BEST FRIED CHICKEN - 2004
Nardie's Cafe - CLOSED
Lately KFC has been spending millions trying to convince us that its familiar acronym stands for "kitchen fresh chicken" and while it's laughable to imagine any fast-food franchise achieving a homemade, just-like-mom's taste experience, the underlying message is clear: KFC knows we all want at least the illusion that our fried chicken is made with tender loving care. Well, the folks at Nardie's Café really do care about chicken, wings to be exact, and there's nothing fake about their simple menu offerings. The sassy wonders that swoop out of Leonard Lowe's kitchen offer more than the typical two or three bites of meat. And the coating, well, it deserves at least a couple of rhapsodic sentences. The rich and complex dark brown crust glistens yet is relatively light on the grease. It's crispy and succulent, and when you add hot sauce, the New Orleans spices kick off a mini Mardi Gras parade inside your mouth. Laissez le bon temps rouler, indeed. Add any of the winning soul food side dishes, from red beans and rice to collard greens, candied yams, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, potato salad, or thick-cut fries (a dinner with two sides is $9 or throw a party for 25 of your pals for anywhere from $12 to $17 per person), and you'll be vowing many a return visit to the nurturing arms--er, wings--of Nardie's.