Price’s Chicken Coop wins the undisputed popularity vote for fried chicken in the Queen City. A quick google search turns up fifty-‘leven articles praising its bird recipe that has stood the tastebud test for 55+ years. But the long lines, short hours and relatively high ticket price may have you wondering what else is out there, beyond Bojangles’ and Popeyes. Here are five other options to soothe your fried chicken cravings that give Price’s a serious run in terms of flavor, service and soul.
You’ve heard the rumors and they’re all true. One of the best spots for yardbird in Charlotte isn’t even a restaurant. Fresh (not frozen) chicken is delivered daily and marinated in seasoning by trained cooks, who start pumping it out to hungry customers around 10:30 a.m. and keep going until it sells out. The spicy mix has a perfect base-level hit of heat to satisfy the meek or to accompany a douse of Texas Pete.
Charlotteans collectively spazzed when the Chicken Box closed its original location on Tryon a few years ago. Luckily for die-hard following, its Sugar Creek location has continued strong. It’s soul food staples done right; save those fancy expectations for Haberdish or Asbury. Here, the chicken is always well-seasoned and done at the bone, the mac and cheese baked slightly stiff, and the broccoli casserole so good you can pretend the veggies make it healthy.
So this isn’t actual chicken at all, but a vegan option created by Chef Velvet Jacobs that consists of tofu and a proprietary blend of spices formed on a skewer, similar to a drumstick. Words don’t do justice for a legitimately amazing dish. What started as a dinner entrée at the popular young eatery is now the first item to sell out on a daily basis, and the reason the line at the counter on any given day consists of vegans and carnivores alike. She won’t reveal what kind of hoodoo she does in the kitchen to get the perfectly crispy, juicy texture — but there’s a reason it’s now sold by the bucket.
From the outside, you don’t really get an idea of what you’re walking into at The Fried Rooster. The name alone provides no clue — it could be anything from a dive to an ironic upscale dining concept. Instead, you’ll find the bright yellows, reds and chromes reminiscent of a ‘50s burger joint, in the kind of oversized dining space that encourages friends and families to sit down and enjoy their meal together, instead of rushing off to eat in the car. That’s an option you definitely want to take, because not only is the chicken at The Fried Rooster bomb, so are their 25 house-made sauces that will have you nipping your fingers.
The move is to arrange them in a semicircle on the old school plastic trays and dip between them like some kind of sauce king. As for pedigree, the owner actually worked at Price’s for ten years before opening this location. So if you already love Price’s, imagine Rooster’s as a similar profile, but more flavors and a dining room you can spread out in while you gnaw your bones.
BONUS: The Fried Rooster is 100% halal-certified, which means their meat has been prepared according to Islamic law and is free of pork products, alcohol and other harmful ingredients. It’s fresh and processed in a humane way. And their dessert menu includes a number of Middle Eastern delights, such as lotus cake and masoob—sort of a banana bread pudding—that are hard to find in Charlotte.
Mr. Charles has two locations, but the O.G. spot is at Statesville and Atando. Warning: This is the best chicken in town, and the difficulty of navigating the parking lot is in direct proportion to the deliciousness of the chicken. You can only turn in the lot heading north on Statesville or West on Atando. Any other direction catches the median. Also, the lot is basically a cliff with about 20 cars perpetually packed into roughly 10 spaces. But do not despair. Simply navigate onto the grass alongside the sidewalk, which is probably illegal but the cops allow it because, Mr. Charles, duh.
Once inside, you’ll be tempted by a vast array of options spelled out on the wall and printed menus. Don’t be distracted. Your mission is to get the chicken. Feel free to combine it with any combination of fried fish, shrimp, gizzards or livers; any sides or desserts your heart desires, but don’t forget the chicken, for godssake. Still, even before you put it in your mouth, you’ll understand why Mr. Charles is a Charlotte institution. Everyone in line talks like family, because they’ve known each other for years. The healthy (read: fine) young men behind the counter are going to joke with you while they take your order. Newcomers to Brightwalk, Camp North End visitors and the like are welcome to find a figurative seat (this is a stand and order spot, after all) at the table and sample the delectable goodness that will have you asking, “Is this an angel’s wing?” Just please, wipe your feet and act like you have some home training. You’re at Mr. Charles. Conduct yourselves accordingly.