The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Fried Chicken

Categories: Top 10

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Photo by Gary R. Wise
A mouthwatering Middle Eastern take on fried chicken at our No. 3 pick.
"What's your favorite fried chicken in Houston?" I asked my mother a few days ago over the phone, curious to see if I'd overlooked any old favorites on the top 10 list I was compiling. A sixth generation Texan, my mother has lived here for more than three decades and cooks for a living. Needless to say, she's very often my point person for Texan and Southern staples such as fried chicken.

There was a pause on the other end of the line. I could imagine her face in my mind, looking at me as if I'd asked for directions to Jupiter. And then, finally: "You know I only make fried chicken at home. I don't eat that stuff out."

Fair point. And true. Her fried chicken is the stuff of legend, cooked in my great-grandmother's cast-iron skillet, the batter crunchy for only the first bite and then melting on your tongue like a pat of butter. If you're lucky, she'll make white gravy out of the drippings that are left in the skillet, although she's been too health-conscious the last 10 years or so to entertain such fatty indulgences.

"I'm too crazy about hormones and antibiotics in the meat anyway," she demurred, her 70's-era hippie side battling it out -- as ever -- with her deeply Texan roots. "You can't trust some of that stuff."

In the end, though, she conceded one single restaurant: "I like Haven. Their fried chicken is good. And you can trust Randy Evans."

"Well, they're already on the list," I grumbled. She knew I was smiling over the phone when I told her, jokingly, "You're no help."

But it was heartening to hear that my mother -- protector, guardian, supplier and connoisseur of fried chicken -- was as big a fan of Haven's fried chicken as I am. And along with chef Evans' spin on the Southern staple, here are the nine other joints that offer the best fried chicken in Houston.

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Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
10. Zelko Bistro

Zelko Bistro is the only place in town where I'll order a fried chicken breast, and that's because the chicken breast at Zelko is plump and juicy beyond compare. Pair that impossibly moist flesh with a crispy, barely sweet crust made with -- what else? -- Captain Crunch cereal, and you have a winning textural combination. The darkly sweet and tangy shallot jam on top keeps what could be a kitschy dish elegant, as do the tender pea shoots. I love the chicken here so much, in fact, that it's the rare restaurant where I don't fill up on the buttery mashed potatoes first.

9. Max's Wine Dive

When the very first Max's Wine Dive first opened in Houston in 2007, it led a wave of upscale-downmarket dining -- or the more commonly seen moniker: "upscale comfort food" -- with its famous offer of fried chicken paired with champagne. (Which is a great idea, if you ask me; a nice, dry bottle of bubbly is almost ideal with a greasy bucket of chicken.) The chicken gets its signature kick from a jalapeño-buttermilk marinade and is still fried to order at Max's Wine Dives across the state.

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Photo by Michael Shum
8. Toreore

How can anyone not love a chicken joint whose motto is "Chicken & Joy"? Toreore -- located inside the Super H-Mart food court -- offers both in spades. The famously fiery fried chicken isn't for the faint of tongue, however. The sweet-and-spicy chicken delivers a delicately crispy exterior that gives way to a dark rumble of spiciness, which doesn't fully hit you until around a minute after you've taken a bite. In keeping with the general wackiness found around every corner at Super H-Mart, the take-out containers of Toreore chicken appear to be giant pizza boxes.

Location Info

Zelko Bistro

705 E. 11th St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Max's Wine Dive

4720 Washington Ave., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Super H Mart

1302 Blalock Road, Houston, TX

Category: General

Randalls

5800 New Territory Blvd., Sugar Land, TX

Category: General

the breakfast klub

3711 Travis St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Rice Box Truck

, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Haven

2502 Algerian Way, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Al Aseel

8619 Richmond Ave., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Frenchy's Chicken

3919 Scott St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Barbecue Inn

116 W. Crosstimbers, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
27 comments
Fluerie
Fluerie

Agree with your mom.... home is choice #1. Randy Evans is a trusted alternate choice; I suggest stopping into Cove, the new raw bar nook in Haven which opens at 4pm, having a nibble and drink, and then ordering some chicken take-away. 

lakers
lakers

mmm...the best fried chicken for my money is the Seabrook Classic Cafe on Nasa Rd 1. Knocks me out!

attyrose31
attyrose31

And for the record, Chief makes the best huge burger and some great barbeque. All portions are extremely outsized and everything is very fresh. The place looks like a total dump but it is hard to find better food of this type served by such a nice group of people.  Mostly take out since there are only two small tables and four stools at the counter. 

attyrose31
attyrose31

The best wings and tenders can be found at Chief's Cajun Snack Shack at the southwest corner of Live Oak and Southmore in the Third Ward. They come with about a pound of crisp, hot fries.

BP88
BP88

I believe that the Rice Box truck currently does not have the Golden Doomba on the menu. He says he is reworking the recipe.

kejo66
kejo66

I have to say the best Fried Chicken in town BY FAR, is the old secret Astrodome Recipe fried chicken that is served down in the Star Boxes (Drayton's Old Boxes) buffet at MM Park before Astros games.  

The chicken is worth the $300-plus ticket all by itself.  If you haven't heard about the Astrodome Secret Recipe Fried Chicken, then you should ask somebody.

miss_msry
miss_msry

Sorry, ordering fried chicken in a restaurant is a waste of my limited dining out dollars. Best cook it at home.

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

Casual readers here already knew what was going to be on this list.  What I'd like to see is top Chicken Fried Steak places!

Mon Ica
Mon Ica

I can agree on Randalls. Haven't teied the others.

foodfan
foodfan

Randall's fried chicken is best out of a cooler on a boat during a hot day of fishing.

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

The Frenchys on I45 is pretty awful, but the original location is to die for agreed.

Jalapeno
Jalapeno

Ah, Mr. Edge, isn't greaseless chicken dry chicken?  Gimme some grease.  

ze1chef
ze1chef

Remember the fried chicken Killen's had at the fried chicken throwdown? We serve it everyday!

Loona_c
Loona_c

Don't forget Frenchy's seasoned french fries!

The best fried chicken I had was from Krogers, 2 days after Hurricane Ike shut the town down.  Krogers was open, air conditioned and frying chicken.  We bought enough for the neighborhood.  Perspective is everything. Yum!

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editortopcommenter

@lakers I haven't been there in ages. Thanks for the reminder!

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editortopcommenter

@FattyFatBastard It's already in the works, you mind-reader you. Have any suggestions while we're on the topic?

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editortopcommenter

@Jalapeno And yet therein lies the charm of Barbecue Inn's fried chicken...

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

@kshilcutt Other than DQ?  I'm thinking Ouisie's and Natachee's off the top of my head.  Problem is I haven't had a mind-blowing CFS since I was a kid, and I'd like to relive that experience.

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