Fried Chicken Day is upon us! The collective day to celebrate fried chicken is July 6, or everyday in the South. For a city that used to be known for fried chicken, there are not many restaurants doing true southern fried chicken anymore. There are a number of restaurants doing their take on fried chicken with fried chicken tenders and waffles, or a boneless fried chicken breast with sides. That’s fine for what it is, but sometimes you want actual fried chicken the way the lord (or your grandma) intended.
Here are some of our go to places to get fried chicken or fried chicken adjacent meals in Jax. Where do you go for fried chicken?
5065 St Augustine Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32207
A perennial favorite opened by Jacksonville Son, Chef Roderick “Sweet Pete” Smith, Jax Diner is the breakfast and lunch spot for foodie hipsters and blue collar workers alike. But that’s just what happens you make fresh, delicious food- everyone comes! Jax Diner is only open for breakfast and lunch, so plan accordingly, or go visit their brand new sister restaurant, Mother’s Cafe and Bar. For true fried chicken at Jax Diner you’ll have to go on Tuesday. That’s the daily special on Tuesdays. If you just stop in for lunch you can have a fried chicken poboy, which is not the same, but still delectable. Believe me, it’s worth a special trip for Fried Chicken Tuesday.
Mother’s Cafe and Bar
2467 Faye Road, Jacksonville, FL 32226
Located one block off 295 at the Alta exit, Mother’s Cafe and Bar is the newest restaurant from Chef Roderick “Sweet Pete” Smith. Mother’s is an homage to all the mothers that played a role in Smith’s upbringing, especially the culinary influence they each had on him. From his own mother to grandmothers to aunts to other women, Mother’s is everything comfort, from scratch, made with love. Of course this includes fried chicken. You can get two pieces, a half chicken, or a whole chicken at Mother’s and no one will judge you about it, either. While you’re there peruse the menu because there is so much goodness to try, but the fried chicken will remind of your momma, your momma’s momma, and your momma’s momma’s momma.
South Kitchen & Spirits
3638 Park St, Jacksonville, FL 32205
South Kitchen offers a modern take on all your southern favorites, plus it’s pretty affordable for its category. South Kitchen’s fried chicken comes as the Five Piece Dinner: half a buttermilk & hot sauce marinated fried chicken, mashed potatoes, braised collard greens with smoked pork & chilis. Plus the chicken is served in a bucket. So yummy, so fun, so southern.
The Hangar Bay Cafe and Gallery
2294 Mayport Rd #22, Atlantic Beach, FL 32233
This hole in the wall is much more than meets the eye. The combination of ramen and fried chicken might not be an obvious choice, but it is a delicious one. You can get as much or as little fried chicken as you want at Hangar Bay and live it up with the addition of fried biscuits or fried mac n cheese made from scratch. This Mayport favorite does fried chicken you won’t soon forget.
Soul Food Bistro
Southside location: 11876 Atlantic Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32225
Westside location: 5310 Lenox Ave #1, Jacksonville, FL 32205
Starting out as a cafe at The Potter’s House Christian Fellowship in 1998, Soul Food Bistro has spread love, good food, and southern hospitality ever since. Soul Food Bistro now has two locations where you can get a buffet/cafeteria style meal of fresh southern goodness. You can get just about any combination of fried chicken pieces plus the sides that speak most to you. Don’t say we didn’t warn you about Sundays though. Soul Food Bistro might just be the popular spot in town with lines frequently to the door. But is it worth it? Totally.
Shut Em Down Authentic Southern Restaurant
6315 San Juan Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32210
Shut Em Down originally opened in Argyle several years ago. Their food was legit. They closed their Argyle location and recently opened on San Juan Ave. and are serving up just as good, if not better, southern and soul food. Every entree can be ordered as a snack, lunch, or dinner size depending on your appetite. The fried chicken is made to order, so be patient. It will be worth it.
2902 Corinthian Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32210
Simply Sara’s is Jacksonville famous and you’ve probably never been there. Simply Sara’s is a family owned restaurant where you are treated like family, and the menu rotates like your own home menu. Fried Chicken is served on Saturday evening and chicken and waffles are served on Sunday for brunch. Every single thing Simply Sara’s serves is made from scratch, and you can taste it.
4021 Southside Blvd #200, Jacksonville, FL 32216
Chef Kenny Gilbert is changing the restaurant landscape in Jax and Gilbert’s Social was his starting point. He turned an old building on Southside that had previously housed a variety of businesses into a destination for flavorful southern cuisine and excellent service. At Gilbert’s Social you can get Smoked Southern Fried Boneless Chicken Thighs a variety of ways- as a platter, in a sandwich, as a “Loaded Chicken & Biscuit” or by the pound. You can have it hot (spicy) or not, but even the not spicy variation has a kick. Chef Kenny isn’t messing around on flavor.
Gilbert’s Southern Kitchen & Bar/Gilbert’s Hot Chicken Fish + Shrimp
831 1st St N, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250
Chef Kenny Gilbert opened his two newest restaurants in the former Seachasers building, which has multiple dining venues. Upstairs at Gilbert’s Southern Kitchen you’ll find the best view at the beach, along with fantastic table service and two options for fried chicken. One is the KG’s BLT Biscuits which have the smoked and fried boneless chicken thighs on jalapeno drop biscuits with pickled green tomato, pork belly, and butter lettuce. The other option is 24 Hour Brined Southern Fried Chicken served with sweet rolls and datil pepper honey.
On the west end of the building along 1st Street is Gilbert’s Hot Chicken Fish + Shrimp. There you can get fried chicken skin to start with, a smoked and fried chicken thigh sandwich on a sweet bun, smoked boneless chicken thighs by the 1/2 pound or full pound, or a 1/2 24 hour brined fried chicken. Ask for FB Hot Chicken Sauce if you like it extra spicy.
Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails
4972 Big Island Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32246
Chef Tom Gray’s pièce de résistance is the perfect spot for many occasions from date night to brunch to enjoying a perfect cocktail. One of the things that attract folks to Moxie is the whimsical nature of the menu. Food is not only delicious, but FUN at Moxie. And the Chicken & Waffles is no different: fried chicken breast, waffle pudding, creamy collard greens, maple mousse, and pepper jelly make a delightful twist on a Southern standby.
1534 Oak St, Jacksonville, FL 32204
While not exactly a southern restaurant, Black Sheep tips its hat to southern tradition here and there, and that includes the Sunday special of Fried or Hot Chicken platters. You get a half chicken with three sides and biscuits. Talk about good eating!
Jacksonville’s own little diner that could is now not only all over the city, it’s all over Florida, and on 10 different states. Anyone else remember when there was always a huge wait to get into Metro Diner? Now folks from Oklahoma to Pennsylvania can have real southern fried chicken or chicken and waffles. And the strawberry butter! Oh wee.
Beach Road Chicken Dinners
4132 Atlantic Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32207
One of the most historic Jacksonville restaurants is also also one that barely made this list. We’d be remiss not to include Beach Road, but it has been incredibly hit and miss in recent years (mostly miss). Named back when Atlantic Blvd was the only road to the beach, long before the Matthews bridge was built or baby boomers flocked to Arlington, Beach Road Chicken Dinners served fried chicken family style with all the fixins. They still do, in the building they started in. I hope when and if you go you can taste the proud tradition when you crunch into your chicken.
1253 Penman Rd, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250
The Homestead is another historical Jacksonville restaurant, but this one closed for several years and recently reopened in a new space. Serving diners in the log cabin that now houses TacoLu, The Homestead has a rich history of southern cuisine and also of being haunted. We’ll assume the ghosts stayed in the log cabin on Beach Blvd. The team at The Homestead is serving up all your old favorites from years gone by at the old Homestead, plus some new updated dishes. From shrimp and grits to meatloaf, to country fried steak, to grilled romaine salad, to Hawaiian chicken, and flounder cordon bleu, The Homestead cooks up something comforting everyone. Their fried chicken is served in a skillet with your choice of sides.
11884 Atlantic Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32225
While some can’t help but shake their head, Jacksonville should be proud to have the only Jollibee in Florida. In fact, Our Jollibee is the only one in the entire southeast United States. Why does that matter? Well, it really is somewhat of a destination. Jollibee has a cult following similar to that of In n Out Burger. And they just so happen to have dynamite fried chicken, which they call Chickenjoy. If the Jolly Spaghetti with hot dogs and the Fiesta Noodles are just a bit outside your comfort zone, the Chickenjoy will most certainly be right in your lane. Try the peach mango handpies and the pineapple juice while you’re there.
Comfort. A Southern Bistro
2777 University Blvd W #32, Jacksonville, FL 32217
True confession: we’ve only been to Comfort once. It was not great. However, from the looks of things they have revamped their approach a bit, which is great. Comfort was a fantastic concept from the start, it’s just super hard to open and run a restaurant. Now they are open for breakfast and lunch five days a week, and you can enjoy dinner at Comfort on Fridays and Saturdays. You can get either two or four pieces of fried chicken with a waffle or a biscuit and two sides.
Candy Apple Cafe
400 N. Hogan Street, Jacksonville, FL 32202
At Candy Apple Cafe you can get some swanky fried chicken, including chicken and waffles for brunch or anytime, or country fried chicken (breast) with sides for lunch or dinner. We’re big fans of the chicken and waffle, both at Candy Apple Cafe and almost anywhere else.