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Miami's Best Fried Chicken: A Top Ten List

Buttermilk-marinated fried chicken at Whisk Gourmet Food & Catering in Coral Gables
Buttermilk-marinated fried chicken at Whisk Gourmet Food & Catering in Coral Gables
billwisserphoto.com

Eating fried chicken is no tidy affair. Golden brittle breading bursts after a gentle nibble. Bits of crust cascade beneath your chin. Juices flow. Fingers glisten. Lips gleam. (Call this gloss pollo frito; it sure as hell beats Chanel.)

In Miami, a city brimming with restaurants of diverse ethnicities, fried chicken goes beyond the realm of American Southern cuisine. Across the Magic City, the epicurean cognoscenti can find Haitian, Jamaican, Dominican, Cuban, Japanese, Korean, and more.

What follows is a list of the ten best fried chicken places in town. Some serve bird on the bone; others do not. Some provide wings; others only breast. Regardless of origin, method or style, this poultry all starts and ends the same way: butcher, season, batter, fry, eat, napkin.

Fried chicken legs ($6.50) at Jackson's Soul Food in Overtown
Fried chicken legs ($6.50) at Jackson's Soul Food in Overtown
Photo courtesy Jackson's Soul Food

10. Jackson's Soul Food

Jackson's Soul Food has been an Overtown institution for over 65 years. It has changed locations a bit through out the years, but some things remain the same: their famed fried catfish and eggs, their fried liver and onions, or, even better, their fried chicken legs. The latter is part of a breakfast special served alongside grits, eggs, and housemade buttermilk biscuits for $6.50. You can get them for lunch or dinner at a higher price ($9.95). But when you've got soul on your mind, few things can trump an early morning breakfast of fried chicken legs at Jackson's.

Federal McNuggets ($5)
Federal McNuggets ($5)
The Federal via Instagram

9. The Federal Food Drink & Provisions

This Upper Eastside restaurant proffers many twists on classic American cuisine: Buffalo-style pig wings, duck in a jar with candied sweet potatoes, and chicken McNuggets. Paired with a silver saucer holding a honey dijon mustard sauce, these fried chicken bits are a playful rendition of a nostalgic, childhood snack. The peanut-marinated chicken is a small portion -- a bar bite to go with a drink or two. But, at a cost of just $5, you can perhaps order seconds or thirds.

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Fried chicken at Magnum Lounge ($27)
Fried chicken at Magnum Lounge ($27)
Jacquelynn D. Powers

8. Magnum Lounge

The fact that this piano bar/restaurant serves good fried chicken probably comes as no surprise. Located on 79th Street in a setting that is often overlooked, Magnum Lounge won New Times' Best Fried Chicken in 2010. After three years, it still deserves a spot on the list. Owned by Jeffrey Landsman, the restaurant's recipe originated in the hands of Landsman's mother. Following the restaurant's unfussy, homespun style, the dish pairs chicken with mashed potatoes and some boiled vegetables. Although the dish ain't cheap, and it will increase checks by $21.25, this fried chicken's thick crust and generous portion makes it a winner.

Haitian-style, fried chicken at Fritay Fried Pork and Chicken
Haitian-style, fried chicken at Fritay Fried Pork and Chicken
Ludvy Joseph

7. Fritay Fried Pork and Chicken

Located in North Miami, Fritay Fried Pork and Chicken first opened its doors in 2008. Since then, the Haitian fast food shop has been serving a variety of fried foods: griot -- pork marinaded in sour orange juice -- yucca, sweet plantains, acras -- fritters -- and taso goat, doused in sour orange juice, garlic, and some spice. Haitian-style chicken wings ($4.99) are seasoned with peppers, fresh thyme, sour oranges, shallots, garlic, and onion. This rendition at Fritay adds variety to those tired barbecue or Buffalo-sauced chicken wings offered elsewhere around town.

Want access to our Best Of picks from your smartphone? Download our free Best Of app for the iPhone or Android phone from the App Store or Google Play. Don't forget to check out the full Best of Miami® online at bestof.voiceplaces.com.

Tastes like summertime: unlimited fried chicken at Michy's for $38
Tastes like summertime: unlimited fried chicken at Michy's for $38
Michy's via Facebook

6. Michy's

So what if it's just a summertime special? The fried chicken at Michy's, the restaurant by James Beard award-winning chef Michelle Bernstein and husband/partner David Martinez, is a highly anticipated, annual occasion. Since 2009, the restaurant has offered an all-you-can-eat fried chicken dinner on Wednesday nights during the summer. For $38, diners get unlimited chicken, salad, coleslaw, biscuits, and dessert. Considering a dinner at Michy's usually comes in at about $70 or more per person, this chicken dinner is not only good, it's also a good deal. And that's why it makes the list.

Llewellyn's Southern fried chicken at Yardbird ($23)
Llewellyn's Southern fried chicken at Yardbird ($23)
Yardbird via Facebook

5. Yardbird Southern Table & Bar

Jeff McInnis, the chef who heads the kitchen at South Beach's Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, spent his childhood between shrimping boats in Florida and his grandparent's farm in Alabama. After appearing on Top Chef, as well as spearheading the opening of midtown's Gigi, he teamed up with John Kunkel, the mastermind and CEO behind one of Miami's most successful restaurant groups, 50 Eggs, Inc. Kunkel's grandmother, Llewellyn, is the mastermind behind the restaurant's classic fried chicken. At Yardbird, an order of Llewellyn's finest ($26) brings half a free-range bird, which is brined and seasoned for a total of 27 hours. The chicken is served next to salted, spiced watermelon cubes with fresh mint. It's some good old Southern fried chicken, the kind that's rooted in history.

Want access to our Best Of picks from your smartphone? Download our free Best Of app for the iPhone or Android phone from the App Store or Google Play. Don't forget to check out the full Best of Miami® online at bestof.voiceplaces.com.

Fried chicken at Jumbo's
Fried chicken at Jumbo's
Photo courtesy Jumbo's

4. Jumbo's

Jumbo's is open 24 hours a day. It serves huge portions of Southern fare: country-fried steak, fried grouper, and other fried menu specials named after local schools and their teams. (North Miami High Pioneers Spring Specials translates to four chicken drumsticks, four shrimp, four onion rings, and a choice of two sides -- all for less than ten bucks.) But Jumbo's also serves some really good fried chicken. The crust is thinner than other renditions, which leaves room to tear apart the tender flesh. (Sometimes less breading can be a good thing.) Orders start at $6.99 and go up to $17 -- the latter a family-style platter that feeds about four people.

Fried chicken and rice and beans ($7) at Clive's Cafe in Wynwood
Fried chicken and rice and beans ($7) at Clive's Cafe in Wynwood
Emily Codik

3. Clive's Cafe

If you ask Clive's Cafe co-owner Pearline Murray how the staple for Jamaican cuisine prepares its fried chicken, she will probably laugh, smile, and ask why you want to know. The answer is this: Clive's makes simple, delectable fried chicken. Sometimes, the bird comes on the bone. Other days it may not. (It depends on what's going on in the kitchen that day.) Regardless, when you place your order, the waiter will say the chicken takes some time. You will wait because, after all, it is fried to order. The dish costs $7 and comes with a choice of side: rice and peas, white rice, salad, fried sweet plantains, or vegetables. Add some Crystal hot sauce and then understand why Clive's is number three. It's just some fresh, homespun Jamaican-style fried chicken.

Want access to our Best Of picks from your smartphone? Download our free Best Of app for the iPhone or Android phone from the App Store or Google Play. Don't forget to check out the full Best of Miami® online at bestof.voiceplaces.com.

Buttermilk fried chicken ($18.95)  at Whisk Gourmet Food & Catering in the Gables
Buttermilk fried chicken ($18.95) at Whisk Gourmet Food & Catering in the Gables
Carlos Montenegro

2. Whisk Gourmet Food & Catering

Whisk executive chef Brendan Connor got his start at the acclaimed Hominy Grill in Charleston, South Carolina. Now, alongside sister and managing partner Kristin Connor, this Coral Gables restaurant serves some of the best upscale, comfort food in town. The joint serves delectable fried green tomatoes and a superb Southern burrito. But where they succeed best is at bird-frying. An order of buttermilk-marinated fried chicken ($18.95) brings a moist Bell & Evans breast, layered atop buttered smashed potatoes, green beans and honey roasted carrots. Paired with a thick, creamy bacon rosemary gravy, the fried chicken at Whisk is a delicious rendition of a classic Southern dish.

Fried chicken ($5.95) at Joe's Takeaway
Fried chicken ($5.95) at Joe's Takeaway
Emily Codik

1. Joe's Takeaway

Miami's best fried chicken is at Joe's in South Beach. Yes, it may sound a bit snobbish -- and almost a little elitist. After all, at the iconic restaurant, a platter of snapper costs $28.95 and a New York strip steak comes in at $49.95. But, at the adjacent to-go shop called Joe's Takeaway, a fried half-chicken costs only $5.95. Still, value is not what makes Joe's Takeaway the champion. Instead, it's the steaming, juicy flesh enveloped by a crisp, well-seasoned breading. It's the crisp, savory crust of a perfectly-cooked breast. These are the things that make Joe's number one.

Want access to our Best Of picks from your smartphone? Download our free Best Of app for the iPhone or Android phone from the App Store or Google Play. Don't forget to check out the full Best of Miami® online at bestof.voiceplaces.com.

Follow Emily on Twitter @EmilyCodik.

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Use Current Location

Related Locations

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Jackson Soul Food

950 NW 3rd Ave.
Miami, FL 33136

305-374-7661

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The Federal Food Drink & Provisions

5132 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami, FL 33137

305-758-9559

www.thefederalmiami.com

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Michy's

6927 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami, FL 33138

305-759-2001

www.michysmiami.com

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Magnum Lounge

709 NE 79th St. Causeway
Miami, FL 33138

305-757-3368

www.facebook.commagnumlounge

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Fritay Fried Pork & Chicken
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Yardbird Southern Table & Bar

1600 Lenox Ave.
Miami Beach, FL 33139

305-538-5220

www.runchickenrun.com

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Clive's Cafe - Closed

2818 N. Miami Ave.
Miami, FL 33127

305-576-0277

www.clivescafe.com

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Jumbo's - Closed

7501 NW 7th Ave.
Miami, FL 33150

305-751-1127

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Whisk Gourmet Food & Catering

7382 SW 56th Ave.
South Miami, FL 33143

786-268-8350

www.whiskgourmet.com

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Joe's Takeaway

11 Washington Ave.
Miami Beach, FL 33139

305-673-4611

www.joesstonecrab.com


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