In search of... fried chicken

For many Southerners, fried chicken is both an after-church tradition and an everyday staple, the “gospel bird” of Sunday supper and the go-to choice at the local meat-and-three. High, low or in-between, here are five places where fried chicken rules the roost.

Busy Bee Cafe, 810 Martin Luther King Drive, Atlanta, 404-525-9212,

Open since 1947, Busy Bee Cafe in southwest Atlanta is a soul food institution, with good reason. The wonderful fried chicken tops the menu every day. Marinated for 12 hours, lightly breaded and well-seasoned, it’s deep-fried in peanut oil. As the menu promises, the skin is “a crisp golden brown” and the meat is “moist, juicy and beelicious.”

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JCT Kitchen, 1198 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta, 404-355-2252,

Though it’s available daily at lunch and dinner, chef Ford Fry’s signature JCT fried chicken is limited and often sells out. Delicately battered, well-seasoned, lightly crispy and uber-moist, it’s served with gooey-good macaroni and cheese and garlicky green beans.

Watershed, 1820 Peachtree Road N.W., Atlanta, 404-809-3561,

The Watershed chef mantle has been passed from Scott Peacock to Joe Truex. But the famous and wildly popular Wednesday night pan-fried chicken special, with mashed potatoes and veggies, remains — starting at 5:30 p.m. and usually selling out by 7:30.

Wisteria, 471 N. Highland Ave. N.E., Atlanta, 404-525-3363,

Wisteria chef-owner Jason Hill likes to spice up Southern cooking with Southwestern flavors. His iron skillet fried chicken gets its kick from ancho chili powder and cayenne pepper. Served with bacon-braised collard greens and sweet corn pudding, it’s a hefty meal deal.

Carver’s Country Kitchen, 1118 W. Marietta St., Atlanta, 404-794-4410

The menu at Carver’s is no-nonsense meat-and-two, with eight or more offerings every day, plus at least a dozen sides. Fried chicken comes in multiple configurations, including quarters and legs, but the ample, double-size “Dolly Parton” breast is a kitschy, crunchy, juicy favorite.

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