It is practically impossible for me to drive past a fried chicken restaurant and not sample its wares at least once. In fact, I am only slightly ashamed to admit, I have real serious internal conflicts every time I pass the North Tryon Bojangles’ on the way home from work, just convincing myself not to turn in.
About this time last year, I succumbed to my fried chicken weakness while I was pumping gas at the Shell Quick Shoppe in South End. The ensuing near-religious experience inspired me to write a list ranking the top five fried chicken purveyors in Charlotte – a list that I stand firmly behind to this day.
However, as time passed, I began accumulating a significant number of emails from Agenda readers bemoaning the omission of their favorite chicken spots. So, naturally, I decided to make it my mission to eat at every chicken joint in Charlotte and come back to Agenda with the highlights. It was a labor of love. Here are the next five amazing places to get golden delicious fried bird in Charlotte.
1820 Milton Rd, Charlotte, NC 28215
On the corner of Plaza and Milton in northeast Charlotte, there hides one of a few spots that goes by the Floyd’s moniker, all serving some of the most on-point, authentic Southern soul food I have ever eaten. After much deliberation in front of a cornucopia of delicious side-dishes I typically settle on a plate of chicken, mac and cheese, collard greens and cornbread.
Before we even get to the chicken, we need to talk about this cornbread. Floyd’s cornbread is unbelievable, perfect texture between the course corn-meal and bread flour. It has just the right amount of moisture and crust and leaves you with a subtle sweetness. In all honesty, this stuff is basically pound cake disguised as a side dish, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t mind blowing.
The chicken at Floyd’s does it’s very best to keep up with the cornbread – perfectly cooked, great seasoning with heavy black pepper and the crust quality is excellent. No soggy sides or flimsy-ness. Floyd’s features a great uniform crunch, well-seasoned without too much salt or spice overwhelming the chicken flavor.
7520 S Tryon St #19, Charlotte, NC 28217
Ignore the Zaxby’s in the front of this little strip mall off of South Tryon and check out La’Wan’s Soul Food Restaurant. Their $10 lunch buffet is a steal and a great opportunity to try a bit of everything they make (it’s all awesome). The chicken was definitely the highlight here – lightly breaded but insanely crispy on the edges and perfectly juicy.
3100 Statesville Ave, Charlotte, NC 28206
The fans of Mr. Charles are dedicated to say the least. Every time my first Top 5 list was reposted by the Agenda I got at least three emails shaming me for excluding Mr. Charles. This cramped kitchen and counter off of Statesville and Atando is the quintessential fried chicken joint experience. You go, you wait in line (there will be a line), and you are rewarded with insanely good fried chicken – the best among the places featured in this article, in my opinion.
The first thing that hits you from this chicken is the color, dark amber, and the heat. I was lucky enough to arrive just as a fresh batch left the fryer on my first visit – which meant a delightfully crunchy and slightly dangerous eating experience. As Mr. Charles isn’t a sit-down restaurant, my best recommendation is to get friendly with the hood of your car so boiling chicken juice doesn’t destroy the interior of it. Seriously, you can’t go wrong with some of Mr. Charles’ famous wings, some fried okra and a lemonade on a bright sunny day.
Fun fact: Turns out the guy who owns Mr. Charles Chicken and Fish isn’t named Mr. Charles, his name is Mike.
The United House of Prayer for All People
1019 S Mint St, Charlotte, NC 28203
House of Prayer feels like home. This cafeteria style sit-down affair attached to The United House of Prayer for All People Chapel Uptown off of South Mint features all of the Southern delicacies, fried catfish, pork chops, turkey wings and gravy, limas, collards, okra, delicious cornbread and biscuits. They say that cooking for someone is an act of love and House of Prayer proves that adage. After a particularly rough week, House of Prayer is about as close as you can get to a hug from grandma gastronomically speaking.
The chicken is no joke either. Fried in quarter pieces, this chicken is by far the juiciest of on the list and probably the most simple. Classic, extremely uniform flour breading which turns into a glassy light amber skin, pulled taught around the chicken quarters. It’s the best friend a bottle of hot sauce ever had.
2900 Wilkinson Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28208
I am no stranger to the greatness of BBQ King. This Wilkinson Boulevard landmark drive-in is known for their chicken tossed in BBQ Sauce. As far as I’m concerned, what goes on in the BBQ King kitchen is some kind of closely guarded sorcery because there is no way fried chicken doused in sticky, spicy, BBQ sauce should be this good, or this mysteriously crispy. For this article, I sampled their plain chicken for the first time (for the sake of comparison) and it holds its own even without its tangy overcoat. Also, you can’t beat BBQ King hushpuppies.