July 6 is National Fried Chicken Day, and while Connecticut is a long way from the Mason-Dixon Line, that signature dish of the South can be found all over the Nutmeg State. Some places pride themselves on serving only authentic Southern Fried Chicken, while others have put some New England soul into this classic dish. There are little restaurants in Connecticut, of which have been using the same family recipe for their batter for 20, 30 or even 50 years, and their customers wouldn’t have it any other way.
350 Asylum St.
Hartford, CT 06103
The Southern Fried Chicken at Black-Eyed Sally’s is prepared and served “bone-in” as the menu describes. Served hot and crispy with their signature three-cheese Mac & Cheese and a side of collard greens, it may seem a bit pricey at $15.95, but it is a meal fit for a southern colonel. There are fried green tomatoes, fried okra and other appetizers to choose from as well, along with plenty of authentic and traditional sides to add on, from cheese grits and Garlicky Green Beans to cornbread with honey. But the fried chicken dinner is a full plate on its own. The atmosphere at Black-Eyed Sally’s is not just country but “Southern Cookin’” country, and their menu is a tour of the southland, from barbecue and crawfish to jambalaya and gumbo.
64 Matthew’s St.
Bristol, CT 06010
Richard Plantamuro is a busy man, but even when he is not frying the chicken himself, he keeps a careful watch over his team as they keep the Southern Fried Chicken coming at this tiny little gem of a chicken shack in Bristol. While the fried chicken is his most popular dish, especially for carry out service, Plantamuro also offers both hot and cold roasted chicken for his patrons whose health or dietary concerns steer them away from his show-stopping fried chicken. Greer’s is unabashedly a fry place (the central column of its menu is labeled “Deep-Fried” while the right side is all about fried chicken) and they fry fish, as well as fowl, and while there is a salad menu, even the salads can be topped with fried chicken.
Hen House Bar-B-Que
192 Main St.
Southington, CT 06489
The Hen House Bar-B-Que has been specializing in frying up chicken for nearly 30 years. Although they have ribs, burgers, seafood and a lot more on their lengthy menu, the chicken here is king – or, more appropriately, the queen of the house. The Hen House will make up just about any mix of dark, white, wings, nuggets or combos, and even has a massive 28-piece deal for under $39, and any dinner deal comes with fries, coleslaw and rolls – or onion rings. Patrons can order the chicken barbecue if they prefer, but the fried chicken by the piece, by the dinner or by the bucket is what the majority of the customers come for. There is certainly a reason why after almost three decades owner Ronald Amorando is still known in Southington as “The Chicken Man.”
4189 Main St.
Bridgeport, CT 06606
For half a century, Silverio “Chicken Ed” Palmesi manned the fryer at his Drumstik Bar-B-Q in Bridgeport and, while he has passed on his spirit in every great meal that is served to the customers at this landmark restaurant. The fried chicken is still the specialty of the house, as it has been for 50 years, but there is a lot more than just the usual wings, thighs, breasts and drumsticks to choose from. The Drumstik fries up chicken livers and gizzards, and calls it fried tenders “Champagnes”, because they are just so elegant and special. The drumettes are also very popular, especially among children and those who want wings but do not want to deal with bones. For those who want an alternative to fried chicken, the Drumstik also does a great BBQ chicken on a rotisserie.
Chicken Joe’s Of Greenwich
364 W. Putnam Ave.
Greenwich, CT 06830
Chicken Joe’s of Greenwich started in the Connecticut town that forms part of its name. The “Home of the High School Special” has grown to where there are now six locations, but the original restaurant is still unique – and not just because it was the first or because it is still in what looks like a family’s house. By many accounts, Chicken Joe’s still serves the best fried chicken in Greenwich – and they deliver (for free on orders over $20). The chicken is the star here, as it always has been, but anyone who orders from or eats at Chicken Joe’s should also consider sampling their appetizers and sides (notably the Potato Cones, Corn Fritters and show-stopping Mac Bites). Chicken Joe’s has sandwiches, pizza, wings, as well as seafood and salads, and even a breakfast menu, but the fried chicken is what made this place a Greenwich favorite – and what spurred its spread to two Cos Cob and New Canaan in Connecticut, and to three locations in New York.
Related: Top BBQ Spots in Connecticut
Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at Examiner.com.