Two Sisters Kitchen; Jackson, MS
Two Sisters' Kitchen, in a two-story house, opens only for lunch (every day but Saturday) and serves a buffet of soul food made with recipes culled from all the women in Diann I. Alford's family. "It's like Sunday lunch at your grandmother's," she says. Piled on Sisters' all-you-can-eat buffet: light angel biscuits; grits and Southern sides that might include turnip greens; and corn bread salad (Alford's mother got her to eat vegetables by adding chunks of corn bread). The one constant: "If the front door's open, we have fried chicken," assures Alford.
"I'm on the record as a fried-chicken freak," says editor in chief Dana Cowin, who wasn't disappointed by this cult Williamsburg spot known for fried chicken seasoned with paprika, black pepper and cayenne. "I adored its homey mood and comfort food."
Momofuku Noodle Bar; New York, NY
Ordering the fried chicken at David Chang's East Village spot requires planning—you'll need a group of four to eight people, and you'll have to reserve the order online. It's worth the hassle. He serves two styles in one sitting: Southern with Old Bay seasoning, and a spicy Korean version. Diners can wrap hot pieces of meat in moo shu pancakes with a variety of sweet and salty sauces.
Harold's Chicken Shack; Chicago, IL
Founded in 1950 by "Fried Chicken King" Harold Pierce, the chain thrives on a simple model: White or dark meat plunged in oil to order, and served with hot sauce.
Central Michel Richard; Superstar chef Michel Richard is known for ingenious French-style presentations at his flagship Citronelle, but Central focuses on hearty portions of comfort food like fried chicken. His super-crispy version became so popular that he now sells pieces by the bucket for takeout during lunch.
Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles; Los Angeles, CAChefs have started to update chicken and waffles with refined sauces and fluffy homemade waffles, but this California-based chain is one of the pioneers of the salty-sweet breakfast-and-dinner plate. Even better, some locations are open until 4 a.m. on weekends.
Prince's Hot Chicken Shack; Nashville, TN
This funky hole-in-the-wall has insanely crunchy, juicy and fiery fried chicken. "Even the 'mild' version was hot, hot, hot!" says editor in chief Dana Cowin.
Mama Dip's Kitchen; Chapel Hill, NC
This homey spot counts basketball legend Michael Jordan among its fans. Mildred Council—a.k.a. Mama Dip—serves a country breakfast and a range of Southern dishes, including juicy battered fried chicken.
Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill;
Pine State Biscuits; Portland, OR
For some people, a piece of fried chicken is indulgent enough. Those people should not go to Pine State Biscuits and order the Wedgie: a biscuit filled with buttermilk fried chicken, a fried green tomato, iceberg lettuce and blue cheese dressing. And they definitely shouldn't order the Reggie Deluxe (right), because that's a biscuit topped with fried chicken, bacon, cheddar, gravy and an over-easy fried egg.