I am Always on the Hunt for Dallas’ Best Fried Chicken
Ya’ll. Fried Chicken. Fried chicken is the world’s most perfect food. It’s a pain in the ass to get it right though. I’ve made it at home. It is incredible, and I will never make it again (maybe). The time, the mess, the grease — by the time I sit down to eat it I am exhausted. Which is why I am forever on the hunt for Dallas’ best fried chicken. There have been a few contenders over the years. My current favorite was just knocked off its throne by Whistle Britches.
I need to begin with a confession. I wasn’t excited about this place. It is way north of where I live and well outside my bubble. You know, the area around your home that you navigate easily on any given day. I have a prejudice against the suburbs, and I try to avoid going north of 635 as much as I can.
So even though the press has been great for Whistle Britches, I convinced myself it was all hype. Another well packaged fast-casual joint. It would open to much fanfare and love. Then a few short months later reveal itself as all spit and polish with no substance. I never even once considered it a contender for the ultimate prize the Dallas Best Fried Chicken title.
I owe Whistle Britches an apology.
It’s the real deal. Yes, its a hipster’s dream with great font choices and lots of succulents. Yes, the patio full of lawn chairs and picnic tables is an Instagram vision. Forget ALL THAT. The food is where it’s at! Head chef and owner Omar Flores has the chops (and the resume) to deliver the goods.
He is a Culinary Institute of America graduate. Chef Flores worked in one of best kitchens in Dallas; Abacus. He then did a much-lauded turn at Driftwood in Bishop Arts. He then opened up the beloved (and now shuttered) Casa Rubia in Trinity Groves. He is a James Beard award semi-finalist. He is named or nominated “Best Chef” by at least one publication or another every year since 2012. Whistle Britches is his latest effort and it is a gem.
Whistle Britches is located in far North Dallas (come on people, it is basically Plano). It sits in a pretty nondescript shopping center off of Frankford Road. It is not exactly in a food desert though. One of my favorite Indian restaurants is right across the street. It is also near a lovely French Restaurant, a pub, and bunches of other things. So as much as I’d like to tell you that Far North Dallas is the hinterlands, it’s not. Even if you are a little more centrally located, it’s pretty easy to get there. (and you should do that ASAP).
Before we dive into the food, let’s take a little detour through the beverage program. I wasn’t expecting there to be a beverage program to speak of, but actually, they have a nice one.
The cocktail list is full of classic cocktails with a twist. An old-fashioned aptly named Smooth Criminal, a mule made with blackberry vodka, and even an Orange Dreamsicle made with moonshine. I was happy with my Bee’s Knees, a classic gin-based cocktail. It had just enough sweetness to balance the tartness of the cocktail. I hope they take the same care with the rest of the cocktails on the list!
Their beer list has a nice combination of basic beers, local craft beers, and ten beers on tap. It has a little something for every type of beer lover.
There is a wine list, it’s short, and it’s okay. I wish that the choices on the list were more tailored to the food on the menu, but they have chosen to serve most of their wines on tap, which limits the options available.
Ok, let’s talk FOOD
Whistle Britches styles itself as a chicken and biscuits joint with a side of beer. So, of course, I ordered the chicken and the biscuits, but before that, I had to get some fried green tomatoes! If you are not from the South you might not know this — but we fry everything. Seriously we will fry anything. Don’t believe me? Fried butter, fried pickles, chicken fried bacon — our Texas State Fair is famous for it.
The frying process improves some ingredients and green tomatoes are one of them. So if it’s on the menu, I order it. These don’t disappoint. They have a crisp cornmeal exterior and warm but still firm interior. They are what I want from a fried green tomato.
I believe that fried green tomatoes should always have some accompaniments. In a perfect world, you get something tangy, something salty and something sweet. Often this is a buttermilk dressing and some preserves. At Whistle Britches they step it up a bit and add some heat. I love the creativity of that scattering of candied jalapenos. The queso fresco gives it a nice hit of salt, and the creamy, comeback sauce balances everything out.
They also offer some of my very favorite southern classics in their starters: fried okra, pimento cheese, deviled eggs, hoecakes and of course their titular biscuits (I’ll get to those in a second!) I can’t wait to give them all a try.
They offer lots of good things. But there was mac and cheese and when there is mac and cheese there can be no other (see my story about Mac and Cheese HERE). It’s hard for restaurants to get mac and cheese right. I think this iteration is lovely, creamy and worth trying if like me; you love your mac and cheese.
I would say I wished it had a little more going on with it. I just wanted a bit more depth and complexity. Some tang from a sharper cheese or a bit of crunch from a topping. But, I also know that restaurant mac and cheese tends to be the haven of every tween and below kid. So maybe it’s perfect just as it is!
Of COURSE, we ordered the chicken. I ordered the Sir Mix A Lot. The Sir Mix a Lot consists of three pieces of fried chicken (one white and one dark and a wing) a biscuit and your choice of coleslaw or potato salad. I chose the slaw.
The Cole Slaw
I always hesitate to order cole slaw at any restaurant. I love it, but there are two schools of thought on cole slaw. Many southern chefs make a sweet slaw. Often intended to balance fatty, heavily spiced foods. I am not judging, but I don’t like sweet slaws (or potato salads for that matter).
I am happy to report the WB slaw does not fall into that category. It is very creamy with a delicate balance of saltiness and a definite hit of herby goodness from cilantro. I liked it. It was the one thing I am not in ecstacies over though. It was good, but it needs something else. Another note of umami or something else to make it sing.
Dallas’ Best Fried Chicken
The fried chicken through — my word. It is crispy, without a hint of oiliness. The pickle-brine on this chicken gives it a perfect hit of tang while at the same time delivering an absolutely moist piece of chicken. It is fantastic. It comes with a gigantic buttermilk biscuit. That biscuit is a meal of its own. It has the crispy outside and tender, flaky crumb on the inside that epitomizes a well made southern biscuit.
I loved it. I asked for jam and butter so I could enjoy every single bite of my gigantic biscuit. Which I could not finish (but was PERFECT with my breakfast the next day!) I also stole some of Tim’s gravy because… well, because gravy. The chicken and the biscuit don’t need it, but next time I will request a side of gravy or my very own. I don’t say this lightly, but I really do believe this is Dallas’ best fried chicken! (and it is not even the best thing about this menu!)
Dallas’ Best Chicken Fried Steak
Tim got the (brand new to the menu) chicken fried steak (CFS). We had no idea they served chicken fried steak. We were only at this restaurant because Tim wanted to try their chicken. (In our never-ending quest for fried chicken nirvana.) Yet, if there is chicken fried steak it must be ordered. So he ordered it.
Yeah, this was the star of the meal.
IT IS HUGE. Also, I don’t know what seasonings Chef Flores is using, but they are chicken fried steak perfection. Sometimes you get a chicken fried steak, and it is enormous. Usually, because the steak is pounded very thin and then cooked. That is not what is happening here. You receive a beautiful, thick cut steak. It melts in your mouth when you bite into it.
You know that moment when your teeth break through the crispy exterior and sink into tender, savory meat and the smell of all the spices hits your nose? That is pure the pure CFS bliss you get at Whistle Britches. I will go back again and again for this chicken fried steak.
Tim and I have hearty appetites, and this still went home with us. (Oh yeah, and he got mashed potatoes and green beans too! They were great) The next day we transformed it into the worlds best breakfast. We toasted the biscuit, in a pan with plenty of butter. Then cut up the CFS into bite-size pieces and warmed them up in a skillet with a little oil and fried up some eggs.
I want some of that right this second. Don’t you? Yeah, get to Whistle Britches right quick and try Dallas’ best fried chicken and chicken fried steak for yourself!