Chicken isn't the most exciting protein.
“It’s like the vodka of the food world,” Food Critic Jenny Vergara told guest host Brian Ellison on KCUR's Central Standard. “It takes on the flavor of whatever you put in it or put with it.”
But that’s the beauty of chicken — and why it’s a beloved staple in many cultures. Whether you like it fried, roasted or grilled, in strips or shredded (and, for the kids, in nugget form), you can find chicken at all price points.
From the gourmet to something that comes in a plastic basket, the Food Critics searched out the best chicken dishes in and around Kansas City.
Here are their recommendations:
Jenny Vergara, Feast Magazine:
- Brewery Emperial — half wood-fired chicken. With salsa, onions, cilantro, lime and tortillas. I simply love the idea of making your own pulled-chicken tacos.
- Mesob Restaurant — jerk chicken. Half chicken served with sweet plantains and tropical salsa.
- Mesob Restaurant — poulet maison. Half chicken finished in a Chardonnay Creole sauce.
- Café Europa — chicken and walnut salad. Served with a Dijon vinaigrette.
- Café Europa — roast chicken. Comes with glazed vegetables and mashed potatoes. Sunday only.
- Garrozzo’s — chicken spiedini. This dish is a Kansas City Italian classic that continues to hold up over time.
- Third Street Social — Nashville hot chicken. Available on a salad or in place of regular fried chicken. Pork fat from roasted pork belly mixed with cayenne, paprika, and other smoky spices.
- Howard's Grocery, Café & Catering — fried chicken sandwich. With roasted bell peppers, pea shoots, basil and BBQ mayo on a Farm to Market brioche bun.
- Go Chicken Go — fried chicken strips. They’re giant — two are plenty ($1.75 a piece).
- Chicken N Pickle — whole or half chicken. Wood-fired rotisserie chicken seasoned with juniper/rosemary, jerk or seven-chili. Then you go play pickleball after you’re done eating.
- Chicken N Pickle — wings.
- Kansas City Taco Company — mojo chicken tacos. Cuban-style slow-roasted chicken over Baja slaw and jack cheese. Two to an order.
- Shio Ramen Shop — khao soi-men. Chicken and coconut curry broth, with pickled cabbage, chicken, scallion, lime and chili oil.
- Vietnam Café — chicken pho.
- The Mason Jar — chicken wings. Like a meat lollipop.
- Brewbakers Bar & Grill — Buffaloed cream cheese dip. Served warm with pulled chicken, Buffalo sauce, cream cheese and house made pita chips. This one is for my 14 year old son; his favorite thing to eat has now become his favorite thing to make (and he taught himself how to make it).
Carmen Gramajo, former chair of Comida KC:
- El Pollo Rey — whole or half grilled chicken. It’s not only just the experience in going to get it, but how you eat it. Make sure you get the avocados, the tortillas and the pickled onions. That’s all you need.
- Gus's Fried Chicken — fried chicken. Spicy and great.
- Classic Cookie — chicken salad. Right amount of mayonnaise, chicken, celery, grapes.
- Pierpont's — chicken roulade. The chicken is rolled and stuffed with cheese and spinach.
- The Peanut — Buffalo chicken wings. They’re big and saucy, you definitely want to lick your fingers afterwards.
- PotPie — pan-roasted chicken.
- Carmen’s Café — chicken spiedini Beatriz. Skewered chicken with lemon and capers and pasta on the side.
- Stroud’s — fried chicken.
- Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken — fried chicken. A bit dry, nicely seasoned, but not world famous.
- Niecie’s — chicken and waffles.
- McCoy’s Public House — chicken and waffles.
- King’s Table Soul Food — baked chicken with dressing.
- Go Chicken Go — chicken livers. The best in town.
- Costco — roast chicken. Cheapest deal in town.
- Grunauer — paprikahuhn. Paprika chicken with cream sauce. Amazing balance, delicious.
- Hunan Garden — Springfield cashew chicken.
- Moon Wok — Springfield cashew chicken.
- Dos Reales — chicken mole. Spicy chocolate-y sauce over tender chicken.
- La Fonda El Taquito — chicken mole. Very traditional.
- Taqueria Mexicano — chori pollo. With chorizo, queso, sliced avocados, beans.
- Palestine Senior Center — fried chicken. Open to the public, served cafeteria-style, can get to-go. Some of the best fried chicken in town. Thursday only.
- Galvin’s Dinnerhouse in St. Joe — fried chicken.
- Rye — fried chicken.
- Peachtree Restaurant – fried chicken.
- The North End — fried chicken. Saturday only. Comes with chunky mashed potatoes and gravy.
- Cascone’s — fried chicken. Sunday only.
- YaYa’ s Euro Bistro — Campo Lindo chicken. Absolutely amazing. The sauce is to die for. Served with crispy potatoes.
- China Feast — chicken wings. Big, always freshly fried and cheap, with the right amount of breading.
- Char Bar — chicken wings.
- Dragon Inn — chicken with asparagus. Tender asparagus. Only served in the spring.
- Blue Koi — black bean chicken. The sauce is to die for.
- Malay Café — royal almond chicken.
- Ragazza — chicken saltimbocca.
- Justus Drugstore — pan-roasted chicken.
- Zaxby’s — chicken fingers.
- Grand Street Café — Bill’s Chicken Salad. With coconut fried chicken.
- Tony’s Restaurant — gluten-free chicken fettuccine.
Jen Chen is associate producer for KCUR's Central Standard. Reach out to her at email@example.com.