Ten Essential Fried Chickens in OC

Roscoe's big plate of finger-lickin'.
Roscoe's big plate of finger-lickin'.
Edwin Goei

In The Matrix, a character tells Keanu Reeves' Neo that he thinks that everything tastes like chicken because the machines couldn't figure out what to make chicken taste like--so they made everything taste like chicken.

But what if the machines made everything taste like fried chicken? Would Neo and the other humans be happier living inside the Matrix?

Our county has so many great fried chicken dishes, you'd never know we're all just batteries inside a vast computer network constructed by robots. Here are ten of what this human writer thinks is the best; but don't let this alphabetically-ordered list keep you from throwing in your vote in. Let's hear what your favorites are.

Chicken Charlie
A once-a-year treat.
A once-a-year treat.
Chicken Charlie's Facebook page

Forget the deep-fried Kool Aid or the other gimmicks for which Chicken Charlie is infamous. What you want is the chicken. The regular, plain old chicken drumstick. Despite the press for whatever deep-fried monstrosity they'll introduce as this summer's most-talked-about fair food, they really do know how to fry a chicken. It's greaseless, juicy, tender, cooked perfectly with just the right amount of batter, and imbued with flavor down to the bone.

Crazy Chi Mac
Yum!
Yum!
Photos by Dustin Ames

First and foremost, Crazy Chi Mac is a Korean tavern where Hite, OB and Cass come out in big pitchers and the customers don't get loud until about 9 or 10 p.m. But it is also the first such pub around these parts to specialize in fried chicken. You only need to have been paying attention to the miracles Korean purveyors such as Kyochon and Love Letter have done with fried chicken over the past decade to know that this natural progression of things is very, very good. The restaurant doesn't have just one kind of fried chicken either. There's the base model, golden and crispy battered, the crust similar to the Colonel's, though lighter and not harboring a gallon of grease. From there, there's several different saucing options, ranging from a hot sauce made with red kimchi juice to a sugary soy to something called "Habanero 911 Hot Wings" that has a note underneath it saying, "Caution: Very Very Spicy!!!" With all of the chicken here, there's the unshakable hallmark of the Korean Method, a double-fry that leaves the skin thoroughly rendered of its fat and practically disappearing between the batter and the meat. Another notable feature: even if you ask for a half order, there will be enough equally sized pieces to share with the entire table.

Disneyland's Plaza Inn
The chicken at the mouse's house.
The chicken at the mouse's house.
Edwin Goei

If you're in line for Star Tours or the Astro Orbitor and you suddenly feel hunger pangs creep in, it's because of Plaza Inn. The smell from the fried chicken it cooks permeates the entire area. And if you've tasted it before, you know it's hands-down the best fried chicken not just in the park, but probably the City of Anaheim. Plaza Inn, for the quick, cafeteria-style restaurant that it is, will serve its golden, inexplicably non-greasy chicken with mashed potatoes, loads of gravy, a heap of green beans, and a useless biscuit. It's a monster of a meal. You don't just get one or two pieces of that chicken, you get three--a drumstick, a thigh, and a breast from the Dolly Parton of hens. But you finish every bit, starting with that crunchy rendered skin, and leaving nothing but the bones. This is fried chicken that not only exceeds your expectations of theme park food but also the dish itself--a fried chicken that's arguably better than the one that started Knott's Berry Farm.



Sponsor Content

Newsletters

All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories
    Send:

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >