Short List: Fried chicken

My grandma, Bernice, was an old black woman from Georgia and her food just tasted better than everyone else’s, especially her fried chicken. It was immaculate. She would soak the meat in seasoned buttermilk, making it juicy and tender. The crust was thin, crispy and flavorful, and it never slipped from the bone after I took a bite. It could just be that I loved her and that made everything that came out of her kitchen special because, since her passing, it’s been impossible for me to find chicken that rivals hers. But here are three versions that come close.

Porter’s Fried Chicken
3628 S. Big Bend Road, St. Louis, 314.781.2097

Porter’s chicken verges on perfection, enough so that I think about it daily. It has tons of flavor. Each component has been seasoned so well: The meat is delectable; the crust, crisp and light – playing a supporting role to the meat, not overwhelming it by being too thick. I prefer the hot and spicy chicken, which actually doesn’t have that much heat, just enough fire power to wake up your taste buds. Fresh and cooked to order, this is unequivocally the best fried chicken you can buy in St. Louis.

London’s Wing House
6209 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, St. Louis, 314.827.0133

I realize this probably isn’t the safest drive-thru line to be waiting in after dark but, hey, it’s open late, the chicken is great and the rolls – those rolls! The wings are everything they should be: coated with a tasty, crunchy crust on the outside and touting juicy, yummy chicken on the inside. Indulge and get a bucket, which comes with rolls that have been dunked in melted butter, a fine accompaniment. It’s an excellent late-night fix.

Goody Goody Diner
5900 Natural Bridge Ave., St. Louis, 314.383.3333

Hot with a flaky crust, this fried chicken is consistently good. Goody Goody dips its chicken into a milk wash, breads it, shakes off the excess and fries. No brining, no soaking – so simple. Owner Richard Connelly has been working there since 1954, so I think he has his chicken down to a science. I like to order mine with pancakes and take a bite of the sweet maple syrup-soaked cakes followed by a bite of that scrumptious chicken. You just can’t beat a sweet and salty duo.

To see this month's Short List runner-up, click here.