Beach Road Chicken Dinners – A Jacksonville Fixture Headed Downhill

Today we get to share with you the oldest established restaurant in Jacksonville. Open since 1939, Beach Road Chicken Dinners may just be the ultimate locals spot. You may wonder why a restaurant on Atlantic Boulevard would be called Beach Road Chicken Dinners. When the restaurant opened Atlantic Boulevard was actually the only road to the beach. Hard to imagine Atlantic being the only road to the beach nowadays!

Beach Road Chicken - Sign

Beach Road Chicken – Sign

Beach Road Chicken Dinners offers most fried foods you might want at a southern restaurant(chicken, fish, liver, shrimp etc…) but everyone really just orders the half fried chicken dinner. That’s what you should do too. Beach Road has won a laundry list of awards over the years from Best Fried Chicken in Jax by Jacksonville Magazine to Best Fried Chicken in the South from Southern Living Magazine.

Menu: http://www.beachroadchickendinners.com/menus.php

Phone: (904) 398-7980

Address: 4132 Atlantic Blvd. Jacksonville, FL 32207

I grew up going to Beach Road Chicken Dinners and in its heyday it truly was the best fried chicken in Jax and likely the best fried chicken in the south. I may be biased but I’ve always felt it was the best fried chicken I’d ever had. Growing up there was a line out the door at dinner time. I’ve always loved the place! I’ve gone to Beach Road Dinners intending to write about the food 3 times over the past two years since we started Jax Restaurant Reviews and every time I had mediocre to bad experiences. I couldn’t bring myself to write about it. Now on trip 4 I feel obligated to tell it like it is…..Beach Road Chicken Dinners isn’t what it used to be. It hurts me to say that! It’s the truth though. It’s clear they’ve changed many of their recipes or the cooks simply don’t know how to make them. It’s sad and unfortunate and it may lead to their demise. I genuinely hope they realize they need to go back to what worked.

Beach Road Chicken - Fried Chicken

Beach Road Chicken – Fried Chicken

When you order a half fried chicken($9.98) it comes with cole slaw to get started on while your food is being cooked and your choice of family style sides which include creamed peas, rice and gravy, biscuits and honey, mashed potatoes and French fries. The bowls are passed around family style as if you were having dinner at grandma’s house. Most folks have sweet tea with dinner and their sweet tea like all great southern sweet teas is so sweet it’ll make your eyes water. If that’s not your style then ask for half sweet, half unsweet tea commonly called “tea half and half”. On our visits over the past two years the fried chicken has been pretty bland. If you’d never been to Beach Road Chicken Dinners in its heyday you’d probably call it average fried chicken and it’d be fine but not something you’d drive across town to get. If you’ve been there you know that was the kind of fried chicken that you might drive across the country to get.

On this visit we got seated right when the restaurant opened at 11am and after ordering our half fried chicken dinners we were brought drinks and cole slaw. We both took one bite and realized this cole slaw wasn’t edible. It was the consistency of chunky paste. Nasty! Maybe if they added a little water it might have been decent. We couldn’t eat it. The fried chicken and sides all arrived and we proceeded to dig in. The fried chicken was pretty bland. It was average. If you came in with no expecations you’d say it was just okay. The cream peas were great. They always have been. The mashed potatoes and the gravy were both bland as well. The biscuits and honey were fairly good but nothing to write home about. The French fries were the crinkle cut style and fairly decent.

Beach Road Chicken - Sides

Beach Road Chicken – Sides

The service was fine for the price point. Our server check in on us regularly and seemed to care about taking care of us. It was nothing to write home about though.  Overall for $9.98 the half fried chicken dinner is just okay. Would I pick KFC over Beach Road Chicken Dinners? It pains me to say it but I think I would.  Spend less at KFC and get better fried chicken.

 

14 Comments
  1. This is very surprising to me! I have always enjoyed the food and although to each his own, I have to disagree- support any mom/pop over KFC!!! Your website is to let us know about local food so a little disappointed to see this recommendation! Really, KFC??

    • Lisa, that’s exactly our point! KFC isn’t good…and it’s better chicken at a lower price.
      We don’t recommend KFC but we are saying it’s better than Beach Road Chicken at the moment.

      And to be fair, it wasn’t as though we caught them on an off day. We made four trips since we launched this site because we really wanted to write a glowing article about the 75+ year old restaurant.

      “I grew up going to Beach Road Chicken Dinners and in its heyday it truly was the best fried chicken in Jax and likely the best fried chicken in the south. I may be biased but I’ve always felt it was the best fried chicken I’d ever had.”
      Twenty-five years ago Beach Road Chicken was amazing…hopefully they can find the way back to that path.

  2. My husband and I had exactly that same experience! He has been going there since he was a child and I have been going for the last 20 years but as you said the Coleslaw was not even edible it tasted like it was a jar of Mayo!!!! The chicken was only ok and the only thing that seem to remain the same was the cream peas!!!!

  3. your right it has gone down hill I live near by and have eaten there for the past 40 years. There has to be a new owner the slaw is bad the gravy is not the same. They need to fix this before they go out of business

  4. I worked at beachroad for two years and I couldn’t agree more with this. The people they hired when I was there ran me out of there. I’m a sucker for carbs so I just load up on sides.. But the chicken is either always old or dripping with greace. Coleslaw story is on point to.. I personally never even served it to my customers unless they asked for it. I always heard stories how lines wrapped around the building…. I never once seen a line out the door… Maybe once on a Sunday holiday like fathers day. Anyways… The owner of firehouse has always wanted to buy the place when he came in. They should give it to him while they can!

  5. I have been coming here for 50 years. I am sorry to say, I agree with the review. Not sure about the cole slaw being non edible, but the rest is slipping. The cream peas are a disappointment also. We don’t as often as we used to. My Husband is a chicken snob and won’t go there anymore. I still go every so often. I am very sad to see this. Go back to the original recipes please!!!

  6. I agree with so many of the reviews I just read about Beach Road Chicken Dinners. As a 56 year old man, born and raised in Jax, I have frequented the establishment since I was a child. I remember the long lines just to get in and, more importantly, how the food never let me or my family down. Everything was first rate! Unfortunately I went a few weeks ago with my dad, who was also a big fan, and we were very disappointed. The cole slaw tasted like mayonnaise and was inedible. We thought the chicken was pretty good, but not nearly as great as we had remembered over the years. The only side we thought lived up to its expectations was the peas and gravy. I can’t say we didn’t enjoy our meal, but we were disappoint. Not sure what the problem is, but I do hope they find their way again. Please let me know when I can return for the chicken I used to know and love!

  7. It doesn’t surprise me. I have been eating there for 60+ years. My wife and I went for lunch on Wednesday and I had the worst experience that I have had in 60+ years. The AA male server seemed to have a real attitude problem and speaking with the management did no good. Do not plan to ever go back!!! They appear to not care that they are running off their loyal long time customers. It is a true shame, but they are doing it to themselves.

  8. You support local businesses by being transparent with integrity. These many comments can’t just be fuss. You want them to do well but not without honest feedback and work at it. Hope they will find their way to make chicken great again!

  9. WOW shame on me!
    Dinning and Raving about Beach Road Chicken for 35 years. BUT not any more! I have tried several times in the past few months to get something like what it was. NO such luck, all four times in past three months have sucked. If I try it again, WOW shame on ME…..
    Another long standing tradition has been flushed down the toilet. First it was the loss of Jimmy’s Fried Chicken on Beach Blvd 20 years ago now Beach Road has gone the way of the many others.
    Very Sad, Very Sad…

  10. Add mine to the list of people who have given up on this place. I will never return. The chicken (their name sake entree) sucks. The reviewer recommends KFC over Beaches Road. He’s right! (I, personally would recommend Popeye’s, but that’s me.) It was so bad that, now that I’m home, I hope I get sick so I can get it out of my system.
    Don’t go; don’t go; don’t go!!!

  11. So terribly sad to read that yet another “renowned” jax establishment has faded. We’re no longer a civilization where the “torch” is passed, preserving time-tested recipes, whose quality is worth allowing generations to enjoy, what their predecessors enjoyed so much. Enough said.

  12. it really is a shame, I remember this place being outstanding when we first moved to Jax in the late 80s. The last time I was there, I determined that it would be the last time I would go there. Side note: new favorite fried chicken is at Shut Em Down (Westside).

  13. I must agree with the others, it’s just gone down hill. High prices too & the employee’s are just plain rude. Where is the Lady owner been cause when she’s is in the restaurant overseeing things, employee’s are on point?
    There is a sign outside that the property is up for sale or auction? Either way, another Jacksonville Icon is going out of business & this personally makes me sad.

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