Let's talk traditional southern fried chicken.
Chicken parts are marinated or brined, usually in a buttermilk mixture or pickle juice brine. The salt in the solution seasons the meat, but it also tenderizes it and keeps it juicy. The acidity helps with tenderization as well, but doesn't overdo it when done properly. Next, the chicken is either floured or battered before hopping into the deep fryer. The coating can be simple with salt and pepper, but garlic and cayenne are also common.
Like pizza, fried chicken is fantastic as leftovers. You can enjoy it straight out of the fridge, chop it up for a salad, or even refry it for extra-crispy chicken.
Don't settle for dried-out heat lamp chicken. Here's our list of Tucson joints with FFC (fantastic fried chicken) that puts the Colonel to shame.
Every Sunday from 5 - 9 p.m., Agustin Kitchen serves Southern Fried Chicken with accoutrements that vary week to week, so look forward to elegant twists on southern classics such as coleslaw and cheesy grits. Keep up with Agustin Kitchen on Facebook to see their weekly event page updates.
For more information, visit agustinkitchen.com.
Chef Ginny Wooters' Fried Chicken is marinated in limited quantities, so you might be out of luck if you order it too late in the evening. If you're fortunate enough to get a plate, expect some mashed potatoes, bacon gravy, spinach sautéed with dried strawberries, and a buttermilk biscuit to round out your meal.
For more information, visit commonertucson.com.
For straightforward comfort with no fancy frills, visit Grumpy's Grill. The Southern Style Fried Chicken Dinner features shatteringly crunchy battered fried chicken with a vegetable medley, mashed potatoes, a biscuit, and sausage gravy.
For more information, visit grumpysgrill.com.
Good things are going at Lucky Wishbone. Their fried chicken is as addictive as their jingle is catchy. With locations all over town and affordable quantities, it's a party pleaser and pleasant picnic plus. You might as well pick up some shrimp and steak fingers too. Tip: their onion rings are bomb diggity, so ask for them instead of French fries if you won't miss the taters.
For more information, visit luckywishbone.com.
This dive of a bar on Miracle Mile holds a number of little known deals, such as fifty-cent wing night, $17 ribeye night, and the latest addition, $12 prime rib night. Oh, and they also offer fried chicken. Price? Six bucks.
Keep up with Nevada Smith's Saloon on Facebook.
Although the chicken fried steak is the popular one, the Golden Fried Chicken deserves some loving at this shockingly affordable neighborhood restaurant. If you happen to live near this joint, their fantastic breakfast special will also easily make you a regular.
For more information, visit Pappy's Diner on Yelp.
Thankfully, the fried chicken sandwich was recently inducted as a permanent member of the menu. The extraordinarily juicy buttermilk fried chicken breast is sandwiched in a brioche roll with tomato, slaw, and house pickle slices.
For more information, visit timemarket.xyz.
Tucked away west on Ajo Highway, Tiny's is a hub of activity in the neighborhood. Though the burgers, steaks, and wings grab the attention, the fried chicken is a crispy contender as well. The surrounding mountains makes it a scenic drive, especially during monsoon season.
Keep up with Tiny's Saloon & Steakhouse on Facebook.
The half-chicken in the Chicken & Waffle features satisfyingly crunch craggedy edges from the buttermilk brine mingling with the flour. The waffle is a solid co-star, with sweet kernels of corn and a hint of spice. The bacon-infused maple syrup and sambal-like hot sauce are fun and tasty takes on the classic condiments.
For more information, visit uniontucson.com.
Where's your favorite fried chicken in town? Let us know in the comments.
Jackie Tran is a Tucson-based food writer, photographer, culinary educator, and owner-chef of the food truck Tran's Fats. Although he is best known locally for his work for Tucson Foodie, his work has also appeared in publications such as Bon...