Bird Is the Word: 7 of the Best Fried Chicken Places Around the Bay Area

Comfort food is getting a lot of attention for good reason. A fixture of nearly every culture’s food landscape, chicken is a universal comfort food, a balm for the day’s (or year’s) aches. These are just a few of the myriad options to savor anytime it feels right.

Fast Food Français


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Yup. Now our fried chicken comes by the bucket.

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When Susannah Souvestre and Bruno Denis put the long-running fried chicken entrée in a bucket at their Sausalito restaurant when Covid-19 shelter-in-place launched in March, it took off. “Sales tripled,” Souvestre says. “Comfort foods are what people want to eat.” A whole chicken cut into and mostly deboned pieces a la française — the bird is marinated for 24 hours in spices and hot sauce but no buttermilk. It does come with buttermilk dressing, if you must, and a side of mashed potatoes with plenty of butter. “As the French do,” Souvestre jokes. 


Gravity Tavern

A classic buttermilk presentation at Mill Valley’s Gravity Tavern provides room for experimentation. Squeeze the griddled lemon over the deep-fried Mary’s chicken to amplify the meaty flavor or try it with a drizzle of organic honey or house made hot sauce. An accompanying sausage biscuit makes it brunchy or lunchy.


Revel & Roost

The timing now seems fortuitous for San Rafael’s Revel & Roost, a chicken-named restaurant which opened in the months preceding Covid Times. But it remains popular because of the Cajun spice blend in both the buttermilk marinade and coating of its signature Buttermilk Fried Chicken. “It complements our cayenne-infused maple syrup and our apple-bacon braised cabbage,” says owner-operator Mark Edwards. The popular protein makes its way onto pizza and can be found beneath clay in the Citrus Brick Chicken, too. 


April Pantry

A newcomer to the Petaluma dining scene, this comfort food café won Best Hawaiian Style Fried Chicken from Sonoma Magazine for its Aloha Fried Chicken Plate. Panko-crusted chicken breast is designed for dipping in Korean BBQ sauce and served atop macaroni salad (or red quinoa salad). Jalapeño coleslaw and two scoops of coconut lime rice complete the Pacific rim vibe. 


Casa Orinda

Served for the duration of this East Bay favorite’s 87 years in operation, the fried chicken is an old-timey classic. Three pieces of chicken are served on the bone with sides of mashed potatoes, a biscuit and gravy, plus some feel good sautéed vegetables. 




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The Fried Chicken Strips are a spin on Sweet Tea Chicken from the deep south at San Francisco’s Curio. Ritual Coffee ably stands in for the tea, making its way into the brine and the gluten-free rice flour and corn starch dredge for deep flavor. Choose from three sauces, including a Fernet Branca BBQ Sauce, for your dipping pleasure. 



It’s all in the name at San Francisco’s Hotbird, which serves up Nashville style chicken breasts dipped in chili oil and spices and then even more spices before sliding onto a soft bun, accompanied by slaw and dill pickles. All that’s left to do is choose the spice level — no heat, mild, medium, hot, xtra-hot, or burnin’ — and decide if you want any of the comeback sauce (you do). 


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Christina MuellerChristina Mueller is a long-time Bay Area food writer. She hails from the East Coast and has spent way too much time in South America and Europe. She discovered her talent as a wordsmith in college and her love of all things epicurean in grad school. She has written for Condé Nast Contract PublishingSunset, and the Marin Independent Journal, among others. She volunteers with California State Parks and at her child’s school, and supports the Marin Audubon SocietyPEN America, and Planned Parenthood. When she is not drinking wine by a fire, she is known to spend time with her extended family.