By Michael Butler, Jr.
By Michael Butler, Jr.
I’m somewhat of a chicken aficionado, which is odd because, when I was a kid, I said I would never eat chicken when I grew up. Why? Well, my mom cooked a chicken dish at least five days out of the week for us. She said it was cheap and easy. I associated that with being poor.
Fast forward some 20-plus years, and here I am creating a list of my favorite places to get chicken. Now, this list is infallible, so if you don’t like it, then come at me, bro! No, seriously, this is just a list of my favorites. I’m usually right about most things, so I hope you check these places out!
I mean, come on, mane! What else would be my top choice? If you know me, then you know I love some Jack Pirtle’s chicken. It’s a Memphis institution. It’s literally the best fried chicken you’re gonna get in the world. Whenever someone visits Memphis, I always direct them to Pirtle’s. Why? Because it’s that damn good! Don’t debate me.
Pro tip: Jacky P’s has a happy hour from 2 to 5 p.m. A two-piece and biscuit is only $2.49. Grab one and a strawberry drink, and you got a nice lil snack for a late lunch or early dinner.
If Memphis has one thing besides barbecue spots, it’s hot wing spots. They are literally everywhere. They all claim to be the best, but none compare to The Wing Guru. Yes, I said it. These are the best wings you can get in Memphis. Who else can claim they won championships for their honey suicide sauce? The brainchild of Billy Richmond, The Wing Guru has flavors that others hot wing places can only dream of. Spicy taco, dill pickle and garlic Sriracha are all great, but the 901 is one of my favorites. The new Triple J sauce is a game changer as well.
I love Rizzo’s. I really, really love Rizzo’s. The lobster pronto pup is my jam, but that chicken pot pie is amazing! Grab your boo and head over to Rizzo’s for a very unique dining experience. Chef Michael Patrick is possibly the most gracious and welcoming person in Memphis. Also grab a bowl of the cheeseburger soup. Thank me later, mane!
Uncle Lou’s is one of those dope food spots that is still in the hood, but we all know that’s where you’ll find the best cuisines. You gotta be brave to go, but the reward is worth the risk. Located in a small strip mall on Millbranch not too far from Graceland, Uncle Lou’s is a hidden gem. Uncle Lou’s blessing seasoning and those honey biscuits are everything! Now Uncle Lou has definitely held on to the Food Network appearance a lot longer than necessary, but overlook all that and get the Orange Mound punch!
I couldn’t make this list without including some form of barbecue. Central BBQ has some great smoked wings, but they have a pulled chicken sandwich that’s great. It’s loaded with pulled chicken and topped with slaw and barbecue sauce. Yes, get the slaw on the sandwich. You’re in Memphis, for crying out loud. Don’t disrespect us with a dry sandwich.
OK, this was one of the hardest decisions I had to make because Sage has at least five amazing chicken dishes. I seriously couldn’t pick just one, so I’m picking them all. Yep, it’s my list, so I make the rules, mane. Pictured are the pan-seared chicken with sweet potato hash and edamame purée, Mediterranean chicken salad and sweet potato fries, sticky wings, chicken and waffles, and fried Japanese chicken salad. How could I pick just one from that list?
Chef Eli is an evil magician in a kitchen, and everything he comes up with is fire!
Tucked inside of Puck Food Hall is Wok’n in Memphis, and they have this kung pao chicken and waffles dish that is to die for. I found this little gem on a whim, and it has truly changed my life for the better. OK, that was a bit dramatic, but it’s seriously that good. It’s definitely worth trying, and the experience of Puck Food Hall is even better. Tell Chef Spencer and Gerald I said “what’s up” when you go though. They are the homies.
I once said that the Southern fried chicken taco from El Mero is the Michael Jordan of tacos. I still stand by that claim. It’s literally the GOAT of tacos, mane. This taco is amazing. You have to act fast, though. They are so popular that the food truck sells out quickly. I know I order at least three each time I visit. Their other offerings are great as well, but they are the Scottie Pippen to the fried chicken tacos’ Michael Jordan. The GOAT is the GOAT. Two tacos and a bowl of their street corn, and you’re set. (The Southern fried chicken tacos are also available at the restaurant in Cordova.)
Bruh! Sweet Grass has this bomb chicken biscuit on their brunch menu that you gotta have! I went there for mimosas and ended up trying this dish and fell in love. I’m an avid bruncher, and I usually look for the best and cheapest mimosa situation. So for something to catch my eye like this, it’s gotta be great.
Dixie Queen makes the list. Yes, it does. Why? Well let me paint a Bob Ross-level picture for you. It’s 2 a.m., and you just left a party or club and you’re hungry. Normally I would say get the chicken at the club—shoutout to the MVP of club chicken, Mailhandlers club on Winchester—but you got a choice to make.
Why? Because it’s the best thing you can get that late at night. My meal of choice? A 10-piece combo with seasoned wings, with lemon pepper seasoning added, plus seasoned fries and a lime slush. It’s the best thing going at 2 a.m. You’re gonna have to wait a minute to get it because it’s cooked to order, so go ahead and take a quick power nap. Pro tip: Know what you want before you order. Dixie Queen employees don’t play any games and will fire you up for not being ready. Also, you can’t add to your order at the window. They will direct you back to the end of the line, mane.
Michael Butler, Jr. loves everything Memphis. His goal is to show the beauty in Memphis that others overlook. He’s a photographer, videographer, Memphis tee collector, foodie, lover of tacos and mayor of South Memphis. @_one901