The best damn fried chicken in Asheville: The Ashvegas roundup


Fried half chicken plate at Little Pigs BBQ. South Asheville.

Readers spoke, we searched reviews, and we ate a lot of delicious fried chicken in and around Asheville. The result?

The best fried chicken in Asheville: The Ashvegas list.

In no particular order:

Chicken on the bone

Corner Kitchen: Our readers’ pick. Saturday and Sunday brunch only, sad to say. Tender, crisp, homemade and served with grits, collards and a biscuit, the way it should be.

Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack: West Asheville. Hot, spicy, make-you-sweat chicken is the specialty at the Shack (though mild and medium are also on the menu), along with Southern-style sides like mac and cheese & collard greens.

Little Pigs BBQ:  South Asheville. Some things never change, like this around-forever barbecue joint on Hendo Road, open since 1963.  Old-school buckets, pieces and half-chicken plates.

Circle B Ranch BBQ: Fletcher. Sorry to let the secret out, Fletcher.  Barbecue and home cooking including, seriously, some of the best fried chicken in Asheville. Reader tip: Call 30 minutes ahead and pick up.

Moose Cafe: West Asheville. Greasy, traditional and cheap buttermilk fried chicken breast and Southern fried chicken.

Big J’s Bubba-Q: Arden. There can be a wait for chicken this good. Call ahead, as hours can be irregular. Dinner takeout only.


Table: Downtown. The Lake Lure fried chicken on the brunch menu? THAT.

The Junction: River Arts District. The sweet-tea “brined” Ashley Farms fried chicken is presently on the brunch menu only.

Tod’s Tasties: Montford. While they don’t have a fried chicken plate on the menu, the boneless cutlets that come with the fried chicken salad and fried chicken sandwich (the Thunderbird) are STELLAR.

Early Girl: Downtown. Like Tod’s, EG does not have a fried chicken plate on the menu. It does have a fried chicken salad and pan-fried chicken breast that will knock you out, though.

Tupelo Honey Cafe: Downtown AND South Asheville. Tourist trap or killer fried chicken? It might be all that and a little bit more. Southern chicken BLTs and fried chicken breast topped with country ham, melted havarti cheese and basil, because Asheville.

HomeGrown: North Asheville. A city favorite. HomeGrown is all new-school and farm to table, but guess what, home cooking specialists? The new kids can make killer fried chicken, too.

The Universal Joint: West Asheville. Currently a Tuesday special only, and a best-kept secret for killer fried chicken on the West side. Call ahead to check availability.

What’d we miss?


ashevillain February 5, 2013 - 9:12 pm

One more to add to the list. While it’s not in Asheville, fans of Chameleon Soul Food will be happy to know that there is a spot in Hendersonville that rivals Chameleon.

Daddy D’s Suber Soul Food on 7th Avenue in Hendersonville, NC. I’m a fan. Best fried chicken since Chameleon. Same style too. The sides are also high quality.

shewhoeats February 4, 2013 - 12:57 pm

The best fried chicken in Asheville was Chameleon Soul Food on Merrimon Ave. Now, it’s Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack.

Boneless shouldn’t even be on this list, imo.

Tupelo Honey has become an abomination, basically the Guy Fieri of southern food. Did you know their mac n’ cheese is from a mix? A server waiting on me at Tupelo Honey told me that.

Love taste tests, this is a great idea JS and JS! (both your initials are the same, did you know that? I’ll bet you did!)

Jennifer Saylor February 4, 2013 - 1:57 pm

Hey gorgeous. Yes to Chameleon, still not sure about Rocky’s. I am frankly not a big Tupelo fan either, but it has much fan support. As to boneless, people love Homegrown so much, I had to put it on here… Splitting out the list was the best way.

Taste tests? I am SO into this idea!

shewhoeats February 6, 2013 - 10:25 am

You gotta come visit NYC, so I can take you to Pies n’ Thighs, where the Best Fried Chicken of My Life is served up, randomly, by Brooklyn hipsters.

AVL Foodie February 1, 2013 - 12:07 pm

I want to love Rocky’s, I really do. I am devotee of Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack in Nashville which is reportedly Rocky’s inspiration. Unfortunately, Rocky’s hot is very mild, and anything above hot (foothills, mt hell no) are just ridiculous and not enjoyable. There is no truly “Hot” chicken there that actually has flavor. Not to mention, the last three times I have eaten there has made me feel very nauseous. It’s not from the heat, it’s something about the food.

Too many people in this town ignore dark meat. Dark meat chicken is where it is at!

My vote for best hand down is Corner Kitchen when they have it. That is some damn good chicken.

Jennifer Saylor February 1, 2013 - 12:20 pm

There’s been a LOT of support for CK. Is their chicken bone-in or boneless?

Rich Law January 31, 2013 - 9:09 pm

Gotta say the chicken sandwich at Asheville Sandwich is damn good.

Jennifer Saylor February 1, 2013 - 11:59 am


3fecta January 31, 2013 - 4:06 pm

Circle B chicken is stupid good. If you haven’t gone there, it takes 45 minutes, so call ahead 30 minutes and order it before you come in.

Orbit DVD January 31, 2013 - 2:44 pm

One of the reasons why I cut back to one store is to get healthy and lose a few pounds. I’m on my way with that but unfortunately I won’t be able sample ALL of the fried chicken listed in this article!

Drake January 31, 2013 - 2:37 pm

I know this is not along the same lines of many of these restaurants but in the spirit of finding great food in unlikely places, the Food Lion on Patton has amazing fried chicken, check it out.

FDR January 31, 2013 - 1:46 pm

Back to Chicken. A fried chicken breast sandwich or salad is a totally different thing then Fried Chicken on the bone.

We are talking about Fried Chicken on the Bone, so forget the rest because it’s apples and oranges.

Jennifer Saylor January 31, 2013 - 2:58 pm

I think you have a great point, and really might split this list out.

Cat K. January 31, 2013 - 8:54 am

I had the fried chicken sandwich at Wicked Weed this weekend, and it was beyond awesome. And while I think the miso mayo had a lot to do with that, the chicken should get at least some of the credit.

Jennifer Saylor January 31, 2013 - 9:59 am

Cat, this is on my list. Thanks!

Carrie February 5, 2013 - 8:54 pm

Ditto on the Wicked Weed fried chicken – i love Rocky’s and all (and now definitely need to go to UJ on Tuesday night) but the fried chicken sandwich at Wicked Weed was out of this world – and the high gravity beer beforehand only made it better 😉

Harry Sax January 30, 2013 - 10:18 pm

my mama’s fried chicken is the best, yo

ashevillain January 30, 2013 - 7:42 pm

– Earth Fare hot bar’s fried chicken isn’t bad when they do it. It used to be great until they got bought out recently.

– Laurey’s Catering is good too. Not the best though.

– Rocky’s is vastly overrated.


The Ritz
Chameleon Soul Food

The best ever.

FDR January 31, 2013 - 7:47 am

Hey, Lets talk about the changes at Earthfare. I shop there regularly and over the last year a lot has changed. Some for the good and some for the bad.

Ashvegas needs to do an article on this. I was really disappointed on a few changes to weekly staples I used to get. The issues are leveling off now but I just hope they don’t hurt themselves in the struggle to stay profitable.

Anon January 31, 2013 - 9:30 am

Ugh. Like the entirely prefab pastry case items? Barf.

Jennifer Saylor January 31, 2013 - 9:51 am

FDR, I’ve noticed this myself–the breakfast bar tragedy, and the hot bar decline in quality. Toughie to do an article on. What changes have you seen that you didn’t like?

localvore January 31, 2013 - 11:05 am

I am seeing more ingredients that I will not eat appear in their ready made foods.

Things like modified food starch, yeast extract, more canola oil….basically less whole real food and more cheap shelf life extending stuff.

I have to be vigilant and read every ingredient list and that used to not be the case there.

My two cents anyway…

ashevillain January 31, 2013 - 7:45 pm

I know they’ve always been against MSG but yeast extract is basically the same fundamental compound. There have always been items with yeast extract on the shelves…but not always in the prepared food…until recently that is.

For example, there are a number of soups they’ve carried for years that have yeast extract. I mentioned it once (prior to the changeover) and got no response whatsoever.

I mentioned a lot of the changes (after the takeover) and once again…no response whatsoever.

Smytty January 31, 2013 - 1:34 pm

I used to be a regular at the breakfast bar until about 6-7 months ago when they removed the bacon. Haven’t had it since.

I filled out three comment cards and asked about it online and never received any replies or explanation. The folks in store said it was a decision made somewhere up the Earth Fare food chain.

Sounds like Earth Fare is becoming more like some of the bigger natural foods chains it purports to be fighting against.

ashevillain January 31, 2013 - 7:48 pm

They have the bacon on Sunday mornings.

AVL Foodie February 1, 2013 - 12:15 pm

Earth Fare is now owned by Oak Hill Capital Partners, the same capital investment company that runs Travel Centers of America, a chain of truck-stop gas and convenience stores.

Jennifer Saylor January 31, 2013 - 9:58 am

Agreed about Rocky’s, but readers love it. I find it overpriced as well. Agreed about Chameleon, RIP.

Lexingtonian January 30, 2013 - 6:25 pm

My vote is for Homegrown on Merrimon.

Have had none better.

Orbit DVD January 30, 2013 - 5:58 pm

I love Rocky’s but the UJ might have the best chicken in town.

Jennifer Saylor January 30, 2013 - 7:03 pm


david January 30, 2013 - 10:17 pm

Fried chicken Tuesday at the UJ. Best in town.

ashevillain January 31, 2013 - 7:17 am

I have to mention the idea that I can’t vote for something as best ever unless it’s done on a regular basis. Do it day in, day out and not once per week and we’ll talk.

David January 31, 2013 - 8:19 am

If UJ made their chicken everyday everyday I would be 40+ lbs heaver. Every Tuesday is regular enough for me.

Jennifer Saylor January 31, 2013 - 9:52 am

Ashevillian. It’s not every day, but it’s consistently on Tuesdays. Give it a shot and tell us what you think.

Jennifer Saylor January 31, 2013 - 9:53 am

You can even get it for lunch.

hauntedheadnc January 31, 2013 - 2:41 pm

Do I just have bad luck, or something? All this love for Universal Joint and the one time I went there, the food I got was so lousy that I never went back. Same with Tupelo Honey — went three times, never got anything better than mediocre and gave up on them. What am I doing wrong if I can’t get good meals at places people rave about?

Jennifer Saylor January 31, 2013 - 2:58 pm

I hear you about Tupelo. I also find it overrated. Give UJ another chance. Yes, I think you are having bad luck.

Orbit DVD January 31, 2013 - 3:06 pm

Aren’t you the one who didn’t like Puebla as well? I’m curious to know what you do like.

As a personal rule I usually give a place two chances before I write them off.

hauntedheadnc January 31, 2013 - 6:33 pm

Yeah, Puebla was terrible when I went. Some of the blandest food I’ve ever eaten in a restaurant.

What do I like? For Mexican, Papa’s and Beer and Elena’s. Also Latin Flavors Cafe. For sushi, Green Tea and that place the same people opened up in Gerber Village. Can’t remember the name of it at the moment though. For pizza, Mellow Mushroom, Marco’s, and Brix. For Italian, Nona Mia and Strada. For Thai, Wanpen and Toi’s Thai. For general stuff I like Pack’s Tavern and Hickory Tavern. If I have money to burn, Rezaz. For Indian, Mela, India Garden (lunch only), and Kathmandu Cafe.For breakfast, Sunny Point Cafe. A few more, but that’s a good overview.

Adam January 31, 2013 - 3:10 pm

I know exactly what you mean. I had very high hopes for Early Girl, and I even went back THREE times, but each time I got some incredibly sub-par food. Rancid grease one time, rotten vegetables one time… just horrible. Even though all of my friends continue to rave about it, I will never step foot in there again.

AVL Foodie February 1, 2013 - 12:10 pm

I feel that way about Sunny Point. I’ve tried four times. The food was average and the service was atrocious… even to the point that I once was blamed for my server’s mistake with my order. Never again.

hauntedheadnc February 1, 2013 - 1:45 pm

That’s a shame… I’ve had ups and downs with Sunny Point, but the downs never go very far down in my personal experience. I’ve had excellent food there (I always get the shrimp and grits, and theirs is the best in town bar none), and I’ve had average food there, but I’ve never had bad food there.

WestAvllian February 7, 2013 - 6:41 am

Sunny Point may be the most overrated restaurant in town. The food is uninspired yuppie-chic, the service is slow, and everything is ridiculously overpriced. I still keep going there every so often, to meet friends from N. Asheville who like to slum it on the west side, but I’d never choose the place on my own. Which sucks, because I love their farm-to-table/slow food vibe. I really want to like the place, but … no. The best thing about it is that it seems to get rich folks from the northside to spend money over here in the west.

Jennifer Saylor January 30, 2013 - 5:10 pm

We will be looking into this, FDR. We are on a mission.

FDR January 30, 2013 - 5:06 pm

I guess I should have wrote in but the Corner Kitchen in Biltmore Village has some of the best Fried Chicken I have ever tasted. I attended a baby shower which included brunch. My god it was the best I’ve ever had, I must have had three heaping plates of bacon and fried chicken.

Jennifer Saylor February 1, 2013 - 5:29 pm

FDR, is their boneless chicken or chicken on the bone?

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