Look, just about any fried chicken sandwich is some degree of delicious. Deep frying, coating in spices and aioli, and lightly toasting a buttery bun just aren’t actions that tend to go wrong. But while the fried chicken sandwich floor is high, only some ware worth crossing bridges to get to. These are the best fried chicken sandwiches in NYC.
If you forced us to point to just one thing that makes this arguably the best fried chicken sandwich in NYC, it would be the heavy dose of garam masala perfectly incorporated in every bite. But since you didn’t give us a mandate, we can tell you about the fried onions, which add even more crunch to skin that already crackles when you push down on the toasted brioche bun. You should also be aware of the minty, pickly mayo that runs down the skin like lava flow.
Even as extreme chicken lovers, we reached a point in our research for this guide where we couldn’t bear to consume another fried breast on a soft bun. Then we checked back in on Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken. Their hot and sweet sandwich made us forget we had tried 20 sandwiches in one week. It was like falling in love with chicken again - this time with the help of some syrupy chipotle honey mixed with spicy mayo, and a supple potato bun. If you want to stick to the classic, their regular fried chicken sandwich is also excellent.
This sandwich is a study in harmony. Sweet and salty pickles and ginger-pepper sauce bring kick to every bite. The scallions and pickled veggies add brightness and crunch, and the fried chicken leg acts as a call for all white meat sandwiches to perform their swan songs.
Your brain only has so much real estate for remembering fried chicken sandwiches. But between the tangy lime leaf aioli, pickled jalapenos, chili, and lemongrass, Saigon Social’s spicy and herbaceous version will boot out any excess memories of tasteless fried chicken. This Vietnamese spot opened on the LES in the spring of 2020, making it the newest, best fried chicken option on this list. If you’re at all drawn to chicken sandwiches with genuine heat, you won’t be disappointed.
The hot chicken isn’t the best sandwich at Mekelburg’s, just as “to thine own self be true” isn’t the best line from Hamlet. It may be or may not be overshadowed by this Williamsburg spot’s meatloaf sandwich, but it’s still phenomenal. Just as the thin layer of skin - which acts like a sponge soaking up the spicy sauce, cayenne, and hot honey - seems like it might cloud out the flavor of the juicy meat, the sweet and tangy kewpie mayo arrives to keep the heat in check.
We’re confident that the fried chicken sandwich at Peaches Hothouse went to the Cristiano Ronaldo school of self-promotion. On the menu, it’s called “The Best Chicken Sandwich Anywhere,” and the bun is lathered in comeback sauce - a combination of mayo, ketchup, honey, Cajun seasoning. Juices from the Nashville-style hot chicken run down your hand as soon as you pick it up, while the cayenne on the hot and extra hot versions hits your nose like smelling salts. And like Ronaldo, it lives up to the hype every time.
The beauty of Loverboy’s chicken sandwich lies within its thoughtful construction. This neighborhood bar on Avenue C puts thin spicy mayo on the bottom bun below the chicken, which holds the pickles in place and gives you some acidity at the end of your bite. They then finish things off with a tiny fistful of refreshing coleslaw and even more spicy mayo on top of the chicken. And if you think the final result is a soggy sandwich, take comfort in knowing the extra-crispy fry batter and the slightly toasted bun soak everything up. The only thing to do aside from ordering this sandwich is to bring cash - Loverboy doesn’t accept cards.
A pretzel buns is often a red herring. At Emmy Squared, however, it doesn’t disguise average ingredients. You barely notice it until you’re about halfway through the katsu-style Nashville hot chicken, when you’ll appreciate how the crust of the bun remains crisp despite soaking up the Alabama white sauce underneath.
You expect to hear it about high-quality steak or Santana guitar riffs, but “like butter” isn’t a description you typically associate with fried chicken sandwiches. That’s because very few of them are like the version at Diner in Williamsburg. The meat is so tender that if it weren’t for the thin layer of crispy skin, it’d be nearly impossible to tell where the buttery meat ends, and the buttery potato bun begins. Just know that it’s only offered at lunch Friday through Sunday.