Where To Find The Best Fried Chicken in Houston

There’s no denying that Houstonians love fried chicken. Whether it’s served with a side of mashed potatoes or enjoyed as a late-night snack, we can’t get enough of this classic. Luckily, there’s no shortage of places to get your fix and new spots are popping up all the time. These places range from white-tablecloth to drive-through and serve up a variety of styles, including Southern, Indian and Thai. Plus, you will notice a number of “KFCs” — Korean fried chicken restaurants, featuring ultra-crispy, rice flour batters and sauces ranging from mild to pleasantly painful. 

With so many options to choose from, how can you be sure you’re getting the best fried chicken in Houston? There are a few things you’ll want to look for. First, the coating should retain an almost impossible crunch that easily makes it through two nights in a to-go box. Second, the meat should be flavorful, tender and, of course, cooked through. With these criteria in mind, we’ve rounded up some of the best fried chicken joints in Houston. Whether you’re looking for classic Southern style or something a little more daring, you’re sure to find the perfect spot on this list. 

A couple of quick notes: we’ve kept this list to eateries serving bone-in, whole chicken parts — meaning we aren’t considering places that specialize in wings, sandwiches or chicken tenders. Also, keep in mind that restaurants that serve fried chicken to order will need a solid 30 minutes to prepare it, though many places that specialize in fried chicken make batches throughout the day so it’s always ready to go. These include some chains that deserve a quick mention. Popeyes and Houston’s own Frenchy’s offer worthy Louisiana-style sides and spiced-up batter, while Kroger receives a nod for sturdy crust that’s not too greasy. 

Regardless of where you end up, it is important to ignore your knife and fork. Just like eating pizza in New York, you don’t want the locals to stare and point. Pick up that chicken leg and dig in. All of Texas should hear the crunch. 

Greater Heights and Independence Heights

fried chicken and French fries
Fried chicken and fries at Barbecue Inn. Photo by Victoria Ma.

Barbecue Inn, 116 Crosstimbers: For traditional, country-fried Texas chicken, look no further than this family-owned and operated country diner, which opened in Independence Heights in 1946. An absolute Houston staple, Barbecue Inn is known — despite its name — for fried chicken platters. Made to order in about half an hour, diners can choose of white meat, dark or a mix. Despite a lack of fine dining pedigree or a signature mix of Cajun spices, this fried bird ranks as one of the best in Houston for its simplicity. The fact that the decades-old family recipe remains unchanged speaks volumes about its quality and popularity through the years. Carlos Brandon

Korean fried chicken wings at Dak & Bop
Korean fried chicken wings at Dak & Bop. Photo by Phaedra Cook.

Dak & Bop, 1805 West 18th: This restaurant is known for its eye-popping platters of über-crispy, generously-sized hunks of Korean fried chicken, available as tenders, legs, or bigger-than-you-expect wings. The sauces — soy garlic, medium spicy, hot & spicy and signature sriracha honey lime should make any diner happy, whether they’re seeking salt, spice or sweet. The addictive Curry Fries laden with Korean butter chicken, shug (a lemony, cilantro and chili-based Yemeni hot sauce), feta, salt and vinegar peanuts work well alongside the fried chicken, as does the over-the-top “garlic bread”: a whole, freshly baked loaf cross-cut and embedded with scores of mascarpone cheese and garlic.

fried chicken at Harold's
KG’s Buttermilk Brined Fried Chicken at Harold’s Restaurant & Tap Room. Photo by Phaedra Cook.

Harold’s Restaurant, 350 West 19th: This eatery, known for supporting other Texas businesses, purchases the birds for its buttermilk fried chicken from Holmes Chicken in Nixon, Texas. The cooks then double-brine the bone-in meat, soak it in buttermilk and bread it with flour, cornmeal and corn flour. It comes with mac and cheese made with Texas cheddar and a side of braised greens. Visit for Saturday or Sunday brunch when you can order the fried chicken with housemade waffles. If you’re looking for a smaller portion for lunch or dinner, try the Fried Chicken and Mash, a fried boneless breast served with mashed potatoes, sausage gravy and vegetables. The vegetarian-friendly Chicken Fried Cauliflower offers a savory alternative with vegetables sourced from Atkinson Farms in Spring and presented perched atop a bowl of cheese fondue. All can all be enjoyed on the rooftop terrace that offers a great view of the Heights.

fried chicken at La Lucha
Fried chicken, fried shrimp, biscuits and sauces served family-style at La Lucha. Photo by Phaedra Cook.

La Lucha, 1801 North Shepherd: Atlanta-based chef and serial restaurateur Ford Fry opened two restaurants in Houston in 2018: Superica, the fourth location of his elevated Tex-Mex concept and La Lucha, an original, distinctly Houston concept specializing in Gulf oysters and fried chicken dinners. The latter is Ford’s love letter to his Gulf Coast roots, specifically to La Porte’s old San Jacinto Inn (now Monument Inn) where a young Fry and family enjoyed many a fried chicken and seafood Sunday supper.

Despite boasting a menu that abounds in seafood and Gulf influences, fried chicken is unquestionably the star of executive chef Bobby Matos’ show. Massive platters of extra-crispy fried chicken (half or whole bird) served with biscuits, pickles and choice of green harissa, honey sambal or oyster mayonnaise stack up as if they belong on an episode of Man v. Food. While the vibe is divey-chic, Matos puts a refined (albeit tongue-in-cheek) chef’s touch on a menu that includes deviled eggs with popcorn shrimp and an eye-popping selection of bubbles to pair with your fried bird dinner. A fine middle ground between the dish’s homey roots and its culinary potential, Fry’s version is both an homage to his grease-soaked childhood memories and a refined chef’s take on those influences. Carlos Brandon

Mahatma Gandhi District

Masala Fried Chicken at Himalaya Restaurant & Catering. Courtesy photo.

Himalaya, 6652 Southwest Freeway: Owner Kaiser Lashkari’s creative fried chicken at his nationally acclaimed Pakistani and Indian restaurant is called HFC Zimmern, with the letters an abbreviation for Himalaya fried chicken and an ode to Andrew Zimmern, who once visited this popular spot. It is a whole, skinless chicken (eight pieces) marinated in a ginger- and masala-spiced buttermilk and then dredged in seasoned flour. Lashkari recommends pairing HFC with Masala Waffles (when available) for an Indo-Pak take on the classic American pairing. Guests will find more fusion dishes such as Paratha-dilla, a quesadilla-influenced paratha with a choice of filling: lamb, beef, chicken, vegetables or paneer. And don’t forget to order Mutton Biryani Bourdain, a mound of fluffy savory rice and tender mutton that is named in honor of the late food writer and show host Anthony Bourdain, who also once visited Himalaya.

Montrose/Greenway/ River Oaks

fried chicken with veggies and a biscuit
The fried chicken at Frank’s Americana Revival is a crunchy, juicy classic. Courtesy photo.

Frank’s Americana Revival, 3736 Westheimer: Going local is a posh undertaking in this River Oaks restaurant that specializes in Texas ingredients and mom-and-pop hospitality. The menu features comforting favorites such as buttermilk fried chicken which is served with Gouda Mac and Cheese, collard greens and Pimento Biscuits with onion-bacon marmalade. It is available for dinner most nights of the week but only for lunch on Fridays. Fisherman’s Lunch, comprised of cornmeal battered fried fish, shrimp and oysters, is another classic Southern dish available, as well as Hill Country Smoked Spare Ribs. The oval-shaped White Star Bar lends itself to conversation since every seat faces a new potential friend. Mull over the wine list featuring more than 900 bottles, or opt for a reasonably priced draft beer. 

Relish, 2810 Westheimer: It’s hard to categorize a restaurant that serves Snapper Puttanesca and Backyard Ribs on the same menu, but guests don’t seem to mind. Relish features vintage white tiles, fresh flowers at each table and excellent service. As far as fried chicken goes, at dinner time it is served alongside hot honey, bacon braised collard greens and a rosemary biscuit. For lunch and brunch, boneless fried chicken is served atop deviled eggs, wedged in a sandwich or on a salad. An uncomplicated wine list will take you from Willamette Valley to Rioja, and cocktails such as Calmer Than You Are promise relaxation with New Amsterdam Gin, strawberry-basil shrub and egg white. Brunch on Saturdays and Sundays bring waffles with your chicken and other fine options like Bubbles and Oysters a chef’s selection of oysters and a bottle of the bubbly. 

Museum District 

The Yardbird at Lucille’s is a crowd pleasing, refined take on southern fried chicken. Courtesy photo.

Lucille’s, 5512 La Branch: The refined southern kitchen opened by chef-owner Chris Williams and his brother Ben in 2012 is named after their late great-grandmother Lucille Bishop Smith. She was a trailblazer, entrepreneur, cook and restaurateur whose culinary legacy started over a century ago. Today, her great-grandsons’ restaurant features many of her original recipes — including her famous chili biscuits — along with several of Williams’ original, Lucille-inspired dishes. Among those original recipes is Williams’ take on southern fried chicken, the Yardbird. Two pieces of 24-hour brined and slow-fried chicken are served alongside smoked mash and sautéed collard greens with a honey-thyme jus. The thick, crunchy skin hides tender, fall-off-the-bone meat in an elevated presentation of a simple southern staple dish. Carlos Brandon

Northwest

Tumble 22 Hot Chicken , 10723 Louetta Road: The Nashville-style hot chicken at this Vintage Park fast-casual restaurant ranges from wimpy (no spice) to stupid hot, with six heat levels in total. The chicken is available in several bone-in combos as well as in a sandwich and tenders. Sides fall firmly into the Southern category with Dirty Mac (mac-and-cheese topped with shredded hot chicken and ranch dressing), collard greens and comeback sauce for dipping. Enjoy a full bar that promises “stiff cheap drinks” such as the Dirty Harry (a margarita with olive juice) or the Adult Lemonade made with Deep Eddy vodka. If sweets are more your thing, check out the case filled with housemade pies such as buttermilk or chocolate cream pie.  

Spring Branch/Koreatown

Choong Man, 1927 Gessner: Look for the “CM Chicken” sign in this hard-to-spot strip center locale. Inside the modest digs are interesting varieties of Korean-style chicken. Tikkudak is chicken that has been fried and then baked over charcoal, which gives the chicken a slight smoky flavor. Snow Onion Chicken comes smothered in thinly sliced white onions with a choice of sauce on top. There is also classic Korean fried chicken, which comes with a choice of sauces such as curry, red hot or spicy garlic. Choong Man is also a great place to try soju. It is a strong beverage that can be distilled from many types of grains and starches including rice and sweet potatoes. Some brands, such as Chum-Churum offer soju in fruit flavors, including apple or citron.

Korean fried chicken with dumplings and French fries at Krisp
Korean fried chicken with dumplings and French fries at Krisp. Courtesy photo.

Krisp Korean Fried Chicken Crisp, 9486 Long Point: At this Koreatown spot, which opened in 2020, folks can order the original Korean fried chicken, which has no sauce, or choose one of seven sauces such as honey butter, creamy onion, garlic and kalbi marinated. Sizes available include a whole bird, a half bird, or wings in quantities of six or ten. Guests rave about the melt-in-your-mouth Fried Cheese Ball — a chunk of mozzarella wrapped in chewy donut dough. On the healthier side, kimchi is also on hand and can be ordered as a side or atop fries. The chicken comes with Korean fried dumplings for no extra charge.

The ToreOre, 1302 Blalock: While shopping for Korean pears and fish sauce by the gallon at the Koreatown H Mart, save room for the fare served by this unassuming vendor in the food court. We love the extra-crispy recipe and the large variety of flavor options that come either dry, such as Balsamic Scallion and Garlic Plus, or drenched in sauces, like Hot and Spicy. This chicken is served in a pizza box for optimal grease distribution and with gloves to keep the smaltz off your hands. In place of buttered biscuits, refreshing pickled daikon comes alongside to help temper the heat. Kimchi-topped bulgogi fries makes a starchy substitute for mashed potatoes and gravy. Wash it down with drinks like watermelon bubble tea and jasmine milk tea.

Southwest

Micheaux’s, 6850 Highway Six, Missouri City: Southern cuisine is served up cafeteria-style in this Missouri City soul food restaurant. The pepper-flecked fried chicken is made to order. Other staples, such as fried catfish, smothered pork chops and chicken and dumplings, grace the steam table, which is also loaded with plenty of sides such as candied yams and okra and tomatoes. For dessert, choose from housemade classics such as Coca-Cola cake and bread pudding with rum sauce. Get there early, because Micheaux’s closes at 7 p.m. on most nights.

Washington Corridor

Gus's fried chicken with greens and mac and cheese
Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken. Photo by Phaedra Cook.

Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, 1815 Washington: Diners are gently cautioned to expect fried chicken with significant heat at this joint that originated in Memphis, Tennessee. Though the crunch is admirable, Gus’s focus is on the spices. The hot chicken is fried in peanut oil, then basted with spicy sauce and served on a piece of white bread. It is the sole main dish, available as part of plates, “snacks” (two to 20 pieces of chicken with just white bread) and meals, which are basically snacks with sides. Diners customize their meals based on the sides. These include fried green tomatoes and fried okra served with ranch dressing. The chicken comes with sides of coleslaw and beans by default, but diners can swap greens, potato salad or mac and cheese. For dessert, try sweet potato or chess pie

The Nguyen-er Nguyen-er Chicken Dinner at Xin Chao. Photo by Phaedra Cook.

Xin Chao, 2310 Decatur: Chef Christine Ha won Masterchef in 2012 with her modern Vietnamese fare, and opened her first brick-and-mortar restaurant with business partner Tony Nguyen in 2020. Less than two years later, Ha and Nguyen were James Beard Award: Best Chef Texas semifinalists. At Xin Chao, you will find ingredients sourced from Texas and the Gulf states. Nguyn-er Nguyn-er Chicken Dinner is the owners’ reimagining of their favorite fried chicken dishes. They brine their version in lemongrass buttermilk, then it’s battered with pandan rice flakes and is served alongside sidewinder fries, pickled cucumber, beef tallow aioli and hot saté honey. Order it half or whole — and visit early, as there is a limited daily supply. Xin Chao also features Gulf oysters either fresh with Thai Chili Mignonette or fried and served with scallion oil and fresh peanuts. Frozen drinks are popular here, especially the Pandan Colada made with Bacardi Coconut Rum, Jinro Soju, pineapple and floating boba. 

Multiple Locations

State Fare Kitchen & Bar, multiple locations: This chic local chain is known for large portions of Texas favorites. Order a half H-Town Hot Fried Chicken or a whole one. Either way, it’s served with cheddar potatoes and cauliflower. Additional homespun classics include hard-to-find King Ranch Casserole or Texas Red Chili Frito Pie that make State Fare a popular destination for purists of Lone Star cuisine. A full bar with specials like the Lavender Lemonade complete the winning formula. Visit on weekends for a stellar brunch when you can add a side of fried chicken to any dish. 

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  • August 1, 2022 at 7:02 pmDavid Leeds

    How in the World can you skip Frenchies?

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