Fried chicken is a gift from the higher powers that makes mouths water. Put it on a bun with toppings like pickles, coleslaw, and cheese, though, and it becomes irresistible. And perhaps most importantly, it can be easily eaten on-the-go without making a mess. The following list highlights the best chicken sandwiches currently available in Chicago. The latest additions include the Long Room’s Biscuit Man, Logan Square favorite Reno, and popular brewpub DryHop Brewers. For classic fried chicken, check out Eater Chicago’s 20 essential spots.Read More
20 Killer Fried Chicken Sandwiches in Chicago
When finger-lickin’ goodness meets portability
1. Big Jones
Paul Fehribach’s temple of southern cooking is an essential Chicago restaurant for good reason. Its fried chicken is among the best in town, based off Edna Lewis’s classic recipe that calls for the chicken to be brined and then fried in leaf lard, ham drippings, and clarified butter. It’s offered on an egg bun along with mayonnaise, lettuce, and chow-chow.
2. Mother Cluckers Kitchen
Southern fare gets the mother cluckin’ love it deserves in Sauganash. Po’ boys, ribs, and broasted chicken — which is cooked in a pressure fryer — are some of the specialties offered at Mother Cluckers. For the chicken sandwich, the kitchen packs a roll with breaded breast filet, lettuce, tomato, onions, and sauce. There’s a second location in Palatine.
3. The Biscuit Man
Housed inside one of the city’s best beer bars, the Long Room, this counter-service spot focuses on biscuit sandwiches. The fluffy biscuits are a paragon of the form and filled with fried chicken breast and dill pickles. Make it even better by adding a sauce and toppings such as eggs, bacon, and pork sausage.
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4. The Roost Carolina Kitchen
A deep, lingering burn can be an immensely pleasurable feeling and that’s just what the Roost delivers at its multiple locations. The Nashville hot chicken is one of the spiciest versions in Chicago, and available on a brioche roll or a fluffy biscuit. Guests can build their sandwich with various toppings or go with pre-customized combos like the “Sunrise” (over easy egg, bacon, cheddar).
5. DryHop Brewers
Beer and fried chicken are a perfect pairing and this Lakeview brewpub excels at both. A buttermilk-brined breast is blanketed with white cheddar pimento cheese, sweet pickles, and slaw. Diners can dial it up by having the chicken coated in Nashville-style hot sauce.
This Lakeview hotspot helped popularize Korean fried chicken. The chicken is lightly battered, fried to crisp perfection, and drenched in sauces like “Seoul Sassy” (ginger, soy, garlic, and other spices). The “Foodie’s Choice Crisp” sandwich is dressed with baby spinach, tomato, crumbled bleu cheese, bacon, mayonnaise, and atomic sauce.
Reno’s wood-fired pizzas get much of the praise but its fried chicken sandwich — currently available on the weekend brunch menu — is a similarly remarkable creation. Dubbed the “Pine,” it boasts juicy thigh meat with crackly-crisp skin on a grilled trinity bun. White cheddar, dill pickles, and hot honey sauce help round out the flavor profile.
8. The Budlong
Some like it hot but others like it really hot. The Budlong’s signature Nashville hot chicken is slathered in fiery cayenne paste for a lip-numbing experience. Choose a level of heat — ranging from classic to extra hot — and savor it on a brioche bun with slaw, pickles, and Budlong’s comeback sauce. The restaurant has four locations across Chicago.
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9. Parson's Chicken & Fish
Land and Sea Dept’s popular summertime destination provides good times in the form of greasy fried foods and refreshing Negroni slushies. Customers might have to wait for a seat on the patio when the weather is nice but they’ll be rewarded with a chicken sandwich loaded with slaw, American cheese, hot sauce, aioli, and pickles. A second Parson’s is located in Lincoln Park.
Hermosa owner Ethan Lim has created a unique lineup of sandwiches at this spot on the Northwest Side. His Cambodian-influenced fried chicken sandwich features a thigh marinated in fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and an herbal spice paste known as kroeung. The best seller gets an additional flavor assist from its toppings — sweet-and-spicy papaya salad, chopped long beans, and Asian herbs
If there’s any chef who knows his way around chicken, it’s Lee Wolen. The Boka Restaurant Group maestro is renowned for elevating roast chicken, but at ritzy Somerset he turns to the fryer for his pièce de résistance. Currently available on the Boka To Go menu, the sandwich comes with spicy mayonnaise, bread and butter pickles, and cabbage.
Chef Brian Jupiter is known for wild game cooking but his lodge-themed gastropub also puts out an excellent fried chicken sandwich. It features juicy chicken thighs, pickled banana peppers, provolone, and molasses mustard.
Although it’s billed as a burger joint, retro-themed Lucy’s most popular item is actually its spicy fried chicken sandwich. The crisp and juicy meat is served on a brioche bun alongside coleslaw, pickles, and a slice of American cheese. Guests can add super hot hot sauce for a kick. A second outpost recently opened in Uptown.
A neighborhood favorite for classic American comfort fare, Split-Rail has mastered the art of fried chicken. Owner and chef Zoe Schor brines and lightly seasons the meat before cooking it in canola oil. The finished product boasts a juicy interior and is protected by a crispy crust. Though the menu doesn’t include a chicken sandwich, folks can add a crispy chicken thigh to the diner burger for an indulgent mashup.
15. Fry the Coop
Fly the coop and head over to West Town for hot chicken. Influenced by venerable Nashville restaurants like Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack and Hattie B’s, owner Joe Fontana brings the heat. The intensity ranges from mild to “lil insanity” and diners can get their sandwiches with spicy honey butter or on a glazed doughnut. Fry the Coop also has suburban locations in Oak Lawn and Elmhurst.
16. Do-Rite Donuts & Chicken
Fried chicken and doughnuts may seem like an unlikely pairing, but the sweet-and-savory flavors somehow manage to harmonize. Do-Rite’s multiple outposts blend breakfast and lunch by featuring fried chicken sandwiched between glazed doughnuts. Of course, there are more traditional offerings served on brioche buns as well.
17. Boxcar Betty's
Hungry and traveling through Ogilvie Transportation Center? Then stop at Boxcar Betty’s, a Charleston, South Carolina import that opened its first Chicago location in 2018. The signature “Boxcar” sandwich is finished with pimiento cheese, peach slaw, pickles, and spicy mayonnaise, but diners can also customize their own.
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18. Big Boss Spicy Fried Chicken
It’s hard to miss this fried chicken specialist in Bridgeport. The façade and interior are covered in graffiti artwork and the Big Boss sandwich is equally eye-catching. Chef Jassy Lee takes Belizean marinated chicken and smothers it in Nashville-style sauce. The massive, boneless thigh overshadows the bun and is complemented with coleslaw and jalapenos. Spice lovers will be happy to know there are five different levels of heat.
19. R U Hungry
This no-frills Back of the Yards establishment exemplifies soul food at its finest. Everything is made from scratch and the kitchen marinates the chicken in spices before frying it. Call ahead for quicker service.
20. 5 Loaves Eatery
Southern-style cooking with down-home hospitality is the recipe for success at this Jean Banchet Award winner. In addition to a robust breakfast menu, enjoy soul food comforts like a fried chicken tenders sandwich served with lettuce, tomatos, and onions.