The Best Fried Chicken Spots in California: A Golden State Guide

A Bucket List for Fried Chicken LoversCALIFORNIA - California, a state known for its diverse landscapes and innovative cuisine, also boasts a remarkable selection of fried chicken spots. From classic Southern-style comfort food to unique California twists, there's something for every fried chicken enthusiast across the Golden State.

The Best Fried Chicken Spots in California
The Best Fried Chicken Spots in California

California: A Bucket List for Fried Chicken Lovers

Napa Valley:

  • ad hoc: Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller presents a more refined take on fried chicken, served every other Monday at his family-style restaurant.


  • Brown Sugar Kitchen: Indulge in a classic brunch combination with Brown Sugar Kitchen's famous chicken and waffles, featuring locally sourced chicken marinated overnight and served with fluffy cornmeal waffles.

Central Coast:

  • Kickin Chicken (Santa Cruz): This delivery service and walk-in spot uses a unique sous vide method followed by frying to create their signature crispy chicken. Try their sriracha chicken sandwich for a flavorful twist.
  • Tokyo Fried Chicken (Monterey): Experience a fusion of Southern and Japanese flavors with Tokyo Fried Chicken's unique offering. Chicken marinated in soy, ginger, and garlic is fried in rice bran oil and served with dipping sauces like spicy ponzu.

Southern California:

  • Catalan (Rancho Mirage): On the first Sunday of each month, this tapas bar transforms into a family-style fried chicken haven. Reservations are essential for this exclusive experience featuring Jidori chicken, known as the "Kobe beef" of poultry.
  • Howlin' Ray's (Los Angeles): Brace yourself for a potentially long wait, but the reward is worth it at Howlin' Ray's. Their Nashville-style hot chicken comes in six heat levels, from "country" to "howlin'," sure to satisfy any spice craving.
  • Grandma's Chicken House (Cypress): Step back in time at Grandma's Chicken House, serving their classic "broasted" chicken since 1958. This unique technique combines frying and pressure cooking for a juicy and flavorful bird.
  • The Crack Shack (San Diego, Encinitas, Costa Mesa): This popular chain offers a SoCal twist on fried chicken. Free-range birds are infused with pickle juice, buttermilk-marinated, seasoned, and fried to crispy perfection. Don't miss their famous schmaltz fries and dipping sauce bar.

California's diverse culinary scene extends to the world of fried chicken, offering something for every palate and preference. Whether you crave classic Southern comfort, a unique California twist, or a taste of Nashville-style heat, there's a perfect fried chicken spot waiting to be discovered in the Golden State. So grab a napkin and dig in!