Denver's five best plates of fried chicken

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We'll eat fried chicken any time of the year, but we really crave it during the summer, sided with coleslaw, cobbler, mac and cheese or watermelon. We credit that yearning to a subconscious association with picnic season. But instead of unpacking a bucket of KFC, we head instead to a joint that serves up great fried bird.

There are several spots in Denver where the fried chicken really flies. Here are the five best:

5. D Bar Desserts Despite D Bar's obvious focus on after-meal sweets, the savory food shouldn't be overlooked. Case in point: the Southern-fried Belgian, a towering chicken and waffle sandwich that slides thick hunks of crispy fried chicken between white cheddar and Parmesan-infused waffles. Sided with a mountain of sweet-potato fries, it's a clever -- and delicious -- take on one of our favorite fried chicken dishes in existence. 4. White Fence Farms White Fence Farms is a strange palace of kitsch out in the western suburbs, a farm-themed tourist attraction with a petting zoo and a gift shop overrun by sticky children. But if you can get past all that and order the fried chicken, you're likely to cluck with joy. The restaurant bakes the bird first and pan-fries it to order, creating a dark, crunchy crust shellacked to tender, juicy meat, well-fused so that every bite allows for a mouthful of both elements. 3. Tom's Home Cookin' When we're craving soul food in this town, Tom's Home Cookin' is one of our top stops, and we'll join the lunch line for a platter of mac and cheese, peach cobbler with a Saltine crust and vibrant orange candied yams. Those sides are an excellent supporting cast to the star, the fried chicken, tender hunks of bird, deep-fried until golden. It's rib-sticking and food coma-inducing -- and we can't get enough. 2. African Grill and Bar African Grill and Bar turns out west African cuisine that features a number of meat options. And while goat may be the most traditional, we can't pass up the fried chicken legs coated in an ethereally light batter. The copper, pan-fried crust, daubed lightly with grease, gives way to incredibly juicy meat within. We'll shamelessly pick up the bone and gnaw at it until it's clean. 1. The Pinyon Theo Adley, chef-owner at the Pinyon and the subject of this week's Chef and Tell, has been talking up his fried chicken ever since his Boulder restaurant opened -- and for good reason. After he rubs the birds with chili, garlic, sugar and vinegar, he gives them a 24-hour soak in buttermilk, coats them in potato flour, and then pan-fries them and finishes them in the oven. The result? A crisp crust that dissolves on the tongue encasing succulent fowl pitted against cornmeal cakes and housemade syrup, that tastes of both maple and molasses. The dish landed in our Best Fried Chicken award in Best of Denver 2011.

Know of more great fried chicken? Tell us about it below.

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