There are several spots in Kitchener-Waterloo that have great options for fried chicken. Although southern style fried chicken is one of the most popular versions, many of the best restaurants for fried chicken in our region specialize in Korean fried chicken.
All of the restaurants listed are local and independent. If you’re interested in the business, click on the header or image. The restaurants are ordered from cheapest to most expensive, though most of these places offer multiple fried chicken dishes that tend to range in price.
Bao Sandwich Bar is a cozy restaurant positioned in between multiple housing condominiums in the University area that serves delicious, and affordable sandwiches, with options for bao (steamed buns) or baguettes. Their Chicken Katsu Bao is a must-try for Kitchener/Waterloo handhelds eats. The bao features Japanese style fried chicken, garlic mayo, tankatsu sauce, lettuce, green onions, and togarashi flakes, for only $5.74. In total Bao Sandwich Bar has four different options for baos that sample their crispy fried chicken, the Chicken Katsu, Great Chicken, Buffalo Chicken, and the Korean Garlic Chicken.
Located in the University Shops Plaza, Yang Yum is a great spot for original Korean fried chicken. Their chicken is marinated for several hours then breaded in a Korean style. The chicken thighs are from Charles Quality Meats in St. Agatha. They are chopped into bite-sized pieces and fried twice, the chicken is then tossed in either red gochujang fermented chili-paste sauce (yangnyeom sauce) or a less spicy black soy-based sauce. Both sauces are made in-house. The restaurant has plenty of options for fried chicken depending on if you want it sauced, crispy, or on a bao.
Many refer to Kim’s as being the best spot for Korean fried chicken in town. Chef Sean Kim is a Korean-style chef and baker that worked at Seoul’s Grand Hyatt Hotel for over 10 years. The care and authenticity that goes into each fried chicken meal comes through in the taste. A great sample for the superb quality of Kim’s Kitchen is their Green Onion Chicken. The restaurant offers options for green onion, spicy onion, yogurt onion and soy sauce. With a consistently fresh and juicy taste, this restaurant may remind you of the many spots for Korean fried chicken throughout Toronto.
With great options for sandwiches that feature fresh fried chicken thighs in brioche buns, and crispy fried tenders, Penny’s easily makes a spot on this list. Penny’s is relatively new on the K/W scene and has received an overwhelmingly positive reception from the community. There’s now no doubt that Penny’s is an excellent option for local fried chicken sandwiches, and large fried chicken meals. With large portions and decent prices, Penny’s has become a must-try as far as K/W fried chicken goes, and they’ve done so in a remarkably short amount of time. Check out Penny’s Hot Chicken in University Commons.
Lancaster Smokehouse showcases their fried chicken by offering meals of half and full birds as well as having fried chicken sandwiches. Their fried chicken is somewhat iconic to the city as it is consistently crispy and delicious, and the restaurant has been a staple for southern food in K/W for a long while. Their chicken features a crunchy spicy coating and a tender/juicy middle. The result is the perfect fix for a southern food craving, served with pickles. As for inside the restaurant, the smokehouse/bar aesthetic, paired with great service makes for a family friendly, laid back atmosphere.
Neustro 88 is a relatively new restaurant in the region, and has offered fares from the Philippines and Nicaragua that are consistently fresh and flavourful. What may be unknown to those who have heard of the Sport’s World Crossing restaurant, is that they have an incredibly tasty fried chicken sandwich. The sandwich uses buttermilk fried chicken and is topped with pickled vegetables, sriracha hoisin mayo and served on a brioche bun (with a side of fries or salad). Nuestro’s sandwich is surprising, yet it’s on par with the superb quality of the rest of the dishes served in the restaurant.
Served with your choice of fries, peas or steamed rice, Mark’s Kitchen serves a filling fried chicken meal. If you know Mark’s Caribbean Kitchen, you know how great their assortment of exquisite meals are, all as a result of the dedication of Chef Mark. What many may not know is that Mark additionally has a great recipe for fried chicken. Coming in a large portion, the dish features tender and crispy chicken. With the Caribbean being a vast area with many different cultures, Mark’s kitchen represents many cultures rather than one specific country. The tender texture of their fried chicken mirrors the juicy, tender qualities of their popular Jerk Chicken meal, reflecting the great versatility of the downtown restaurant.
Public Kitchen is an upscale tapas restaurant with two locations in town that happens to serve mouth watering fried chicken. The boneless, skinless chicken thighs that they use is brined for a day with salt, sugar and spices. The result of the long prep process is a fried chicken meal that is simplistic, juicy, and flavourful. Public’s fried chicken can be ordered for $15, however they also offer a $75 fried chicken family dinner which features 10 pieces of their fried chicken thighs (with spiced honey and sherry gastrique), crispy fried brava potatoes, a large crisp green salad, and 8 pieces of fresh baked focaccia.
The Wooden Boat is an inventive establishment that puts out incredibly tasty flavor combinations. The restaurant is a Vietnamese-style “ghost kitchen” that operates at certain times throughout the week. One of their best offerings is their hot-honey fried chicken. Using an original recipe, pasture-raised crispy gluten free fried chicken is marinated in garlic and a blend of spices, finished with drizzles of Ontario honey and dusted with spice. Served with jasmine rice, the sweet fried chicken paired with green onions makes for a delicious meal. Check out the wooden boat’s website for their availability and their menu.
Grand Trunk in downtown Kitchener has amazing lightly breaded fried chicken. Their “traditional southern fried chicken” uses buttermilk and comes with a delectable, spicy hot sauce. If you’re ordering from Grand Trunk (or dining-in) consider going on Tuesdays for their “Bucket-O-Chicken” nights, when you can pick up a 10 piece bucket of fried chicken for $25. They additionally have a chicken and waffles meal that features their buttermilk fried chicken, waffles, collard greens and sausage gravy (or habanero cane syrup) for $23.
Some other great options for fried chicken in K/W are Taco Farm, Beer Town, Sowon’s, Borealis, Arabella and Kentucky Bourbon.