In 1998, Stroud’s received the first James Beard Foundation Award in Kansas City for its pan-fried chicken, touted as an “American Classic.” Since then, Kansas City chefs have been putting their own classic take on this classic meat, from pairing fried chicken with waffles to cooking a wood-fired chicken and serving it with a spicy salsa verde.
Chicken dishes are aplenty in Kansas City, and Central Standard’s food critics came prepared with their top picks from around the area.
Mary Bloch, Around the Block
- Hogshead — Nashville hot chicken sandwich with pickle slaw. I’m typically not drawn to fried chicken, but this sandwich is legit. If you like spicy food, order it. Love the contrast between the coolness of the slaw with the heat of the spices covering the chicken.
- PotPie — Roast chicken and mashed potatoes. There’s a reason it’s been on the menu since the restaurant opened.
- Princess Garden — Orange chicken at this restaurant isn’t fried, unlike most Chinese restaurants. I add snow peas and broccoli.
- Brewery Emperial has a similar chicken dish, with roasted jalapeño, cilantro-onion-radish salad, lime and salsa. With so many breweries in town, this one stands out because of its huge wood-fired grill and a focus on the food as well as beer. Also, it’s not chicken, but they make a dynamite rabbit molé.
- El Pollo Rey — Order a full chicken, half chicken or buffalo wings. Your plate comes with rice, beans, fresh salsa, tortillas and pickled onions.
- Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room — Fried chicken with chili butter and homemade pickles. Crispy, not greasy, and I love the butter for dipping.
- Brookside Poultry Company — Whole spit-roasted chicken beats the salty grocery store or big box birds hands down in terms of flavor. Every bird is soaked in a 72 hour house brine. There is nothing that can put dinner on the table faster than a rotisserie chicken.
- Poi-O — Whole or half wood-fired grilled chicken is cooked over cherry wood and served with tortillas. The chef makes around four or five kinds of house-made hot sauces from scratch and they are all so good; the orange/yellow habanero sauce is my favorite. But the sides dishes are what set this place apart: roasted broccoli with housemade tajin, kimchi potato salad, elote and perfectly seasoned black beans.
- Manila Bay Ihaw Ihaw — Valley Broasters is broasted-style fried chicken with all of the traditional sides. Broasting is a method of cooking chicken and other foods using a pressure fryer, or a pressure cooker meets a fryer. It keeps the grease away from the meat and locks in the juices. Get the snack box with four pieces of broasted chicken with two sides, like mashed potatoes, fried okra and mac n’ cheese. All delicious!
- Black Dirt — Campo Lindo fried chicken is served with an herbed breading, mashed potatoes and green beans.
- Mother Clucker — Located inside of Parlor, this place offers the spicy sister to fried chicken, Nashville hot chicken. Get either the chicken itself, or order the Come Back Sandwich and get a fried chicken boneless breast, drenched in up to six levels of hot sauce, from “OG sauce” which is plain with no spice to “Cluck Yeah,” which is what they call blazing in the middle. The top end of the Scoville scale is called “What the Cluck.” The sandwich is served with slaw, pickles, on a buttered bun, and is utterly delicious.
- The Peanut — Buffalo chicken wings are finger-lickin’ good. All I can say is get your napkins ready, this is not first-date food territory.
- Baramee Thai Bistro — Thai chicken wings are marinated in a spicy garlic sauce with fresh basil and then deep fried until they are super crispy.
- Karbon — Mole chicken wings are either grilled or fried and then tossed in this deep dark spice mix that looks like they have been dry rubbed. They are spicy, complex and will turn your lips and hands red, but they are so worth it. Don’t dunk them in any sauce, eat them plain to really taste the mole flavor.
- Ignite Wood Fire Grill — Apple salad comes with Ignite's chopped rotisserie chicken that is marinated in citrus juice, aromatics before before cooking on the rotisserie. The salad also has mixed greens, Granny Smith apples, frisée, herbed goat cheese, marcona almonds, dried cherries, apple vinaigrette.
- Happy Gillis — Vinegar braised chicken sandwich is a total flavor bomb. It’s topped with onion marmalade, red cabbage slaw, peanuts and sesame seeds on ciabatta bun. This sandwich is literally giving me life right now.
- Succotash — Tarragon chicken salad sandwich is made with roasted chicken, apple, celery, sweet red onion, tarragon and walnuts all served on an egg roll with seasonal lettuce. That slightly anise and fresh herb flavor of tarragon takes this beyond boring basic chicken salad.
- Wiener Kitchen — Korean-inspired bulgogi chicken sandwich is made with their garlic chicken wiener, carrot/daikon slaw, sweet and savory bulgogi sauce and topped with toasted sesame seeds.
- Garozzo’s — Chicken spiedini is marinated chicken breast, rolled in Italian bread crumbs, skewered and grilled.
- Sohaila’s Kitchen —Chicken biryani is fragrant basmati rice flavored with exotic spices like saffron and layered in a thick gravy with your choice of meat; I like chicken. It’s served with her signature cucumber yogurt sauce or raitah.
- Red Kitchen Tamales — Chicken tamales are very tender and soft. You can pre-order and pick up.
Bonjwing Lee, The Ulterior Epicure
- Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room — Fried chicken here is served with pickles and chili butter.
- Rye — Fried chicken can be ordered in three-piece, half or whole chicken.
- Joe’s Kansas City — Barbecue chicken is perhaps the most overlooked item on the menu. By far, it’s my favorite item on its menu.
- Happy Gillis — Vinegar-braised chicken sandwich is served with peanuts and slaw. This is a rotating sandwich (I’ve had it with pork).
- Columbus Park Ramen — Chicken shoyu ramen is served with an egg. This is a lighter choice than the Tonkotsu or Kimchi ramen (which are very full-flavored).
Celisa Calacal is an intern with KCUR 89.3. You can reach her at @celisa_mia.