We don’t mess around when it comes to fried chicken.
It’s juicy, it’s crunchy, it’s downright finger-lickin’. In honour of America’s fried chicken day (yes, it’s a thing, and it’s on July 6) eschew the cutlery at these 10 top Melbourne spots.
Leonard’s House of Love
A log cabin in South Yarra? Yes, Leonard’s shucks off its well-heeled address to sport a Davy Crockett-meets-the-1970s vibe, in the process getting down and dirty with a whole host of fried-chicken options. Choose from those cute bite-sized buttons known as popcorn chicken, served with pickles and ranch sauce, hit the glazed tenders with chipotle mayo, or try the XXX-rated hot wings. They do a mean Coca Cola-glazed charcoal chicken too, FYI.
3 Wilson Street, South Yarra
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Gami Fried Chicken
Forget the Yanks – it’s a patriotic duty for Koreans to do fried chicken well, and Gami’s, which started off in Carnegie and has now grown to a 12-strong chain across Melbourne’s ’burbs with one far-flung outlet in Perth, keeps the national flag flying proudly with 17 secret herbs and seasoning ingredients. The end result: chicken that’s juicy on the inside wrapped in a thin, crisp shell.
100 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne; also Fitzroy, Hawthorn, Box Hill, Fountain Gate, Eastland, Southland, Doncaster and Carnegie.
Top points for the name alone, but Raph Rashid, the founder of Taco Truck and Beatbox Kitchen, hits another homerun with JP’s fried chicken. It’s free-range (tick) and you can get a gnarly fried chicken sandwich with slaw and salty-fiery-sweet Boss sauce (company motto: No Boss, your loss).
12 Edward Street, Brunswick
Belles Hot Chicken
The mothership for all things fried chicken, this Fitzroy hipster hangout opened by Morgan McGlone takes a walk on the Nashville wild side. Southern-fried hot chicken starts at mild(ish) and quickly works its way up to “Really f***in hot”. Winner of best in show for crunch, Belles fried chook plays well with others – specifically, blue cheese sauce, slaw and low-intervention wine.
150 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
Hot Chicken Project
Okay, so it’s in Geelong (arguably an outer suburb of Melbourne thanks to the Princes Highway upgrade, anyway) but Aaron Turner makes hot chicken worthy of the 80-kilometre journey. The Igni chef slums it in fabulous style at Hot Chicken Project with free-range birds tap-dancing along the Scoville scale of chilli heat, along with craft beer and great tunes.
84a Little Malop Street, Geelong
As befitting a restaurant housed in decommissioned train carriages parked on top of an office block, Easey’s takes an irreverent approach to the dark art of frying. Go the chicken sandwich – southern-fried buttermilk chicken with pickle spears, honey mustard and ranch sauce – and save the other hand for a beer.
48 Easey Street, Collingwood
Rockwell & Sons
Wednesdays – aka fried-chicken night – are the highlight of the Rockwell week. Book ahead for one whole fried chicken (brined for three days, tossed in seasoned flour and buttermilk, fried into deliciousness) served with a host of righteous side action such as pickles, coleslaw and creamed corn.
288 Smith Street, Collingwood
Magic Mountain Saloon
Fried chicken is treated as an appetiser at this multi-level Aussie-Thai city wonderland. Order Magic Mountain’s Chilli & Lime Chicken Popcorn as a starter then move onto the Crunchy Fried Chicken Ribs with sweet chilli sauce for main. Unfortunately they don’t yet do a fried chicken dessert.
62 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
Le Bon Ton
This backstreet Collingwood den of delicious Southern-styled iniquity has an excellent way with chicken ribs – namely, frying them until they scream for mercy and adding cayenne hot pepper and chipotle-fired ranch dressing; you could go the kinder, gentler option of buttermilk-soaked then fried tenders lavished with white pepper gravy. Either way, just add a serve of Le Bon Ton chilli cheese fries.
51 Gipps Street, Collingwood
This Brunswick fried-chicken specialist gets the fist-bump of approval for living up to its name (the acronym stands for Fried And Tasty). Housed in a southern-US-style diner, it delivers chicken that is most definitely fried and exceptionally tasty, thanks to being made to a secret family recipe. As an added bonus you can chase it with a side of poutine (Canadian chips, cheese curd and gravy), which would make Justin Trudeau proud.
360 Lygon Street, Brunswick East
Main image: Le Bon Ton