Critic's Picks

Roasted, Fried, or Poached: 10 Restaurants That Have Perfected Chicken

If chicken is a restaurant litmus test, these spots are top of the class.

Edited by Rosin Saez April 26, 2018 Published in the May 2018 issue of Seattle Met

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Atop rice and black-eyed peas, JuneBaby’s fried chicken is a bit of crouton-crisp heaven.

Big Chickie Pollo a la Brasa

A whole lot of folks detour through Hillman City since the very careful proprietors of this refurbished gas station began peddling their Peruvian charcoal-roasted rotisserie chicken. Choose quarters, halves, or wholes—dark or light meat (some nights juicier than others, alas)—then fill out your plate with your choice of insanely terrific sides: Lime-glazed sweet potatoes, a crunchy kale slaw, and a carb loader’s dream of cheesy potatoes are among the best. Outdoor picnic tables provide the only seating, but they’re enclosed to keep out the spring rain (read: bring the Polartec)—but the chili-spiced brownies for dessert have warming properties of their own. 5520 Rainier Ave S, Columbia City


In Georgetown, a fortress of brick walls conceals a temple of dining influenced by the grilling traditions of South America, Portugal, the Mediterranean, and beyond. Here, an open grill yields harissa-spiced chicken for the whitewashed, warehouselike dining room, where diners sit in gaily colored chairs beneath the folkloric Stacey Rozich mural. Meanwhile, just around the corner is sibling spot Bar Ciudad, home of cocktails, drafts, wine, and rotisserie chicken: whole or half birds that come with one or two sides and sauce. 6118 12th Ave S, Georgetown

Fat’s Chicken and Waffles

A thread of Catfish Corner’s Southern legacy continues on at this storied Central District corner via fried chicken atop old-fashioned thin waffles, the kind with tiny squares. Chef Patrick Dours coaxes heroic amounts of personality from boneless, skinless chicken breasts; his tricks include a combo buttermilk–pickle juice brine and an elaborate dredge-and-chill process to keep the crust from falling off the minute it encounters your knife. Seasoning is sufficient for grown-ups and mellow enough for the many (many) kids in the room. Replacing a landmark of a neighborhood’s African American heritage is a tricky business. Sure, owner Marcus Lalario—of Li’l Woody’s and Ciudad—brought in some hip midcentury benches and a busy brunch service. But you can eat well for $15, and service is incredibly hospitable: promising signs of a new neighborhood institution. 2726 E Cherry St, Central District

Guitar’s Khao Mun Gai

A Pike/Pine coffee shop–turned–bar specializes in hip-hop and khao mun gai, Thailand’s signature chicken-and-rice street food dish. Tender chicken and fragrant rice pack real flavor—even before you add the sauce’s zing. The vinyl collection lining the walls inspires the soundtrack; petite platters of fried chicken skin fuel a night of carousing on the Hill. 414 E Pine St, Capitol Hill


Southern/Creole/Cajun There’s a reason it takes 45 minutes to get a table: Chef Edouardo Jordan cemented his fine-dining cred at Salare, but his second restaurant is far more personal, a thoughtful telling of Southern food, from crowd-pleasers like biscuits and pimento cheese to more culturally nuanced fare like chitterlings and oxtail. There’s a reason he only serves plates of golden, crouton-crisp fried chicken on Sunday nights: Demand would consume his entire kitchen. Come early (it sells out fast) and wrap things up with bourbon–dark chocolate bread pudding or hummingbird cake from his very talented pastry chef, Margaryta Karagodina. 2122 NE 65th St, Ravenna

Le Pichet

One step inside the slender First Ave bistro with the little black awning transports you directly to the Right Bank of Paris—with all the buzz of lively conversation, the pulse of an all-day crowd, and the petit ceramic pitchers of wine it’s named for. Just like in Paris, the menu is full of terrines, pâtés, charcuterie, and entrees like moules frites—that perfect combination of shellfish and fries that passes as fast food in France—or succulent roast chicken for two, wholly worth the hour wait. Francophiles idle away a morning with cafe au lait and a baguette, or lunch on country pâté with greens. Evenings, the place fills up and gets noisy, but this is one spot that understands that tables packed closely together is more intimate than tables spaced too far apart. 1933 First Ave, Pike Place Market

Ma‘ono Fried Chicken and Whiskey

Chef Mark Fuller transformed his high-end, award-winning Spring Hill Restaurant into the more affordable, more Hawaiian Ma‘ono. The mood now is lighter, as if the West Seattle storefront is suddenly more comfortable in its skin. The menu’s down-market superstars, such as the beef burger and the saimin noodle bowl (with the richest smoked pork and ham broth in town), feel like the heart of the menu, with plates of Hawaiian fusion in the form of a burger with kimchi-imbued cheese on King’s Hawaiian sweet buns or Spam musubi. But here, best is the succulent chicken for which they changed the concept: Every night (reserve early!) about 30 all-natural birds are brined, soaked in buttermilk, dredged in flour, battered, floured yet again, fried in soybean oil—and, yes, fried one more time. The result is, well, perfect. 4437 California Ave SW, Alaska Junction; 4626 26th Ave NE, University Village

Opus Co.

A cozy 18-seater in Phinney Ridge is old-school Seattle bootstrapping in the utmost. Chef and owner Mark Schroder has outfitted a tiny space with a custom wood-fired grill and produced a worthy dining destination inside a former sandwich shop. His dishes flit between midwestern upbringing and Korean-inflected training. Take the Opus Feast, an operatic family-style parade of six or so courses that might start with pork jerky and two slices of lamb spam touched with nori and a salad of lacinato kale, pear, and peanut-chili relish, a beautifully tart acid trip. Then come little bowls of banchan with a farmers market fanboy flair. The restaurant’s whole-animal program proves the grill game here is strong, from flame-licked half chicken with a sticky-tangy-sweet malt-vinegar caramel to a slap-yourself-good pork belly. 7410 Greenwood Ave N, Phinney Ridge

San Fernando Roasted Chicken

A rare Seattle destination for Peru’s signature rotisserie poultry, served with golden fries. As the name might suggest, the superbly seasoned pollo a la brasa is San Fernando’s claim to both fame and rapturous online reviews. It’s not fancy but when done right, as it is here, it’s criminally good. The menu also includes other popular-in-America Peruvian staples like ceviche and lomo saltado. 900 Rainier Ave S, Central District

Sisters and Brothers

Nashville’s signature hot chicken—brined for 48 hours, fried, then daubed in spice-saturated crimson lard—has arrived in Seattle. Moreover, it’s landed at an unassuming bar with a wide-angle view of Mount Rainier and the regular rumble of airplanes landing across the street at Boeing Field. Chicken comes naked, medium, Nashville hot, or insane; even the mild will make things tingle. The rest of the small menu has way more finesse than you’d expect at a place with video game tables and a black velvet Pegasus painting on the wall: smoked gouda mac and cheese, fried green tomatoes, a wedge salad with dressing and bacon both made in house. 1128 S Albro Pl, Georgetown

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Sisters and Brothers sandwiches bring the heat.

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