J’s Chicken & Waffles Makes Crave-Worthy Fried Chicken

Finding J’s Chicken & Waffles can be a pain in the hiney. Parking? Even more so. But rest assured, it’s worth the trip to try some of the best fried chicken in town.

Look for the sign for ATL Wings Your Way just east of the Circle K by the University of Arizona’s Rec Center on Sixth Street. ATL Wings, a franchised operation, shares the restaurant space with J’s. Since surrounding street parking requires a permit weekdays from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., hopefully one of the few parking lot spots are available. (Editor’s note: A new parking garage just around the corner at 7th St. and Cherry Ave. will soon be completed.)

Stepping into the dark, barely decorated space is disorienting at first. It takes a few seconds for eyes to adjust to the dim interior with University of Arizona and boxing-themed art. However, the rest of the senses kick in immediately.

Garlicky oil fragrance wafts from the kitchen with the satin-smooth voice of Luther Vandross resonating from the small speaker by the soda fountain machine. Soul music doesn’t necessarily indicate quality soul food, but it’s certainly stimulating.

Step up to the cashier to see two separate menus: one for ATL Wings and for J’s. Peek at J’s menu to see their selection of classic American breakfast alongside Southern desserts, a few sandwiches, and fried chicken.

Don’t worry about most of the menu. The chicken is the star. It’s fried to order, so expect to wait about 20 minutes for dark meat, slightly less for white meat.

Waffle and fried chicken thigh at J's Chicken & Waffles (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Waffle and fried chicken thigh at J’s Chicken & Waffles (Credit: Jackie Tran)

While the menu features straight-forward traditional dishes, the execution on the fried chicken is what makes J’s worth the trip. The craggy, crunchy skin is well-seasoned with garlic and coarse black pepper. The chicken is expertly-cooked, succulent with just the right amount of salt. It doesn’t need any flavor from hot sauce, but the touch of acidity helps balance the richness.

Service is friendly and helpful — even though customers can self-serve at the soda fountain, the cashier often takes care of refills. Just remember that this chicken takes time, so call ahead to order at (520) 622-1164 if you can’t take your time.

J’s Chicken & Waffles is located at 1628 E. 6th St. For more information, call (520) 622-1164 or keep up with J’s Chicken & Waffles on Facebook.

Jackie is a food writer and photographer native to Tucson. He loves corgis and still thinks rickrolling is funny. If you'd like to stalk him, visit jackietran.com and his Instagram @jackie_tran_.