Fried chicken has been on our minds lately: It's a homey dish suited for family gatherings where platters of crispy, aromatic bird can be passed around a lively table — along with mashed potatoes, gravy, greens and other Southern and Midwestern sides. Whether you like yours with a thick, spicy crust or kept simple to let the juicy meat beneath shine as the star, there are plenty of great options for fried chicken in and around the city. From kitschy kitchens to trendy new stops, here are the ten best plates of fried chicken in metro Denver, listed in alphabetical order.
403 Wilcox Street, Castle Rock
The pan-fried chicken served at Castle Cafe is a damn fine version of the classic, skillet-cooked masterpieces that have kept country folk and city slickers with country-fried tastes fat and happy for generations. Castle Cafe serves its bird on the bone, deconstructed into breasts, legs and thighs, on huge platters alongside good mashed potatoes, gravy, corn and bread (but not cornbread). The crust is crackly and peppery, soaked with grease (in just the right amount) and absolutely delicious in that way that only something done right can be.
16251 East Colfax Avenue, Aurora
If you think Denver has no soul, you haven't been to CoraFaye's, where daily specials like pig-ear sandwiches and neck bones with gravy keep regulars coming back. Fried chicken's on the menu every day, with or without a crimson-colored waffle. The flaky coating is applied lightly, making the tender flesh the star of the plate. CoraFaye's moved from its original home on Colorado Boulevard over to a new location on far East Colfax Avenue, but the chicken is still as finger-licking good as ever.
2779 South Parker Road, Aurora
Aurora is home to a growing range of Korean eateries, including Funny Plus, which specializes in shareable platters of drinking food. A pile of thick-battered bird is the perfect choice to accompany Korean lager or sneaky-strong soju. The regular style tickles the tongue with flecks of spice in the crust, but go for the spicy — if you're not Chicken Little.
Grind Kitchen + Watering Hole
300 Fillmore Street
Chef/owner Preston Phillips draws inspiration from his Alabama roots to add a dash of Dixie to a smart board of good-time bar fare balanced with more sophisticated offerings suitable for Grind's Cherry Creek North setting. The fried chicken is a standout in the subterranean spot; Phillips modeled his recipe after the gas-station bird he remembers from the Deep South, but his is brined and then soaked in buttermilk before being encrusted in a crunchy jacket tinted a rusty hue from generous seasonings. Housemade pickles and a squeeze bottle of buttery wing sauce add just the right heat and tang to the dish.
Lou's Food Bar
1851 West 38th Avenue
Frank Bonanno was the first to bring Nashville hot chicken to Denver, serving up a messy but mouthwatering version at his Sunnyside eatery that relies on flame-red chile oil for its heat. But if mild's your thing, fear not: The kitchen serves up the bird naked, medium or hot. And on Tuesday nights, twenty bucks will land you a half-chicken, two sides, a cookie bar and a Bud or Bud Light — just in case you need to quench the fire.
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