Neighbourhoods throughout Toronto chart a hopeful, diverse constellation of options when craving fried chicken, whether classic, southern style or with a fusion twist. There’s really no excuse for settling for corporate chain experience — you owe yourself better, and besides, what exactly do white-suited business magnates and spinach-pumping sailor types know about fried buttermilk goodness, anyway?
These are Toronto’s best fried chicken options, by neighbourhood.
ST. CLAIR WEST
St. Clair West’s Stockyards Smokehouse and Larder’s fried chicken might be the city’s best. Fully invested in the southern tradition of patience, chef Tom Davis’ thyme and jerk seasoned bird bathes 24 hours each in brine and buttermilk. Take four pieces of that served atop a waffle and all drizzled in chili maple molasses and citrus glaze, and you’ve got a recipe for success. For something different, hit the Filipino spot Lasa by Lamesa and get the fried chicken adobo.
Options abound for fried chicken in the Junction. With locally sourced chickens and spices straight from Mumbai, Love Chix coats bone-in thighs and boneless breasts in love and honey hot sauce. During brunch hours The Hole in the Wall makes a mean chicken and waffles plate. Indie Ale House does it two ways — southern style with potato salad, ranch sauce and hot and honey mustard, and shanghai style with pickled daikon and hoisin sauce on a sandwich, while Roux flips southern fried chicken and buttermilk bran waffles drizzled with bourbon maple syrup.
You deserve to be taken in if you sleep on the southern boneless chicken thighs and bourbon-vanilla and waffles at High Park’s Mugshot Tavern, and you know it.
In Roncy, The Ace serves country-style boneless fried chicken morsels on a heaping plate of collard greens, cornbread and ham gravy, while Nine paints Korean fried chicken in chili sauce and pickled daikon.
When in Parkdale, know that Electric Mud are renowned for their crispy, deep south buttermilk chicken (served with gravy, hot sauce and syrup), while popular izakaya Guu offers deep fried chicken karaage and garlic mayonnaise pairing.
WEST QUEEN WEST
On Queen West, Bar Fancy will help you slam hot chicken sandwiches made of crispy Chinese five-spice powdered thighs, dill pickles and white bread. Barton Snacks has a honey-chili-glazed three-piece combo with rosemary garlic fries and slaw, The County General makes large-format meals of chickens painted in gochujang and hoisin-espresso BBQ sauce, Harlem Underground’s birds are thoroughly cured for two days in a penetrating mix of salt and secret spices, Broncos Slider Bar’s got hot chicken and waffles, and Swan by Rose and Sons is known to offer fried birds in large-format dinners or on top of cornbread.
In King West, Mascot’s restaurant space does a plate of buttermilk fried chicken with mustard greens, wild mushrooms, hot sauce and ranch dressing that’s intended for sharing but easily enjoyed on one’s own.
In Little Italy, Caplansky’s offers house battered legs and thighs dashed with herbes de Provence, while P.G. Clucks serves spicy fried chicken at their College Street walk up, also available next door at Birreria Volo.
Koreatown goes to White Brick Kitchen for classic buttermilk fried chicken, where it’s accompanied by green onion biscuits and a choice of seasonal sides.
In the Annex, The Fry delivers Korean style chicken with a kimchi kick, while Rose and Sons often does a large-format buttermilk fried chicken dinner, available classic style or “Nashville” hot.
Breaking with southern tradition, Kensington Market’s Dirty Bird forges ahead with a “northern fried chicken” that’s dusted up all sweet in maple sugar. And, you might be pleased to know that the breading is a gluten free flour blend.
Chinatown’s spot is Jackpot Chicken Rice, where they serve a punch-packing Thai basil and sriracha fried chicken next to the signature poached menu item.
When in the Financial District, hit Real Sports Bar & Grill for garlicky tenderloins and house sauces that are the stuff of pre- and post-game dreams. For larger parties, if you give Momofuku Noodle Bar 24 hours’ notice, they’ll prep two whole birds (one southern style, one Korean style) for your group (parties larger than nine are asked to order a double order) along with a spread of fixings: scallion pancakes, ginger scallion sauce, jalapeño garlic sauce, pickled vegetables, radishes, herbs, and tabasco salt.
In the warmer months, Harbourfront Centre/Boxcar Social lakeside joint The Slip brings an array of small-format summer comforts to its sprawling open air patio. That includes a basket of boneless fried chicken thighs, complete with buttermilk sauce and kimchi for dipping.
YONGE & DUNDAS
If you long for large, tender slabs of crispy fried chicken bigger than your palm, get to Hot-Star Large Fried Chicken at Yonge & Dundas. Meanwhile, Don Don Izakaya serves up crispy morsels of garlic-ginger fried chicken with kewpie mayo.
In Church-Wellesley Village, Smith serves fried chicken boneless with ham gravy and collard greens, while Kinka Izakaya (formerly Guu) builds their nugget format bird in a sweet and salty soy, mirin, and ginger marinade.
Corktown’s Carbon Bar does more than barbecue right. Here, you’ll also find a crispy buttermilk skinned classic worth writing home about amongst the righteous pit gems.
When in Cabbagetown, get to Kanpai for a crispy, Taiwanese government-approved treatment that’s deep-fried, seasoned with Taiwanese spices, and topped with fresh scallions, cilantro, and chilis, all served with sweet and spicy chili sauce. Here, it’s available by the bucket with a six pack of PBR or as a three-piece order.
Morgans on the Danforth is your spot for a pint of Ontario craft and a plate of buttermilk fried chicken. Here it comes with a heap of mashed Yukon Gold, winter slaw, and sriracha honey for an extra kick.
Building a solid case for ham-fisted puns and frill-less comfort on King East, Cluck Clucks reigns with an enviable arsenal of chicken & waffle dishes, best dispatched with one of their creamy house sauces.
In Riverside, Kaboom Chicken does Korean fried chicken a few different ways. Order bone-in thigh and drum atop a bubble egg waffle or in a combo with slaw, fries and sweet chili sauce, or get the signature: boneless bird slapped between a pair of ramen patties with gochujang mayo, spicy tangy sauce, pickles, carrots, zucchini and feta.
In Leslieville, Skin + Bones Wine Bar serves up spicy fried chicken and waffles with cheddar, green onion, and coleslaw for the brunch crowd, and Eastside Social delivers upscale casual comfort in a plate of buttermilk chicken with salted fingerling potato and chive salad.
Feature image courtesy of LWYang via Flickr.