Although the origins of fried chicken can be traced back as far as the fourth century, it was not until the 1800s that America first took notice of a dish that was already immensely popular in Scotland and Africa. Rapidly growing in popularity since then, particularly in the South, society’s obsession with deep-fried bird seems to be at an all-time high today, with KFC now feeding a global market while Chick-fil-A and others continue to expand across the country. Crunchy, juicy or downright greasy, almost everyone has an opinion on which brand is the “best.” Thankfully, for Las Vegas locals and visitors, the dish is available from all the big chains, but far better at one of these seven restaurants.
Bavette’s Steakhouse & Bar
Bavette’s Spiced Fried Chicken with Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Pea and Cipollini Gravy
The brainchild of Brendan Sodikoff, whose Chicago-based Hogsalt empire gave the world some very impressive donuts and the Au Cheval burger, Bavette’s Steakhouse & Bar hides quietly inside Park MGM. Open since late 2017, and likely Las Vegas’ most dimly lit restaurant, it is once eyes adjust to the interior that guests should point right at the menu’s fried chicken. Served as a triple stack, each piece golden but not the least bit greasy, a blend of secret spices makes each bite sing, while the boat of gravy and silky mashed potatoes are also wonderful.
Big Aristotle with Naked Truth Fried Chicken, Muenster Cheese, Crispy Fried Onions, Bacon, Memphis BBQ Sauce
Opened in November of 2018, and still a hot commodity in the Southeast, basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal’s chicken shack remains a destination for many. Using organic cage-free birds to create strips and sandwiches, it comes as no surprise that this quick-casual spot delivers a lot of personality along with some seriously fun flavors. From simple to spicy, and “Superman” to “Shaq Daddy,” there is really no wrong way to go, but for those who really want the best, it’s tough to top the Big Aristotle.
Hot Chicken with Honey Butter Scallion Waffle, Kim Chi Chicken Karaage, Pickled Mustard Seeds, Syrup and Japanese Cucumber
Tucked away at the corner of Durango and Warm Springs, The Black Sheep remains something of a local secret. Headed by Chef Jamie Tran, and serving French-Vietnamese cuisine, it is during Sunday brunch that guests can stop in to find this inspired take on Nashville’s hot chicken with an added kick from kimchi. Big on flavor, but also on value at just $16, this is a dish large enough to share. For those afraid of heat, it can also be ordered traditional-style.
Secret Sunday Chicken with Spicy Pickle Aioli and a side of Spicy Tots
Las Vegas owes a debt of gratitude to Cory Harwell and Kerry Simon not only for helping to make off-Strip dining what it is today, but also for the Secret Sunday Chicken sandwich. The dish originated as a tongue-in-cheek poke at Chick-fil-A, but at this point it has been impressing guests for over five years. There is simply no denying the simple beauty of this fried breast loaded onto a fluffy bun with lettuce, tomato and flavorful aioli. Seven days a week, lunch or dinner, just order one and smile.
Mary’s Crispy Hot Chicken with, Rice Flour, Chili Oil and House Brined Pickles
A riff on “Hot Chicken” with Asian inklings, Chef Marty Red DeLeon Lopez’s half-bird from Mary’s Family Farm is first brined for 72 hours before being rolled in oil with mixed chilis. Next, it is fried in rice flour, emerging crispy yet light alongside pickles made on-site. This is the sort of dish that makes one wonder why they’ve ever settled for anything less. Add on the fact that the whole plate is gluten-free, without being overly spicy, and enjoy without the guilt sometimes associated with eating fried foods.
Jean Georges Steakhouse
Crunchy Organic Chicken with Spinach and Buttery Hot Sauce
Although few may consider chicken an option inside Las Vegas’ best steakhouse, the fact is that it may actually be the best-fried bird in town. Created by world-famous Jean-Georges Vongerichten, along with executive chef Sean Griffin, the secret to this dish begins with tempura batter and a lot of finesse. Almost impossibly light, but at the same time packed with flavor, it is on top of spinach cooked soft and housemade hot sauce that each breast arrives, and although the steaks and brisket are undoubtedly world-class, this too should not be missed.
Yardbird Southern Table & Bar
Chicken n’ Watermelon n’ Waffles with Honey Hot Sauce, Chilled Spiced Watermelon and Bourbon Maple Syrup
Originating in Miami, but perfected in Las Vegas, Yardbird boasts crowds that don’t lie. Built on southern roots, with recipes including the best buttermilk biscuits within 500 miles, it is still the fried chicken that draws folks to The Venetian’s “Restaurant Row.” On this big plate of food, none of it anything less than excellent, expect to taste a deep blend of herbs, while the cheddar crusted waffle, cubes of tangy watermelon and boozy syrup also hold up their end of the bargain.