The Nashville hot fried chicken sandwich with spicy glaze, pickles,...

The Nashville hot fried chicken sandwich with spicy glaze, pickles, coleslaw, and buttered brioche bun from Lucky Clucker. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Prior to 2020, there was plenty of amazing fried chicken in our midst. During the pandemic, those choices grew exponentially as stay-at-home diners flocked to Nashville hot chicken sandwiches and to-go buckets of the crispy bird. It would be impossible to include all of the noteworthy places on one list, but here are some of our current and perennial favorites.

Mara's Southern Kitchen (236 W. Jericho Tpke., Syosset): This festive Cajun-Creole spot fries up excellent buttermilk-marinated flour-dredged fried chicken (a quarter-bird for $21-22, with two sides) but also a Nashville-style hot chicken that has the addition of Cajun sauce in the marinade and comes atop Texas toast. Calories aside, it channels the South in each bite and practically calls for a chaser of bourbon-spiked lemonade or Shiner Bock. More info: 516-554-5510, marasouthernkitchen.com

Southern Girls Take 2 (937 Nassau Rd., Uniondale): The pepper-laced fried chicken from this busy soul food spot is deeply flavorful and cooked to order, so call ahead for takeout. Do not — we repeat, do not — miss the mac-and-cheese or smoky collard greens. Fried-chicken platters start at $15, sandwiches at $9. More info: 516-279-4777

Hot Chicken Mama (168 Montauk Hwy., Blue Point): This merry takeout spot is devoted to Nashville-style hot chicken — sometimes really hot chicken — delivered in both sandwiches, as nuggets and over waffles. Birds are brined for a day before hitting the batter, then the fryer, and heat is added afterward in the form of a dramatic spice dusting in levels ranging from “homestyle” (mild) to “extra loud” (which requires you to sign a waiver and involves a distinct level of discomfort). Sandwiches start at $14.99, and tenders at $13.99. More info: 631-621-8200, hotchickenmama.com

Hot Chicken Mama in Blue Point offers a Nashville hot...

Hot Chicken Mama in Blue Point offers a Nashville hot chicken ‘sando’ prepared with white meat, chili oil, purple slaw, pickles and sauce. Credit: Doug Young

Hmart (336 N. Broadway, Jericho). This isn't a restaurant, but Yea's Kitchen inside the super Hmart in Jericho is as fine a place as any to score sublime Korean double-fried tora-orae chicken. Whether mild, sweet and spicy or slathered in soy-garlic sauce, each box (starting at $17 for a half chicken) takes about 12 minutes to prepare, so you can also shop in the meantime. Digging into the pebbly exterioer is a singular pleasure. Slide into home plate with some Korean-style potato salad, fish-shaped waffle cakes filled with red-bean paste (called taiyaki) and an iced coffee. More info: 516-513-5050, yeaskitchen.com

LB Social (62 W. Park Ave., Long Beach): This fried chicken from chef Matt Hisiger, a cult favorite, comes as a 10-piece, dark-meat, family-style platter ($49) with mushroom gravy and whipped potatoes. More info: 516-431-7846, lbsocialny.com 

Food Court Korea (947 Willis Ave., Albertson): Bibimbap and bulgogi are on point inside this former bar-turned-Korean eatery, and so too are gossamer, crisp Korean-style, double-fried chicken wings. Newbies should start with an 8-piece box ($12.95), but those craving extra punch can up the ante with sweet-and-spicy yangnyeom marinated chicken, which is sticky with a gochujang-spiked glaze. More info: 516-996-2882, foodcourtkorea.com

Fried chicken wings at Food Court Korea in Albertson.

Fried chicken wings at Food Court Korea in Albertson. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Buttermilk’s Chicken (93 E. Main St., East Islip): In 2020, husband-and-wife Charlie and Jenn Mastropaolo opened their chicken-focused eatery the day after stay-at-home orders immediately boosted takeout. Charlie Mastropaolo’s experience with fried chicken roots back to his first fried-chicken restaurant in Flushing, circa 1978. Fried-chicken sandwiches (starting at $5.99) start with cutlets brined in salt-and-pickle juice, immersed in buttermilk, rolled in flour and then fried in canola oil before being layered into toasted, buttered buns. There are 11 sandwich variations, starting at $8.49, and boxes of fried chicken start at $4.99, for two pieces. More info: 631-581-3000, buttermilkschicken.com 

Zorn's of Bethpage (4321 Hempstead Tpke., Bethpage):  This eatery, established in 1940, has fed generations of families with flour-dredged, Southern-style skinless chicken fried to a fine crisp in soybean oil. Platters start at $10.59 for a quarter-chicken with two sides. More info: 516-731-5500, zornsofbethpage.com 

Navy Beach (16 Navy Rd., Montauk): If you’ve ever enjoyed a bucket of KFC on the beach, you’ve glimpsed the fried chicken experience at Navy Beach. Seated at a picnic table on the restaurant’s private sands, with views of Fort Pond Bay and Gardiner’s Island, get messy with crispy buttermilk fried chicken drizzled with spicy honey and served with Cheddar cornbread and slaw, for $35. More info: 631-668-6868, navybeach.com

Fried chicken at Navy Beach in Montauk.

Fried chicken at Navy Beach in Montauk. Credit: Navy Beach/Chris Foster

Carolyn’s Southern Cuisine (2564 Hempstead Tpke., East Meadow): Chef-owner Carolyn Thomas’ zingy, flour-battered fried chicken comes three pieces to a box ($13) with two sides and cornbread, in a sandwich, or over red-velvet waffles. It’s showstopping chicken, but don’t miss the cornmeal-dusted fried okra, smoked turkey wings or creamy grits, either. More info: 516-396-0660, carolyns.kitchen 

Lola's Southern Cuisine (2717-A Rte. 112, Medford): Inside this soul-food spot, run by couple Tiffany and Darrell Darwood, the fried chicken (offered by the piece or over red-velvet waffles, starting at $3.99) often sells out. It's based on a recipe from Tiffany's grandmother; meanwhile, Darrell is a cake maestro who also runs a beloved Brooklyn bakery, so desserts — including banana pudding — are a must. More info: 631-730-8526, lolasscuisine.com

The Portly Porker (206 Main St., Farmingdale): This is a ghost kitchen within that That Meetball Place. and the pièce de résistance is the whole "robbed & rubbed" fried chicken, which comes on a family-style platter for $24. The kitchen marinates whole birds in buttermilk and sous-vides them before butchering; the parts are then dredged in pulverized, spice-laced cornflakes, fried until golden and delivered with hot honey sauce. More info: 516-586-8880, portlyporker.com

"Vagabond" fried chicken with sides at the Portly Porker, a...

"Vagabond" fried chicken with sides at the Portly Porker, a ghost kitchen in Farmingdale. Credit: Randee Daddona

Commander Cody's Seafood (41 Smith St., Shelter Island): The skillet-fried chicken at this beloved down-home fish camp takes 30 minutes, so kick back and have some littlenecks or oysters while you wait. The chicken is tender and juicy, with a thin, crunchy crust. It's worth the ferry over to Shelter Island (if you really needed an excuse), and rings in at $16.50 for 10 pieces, scaling up to platters of 45 or more pieces for epic picnics. More info: 631-749-1851

Hometown Bake Shop (2 Little Neck Rd., Centerport): Regulars wax poetic about this bakery’s fried chicken (white-meat) cutlets, which come on focaccia with honey mayo, pickles and hot sauces (for $10.50), by the pound (also with biscuits) or by the piece on Fridays or as a daily special. More info: 631-754-7436, hometownbakeshop.com 

Goldy's Gems/Lucky Clucker (5 Third Ave., Bay Shore): Originally born as a pandemic-era ghost kitchen with a "secret" location, Lucky Clucker is now a takeout window at the back of the languid, retro cocktail spot Goldy's Gems. These chef-driven fried-chcken sandwiches (starting at $12) are anchored by crisp, buttermilk-fried chicken cutlets on buttered brioche buns, and include a mainstay with pickles and mayo, a Nashville-hot version, another with avocado aioli and pickled banana peppers, and yet another with bacon, white barbecue sauce and crispy onions on a pretzel bun. More info: luckycluckerchicken.com

The Nashville hot fried chicken sandwich with spicy glaze, pickles,...

The Nashville hot fried chicken sandwich with spicy glaze, pickles, coleslaw and a buttered brioche bun from Lucky Clucker. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

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