If we could only eat one dish for the rest of our lives, there's a good chance it'd be fried chicken. Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and even better when accompanied by something saucy (especially if there's some spice involved), it's the feel-good food we never get tired of.
Once only the territory of KFC, now there's a myriad of options for this mouthwatering treat, taking inspo from Japan, Mexico, Korea, Jamaica and beyond. So grab the napkins and dig into some of this greasy goodness at one of the following restaurants—finger licking 100% guaranteed.
Peach's Hot Chicken
Panmure and food truck
We're not kidding when we say that the fried chicken at Peach's will change your life. Made in the authentic Nashville style from a recipe handed down by one of the owner's grandmothers, this epic interpretation is available in a range of spice levels, including the infamous Holy Cluck (which, we must warn you, is not for the faint-hearted). Let the flavours speak for themselves with a couple of pieces served simply alongside some white bread and pickles, or indulge in what has to be our fave dish here, the best-selling Baller Sandwich. Think crunchy, boneless fried chicken thigh crammed inside a soft brioche bun with coleslaw, cheese, pickles and lashings of aioli-style sauce. Holy cluck, indeed.
There’s a lot to love about Pickle Pickle. So let’s start by saying that the fried chicken here is easily at the top of the love list. Coated with three types of flours, and made with the world’s most delicious blend of spices and a whole lotta love, you’ll be smacked with flavour from the very first bite. The flavour fun doesn’t stop there, oh no. They’ve crafted their very own delicious sauces with the perfect flavour to spice ratio: have your chook as the classic OG, hot, or (our pick) the f***ing hot sauce. Needless to say, your tastebuds will thank you for this one, and we bet our bottom dollar you’ll be back for more.
Britomart, Ponsonby, Ellerslie, Takapuna, Sylvia Park, silverdale
The spot that's perhaps responsible for starting Auckland's fried chicken craze, Mexico's signature offering still tastes just as good after all these years. Little nuggets of spicy, golden goodness served with both jalapeño and chipotle mayo, this is the sole reason some people dine here. We hope this one never leaves the menu.
Also serving up some pretty epic fried chook is Electric Chicken in Kingsland, who revere this fried food so much, they offer an entrire menu dedicated to it. From delish quarter, half or whole birds through to nuggets, there really is a fried chicken dish for every taste. For peak fried chicken pleasure, you'd best order a side of their Loaded Crack Fries with cheese gravy and jalapeños—the result is nothing short of, well, electric.
My Fried Chicken
Fried chicken gets the Korean treatment at this funky new spot located inside Ponsonby Central. Pull up a pew and watch as the chefs prepare their version of this much-loved treat, which comes in super mild, super spicy and everything in between. If you do happen to get a little hot under the collar, a can of Garage beer (of which there are a number of options available) should soon sort you out.
CBD and K' Road
Anything the Lowbrow. team touches turns to gold, including their fried chicken. Here it comes in the form of American-style wings, served alongside a creamy ranch sauce and some white bread—perfect for wiping up any precious juices that might try to escape. You can also get your fried chicken fix by way of a burger, or even in a Caesar salad (yes, salad!). We'll take one of each, thanks.
CBD and Takapuna
We know that bigger isn't always better, but when it comes to fried chicken, it certainly is. Lucky for us, there's a super-sized version of the dish being served up at Kai Eatery. Their signature, Taiwanese-style XL Fried Chicken is world-famous in Auckland, and for good reason. Think boneless, butterflied chicken breast bigger than your face with a juicy marinated inner and crispy, generously-coated outer; available in a range of droolworthy flavours like salt and pepper, and peri peri. Share amongst friends or keep to yourself, we won't judge.
The Candy Shop
Did someone say fried chicken platter? That's exactly the kind of dish you'll find at The Candy Shop, who favour the sweet and spicy, Korean version of the snack, which is cheekily called KFC (short for Korean Fried Chicken). Fittingly served alongside rice cakes or as part of said platter (which also comes with waffle fries, pickles and other goodies), this is the stuff fried chicken dreams are made of.
For fried chicken that's hot (both figuratively and literally), The Coop is the spot. These guys specialise in the Jamaican version, using the famously-flavoursome jerk seasoning. The hardest part will be choosing which of their mouthwatering options to order, which include unexpected flavour combos like harissa with coconut and peanut dukka, and kimchi with gochujang mayo and cucumber. That said, our fave offering here has to be the Carribean, which embodies classic Jamaican flavours like pineapple and coriander—lip-lickingly good.
Boy & Bird
Once part-owned by celeb chef and healthy-eating advocate Michael Van de Elzen, you can be guaranteed that Boy & Bird serves some of the freshest, tastiest and—dare we say it—healthiest fried chicken on the market. Their popular buttermilk offering comes with the unique yet ingenious addition of pickle slaw and tamarind mayo, showing us why this one's become a cult favourite on the fried chicken scene.
Honourable mention—Lord of the Fries
CBD and K' Road
Is it weird to feature a vegan restaurant in an article about fried chicken? Maybe, but we love the fact that there's a convincing alternative out there for the growing number of plant-based eaters. Yip, Lord of the Fries' version—made from soy protein—is about as close in looks and more importantly, taste, to legit fried chicken as you'll get (it even separates just like the real deal). Fried chicken, without the chicken? Genius.
Prefer something a little healthier? Here's where to find the best sushi in Auckland.
Image credit: Peach's Hot Chicken by Wono Kim, Mexico, My Fried Chicken by Ponsonby Central, Kai Eatery, The Coop