Best Fried Chicken - 2005
Our opinion of fried chicken is monotonous: We like it. Big juicy chickens, small tender chickens, thick crunchy coating, thin crisp coating, spicy, bland -- lots of choices, lots of styles, lots of price ranges. And we like proper fried chicken sides, too, with points for real mashed potatoes and for biscuits or corn bread. These places serve the best in the city.
598 Second St. (at Brannan), 836-9239, www.plumpjack.com
It's not always available (the seasonal menu changes frequently), but when it is, it's made with Rosie organic chicken in a crunchy crust, and served with carrots, buttermilk mashed potatoes, and a nice peppery gravy, for $21.
Blue Jay Cafe
919 Divisadero (at McAllister), 447-6066
During the day, choose your favorite portions (wings are 75 cents each, legs $1.05, thighs $1.75, breasts $2.50) and make up your own plate. At night, three pieces of fried chicken and a couple of sides costs $10.95. The birds here are small, tender, and juicy -- real spring chickens. And don't miss Blue Jay's biscuits.
The House of Chicken 'n Waffles
444 Embarcadero West (at Oak), Oakland, (510) 836-4446
The menu boasts dozens of combination plates, all named after favorite customers, but the basic building blocks are right there in the place's name: crispy fried chicken and waffles (that could be crisper). Open late -- on weekend nights till 4 a.m.
1521 Eddy (at Fillmore), 409-1388, www.powellsplace.citysearch.com
This spot uses giant birds, and a big plus is the wide range of soulful sides you can choose from, including black-eyed peas, collard greens, mac and cheese, and crunchy fried okra. We also enjoy the sweetish corn-bread muffins.
Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits
1426 Fillmore (at Ellis), 567-1748; 599 Divisadero (at Hayes), 346-3088; 2598 Mission (at 22nd Street), 826-8877; and 890 Geneva (at Mission), 239-2089, www.popeyes.com
Cheap and consistent -- and, we've got to admit, we love the extra-spicy. The chain recently reformulated the biscuits, to good effect.