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FOOD & DRINK

Where to Find the Best Fried Chicken in Melbourne

Fried chicken is basically a food group in itself — and at these ten top chook spots, you can have it with waffles for breakfast, in a burger for lunch, or sticky and sweet for dinner.
By Libby Curran
January 14, 2022
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By Libby Curran
January 14, 2022
  shares

WHERE TO FIND THE BEST FRIED CHICKEN IN MELBOURNE

Fried chicken is basically a food group in itself — and at these ten top chook spots, you can have it with waffles for breakfast, in a burger for lunch, or sticky and sweet for dinner.

When it comes to finger-licking, napkin-required fried chicken, it's hard to pick a favourite. Are you partial to a brined and crispy American-style bird, or one that's sticky with Korean sauce? Whatever your fried chook fancy, Melbourne's got a version to suit, with an array of local restaurants out to make this famed dish their own.

If you weren't already craving some juicy chicken, coated in special seasonings, sauces and other crushed snacks, you sure will be after reading this. Here's where to find Melbourne's finest fried bird.

  • 10

    Now with a whopping 24 outposts across Victoria alone, Gami Chicken & Beer is almost certainly on your fried chicken radar. This crew’s made a name for its Korean-style chook, with bite-sized pieces slathered in or sided with a choice of house-made sauce.

    Here, you can order a half or full bird’s worth of chicken, either with or without the bones, which makes it a winner when you’ve got a couple of mates in tow. Otherwise, embrace the messy fingers and go for a signature serve of wings or snack-friendly chicken spare ribs. All of Gami’s chicken’s been given the RSPCA tick of approval and, as the name suggests, you’ll find plenty of beer to wash it all down — including an exclusive house brew on tap.

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  • 9

    If some fried bird and a few rocking tunes sounds like your ideal combination, consider Carlton’s John Curtin Hotel a must-visit. Sonny’s Fried Chicken & Burgers currently has a residency in the pub’s kitchen, matching its gig lineup with an offering of American-style chicken.

    The signature bird is brined for 24 hours, then pressure-fried for a perfectly crisp finish. It’s a true connoisseur’s menu with a fix for any sort of chicken craving, from a two-piece feed of dark or white meat to a full bird divvied up into “eight pieces of awesome”. There are also more sides than you can poke a drumstick at, including Southern-style classics like a zesty bean salad and creamy mash drenched in house gravy.

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  • 8

    Belles’ take on Nashville-style chook has seen the brand expand from a single Fitzroy restaurant to an ever-growing collection of stores and pop-ups across two states. At both Melbourne outposts, the bird is definitely the word, with serves of tenders, wings and drumsticks flying hard and fast from the kitchen.

    And when it comes to heat factor, the power’s all yours – just see the sliding scale of options ranging from the mild chicken salt dusting to the sweat-inducing ‘really f**kin hot’. A spicy chicken sandwich stars premium thigh coated in a secret house seasoning, while the ‘Belles Bucket’ features a group-friendly serve of 16 wings. And on weekends only, you can go for gold at brunch with the mighty pairing of hot chook and waffles.

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  • 7

    This South Yarra haunt is known for its unique retro ski chalet fitout as much as for the US-style food offering being whipped up by its kitchen. Alongside burgers and loaded fries, you’ll find a swag of dishes to tempt even the fiercest of fried chicken cravings.

    Expect tender, juicy chook, wrapped in crisp, flavour-packed batter, working as the perfect accompaniment to an evening of craft tinnies, rock tunes and pool. You might find yourself tucking into some bite-sized popcorn chicken morsels, or perhaps a serve of crunchy-coated tenders sided with chipotle mayo. Or, you can opt for the much-loved menu staple, the fried chicken sandwich. It’s a lip-smacking, meaty combination of fried chicken thigh, American cheese and barbecue sauce, piled onto white bread.

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  • 6

    As the name suggests, Fried and Tasty happily embraces the naughty side of fried chicken, so you’re best off forgetting all about that diet and settling in for some good old-fashioned indulgence. Head to the Brunswick East eatery to get your mitts on the clucking good signature Southern-style bird — each piece is carefully coated and fried for that old-school crunch.

    The sauce game here is especially strong, ranging from the likes of a classic house-made barbecue number to a tangy concoction of peach and cayenne. Serves of wings, tenders or mixed pieces come teamed with your choice of side, while heartier appetites will be all about the buckets of chicken, starring either a dozen wings or nine pieces of hot or OG-recipe chook.

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  • 5

    A long-standing heavyweight of Korea’s fried chicken scene, Pelicana landed in Melbourne with its first Aussie store in 2019. And it quickly earned a legion of local fans for its big variety of bold flavours and RSPCA-approved bird that’s been marinated for 48 hours.

    Here, you’re faced with some tough choices when it comes to how your chook’s cooked – will it be slathered in the secret house marinade, some hot smoky chilli sauce or perhaps the sweet honey butter? You can grab a half or full chicken, in either boneless or bone-in pieces, slathered in one of 11 different coatings. Or, go for gold with some drumettes and wingettes. They’ll even supply the gloves to help keep messy fingers to a minimum.

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  • 4
    Juanita Peaches

    This rock’n roll Brunswick diner comes from the same mind behind Beatbox Kitchen and All Day Donuts, so you just know there are tasty times ahead once you venture through that front door. Alongside a tidy lineup of burgers, burritos and sangas, Juanita Peaches is frying up a tempting little range of chicken, available by the piece or matched with sides and extras as part of a meal pack box.

    Featured sauces run from honey mustard to a gutsy house-made barbecue number, while carby additions come in the form of fries, or a classic bread roll with gravy. And there’s no slumming it when it comes to the drinks list, either — here, you’ll find Aussie craft brews, local wines and even a couple of margaritas to cut through that glorious grease.

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  • 3

    While it’s best known for its Southern-inspired menu of pit-smoked meats, Le Bon Ton can whip up some pretty mean fried chicken, too. Sure, the chook selection isn’t a huge one, but it’s guaranteed to sate any cravings you may have.

    Here, you’ll find yourself in excellent hands with an order (or two) of the buttermilk-soaked fried chicken tenders, served with cracked pepper white gravy and punchy jalapenos. Or, try those same crispy morsels — original recipe or spicy — piled into a chicken sandwich, where they’re teamed with American cheddar, onion, lettuce and a dill-infused ranch. Aiming for some semblance of health? Go for the Southern fried chicken Kitchen Sink Salad.

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  • 2

    This Collins Street eatery showcases a whole array of authentic Korean fare — but with the motto “all you need is chicken”, there’s one true hero of the menu. Thankfully, the short, simple offering keeps the decision-making to a minimum. Opt for a full or half-bird chopped into pieces, a serve of battered wings or spicy ribs, or the ‘gang jung’: a pile of boneless bite-sized pieces, served mixed with potato wedges and rice cake.

    Sauces range from an original to a sticky soy glaze, best tackled with a hefty pile of napkins on hand. There’s a tight list of easy-drinking brews to match, or you can stay on theme and pair that chicken with a few glasses of soju.

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  • 1

    Now with a bunch of local outposts under its belt, NeNe Chicken is bringing a true taste of South Korea’s fried chicken obsession to Melbourne. The chain has taken its name from the Korean phrasing for “Yes! Yes!” and for good reason, slinging a menu of fast, fried delights that aim to please.

    The chook-centric lineup runs to hearty serves of boneless and bone-in chicken pieces, wingettes and drumettes, which can be amped up with an array of different coatings and signature sauces. Purists will appreciate the uncomplicated, unadulterated crunch of the original recipe bird, though there’s plenty more fun to be had with flavours like bulgogi, garlic, ‘snowing cheese’ and ‘freaking hot’. You’ll also find a couple of chicken burgers and Korean-inspired chicken wraps.

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Top Image: Pelicana

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