I set out on a search for the most satisfying chicken dishes available. For the sake of simplicity, I kept the focus on uncomplicated bone-in preparations - no chicken Parmigiana, no coq au vin, no arroz con pollo.
Here, in alphabetical order, are my top picks:
BOBBIQUE , 70 W. Main St., Patchogue, 631-447-7744,
THE DISH Barbecued chicken
UNDER THE SKIN Chef Eric Rifkin's popular joint features pit-smoked, slow-cooked chicken that's burnished on the outside, the meat infused with a smokiness that goes right down to the bone.
THE DEAL $12.95 for half a chicken
THE DISH BonChon chicken
UNDER THE SKIN A nationally franchised recipe involves bone-in wings and drumsticks that are twice-fried in a way that makes most of their fat evaporate, leaving the skin crisp. The chicken is then glazed with either a sweet soy-garlic or hot sauce, making for a flavor-intense bird that's surprisingly neat to eat.
THE DEAL Medium order, $11; large order, $17.95
THE ORIENT , 623 Hicksville Rd., Bethpage, 516-822-1010
THE DISH Golden crisp chicken with roasted garlic
UNDER THE SKIN At this authentic Chinese dining spot, chicken is hung and then blow-dried to eliminate moisture. The bird is then cut up before going into the deep fryer, coming out with ultrathin crackling-crisp skin, which is glazed with a light soy and roasted garlic sauce.
THE DEAL $13 for half a chicken
POLLOS EL PAISA , 989 Old Country Rd., Westbury, 516-338-5858
THE DISH Rotisserie chicken
UNDER THE SKIN The name of this sunny Colombian restaurant translates loosely as "national chicken," chicken a nation can be proud of. Behind the counter, well-marinated birds turn on spits; they come off golden and glistening. At the touch of a fork, they spurt savory juices.
THE DEAL $7.45 for a whole chicken
POLLO RICO LATIN BISTRO , 2435 Middle Country Rd., Centereach, 631-471-0585
THE DISH Pollo alla parrilla
UNDER THE SKIN At this lively pan-Latin spot, the signature entree is a prime example of how Colombians elevate chicken to regal status. The bird is cut up and marinated for days before grilling. The result is juicy, garlicky, irresistible.
THE DEAL $10.95, half chicken with two side dishes; whole chicken to go, $14.95
PUNJABI KABAB HOUSE , 495-18 S. Broadway, Hicksville, 516-933-7113
THE DISH Tandoori chicken
UNDER THE SKIN In a little strip mall storefront, chicken is marinated in yogurt, spices and lemon juice before going into a clay tandoor oven. The bird emerges a lovely vermilion on the outside, its interior moist and infused with complex spices.
THE DEAL $11.95 for a whole chicken
ROTICO ROTISSERIE CAFE , 162 Seventh St., Garden City, 516-280-3163
THE DISH Chicken adobo
UNDER THE SKIN In a gleaming little takeout shop (still waiting for seating permits), chef co-owner Rob Bates turns out knockout rotisserie chicken with a Mexican accent. It's slow-cooked, coppery brown on the outside, juicy and crackling with spices down to the bone.
THE DEAL Half chicken, $10; whole, $13. Comes with house salad and salsa verde.
S2S CAFÉ 324 N. Central Ave., Valley Stream, 516-256-3080, s2scafe.com
THE DISH Jerk chicken
UNDER THE SKIN In this spiffy, friendly eat-in/takeout cafe, chicken pieces are coated in a mix of jerk seasoning, burned sugar, herbs and hot peppers. The chicken is baked, then sauteed and finally finished in the oven. What you get is chicken that's beautifully nuanced rather than just spicy-hot.
THE DEAL Small order $8; large order, $10. Comes with two side dishes
, 143 N. Wellwood Ave., Lindenhurst, 631-225-1690, thevillagelanterne.com
THE DISH Herb-roasted half chicken
UNDER THE SKIN At this charming German restaurant, chicken is stuffed under the skin with a combo of bacon, garlic, fresh parsley and thyme and then oven-roasted. It's smoky, herbal, juicy.
THE DEAL $15.95 includes side dishes