Mardi Gras is an entertaining season more than it is a cooking season. We open our doors to guests, often more than once, but we allow themselves to enjoy their company without a lot of advance preparation.
For generations of New Orleanians, that often means filling the buffet with take-out fried chicken. Yes, Popeye’s is a traditional choice. But people who insist on Popeyes don’t need to be told where to find one.
What follows are my tips on where to get great take-out fried chicken that isn’t from the big national chain. I’ve revisited all of them in the past couple of weeks.
1645 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 504.834.6315
I was turned onto Buddy’s fried chicken years ago by Anthony Uglesich, co-proprietor of the dearly departed Central City restaurant Uglesich’s. The chicken is served atop po-boy bread in the restaurant, but you can order it in batches for take out as well.
203 West Harrison Ave., New Orleans, 504.371.5546
This take-out mostly restaurant in Lakeview (formerly Chicken Sue’s) cooks its fried chicken to order. It’s the worth the wait if you eat-in: succulent, gently seasoned, firm of crust. The kitchen can accommodate large to-go orders, just give it some advance notice. The mac and cheese is one of the city’s best examples of the cheese sauce style.
The chicken at this Algiers fast food joint – replete with a drive-thru window – is too juicy-crisp to be left for only West Bankers to enjoy. Even the buttery biscuits are worth a trip over the bridge.
1458 N. Broad St., New Orleans, 504.949.0000
McHardy’s, like Chubbie’s, proves what Popeye’s fans know: fast food fried chicken doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It’s my go-to east bank stop for bulk-orders. Individually foil-wrapped jalapenos are among the “fixins.”
3332 Bienville St, New Orleans, 504.827.5474
The exemplary fried chicken is just one of the reasons this Mid City neighborhood restaurant is perpetually crowded. (A few others: charbroiled oysters, gumbo, daily specials, like smothered okra.) If you order take-out, I find it’s easiest to do it in person.
542 Frenchmen St., New Orleans, 504.943.3934
The name is deceptive. Yes, pralines are sold from a candy shop attached to the dining room. But this holdover from the era before the tourists invaded Frenchmen is also one of New Orleans’ most reliable Creole-soul food restaurants. I have yet to receive a disappointing batch of the thick-battered fried chicken, and I’ve been eating it regularly since 2000. Pick up your take-out order in the candy shop.
Restaurant critic Brett Anderson makes his annual selection.
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