Fried Chicken, Part III
The third installment of our fried-chicken adventures
Summer is here, and fried chicken is occupying our minds – and plates – again. Some of our favorite places have closed since our last report. We were sad to lose Gene's New Orleans Po'Boys (not just for the fried chicken, either) as well as Tony's Southern Comfort. We lost our favorite ethnic variety, Korean-style fried chicken when Red Cap Chick closed. But new outposts for crispy, juicy chicken goodness have emerged to replace them, although many only offer the all-American favorite on certain days and times, so pay attention here.
On Monday and Tuesday evenings from 5 to 10:30pm, Hyde Park Bar & Grill Westgate (4521 West Gate Blvd., 899-2700) serves Tony's Southern Comfort fried chicken! Chef Tony is in da house dishing out the same delicious chicken he served at his lamented East Austin eatery, fried to order, accompanied by green chile-cheese mashed potatoes and your choice of one side. On Wednesdays, the Flying Falafel & Po-boys (2001 Guadalupe, 494-1400), a tiny new spot on the Drag owned by the Hadad family from New Orleans, serves killer fried chicken with a thick, well-spiced crust. A word of warning: They guarantee availability between 11am and 3pm only. It goes fast.
Sunday brunch offers a popular option for fried chicken at a couple of upscale South Austin eateries. At Olivia (2043 S. Lamar, 804-2700), chef James Holmes offers his "picnic style" version, served room temperature with a scoop of creamy potato salad and a house-cured pickle spear. The hacked pieces are the perfect size to grab with your fingers and enjoy. The Cajun-flavored breading is thick, but it stays crisp and crunchy. The ample selection of fun and funky bottled sauces make great additions for those who want to add a spicy kick. In contrast, Paggi House (200 Lee Barton, 473-3700) serves its chicken juicy and hot, with a very thin crispy crust, on top of three homemade waffles swimming in real maple syrup. The combination of sweet and salty seemed strange to me at first, but it works beautifully, and we practically licked the plate clean. My only complaint: The restaurant serves only one piece of chicken, and it was gone before waffle No. 2. For a less expensive version of this delicacy, visit Lucky J's (5703 Burnet Rd., 296-9914), where the ratio of hot and crispy chicken to waffles is 2-to-1 (see Rachel Feit's glowing review, "Lucky J's," June 5).
Another casual eatery, Fion Bistro in Steiner Ranch (2900 N. Quinlan Park Rd., 266-0049), serves a yummy version every night of the week, accompanied by mashed potatoes and greens. The menu suggests washing it down with a glass of Tempranillo, but a cold beer worked just as well. Max's Wine Dive (207 San Jacinto, 904-0111), an upscale eatery serving down-home cuisine, taunted me with its motto ("Fried chicken and champagne? Why the hell not?!"), so I had to check it out. Sure enough, I found piping hot, crunchy crusted, perfectly seasoned chicken served atop a pile of mashed potatoes and al dente collard greens, with biscuits and chipotle honey on the side. Best of all, it's available every day of the week: Monday through Saturday from 4pm to 2am and at Sunday brunch, when $25 will buy all-you-can-eat fried chicken, waffles, and mimosas from 11am to 9pm. Since I can eat a lot of fried chicken and absolutely love mimosas, I think I've found my new favorite Sunday spot.