcomer and Fried Chicken specialist Honeybird was faring since it’s Grand Opening a few months ago. 3rd and 4th visits:
Garlic Mashed Potatoes (Mixed Potatoes, Roasted Garlic):
Their Fried Chicken Dinners come with a choice of multiple side dishes, so we decided to try the Garlic Mashed Potatoes. These were very garlicky, with partially mashed and larger chunks of Potatoes mixed together. It was pretty enjoyable.
Honeybird Biscuits (Applewood Smoked Bacon, Sharp Cheddar, Chives, Maple Vanilla Butter):
These were warm, but not as hot / fresh-out-of-the-oven as I hoped. Still, they were very fragrant and on the savory side for sure (Bacon, Cheddar ingrained in the Biscuit).
Rapini Salad (Romaine, Charred Broccoli Rabe, Roasted Garlic Aioli, Garlic Bread Crumbs, Parmesan):
A bit on the salty side, and overdressed.
Watermelon Salad (White Balsamic, Cucumbers, Mint, Jicama, and Jalapeno):
Still as refreshing as last time. Delicious.
Collard Greens (Applewood Smoked Bacon, Brown Sugar, Cider Vinegar):
These improved since our last visit. They were more balanced, and had just the right amount of acidity to help balance out the Fried Chicken’s grease.
Phil Lee O Fish (Crispy Whitefish, Lemon Dill Aioli, Homemade Pickles, Tomato, Cabbage):
The humorously named “Phil Lee O Fish” - a play off Chef Phil Lee’s name and the McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish - this is the former Water Grill alum’s take on the Filet-O-Fish sandwich! It turns out to be a fantastic Fish Sandwich! This is seriously like a delicious, gourmet version of the Filet-O-Fish! The Whitefish is a huge portion, crispy and the combination of bread and Lemon Dill Aioli and the Pickles, Tomato, etc. all blend together for some magic.
Visually, it looks like Honeybird hasn’t really improved. Their Fried Chicken looks like it’s fried at the wrong temperature, and the oil looks like it hasn’t been cleaned / changed regularly. It’s always very dark.
Taking a bite, it has a good crunch, but lacks that airy crispiness that makes L.A.'s best so remarkable. However, the Chicken tasted very fresh and had a good flavor (they use an Organic Chicken here).
However, all pieces of the Fried Chicken are juicy and not overcooked. It’s a bit heavy and greasy, however, but at $17.50 (+tax and tip) it’s better than Farmshop and The Brentwood. One of my friends liked it more than Jim Dandy’s and I think I’d have to agree given how inconsistent they are.
714 Foothill Blvd.
La Canada, CA 91011
Tel: (818) 415-0489
Chef Kris Morningstar’s current flagship restaurant, the former AOC, Patina chef has found a wonderful, bright space along Beverly Blvd.
I’ve heard many of our friends say they enjoy Terrine, but we never got a chance to visit until now. And when I heard about Chef Morningstar’s Fried Chicken, it was a must-visit on this journey.
Pickle Brine Fried Chicken & Grits (Scallions, Maple):
It should be noted, Terrine only serves Fried Chicken Thighs. There is no choice for Fried Chicken Breast, Wings or Drumsticks if you were hoping for a selection. It makes sense, though, as it should allow the kitchen to focus on cooking 1 specific piece of Chicken more consistently and not worry about over/undercooking.
The Fried Chicken Thighs have a wonderful crispy, slight crunch batter. The color is beautiful as well.
The Chicken meat is well-seasoned, the Pickle Brine is almost undetectable (it’s not tart), but the flaw is that it’s undercooked. Even with just focusing on 1 type of piece of Chicken, it arrives bloody:
Also parts of the skin & fat are unrendered, so it’s a bit unappetizing.
For the portions that were cooked just right, it was spot-on and pretty tasty! One of the better Fried Chicken pieces we had on this journey. If only they could get their fry technique better.
The Grits were perfect, with just the right amount of creaminess, yet also a toothsome quality.
I had to make sure so I returned again (3rd visit) to try it again:
This time, it was better in that it wasn’t undercooked, but the batter was a bit greasy and lacked the airy crispiness of our favorite. Still it was pretty good overall. At $22 (+ tax & tip), it’s a bit pricey for 2 pieces, but if they work out the consistency issues, we’d be glad to return.
8265 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Tel: (323) 746-5130
1. Howlin’ Ray’s
And to wrap things up, we had to return to our current favorite to see how it compared. For our 10th visit, the line wasn’t too bad, about a 40 minute wait.
Unsweetened Peach Ice Tea:
Refreshing, and with just the right touch of Peach aroma.
I love their Pickles. Crisp, crunchy, just the right amount of tartness.
Fried Chicken Dark (Leg & Thigh), “Country” Style (Level 1 - No Heat):
As soon as it appears, the beautiful golden hue, the look sets it apart from all of the other places we visited on this adventure. And then the first bite:
There’s this delectable, deeply satisfying CRUNCH and this light, airy crispiness. Chef Johnny Ray Zone has perfected the batter and cooking times, to create fantastic, legendary Fried Chicken!
It’s so juicy, perfectly seasoned, not too salty, not underseasoned, the blend of everything together is just on an entirely other level of Fried Chicken to anything we’ve had in L.A.
IT’S SO GOOD!
We got this piece just out of the fryer, piping hot, and you could see and taste how juicy it was:
Their Fried Chicken Wings were just as good:
Chef Zone and staff watch the cooking times of each of the pieces with an eagle eye. His pedigree from working in the kitchens of Chef Thomas Keller (French Laundry) and Gordon Ramsay are apparent. We’ve never had overcooked Chicken in any of the 10 times we’ve visited. Perfect.
Fried Chicken & Waffles - The Waffle:
Their Housemade Batter and freshly-cooked Waffles make all the difference. On this visit, the Waffle is as crisp and pillowy as the first time we had it. (Note: Make sure you take the Fried Chicken off the Waffle and enjoy it immediately! ).
Market Side - Dirty Crab Rice:
I knew we were in for a treat when I glanced at the daily changing board on the wall announcing their Market Side Dish: Dirty Crab Rice! Yes, when Chef Zone starts making classic Southern sides like Dirty Rice, but this time with real Crab meat, it can only mean good things.
And it was absolutely delicious! Howlin’ Ray’s Dirty Crab Rice had all the wonderful aspects of a good Dirty Rice, with the Onions, Bell Peppers, Black Pepper notes and Bay Leaf coming through. But the Crab meat and the Serrano and Fresno Chilies were the additional layer that elevated this Market Side to must order status!
Initial Hours (extended Hours will be added once they settle in):
Wed - Sun
11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Howlin’ Ray’s Nashville Hot Chicken
727 N. Broadway Ave #128
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel: (213) 935-8399
It was a lot of fun traveling and experiencing all of these different places that have received attention for their Fried Chicken. My favorite parts were revisiting Pann’s and just getting to try lots of Fried Chicken interpretations that I had bookmarked and never got around to trying.
Ultimately, if the Fried Chicken is that good, I’d gladly pay to experience greatness. It turned out the most expensive “gourmet” Fried Chicken dishes didn’t come close to Howlin’ Ray’s, which captures that perfect synergy of Crispy, Crunchy, Light, Not-Greasy, Juicy, Perfectly-Seasoned Chicken.
And at $15 for a Half Fried Chicken, it’s a bargain compared to most places we visited. Howlin’ Ray’s remains our favorite Fried Chicken and a true L.A. gem!
Update 1: Tokyo Fried Chicken, Honey’s Kettle, Eagle Rock Brewery Public House and Howlin’ Ray’s (Revisit).
Update 2: Hotville Chicken (Is this really Prince’s?!), Vons, Red Herring, Stevie’s Creole Cafe, Dulan’s Soul Food, Howlin’ Ray’s (Revisit) and More!
Update 3: Bouchon Bistro, Jar, Fritzi Coop, Stevie’s Creole Cafe (Revisit), Howlin’ Ray’s (Revisit) and More!
Update 4: Tasty Fried Chicken at Phat Birds, also Sweet Chick, Poppy + Rose, Dave’s Hot Chicken.
Update 5: Pioneer Chicken, Albertsons, Jim Dandy (Revisit), Pann’s (Revisit), Howlin’ Ray’s and more!
Update 6: Lucky Bird, Yardbird, 77 Kentucky, C.J. Boyd’s, Howlin’ Ray’s (Revisit)!
Update 7: Chef Marilyn’s, McDonald’s Thailand LEGIT Fried Chicken, Gjusta, Howlin’ Ray’s (Revisit) and more!