What the Cluck?! The Best Fried Chicken in The Citi

As we appear to be navigating our way through the end of the Pandemic Era – one of my favorite pandemic ‘gifts’ was the Netflix series High on the Hog. It is the perfect combination of my love for Black history, food, and Black journalism.

It reminded me of how important it is to document our own stories. It was validating. Seeing recipes my mom makes for me and learning their origins gives us back so much that has been taken from us. It sent me down a Black culinary rabbit hole as I learned about Black chefs and how closely Black history intersects and impacts American History. Black people really did it all.

The list was a boneless, skinless, seasonless mess

So naturally, when I was scrolling through a local news publication and saw the “Best fried chicken places in Austin,” I was excited.

That was until I saw the list.

I know gentrification is rampant here in communities of color, but did the list have to be so bland? The list was a boneless, skinless, seasonless mess. It added insult to the injury that has been the devastation the pandemic has brought for small business owners; many Black restaurants are struggling to stay afloat.

Nah. You can’t tell me ALL of these places are frying chicken better than ALL of *us*. So in honor of National Fried Chicken Day – we thought we would take this golden opportunity to set the record straight here in Austin!

The Winner: Lillie Mae’s Comfort Food!

I’m not sure what owner Fred Nunn does to those wings but they are AMAZING! The batter and chicken are seasoned to perfection. His wings retain moistness without compromising the crunch. Eating Lillie Mae’s wings reminded me of walking into my grandmother’s house and being slapped in the face with the smell of perfectly fried chicken. It reminded me of catching Capital Metro Bus 20 to the Gizzard store on Springdale & Loyola in my high school days. And his sides were the greatest compliment to our culture. I was truly reminded of simpler times.

LILLIE MAE’S COMFORT FOOD 

About the chicken & experience:

  • Flavor in the batter AND the chicken. Homemade hot sauce for the win.
  • Fred Nunn (owner) is hilarious. His serious demeanor completely melts once you bite into the food. His menu is one of the most “Southern” local menus from oxtails and fried fish, to pork chops, gumbo, and more. 

The What the Cluck Challenge started as me setting out to avenge Black business owners slighted by the mainstream list and identify some of the best chicken wings in Austin and the surrounding areas. But it became so much more. It became a source of fellowship amongst friends and family. Various friends joined me in suggesting locations and meeting me around the city to try the food and give their opinions. It became an example of group economics as we made silly videos capturing our first bites into the chicken and even had the owners join our silliness and explain why they had the best chicken in Austin. 

My full list follows below in alphabetical order:

ANYTHING BAKED POTATO

  • Located in the heart of East Austin’s African American Cultural District
  • Stuffed potatoes but don’t sleep on the wings
  • Great wings and flavors
  • See the menu »

About the food & experience:

  • Chef Homeboy was frying their wings with love. I was running late to pick it up and he waited and served them up hot.

COUNTRY BOYZ FIXINS

  • Another East Austin gem
  • Wings and strips offered
  • See the menu »

About the food & experience:

  • Family-owned and run. Friendly and fun. Deep south menu options from Alligator, Fried ribs, frog legs and more.

GOSSIP SHACK

  • Multiple Locations throughout Austin
  • Open Late, each location has a unique environment
  • See the menu »

About the food & experience:

  • Fun wing flavor names like CPR (Cayenne, Parmesan, Ranch) and Buss Down (spicy bbq). Good crisp and flavor.
  • The staff is amazing.
  • Try the kool-aid and the fish!

HOOVER’S

About the food & experience:

  • One of the oldest Black-owned restaurants in operation.
  • Beet-orita is a local favorite.
  • The staff is polite and quick.

POTLUCK ATX FOOD TRUCK

About the chicken & experience:

  • Very quick. Good wing flavors with a light batter 
  • *No ranch! They don’t need it. And apparently, it’s an offense to request it.
  • The gumbo is good too!

ROOTS CHICKEN SHACK

  • Located inside HEB Mueller’s Main Street Hall
  • Owned by Top Chef “Fan Favorite, Tiffany Derry
  • Wings and Strips fried in duck fat
  • See the menu »

About the food & experience:

  • Was my first time having duck-fat fried chicken. The flavor is interesting.
  • Duck fat is richer so grab extra napkins.
  • The staff is fast and friendly!

ROLLING ROOSTER

  • Multiple Locations throughout Austin including inside the historic Victory Grill in  East Austin
  • See the menu »

Y’ALLS CAFE

  • Located in Round Rock
  • Serving Louisiana / Cajun Cuisine
  • See the menu »

About the food & experience:

  • Great atmosphere. Offered wings as an appetizer. Not my favorite item on the menu.
  • Live music on some days.

I found some amazing local spots that really contribute to the Fried Chicken culture of the city. It is my hope that we continue to support these locations and keep their doors open as most are keeping Black history, Black recipes, and Black culture alive. Did we miss YOUR best fried chicken spot – don’t be #stangy! Drop a comment and let us know!

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