Pennsylvania fried chicken: Here are the best restaurants to try

Fried chicken (Shutterstock)

By Patrick Berkery

July 3, 2024

From Korean-style, to Ethiopian-inspired, to the classic southern-kissed buttermilk recipes, you’ll find numerous variants of crispy, juicy, fried chicken across Pennsylvania. We’re highlighting some of the best spots.

As comfort foods go, juicy, crispy, seasoned to perfection fried chicken is about as comforting as it gets. Whether you’re a wing, breast, thigh, or leg person, when you sink your teeth into fried chicken, you get a dopamine hit that few other foods can deliver.

But if you think of fried chicken strictly as a southern thing—like the kind they serve at Popeye’s—think again. Numerous variants exist across the globe, and that’s reflected in the variety of fried chicken available throughout Pennsylvania.

From southern-kissed buttermilk recipes, to Ethiopian-inspired, to Korean-style, the options for great fried chicken across the state are plentiful. Here are 10 spots every fried chicken enthusiast in Pennsylvania needs to check out.

Blazin’ J’s – Lancaster/West Chester

The hot chicken sandwich/fried chicken sandwich has basically become the cheeseburger. Every gastropub has one, and every fast food chain offers some version of it. Separating contender from pretender takes time. The J’s Way Chicken Sandwich at Blazin’ J’s is definitely a contender. It’s dipped in specialty house hot sauce and topped with pepper jack cheese, hot house mayo and pickles. Bonus for you fried chicken-loving night owls: Blazin’ J’s West Chester and downtown Lancaster locations are open late on weekends.

Crispy Spice Halal Grill – Allentown

Crispy Spice Halal Grill is an authentic Halal restaurant (where meat prep adheres to Islamic law) featuring Afghan food, Indian dishes like pulao and bolani, kebabs, and more. So while its “secret recipe” fried chicken (available in platters) isn’t the headliner, it’s still a go-to for fried chicken lovers in Allentown.  

Doro Bet – Philadelphia

You’ll likely encounter a bit of a wait at this cozy spot in West Philly, but it’ll be well worth it. Doro Bet opened last fall and has garnered raves among local foodies for its extraordinarily crispy, Ethiopian-inspired fried chicken. Must-gets at Doro Bet include the alicha fried chicken, which is marinated with lemon and turmeric, and pairs very nicely with a hot honey sauce. And if you like it hot, go for the awaze fried chicken, which is rubbed in a spicy blend of dry chili, cumin, coriander, and ginger, and pairs well with an Ethiopian mustard sauce called senafitch.

Love & Honey – Philadelphia

Love & Honey is a go-to takeout spot for fried chicken lovers in and around Philly’s Northern Liberties neighborhood. Every little detail in the sandwiches, like the spicy slaw and sweet pickles on the OG, accentuates the crispy, juicy chicken perfectly. Perhaps the best part about Love & Honey is that you can eat like an 8-year-old ordering off a kids menu (like if you go for tenders and tater tots) and know that you’re enjoying some of the best fried chicken in the city.

Nan Ban – Pittsburgh

Billing itself as an Asian soul food restaurant, Nan Ban’s Korean fried chicken is double fried and then tossed in sauces like gochujang, sambal, and chimichurri. Locals in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood likely first came to this delectable fried chicken when it was originally served at Ki Pollo. It hasn’t lost a thing since Ki Pollo teamed with the Ki Ramen restaurant to form Nan Ban. The sandwiches are a big draw here, especially the hot chicken sando, which features a chili oil-dipped chicken thigh, spinach, rayu pickles, kewpie mayo, and special seasoning.

Pappy’s – Uniontown/Chalkhill

Great fried chicken isn’t just a city thing in Pennsylvania. The long-standing western-Pa. spot Pappy’s is proof of that. While they do burgers and pizza, the fried chicken is a point of local pride among regulars, especially the wings. You can also get fried chicken platters with great sides like house made potato chips and brussels sprouts. Did we mention Pappy’s also has beer?

Pineapple Eddie Southern Bistro – Erie

Pineapple Eddie offers a taste of classic southern cooking near the shores of Lake Erie, highlighted by some of the best fried chicken you’ll find in the northwest part of the commonwealth. This five-time Best of Erie winner from Erie Reader serves fried chicken several ways, including its signature brown sugar bourbon fried chicken. Pineapple Eddie is a go-to for wing lovers, too, thanks to its crispy fried wings. 

Shugar Shack Soul Food – Glenolden 

Chef Shug works the kitchen at Shugar Shack Soul Food, a takeout and catering spot in Delco known for its playfully named Shugs House BIG BREASTSandwich, her take on a classic fried chicken sandwich. The wings are popular at Shugar Shack as well, and you’ll find great sides like macaroni and cheese and desserts like apple walnut cobbler.

Walter’s Southern Kitchen – Pittsburgh

Who knew so much great fried chicken could be found in Pittsburgh? While primarily known as a top-shelf barbecue joint, Walter’s serves up amazing fried chicken as well. The bad arse fried chicken sandwich features candied bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and Walter’s special sauce. Water’s serves classic, straight-up fried chicken as well with waffles and sides like macaroni and cheese and collard greens.

Westside Flava’s – Scranton

Scranton’s Westside Flava’s is as unassuming as it gets. But the locals know that this hybrid convenience store/southern-inspired takeout joint serves seriously good fried chicken sandwiches and platters. The kitchen may be small but the fried chicken is mighty good here. 

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CATEGORIES: FOOD AND DRINK
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