Friday, March 30, 2012

Fried Chicken Face-off: New Orleans

After we had experienced the crawfish boil, and had several other great seafood meals down in New Orleans- I was craving fried chicken. I wanted a traditional Southern meal of fried chicken and all the fixin's. So I went on the hunt.

Several people had made suggestions before our trip, but we found that a lot of the famous chicken joints are only open for lunch service, or closed on Mondays (our only dinner option due to other plans). So I hit Yelp and Urbanspoon.

I found the Praline Connection (#6 most popular fried chicken on Yelp), located on Frenchman Street. My dad had heard from a local that Frenchman Street was a great place to find live music. Full of dive bars and restaurants, you just walked the street hearing all kinds of entertainment coming through the doors. So, it was decided.My parents and "R" were tempted by the "Taste of Soul" Platter, which had a little bit of everything: file gumbo, red beans and rice, jambalaya, greens, fried chicken, ribs, catfish strips, and bread pudding ($23.95). I stole a couple of bites off of "R's" platter, and it all had the traditional flavors and preparation of the South that we were searching for.

I stuck with my gut and went for the Fried Chicken that came with a "fresh quarter chicken lightly seasoned and deep fried to crispy perfection" (their words). The plate included my choice of two sides ($13.50), and I selected the Macaroni & Cheese and Collard Greens.The collard greens had an unusual heat to them, which we all enjoyed and wanted to recreate at home. The mac & cheese arrived at room temperature, but was clearly made in-house and had a nice crispy crust to it. It probably would have been outstanding if it had still been hot and creamy. The fried chicken was lightly breaded, and not greasy. The meat was still very juicy, and I truly enjoyed it. Our meal also came with large slices of cornbread, which we devoured.Now apparently "R's" craving for good fried chicken was not satisfied, because when we found ourselves with a couple of hours of extra time on Tuesday afternoon before our flight out, he demanded that we hit Willie Mae's Scotch House for lunch (Seventh Ward).Deciding what to get was easy- fried chicken. It came with one side and a cornbread muffin.I got the French Fries, that were nothing special but fine. "R" ordered the green beans with rice and gravy. They were clearly canned green beans, and the gravy over the rice and beans had very little flavor. Also, the cornbread muffin was small and dry. I only ate half and left the rest. Now, the chicken. It was breaded heavier than Praline's, and was greasy as you dug into it. But it was so crispy and flavorful, and the chicken was juicy and tender.

Willie Mae's was the clear winner when it came to the chicken (some claim that it is the BEST chicken in New Orleans, and it has been featured on several TV shows), but the side dishes and overall experience go to Praline Connection. Other top contenders in the area are Coop's Place (French Quarter) and Jacques-Imos Cafe on Oak Street.

Either way, we conquered fried chicken in New Orleans and I left a happy girl. Still to come...our meal at Cochon and the food tour of the French Quarter.

Praline Connection
542 Frenchman Street
New Orleans, LA 70116

Willie Mae's Scotch House
2401 Saint Ann Street
New Orleans, LA 70119