Whether you eat them with waffles, sandwiched between bread or straight out of a bucket, just about everyone loves crispy fried chicken. Golden, tender and cooked to perfection, this savory finger-licking food never gets old! Of course, since this is Texas, fast food chicken joints are a dime a dozen and definitely not hard to come by. But where do you go in Austin when you’re looking for something a little more refined than the $1 menu special? There’s nothing wrong with grabbing a bucket of chicken and a bag of biscuits to go on a busy weeknight. But next time you’re craving a plate of crunchy chicken and are in the mood to broaden your culinary horizons, why not skip the drive thru and try these classy dishes that take frying chicken to a whole new level!
Conveniently centered in the Mueller shopping center next to Alamo Drafthouse, Collen’s Kitchen is a charming little southern cafe that offers classic comfort food, craft cocktails and sweet treats. The interior of this little cafe is a mix of modern and farmhouse chic, with kitschy green-striped wallpaper, unique wall sconces and old-fashioned wooden dining chairs that look like they came straight out of mama’s kitchen. Stop by Colleen’s after work for a happy hour cocktail and scrumptious bar snack like Fancy Chicarrones and Blue Cheese Potato Chips. Or have a leisurely lunch packed with delicious carbs and comfort foods like Fried Green Tomatoes, Country Ham Biscuits and Pan Seared Catfish Sammies. The dinner menu at Colleen’s is comprised of classic southern foods with an elevated twist, with divine dishes like Bacon Wrapped Dates, Chicken Pot Pie and Skillet Succotash. And you can finish off the meal right with an indulgent dessert like Mason Jar Banana Pudding, Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake and Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches. Naturally no southern menu would be complete with the requisite fried chicken offerings. So Colleen’s serves up their Buttermilk Fried Chicken in single portions, family style and on fresh baked biscuits so you can get your chicken fix for lunch or dinner. For a fancier take on the classic fried chicken combo, try Colleen’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken plate, which includes a tender breast, thigh, haricots verts (green beans) and creamy buttermilk mashers. You can even add a fried egg, avocado or bacon for even more fried deliciousness.
Sala & Betty
Tucked in the North Loop neighborhood off Airport Blvd, Sala & Betty is a trendy farm-to-table eatery with organic comfort fare and a contemporary Austin vibe. This casual cafe has a spacious covered patio with strategically placed fans for hot summer days and an open, modern-rustic interior with plenty of cafe-style seating and a large bar. Sala & Betty offers fresh, locally sourced farm fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as an impressive selection of local craft beers, wines and ciders. Start your day with a satisfying breakfast of tacos, pancakes, Croque Madames or Hair of the Dog Fries – topped with queso, pork and a fried egg and served with a Lone Star Beer. Or nosh on a giant sandwich for lunch like The Betty with slow roasted pork and smoked tomato aioli or the Mister T with smoked Waygu sirloin and avocado aioli. The dinner menu at Sala & Betty is loaded with enticing bites like Fried Fontina Cheese Sticks, Mexican Meatloaf with smoked tomato potatos, fresh salads and fancy burgers like The Frenchie Burger with brie cheese and truffle aioli, The Martinez Burger with charred jalapeño aioli and the Salmon Burger with avocado aioli. But if it’s fried chicken you’re looking for, head to Sala & Betty for dinner and try their gut-busting Fried Chicken platter that’s piled with bacon, cheddar, gravy, fried egg and a warm buttermilk biscuit. It will definitely hit the spot and then some!
Built inside the historic Faulk farmhouse in south Austin, Mattie’s is a gorgeous southern-fusion restaurant and bar with tons of antique character and Texas charm. The century-old farmhouse sits on a beautiful 23-acres of property that also includes lush green gardens and rolling pastures, which is where owner Mary Faulk got the inspiration for the name of their original restaurant: Green Pastures. Since then, Green Pastures has been reimagined to include the inimitable Mattie’s, with a remodeled restaurant interior that preserves the home’s original structure and integrity. Mattie’s is an absolutely stunning restaurant from the moment you step onto the grounds. The inside of the home is separated into different well-appointed rooms, with plush seating and unique light fixtures, and the entire space is decorated in a mix of mid-century, modern farmhouse and stately southern plantation. The mouthwatering menus at Mattie’s are separated into Dinner, Dessert, Brunch, Bakeshop, Beverage, Wine and Lawn – which is a special menu of beers, cocktails and small dinners that are ideal for eating outside on Mattie’s sprawling green lawn. Enjoy a relaxing weekend brunch of Anson Mills rice grits, Fried Chicken Eggs Benedict, Smoked Sockeye Salmon Tartar and Duck Confit Hash. Or have a regal Southern and French influenced dinner comprised of fresh farm-to-table fare and Austin flair. Start off with some fresh-out-of-the-oven Buttermilk Biscuits and BBQ Gulf Shrimp & Grits, then gorge yourself on Hudson Valley Duck Breast with brown butter dumplings, Niman Ranch Petite Filet with spicy honey mustard and Tender Belly Grilled Pork Tenderloin with corn spoonbread and grilled collards. But many folks who visit Mattie’s have one thing on their mind: fried chicken. So this elegant eatery offers their delicious Mattie’s Fried Chicken with Yukon pomm puree and chipotle yogurt dressing as a dinner dish or a yummy snack to enjoy outside under the Austin sky. Either way, you’ll definitely get your fried chicken fix!
Set in a modern bungalow off W. 5th Street, Fixe is a contemporary upscale Southern eatery with a marvelous – albeit pricy – menu. Treat yourself to a late-morning brunch with Fixe Biscuits and whipped butter, Lobster and Crawfish Pot Pie and crispy Fried Chicken with buttermilk, kale, green apple and spiced honey. Or catch the Happy Hour special Monday-Saturday from 4:30-7PM and Sunday 2PM-close and try one of Fixe’s craft cocktails like the Honey Badger or the Fixe 75 and their Corn & Crab Hushpuppies with charred corn tartar sauce, Southern Fish Frye with Anson Mills Antebellum cornmeal and hushpuppies or Fried Chicken Sandwich stacked with sweet tea pickles, chicken mayo, sunchoke and bene seed roll and a side of homemade salt & pepper fries. And if you’re a fan of fancy dessert, then be sure to check out Fixe’s succulent selection of deconstructed desserts that are just as amazing to look at as they are to taste. For dinner, choose between starters like Ahi Tuna Mufaletta with crispy seeded toast, Deviled Eggs with fermented cabbage, smoked trout roe and grated ham and Shrimp and Crab Toast on a buttermilk muffin with pickled onion and lobster sabayon. Then have your pick of an array of exquisite entrees including Duroc Pork Shoulder with potlikker pinto beans and a mustard-kale emulsion, 32 oz Dry Aged Tomahawk Ribeye with grilled oyster mushrooms and caramelized onion jus, Blackened Red Snapper with rock shrimp, bone marrow, toasted farro, butternut squash and hot & sour nage and even more Fried Chicken with buttermilk, kale green apple and spiced honey – in case you didn’t get enough during brunch and happy hour!
Located in ultra-hip east Austin, Pitchfork Pretty is a classy and contemporary restaurant that cooks up inventive and locally sourced Hill Country cuisine in a modern open setting. This lovely east Austin gem has a unique A-frame architecture, with lots of exposed wood beams, paper lanterns and floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the interior. Stop by Pitchfork Pretty in the morning for their cafe service and try one of their breakfast sandwiches like The Pitchfork made with a toasted potato roll, soft scramble and daily charcuterie, The Pretty bagel with pimento cheese, dill pickle, red onion, alfalfa sprouts and basil or The Lox bagel with house cured lox, cream cheese, capers and tomato. Or if you’re looking for a unique happy hour spot for date night or girl’s night, head to Pitchfork Pretty from 5-6PM and snack on Pickled Quail Egg with crispy leeks and hot papaya, Beef Jerky with habanero jelly and roasted peanut and Buckwheat Cornbread with honey-miso butter and Chicken Liver Toast, and wash it down with a shaken or stirred cocktail like A Red Rabbit with carrot and chilis, A Drink Has no Name with Yaupon tea or Orange, like Clockwork with Coriander and root cordial. The Sunday Brunch menu at Pitchfork Pretty is a melange of light cocktails like the Garden Water with Cimarron tequila blanco, the Cooler if you Did with St. George gin and the Wake Up Juice with Austin made Cafe del Fuego, as well as beers, wines, ciders, roses and flavorful brunch dishes like Steak & Eggs, Crab Toast and Caldo de Pollo Frito – which is fried chicken in a spiced cabbage broth. But if you’re really really hungry then feast your eyes and your tastebuds on the dinner menu at Pitchfork Pretty, where you can order a la carte or let the chefs take the reigns for a full-blown four-course meal. Snacks include Beer Pickled Kohlrabi with BBQ mushrooms and Chicken Liver Mousse with pickled vegetables and rye toast. There’s also tasty appetizers like Yuca Dumplings with queso Oaxaca, Ruby Trout Crudo and Seared Foie Torchon with parsnips cooked in coffee caramel. If you’ve still got room for something bigger, there’s a selection of seasonal entree items including Potato Gnocchi, Grilled Pork and Farm Egg and Broiled King Salmon with potatoes. And, as far as fried chicken is concerned, Pitchfork Pretty considers themselves to be quite the connoisseurs. Their deep-fried fusion version of the original dish is made gluten free with a habanero brine and chickpea flour and served with a side of red chile, buttermilk dressing and pickled daikon.
Moonshine Patio & Grill
Set in a historic building in the heart of downtown Austin, Moonshine serves sinful Southern-style brunches and dinners in a beautiful rustic-chic atmosphere. This contemporary casual restaurant and historic bar is built inside a former 19th century stable house and dry goods store, with the owner’s original quarters on the second floor of the building. The former dry goods store has since been converted into a cozy and sunny dining space. And the old carriage house is now bar with rich dark wood and sultry dim lighting. There’s also a gorgeous covered patio wth a convex wooden roof that creates the illusion of sitting inside a giant barrel. Every detail of Moonshine is carefully designed and detailed to showcases the building’s original architecture and fixtures while providing a spacious and welcoming environment for guests to get comfortable and enjoy a sumptuous homestyle southern meal. To start, every table gets a basket of Moonshine’s specialty seasoned popcorn, which is sublimely salty and crunchy, and best enjoyed with a tall glass of Texas sweet tea. Or you can sip on one of Moonshine’s refreshing specialty cocktails like the Good Hearted Old Fashioned, The Blind Mule or the Hard Lemonade with Tito’s vodka and Paula’s Texas lemon. Lunch and dinner starters include Southern Grit Cake with fried crawfish and aioli, Pretzels and Pimento, Warm Kale & Bacon Dip and The Original Moonshine Corndog Shrimp with honey mustard and blueberry swirl. They’ve also got a handful of larger than life sandwiches like the Tender Belly with pork 3 ways and beer cheese on a pretzel bun and the Backyard Chicken with poblano and apple bbq sauce that will keep you full through next week! Moonshine is also famous for their phenomenal buffet-style Sunday brunch, which offers a smattering of decadent dishes and draws a line out the door most weekends. If you’re hungry for a big, diet-demolishing dish, there’s an appetizing entree menu that’s dripping with deliciousness in the form of Pan Fried Chicken Almondine with artichokes and lemon cream, Green Chile Macaroni with bacon gratin and grilled chicken and Ranger Cattle Texas Waygu Meatloaf with housemade brown gravy. And don’t think Moonshine forgot about the quintessential Southern food staple. They’ve got a Fried Chicken & Waffles platter that will blow your mind! This sweet and savory dish will tease your tastebuds with lemon butter, thick maple syrup and spicy chipotle cream gravy.
Perched inconspicuously off the corner of Manor road, Salty Sow is a laid-back supper club and gastropub with a fresh mindfully sourced menu and cozy, inviting atmosphere. The outside of Salty Sow has an average brick exterior with a rooftop patio. But inside the space is warm, well-appointed and elegantly laid out, like having supper at a trendy friend’s home. There’s a lovely outdoor patio with communal tables for a social supper-club like experience. And the interior of Salty Sow is filled with plush bar-style seating, low, wood paneled ceilings and funky light fixtures made of kitchen utensils. The upscale supper club menu at Salty Sow includes a dazzling drink list with red wines, white wines and roses as well as bubblies and a range of craft drafts. Have your pick of heavenly hors d’ouevres like Oyster Boudin Fritters with chipotle remoulade, Truffled Deviled Eggs and Bacon & Gruyere Roasted Bone Marrow with parsley puree. You can also order a meaty dish in a jar like the Chicken Liver Mousse with apple gelee and pickled onions and the Salmon Rillette with caviar and creme fraiche. If you’re trying to impress a dinner date with an elevated, handcrafted meal then order one of Salty Sow’s fresh entrees like the Candied Pork Belly with collard greens and soy balsamic syrup, the Duck Breast with turnip puree and cardamom orange sauce or the Milk Braisd Pork Butt white beans, escarole and pecorino. But what people love most about this uber cool gastropub is the incredible happy hour menu, which is served daily from 4:30-6:30PM and features a hand-picked list of craft Signature Ritas, Signature Sips, craft tacos and lip-smacking sharables. Try one of Salty Sow’s signature margaritas like the house blood orange Blanche or the Curly Tail with Pepe Z, cilantro and a smoked & salted rim. Or go for one of their Signature Sips like the Blue Sow with Dripping Springs vodka and bleu cheese-stuffed pickled okra, the Charlotte’s Web with strawberry moonshine and black pepper simple syrup or the Maple Glazed Old Fashioned with Maker’s mark and maple syrup. The delectable Happy hour dishes include Cornmeal Fried Catfish Tacos, Duck Fat Fries with a 110-minute egg and cold béarnaise, Eggplant Fries with parmesan and fresh tomato sauce and the most popular pick of them all: Honey Rosemary Dipped Fried Chicken. This one-of-a-kind fried chicken creation comes with creamy honey butter and a fresh housemade biscuit. And everyone who orders it is left speechless and wanting more!
Jack Allen’s Kitchen
Booming with several locations throughout Austin, Jack Allen’s Kitchen is a popular American lunch and dinner spot that stands out in atmosphere, taste and friendly service. Featured on several talk shows and “best of” articles, this casual restaurant definitely knows what they’re doing when it comes to good food. Jack Allen’s is the ideal blend of sports bar, sit down restaurant and chill spot, with a full bar and flat screen TVs, a spacious covered patio and gigantic open dining space that can accommodate intimate dates or large gatherings. The loaded drink menu has something delicious for everyone, whether you’re looking for craft beer, wine or housemade cocktails with fresh ingredients. Perfect for a laid back lunch or authentic Texas dinner, the southwest influenced menu at Jack Allen’s is bursting with creative and sensational dishes like Bacon Wrapped Texas Quail with jalapeño jam and peach jam, Blue Crab Gratin with artichoke hearts, spinach and ciabatta, Pumpkin Seed Pesto Marinated Chicken Breast with artichoke gratin and goat cheese drizzle and Chorizo Stuffed Pork Medallion Tenderloins with roasted garlic cream sauce. They also offer a selection of fresh salads – that are deceptively filling – like the Steak Salad, Buttermilk Fried Chicken Salad and Twisted Cobb Salad with grilled achiote chicken. One of the most popular must-try menu picks for lunch and dinner is Jack Allen’s spectacular Smashed Guacamole appetizer. This tasty Tex Mex sharable is made with cotija cheese, pumpkin seeds and homemade tortilla chips – don’t worry you’ll still have plenty of room for fried chicken and other goodies! If you’re craving a little south-of-the-border flavor try one of Jack Allen’s specialty South Texas Tacos like the Chile Mango Shrimp Tacos, Grilled Chile Pork Tacos or Chicken Tinga Tacos. Or splurge on a bodacious burger like the Sloppy Jack with ground short rib and buttermilk fried onion rings, The Fat Jack Burger with hickory sauce and bacon and the Green Chile Cheeseburger with jalapeño mayonnaise. And because Texans love just about everything fried, Jack Allen’s offers a handful of “chicken fried anything” meats that range from New York Strip Steak and moist Pork Chops to Chicken Fried Beef Ribs – which you have to try to believe. This is also where you can find JAK’s crispy twist on the Southern classic: Chicken Fried Chicken. This delicious dish really amps up the fried chicken flavor with tender chicken breast, green chile gravy, seasoned julianne veggies and creamy mashed potatoes.
Tucked in a beautiful bungalow in downtown Austin, Nightcap is a sultry dinner and drink spot with an intimate atmosphere and creative craft drinks and eats. This late night cafe started out as an after-dinner drink spot where you could treat yourself to a delicious dessert and amouze Bouche after supper. Since then, Nightcap has added a scintillating selection of multi-course entrees where the chefs like to play with new flavors and recipes. Every specialty cocktail at Nightcap is handcrafted with fresh, local ingredients and served with extra drama in the form of mystifying smoke rubs and fruit peel twists. Tasty snacks at Nightcap include Maple Glazed Pork Belly with kohlrabi and white truffle, Oxtail Marmalade with housemade brioche and Waygu Beef Tartar. Seasonal main course highlights include Lamb Loin with vanilla parsnip purée and Roasted Chicken Breast with potato dauphine and truffle jus. They’ve also got a happening Burgers and Burgundy menu on Sundays that features a hand-picked selection of burgundies, Sunday Staff Favorites, bar snacks and the craft Nightcap burger with homemade brioche, double patty, special sauce and Gorgonzola aioli. But a little known secret about the Burgers and Burgundy menu is the stellar Fried Chicken hidden in the sides menu. This tender temptation comes in a wing, leg or thigh and many people say it’s the best fried chicken you’ll find in town!
Mattie’s photo by Nick Simonite courtesy of Facebook
Colleen’s Kitchen photo by Colin S. courtesy of Yelp
Pitchfork Pretty photo by Nathan I. courtesy of Yelp