Our Favorite Fried Chicken Joints in the Queen City

Feast at these 16 local restaurants that are making finger-lickin’ good fried chicken.

Greater Cincinnati is home to some downright delicious fried chicken. Here are 16 spots we love that are making clucking awesome drums, thighs, wings, tenders, and more right here in the Queen City.

Jay’s Chicken

It’s a shame that there are still people out there who have yet to discover the joys of gas station fried chicken. Jay’s serves chicken from regional chain Krispy Krunchy—which is already great on its own—but it just tastes different and, yes, better at Jay’s. Are there different ingredients used? Is it a Cincinnati bias? Maybe Cajun magic? Who knows? All we can say is that it’s probably one of the tastiest meals you can get in the city for $5. 5361 Kennedy Ave., Oakley, (513) 351-2014

Golden Lamb

The Golden Lamb is Ohio’s longest continually operating business; it’s been open so long, you can find evidence of both Charles Dickens and Kesha as former guests. It’s a bonus, then, that the food has stayed as good as it is for more than two centuries. Farm-to-table dining before that was even a thing! It’s hard to go wrong with anything at this historic Lebanon inn, but its fried chicken has been the perfect amount of crispy for as long as it’s been around. 27 S. Broadway St., Lebanon, (513) 932-5065

Photograph by Hailey Bollinger

Boomtown Biscuits & Whiskey

Chicken and waffles is almost passé at this point. But when Christian Gill is in the kitchen, expect something sensational. His Southern restaurant is best known for its biscuits (it is in the name, after all) but can also serve up a mean fried chicken. “The Motherload” comes with chicken confit, a biscuit waffle, and espresso-infused maple syrup. Safe to say Gill has struck gold with this dish. 9039 US-42, Union, (859) 384-5910

Illustration by Jarrett Sitter

Hook Fish & Chicken

Everyone who’s really from Cincinnati has had a heavenly experience or two at a Hook Fish & Chicken. The quality of this local fast food chain varies by location, so take our advice and go to the Bond Hill restaurant for some incredible halal eats. Pick anything on the menu, and get ready for a flavor explosion, literally—there’s so much seasoning on the chicken that it’ll drip into your mouth after your first bite. 5000 Reading Rd., Bond Hill

Photograph by Hailey Bollinger

The Hitching Post

Once part of now-defunct chain, this little greasy spoon built its own chicken tradition. Its classic, deep-fried chicken is always juicy and never bland with soft meat that peels neatly off the bone. One of The Hitching Post’s greatest claims to fame is its signature breading. There’s just enough on each piece to seal in the moisture while crisping to a delicate crunch. If you prefer your chicken off the bone, try the tenders. They’re made with the same famous breading and provide a good crunch with less mess. 4535 Kellogg Ave, East End, (513) 871-4293

Miami Market

Want a chicken dinner that tastes like home? Miami Market’s pan-fried chicken is unbelievably juicy. The light breading’s moderate seasoning seeps into the meat, and you’ll be licking the bones clean as you debate what makes it so good. Is that paprika? A little bit of seasoned salt? It’s a secret. Add a side of homemade mashed potatoes and gravy for a true country dinner. This fried fowl only graces the hot plate menu on Wednesdays, so make a note on your calendar, and aim for lunch hours to avoid a line out the door. 1296 State Route 131, Day Heights, (513) 831-8646 

BrewRiver Creole Kitchen

BrewRiver’s creole approach to gastropub cuisine means everything cooks low and slow. While BrewRiver is known for the endless hours it leaves gumbo and jambalaya to simmer, its buttermilk crispy chicken enjoys the same spa-like service before it lands on your plate. Quality time in a buttermilk soak leaves each bite extremely tender, and the breading has just enough seasoning to remind you the restaurant is Creole themed without being spicy. The batter crisps up for a perfect contrast with the tender meat. 4632 Eastern Ave, Linwood, (513) 861-2484

Illustration by Jarrett Sitter

The Eagle

One of the biggest success stories in the Over-the-Rhine restaurant scene, The Eagle Food & Beer Hall remains packed pretty much every day and night nearly a decade after its debut. Thunderdome Restaurant Group has now opened locations in Columbus, Indianapolis, Louisville, Pittsburgh, and even Charlotte. The all-natural and brined-in-house fried chicken has always been the star, served with hot honey for dipping. Every piece, whether white or dark meat, is incredibly juicy and flavorful. And the deep selection of Southern-style sides (collards, spoonbread, white cheddar grits, succotash, tart cole slaw) still rise to the occasion as well. 1342 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 802-5007

Greyhound Tavern

This Northern Kentucky icon has been a popular destination since 1921, when the Dixie Tea Room sold ice cream at the Green Line streetcar turnaround in Ft. Mitchell, followed by the Greyhound Grill, named for the new owner’s dog-trainer brother. Still using its two original rooms, Greyhound Tavern has expanded its footprint to serve hungry patrons seven days a week—including “family style” dinners on Monday and Tuesday nights, featuring whole fried chickens, mashed potatoes, green beans, slaw, and biscuits. This might not have been where “Kentucky fried chicken” was invented, but you won’t be able to convince the multi-generational diners who pack the dining rooms for some of its yardbird. 2500 Dixie Highway, Ft. Mitchell, (859) 331-3767

Libby’s Southern Comfort

Fried chicken isn’t the entire story at Libby’s, but the crispy, crunchy creation sets the tone for an amazing Southern-facing menu. You’ll love the fried green tomatoes, deviled eggs, pimento dip, black-eyed pea salad, collard greens, and sly takes on regional favorites like goetta hush puppies and the Charlie Brown, a spin on the hot brown. Or just get a two-piece fried chicken dinner with a biscuit and a Cheerwine bourbon slush and settle in. You’ll be able to walk it all off with an after-dinner stroll around Covington’s bustling Duveneck Square/Madison Avenue district. 35 W. Eighth St., Covington, (859) 261-3106

Illustration by Jarrett Sitter

The Schoolhouse Restaurant

With the exception of a few minor tweaks, The Schoolhouse still uses its original recipe from 1962. Back then, salt and pepper were about the only spices mixed into the breading before those breasts or drumsticks were plopped into a vat of hot oil and pulled out golden. This is iconic fried chicken where you can still taste the bird, not just the tongue-burning spices. Skip lunch if you’re coming for dinner. It’s family-style here and the lazy susan in the middle of the table is brimming with sides. 8031 Glendale-Milford Rd., Camp Dennison, (513) 831-5753 

Photograph by Hailey Bollinger

Ron’s Roost

This place does chicken. Roasted, barbecued, teriyakied, jerked, etc, to the tune of 10,000 pieces a week. So as an iconic Cincinnati chicken restaurant, how does  its _fried chicken stack up? Pretty darned marvelous, according to most. It’s cooked fresh for you, so you have time for an appetizer while you anticipate the crispiness outside that traps the tender juiciness inside. I do recommend the gravy (which is also sold by the half gallon) on the fluffed-up mashed potatoes. And you might even dare to try the chicken livers. It’s comfort food in a comfortable environment. 3853 Race Rd., Bridgetown, (513) 574-0222

Cozy’s Cafe and Pub

Here’s a recommendation when you go to this charming restaurant in a converted house: Get the fried chicken if you’re planning on taking the leftovers home to enjoy for a few days. For a smaller serving, go for the chicken and waffles with onion rings on top and drizzle a little maple syrup on it. There’s something magical in that savory/sweet/spicy/crunchy/crispy/tender combination that seems to hit all the different kinds of tastebuds in your mouth by the time you lick your plate clean. 6440 Cincinnati-Dayton Rd., Liberty Twp., (513) 644-9365

Photograph by Hailey Bollinger

Purple Poulet

From New Orleans to Northern Kentucky, this Southern bistro’s classic fried chicken is its claim to fame. While the poultry plays the leading role, with its flaky skin, tender white meat, and delightfully crispy wings and drums, one ensemble player might just steal the show: smooth, savory buttermilk and bacon whipped potatoes. And we give an honorable mention to the green beans—there are no small parts, after all. 846 York St., Newport, (859) 916-5602

Galactic Fried Chicken

Out-of-this-world chicken? Positively, but you won’t have to travel that far—just skip over to Dayton, Kentucky. Galactic sets phasers to extra-crunchy with its gluten- and dairy-free batter on every tender, wing, breast, and leg. Chicken practically screams to be dunked in “Galactic Sauce,” the restaurant’s spicy, housemade chipotle honey mustard. Be sure to try the deviled eggs, which have a nice Southern spice to them. 624 Sixth Ave., Dayton, (859) 287-7049

Soul Secrets

This may be the easiest way to get classic family reunion fare on demand. Each massive Southern Dinner Platter (we got the chicken breast and two wings) comes perfectly fried and flaky with crispy skin and tender, juicy meat that comes right off the bone. You can get the ideal sides here, too: a heaping scoop of cheesy mac well done on top, with peppery collard greens, and a sweet cornbread muffin. Your takeout box will feel like it weighs a ton, but this soul food will make your heart light as a chicken feather. 1434 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 721-7685

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