In one corner, hailing from the corner of 2nd avenue and 1st street on the Lower East Side of NYC, just a short walk from Katz’s Deli and the Landmark Sunshine Cinema on Houston Street, is the Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken. In the other corner, hailing from the corner of 25th Street and Broadway in the Flatiron district, just a stone’s throw from the iconic Flatiron Building, is Hill Country Fried Chicken! Both places offer up some of the best boids in NYC, complete all the trimmings and sides. Both sites offer up a more upscale version of the typical fried chicken sandwich and both serve them with a variety of Boylan brand of sodas. One step into both and you will definitely have a hard time deciding which bird is best. That’s why I am here to help.
LET’S GET READY TO…EAT A LOTTA CHICKEN!
Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken
Just a short walk from the F train at the corner of 2nd avenue and 1st street is Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken. The chicken is hearty and considering the size, one piece of their white meat breast piece will fill you up right. It is crispy, juicy, and you’ll find plenty of meat on the bone. To accompany their chicken, the restaurant features a small selection of flavored honeys to douse on your bird. There’s wasabi honey, wildflower honey, chipotle honey, and classic clover honey. For a heartier meal, dig into one of their massive sandwiches. Try a Kerry’s Classic with grilled caramelized pineapple, smoky bacon, spicy sauce, lettuce, and pickles on a brioche bun. Or, tear into a Nashville style which comes with spicy, marinated chicken (Nashville style chicken), a creamy dill sauce, and spicy pickles. Messy? Of course. Delicious? Absolutely! For a side choice, their hush puppies are hot and tender and pair very well with their hot honeys. As for fries, they do them very thin. Actually, shoestring potatoes would be a more accurate description. For the daring, their spicy slaw comes with a light hint of paprika and shaved jalapenos chopped into the cabbage mix. It will definitely leave an impression on you.
One thing I noticed about this place was not just that they give you a signaling device for when your food is ready, but they have an array of soft drinks all of which is made by Boylans, the nitch soda outlet known for their old-fashioned pops. The red velvet-style birch beer is super creamy as is their refreshing lemon-lime. I’d go with the old-fashioned lemonade as it seems like the perfect accompaniment to their fried chicken feasts. Oh, and they have a display of Kettle brand chips in only one flavor: jalapeno. Spice is definitely the name of the game.
Hill Country Fried Chicken
Two blocks up from the famous Flatiron building under a light blue awning is a haven for fried chicken and pies, two amazing foods that go great together. From the same people responsible for New York’s Hill Country Barbecue, Hill Country Fried Chicken takes the fried chicken sandwich to amazing, new heights. Try one “Mama Els” style in which the chicken is double-coated in a cornflake-like batter and served various ways. I recommend the Wickedwich which comes topped with spicy mayo, spicy pickles, and kale cole slaw. Oh yeah, you are definitely gonna wanna order their kale cole slaw. Before you go scoffing at that dark piece of roughage, you should know that it makes a great side considering that their slaw isn’t the typical shredded variety that so many delis do. It is a chunky style that works well with the against the kale. If that doesn’t thrill you, their broccoli salad is surprisingly tasty and light. While the fries at Blue Ribbon are incredibly thin and crispy, the fries at Hill Country go in the opposite direction as they are thick and hearty; the skins are kept intact. You might say they remind me of a baked potato. For a walk on the wild side, they have a mashed potato side in which it is topped with, wait for it…french fry pieces! Mashed potatoes and fries in one dish?! The legends are true, it exists!
For dessert, pies are the name of the game. You cannot dine here without a slice of pie for dessert. In fact, forget the slice, have a mini-pie. The mini-pies here, or “pie cups” are positively divine. A variety of flavors like apple crumb, chocolate pudding (my favorite!), and banana creme are delicious, but they also offer some unusual flavors found only here and inspired by the barbecue flavor of Texas. Flavors like whiskey buttermilk give off a subtle hint of whiskey throughout a rich, creamy vanilla base. Creme brulee, however, offers up a sweeter taste that is reminiscent of the famous dessert namesake but with a thinner candy topping. The most decadent is their cowboy pie, a staple of Texas that is loaded with chunks of chocolate chips, toasted coconut, and nuts. You’re gonna want a cup of coffee with it. For the truly daring, try one of their pie-shakes. As the name would imply, they hand spin a milkshake with your choice of ice cream along with a pie cup of your choice. Pie and milkshake, together?! And here I thought the mashed potato/french fry combo was epic enough!
Both places offer up some of the best fried chicken in all of New York. The portions are terrific, the quality of ingredients are superb, and both places offer up a selection of Boylans sodas to wash down the fried goodness. Both are located within close-walking distance of the subway in two very well-known neighborhoods. If I had to pick just one, well, my pick is…
Actually, I’m not going to say which one is my favorite. I’m gonna let you, the reader, decide!
Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken
28 E 1st St, New York, NY 10003
Open seven days a week from 11 am to 2 am
Ride the F train to 2nd Avenue station.
Hill Country Fried Chicken
1123 Broadway, New York, NY 10010
345 Adams St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Open seven days a week from 11 am to 10 pm
Ride the N, R, or W train to 23rd Street station in Manhattan
Ride the N, R, W, or A, C, or F trains to Jay Street/MetroTech station in Brooklyn.