There are times when a man must be alone with a fried bird. I really dig the Fried Chicken Nights at West Town Tavern (Mondays, by the way), and I’ve been known to consume nearly an entire bird when Edna Stewart ruled her eponymous soul food restaurant on the West Side. But these days, I’m just as likely to hit up a small chicken joint, where they can fry up wings, thighs and legs, and keep ‘em crisp. Few eating experiences rival the joy of biting into a hot, crunchy-coated piece, then discovering the meaty, juicy chicken meat just beneath the surface. Bring on the Wet-Naps!
1. (Tie) Great Seas Chinese, 3254 W. Lawrence Ave. (773) 478-9129; Take Me Out, 1502 W.18th St., (312) 929-2509
The first location is owned by the parents; the Pilsen location is run by the daughters. Both offer an incomparable wing that has the best kind of sticky, spicy, sweet sauce ever to grace fowl.
2. Evanston Chicken Shack, 1925 Ridge Avenue, (847) 328-9360
No frills, but good enough for the Ricketts family and certainly worth a stop if you’re cruising down Ridge Ave.
3. Crisp, 2940 N. Broadway, (773) 697-7610
I highly recommend the “Seoul Sassy” flavor. The mingling of garlic, soy, chili and sesame is hard to resist.
4. Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles, 3947 South King Drive, (773) 536-3300
On weekends, the wait can be ridiculous, but the nicely-fried chickens taste extra special with a pillow of thin waffles beneath them, maple syrup at the ready.
5. Dell Rhea’s Chicken Shack 65 Joliet Rd., Willowbrook, (630) 325-0780
Bring the family, because the portions are massive and the birds are fried non-stop, at this legendary chicken stop off of the original Rt. 66.
Buffalo Joe’s, 812 Clark St., Evanston, (847) 328-5525
Wings Around the World, 510 E 75th St., (773) 483-9120)
Keisha’s Chicken Shack 15340 Dixie Highway, Harvey, (708) 333-4570
Cravin’ Chicago Wings, 5750 N. California Ave., (773) 944-0662