Republican lawmaker Lori Saine will never be a restaurant critic....or a diplomat. On Wednesday, she showed up at a meeting of the Colorado Legislature's poverty task force with a box of Popeye's fried chicken -- reportedly a "silent protest" of the uproar after Senator Vicki Marble of Fort Collins told an earlier meeting of that same group that "when you look at life expectancy, there are problems in the black race....Sickle-cell anemia is something that comes up, diabetes is something that's prevalent in the genetic makeup and you just can't help it. Although I've got to say, I've never had better barbecue and better chicken and ate better in my life than when you go down South and you -- I love it...."
Marble will never be a restaurant critic (or diplomat), either. Because you don't need to go to the South to get great fried chicken. Or to Popeye's, for that matter. And you definitely don't need to be a member of the "black race" to crave Here's an update on our "Ten Best Plates of Fried Chicken in Denver," originally published July 5, right before National Fried Chicken Day on July 6. See also: Five best Southern food restaurants in Denver
10) Tom's Home Cookin' For some of the best soul food in town, head to Tom's, a lunch-only joint where you'll find mac 'n cheese, cornbread and, most important, fried chicken. The thick, tender hunks of bird are fried to a golden crunch for the winner of our Best Fried Chicken in 2013. But show up early: Tom's closes when the food is gone -- and it goes fast.
9) White Fence Farm Embrace the kitsch of White Fence Farm, because the petting zoo, the playground and the gift shop are all part of the experience. And that experience includes generous portions of classic American comfort food, including excellent fried chicken. White Fence Farm bakes, then pan-fries its chicken, making it at once so crunchy and juicy that you'll be lickin' your fingers. Our readers do: White Fence Farm, which turns forty this month, just won the Readers' Choice award for Best Fried Chicken in the Best of Denver 2013.
8) D Bar Desserts Yes, dessert is in the name, but D Bar knows how to whip up savory dishes as well. Don't miss the Southern-Fried Belgian, which takes fried chicken to a whole new level. This "sandwich" stuffs crispy chicken strips inside fluffy white cheddar and Parmesan Belgian waffles, then serves it with a side of sweet potato fries.
7) Steuben's If you're craving the classics, Steuben's will hook you up with all your favorite comfort foods, but with a contemporary twist. The fried chicken is a particular favorite; the bird comes with real mashed potatoes, a biscuit and gravy. Pair that plate with a milkshake or an egg cream and you've got yourself a great American meal.
6) Castle Café The building housing the Castle Cafe has been doing a thriving bar and restaurant business since the late 1800s. The specialty today is Kansas City-style pan-fried chicken, which is made to order -- but definitely worth the wait.
5) Cora Faye's Cafe For country home cookin', head to the cozy Cora Faye's Cafe. Not surprisingly, one of the most popular dishes here is the fried chicken: salty, crunchy and served with sweet Southern hospitality.
4) Bastien's Since 1937, Coloradans have been coming to Bastein's for an American food fix. And while Bastien's today is best known for its retro vibe and signature sugar steak, the fried chicken delivers true Southern comfort.
3) Welton Street Cafe Hop off the light rail in the heart of Five Points and visit the family-run Welton Street Cafe for authentic soul food. Welton Street is known for its friendly service, good prices and made-to-order fried chicken that's well worth the stop.
2) Lou's Food Bar When Frank Bonanno added Lou's Food Bar to his restaurant empire, he gave it a country-food focus, but with a French flair. The fried organic chicken is a particular crowd-pleaser. It's on the menu every day, but try it on Tuesdays, and it's served family-style. And you'll definitely want more than one serving.
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1) Wishbone Restaurant The Lochi family has owned and operated the Wishbone since 1963; the lunch and dinner spot serves comfort food, and lots of it. Go for the chicken-fried chicken, which you can pair with anything from baked beans to Texas toast.