National Fried Chicken Day is July 6, and there are different versions of who, when and how it started.
We know for sure that it wasn't the chickens, but does it matter? True food connoisseurs just appreciate delicious fried chicken, the kind that makes crackling sounds when you bite into a drumstick, thigh or breast.
And anyone who grew up in Michigan like me knows about Frankenmuth. This touristy, kitschy German-themed town along Interstate 75 is home to two restaurants ― the Bavarian Inn and Zehnder's ― that make some of the finest fried chicken north of Toledo.
But I digress, as I've lived in Florida for last 22 years. My focus now is on where to find wondrous fried chicken in these parts.
Our Florida Entertainment Team assembled a list to celebrate crunchy and tasty helpings for National Fried Chicken Day and the other 364 days.
Der Dutchman Restaurant
3713 Bahia Vista St., Sarasota; 941-955-8007;dhgroup.com
Featuring foods that celebrate the Amish and Mennonite traditions of the Midwest, Der Dutchman's Sarasota location, established in 1985, offers a beloved buffet with the star attraction being their marinated, breaded, and "broasted" chicken. This pressure-cooked fried chicken has the crispy exterior and moist interior to satisfy even the strongest craving. Recentlyvoted the best buffet in the country by our sister publication USA TODAY, Der Dutchman serves "broasted chicken" at both the lunch and dinner buffets. — Wade Tatangelo, Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Related:12 best restaurants for fried chicken in Sarasota and Bradenton
Desi’s Downtown Restaurant
197 N. Main St., Crestview; 850-682-7477;facebook.com/desisdowntown/
Named after owner Tim English’s daughter, Desi’s is a friendly, family run institution in downtown Crestview. The restaurant gets a lot of regulars who line up for the fried chicken, one of the most popular items on the menu, included in their lunch buffet on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Also included are made-from-scratch sides like mashed potatoes and gravy and black-eyed peas, and desserts, which includes banana pudding and bread pudding. ― Brandi Kalicki, correspondent, Northwest Florida Daily News
Related:What are the best restaurants for fried chicken in Okaloosa County? Here are 10 favorites
Farmers Market Restaurant
2736 Edison Ave., Fort Myers; 239-334-1687; farmersmarketrestaurant.com
This homey, no-frills restaurant has been mastering the art of fried chicken since the 1950s. Made with fresh, never frozen chicken from a family-owned poultry farm, it’s crispy, crunchy, juicy perfection in all its glorious forms. You’ll see it on the breakfast menu, nestled between two pancakes and served with sweet and spicy syrup for $12. It’s there in a sandwich ($10.50) and served with a side (think slow-cooked collards or the kind of mac & cheese you wish you could duplicate at home). Go on a Tuesday and the Southern fried chicken appears smothered in onion gravy and baked until it melts off the bone ($12.50).
Then comes the granddaddy of them all ― Southern fried chicken served in quarter ($12.50) or half (for just $4 more) portions with two sides. When our server told us the made-to-order chicken takes a little extra time, we gladly primed ourselves with fresh-baked rolls and cornbread. Twelve minutes later, we were in fried chicken heaven. Fort Myers’ oldest restaurant knows what it’s doing. — Robyn George, The News-Press
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Front Porch Restaurant & Pie Shop
12039 N. Florida Ave. (U.S. 41), Dunnellon; 352-489-4708;facebook.com
“Stan the Man’s Famous Fried Chicken” is a staple at this mom-and-pop shop in Dunnellon. "The fried chicken is crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. It's served with cornbread andflavorful side options such as collard greens, zucchini and tomatoes andmashed potatoes,"the Ocala Star-Banner reported last year. ― Ocala Star-Banner
Related:What are the best restaurants for fried chicken in Marion County? Here are 8 favorites
3302 Hendricks Ave. in Jacksonville and multiple locations in Florida, metrodiner.com
Even with dozens of locations across the South and elsewhere, Metro Diner to many of us is still the hometown favorite that first opened in 1992 on Hendricks Avenue.From its buttermilk-marinated Chicken Tender Plate to its traditional Fried Chicken Plate, Metro Diner wows when it comesto fried chicken. But we (and “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” host Guy Fieri) recommend the Fried Chicken & Waffle, a half-chicken worth of meat fried to a golden crunch anda Belgian waffle, served with a terrific strawberry butter and spicy-sweet sauce.
1605 S Adams St.; Tallahassee 850-521-0259; facebook.com
Order the crispy fried chicken and get a side of soul food history when you eat at Olean's. Olean and Johnny McCaskill have run the cozy restaurant, decked out with photos of Florida A&M University athletic stars and friends, and a poster of Martin Luther King Jr. andPresident Barack Obama, for more than 20 years. A breakfast dish is named after Obama, as is a lunch for then-Vice President Joe Biden. It was made for him when he dropped in during a campaign stop. “It’s a lunch special,” Olean told Tallahassee Table's Rochelle Koff in 2016. “It’s fried chicken, black-eyed peas, mac and cheese ― just what he got.” ― Martha Gruender, Tallahassee Democrat
651 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach; 561-557-6460;EatRegional.com
Nationally acclaimed chef Lindsay Autry offers glorious fried chicken in various ways at her two Southern-inspired, Palm Beach County restaurants, The Regional and Honeybelle. In fact, the crispy, sweet-tea-brined chicken thighs at The Regional once was declared “Best Fried Chicken” in Florida by the Food Network.
The popular dish ($14) is on the menu at dinnertime Monday through Saturday, served with hand-chopped coleslaw and seasonal pickles. Autry also offers fried chicken and biscuits on The Regional’s newish Sunday brunch buffet ($55 per person).
At Honeybelle, located in the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, Autry offers a pickle-brined fried half chicken with buttermilk biscuits on the dinner menu and a well dressed crispy chicken sandwich at lunch.— Liz Balmaseda, The Palm Beach Post
Best fried chicken in Palm Beach County:7 favorite restaurants for great crispy bird
Silkie’s Chicken and Champagne Bar
1602 Walnut St., Jacksonville; meetatsilkies.com
Kenny Gilbert is a celebrity chef with celebrity chef credentials (a former “Top Chef” contestant) and celebrity chef credentials (cooking for Oprah). Since opening his latest restaurant, Silkie’s Chicken and Champagne Bar, in late 2020, Gilbert has racked up accolades, including preparing his signature “Flavor Bomb” for Oprah’s New Year’s Day Brunch. If you didn’t get Oprah’s invite, you can visit Silkie’s and try the Flavor Bomb, asmokey fried chicken thigh, a truffle gouda drop biscuit, orange blossom honey and Fernandina BeachHot Sauce; or the FL/GA Boy, a friedchicken breast, a buttermilk drop biscuit, Alaga cane syrup butter and dill cucumber pickles. Or splurge and get the Half a Bird or Silkie’s Spring Chicken + Biscuits, featuring Gilbert’s 23-hour brined chicken.
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Yoder's Restaurant & Amish Village
3434 Bahia Vista St., Sarasota; 941-955-7771;yodersrestaurant.com
A Sarasota tradition dating back to 1975, with its current location in the Amish and Mennonite community of Pinecraft — right by Der Dutchman — open since 1984, Yoder's is one of the oldest and most famous restaurants in the region. Credit goes to their pies and pressure-fried chicken, both of which were enjoyed by Adam Richmanduring an episode of "Man vs. Food.""This is some of the juiciest fried chicken I think I may have ever eaten. Look at how beautiful that is," he told viewers. Yeah, you can't really call yourself a Sarasotan without having enjoyed fried chicken followed by a slice of homemade pie at Yoder's. — Wade Tatangelo, Sarasota Herald-Tribune
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Yoko San Ramen
6345 Naples Blvd., Naples; 239-880-9900;yokosanramen.com
As a foreign exchange student in Sendai, Japan, my host mother, Mrs. Nishiyama, would often prepare fried chicken karaage for my bento-box lunch as there was no cafeteria at the girls-only high school I attended. Traditionally, this delish dish is prepared by marinating chicken thighs overnight in a garlicky soy-ginger sauce followed with a dusting of potato starch before hitting the frying pan.
Yoko San Ramen’s chefs use tempura batter instead. The result? Fantastic. Though appetizer portions have shrunken since NDN’s 2022 review, a new $14 lunch bowl starring the bird drizzled with house aioli and spicy chili sauce is accompanied by bok choy, carrot, tsukemono (bits of pickled red pepper and Japanese cucumber) plus a scoop of jasmine rice. Pro tip: ask for sauces on the side. If not for the calories, I would happily eat this every day. ― Diana Biederman, Naples Daily News
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Kinfolks Southern Kitchen, Chicken & Waffles at Kinfolk
6075 S.E. Federal Highway, Stuart; 772-600-7495; kinfolksouthern.com
7319 Indrio Road, Fort Pierce; 772-742-8942; cwkinfolk.com
Willie Roundtree is keeping the recipe for the fried chicken he serves customers at his Treasure Coast soul food restaurants a secret. “They got to come try it,” Roundtree said. “It’s all in the process of the right timing.” Customers should expect a 10-mintue wait time. “We fry everything fresh,” said Roundtree, who revealed he doesn’t use buttermilk on his fried chicken. “It’s moist, and it’s crispy, and it’s no grease.”
The Fort Pierce native first brought his fried chicken to his hometown when he opened Kinfolk Southern Eats and Treats in 2018. He opened his second soul food restaurant, Chicken & Waffles at Kinfolk, in 2021 north of Fort Pierce. He always intended to expand his restaurants across the Treasure Coast, but high rent forced him to close his first location in June last year before he opened a third location, Kinfolks Southern Kitchen, in December in Stuart. ― Laurie K. Blandford, TCPalm/Treasure Coast Newspapers