Chef Rick Lewis from Quincy Street Bistro paired with Mike Emerson, co-owner of St. Louis BBQ institution Pappy’s Smokehouse, to bring home-style cooking to Southern in Midtown. The menu is simple and spicy. Choose from four styles for your hot chicken plates (original, mild, cluckin’ hot or sweet and spicy), prepared with a dry rub and light crunch, and add a southern snack side (think buttermilk biscuits and fried green tomatoes). The fast-casual eatery is located at 3108 Olive St., St. Louis, MO, 63103. Open Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (closed Monday and Tuesday). Call 314-531-4668.
The “gold standard”
Another local chef, Ben Poremba of Elaia and Olio, opened his chicken joint in the fall of 2014. Old Standard Fried Chicken boasts it’s the “gold standard” for fried chicken and has quickly become a hot spot in the Botanical Heights neighborhood. Have your fried chicken in pieces, halves, tenders or whole, and even on a sandwich and in a quesadilla! Wash it all down with a signature house-made pumpkin spice or mango, orange blossom and vanilla soda. Call ahead for to-go orders. Old Standard is located at 1621 Tower Grove Ave. at the corner of McRee, St. Louis, MO, 63110. Open for lunch Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and for dinner Monday through Thursday, 4:30 to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 4:30 p.m. to midnight. Old Standard serves its regular menu and brunch all day Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Call 314-899-9000.
Spicing up Maplewood
Gus’s Fried Chicken is yet another chicken shack that’s popped up in town recently. Although it’s new to the Lou, Gus’s “world famous” fried chicken has been an institution in Memphis for nearly 60 years. Gus’s secret recipe definitely has a kick of heat, but it always proves tasty. Pair your chicken with a traditional side like mac and cheese, baked beans and slaw. This is another easy call ahead “go-to” to-go spot. Note those with allergies: Gus’s uses peanut oil in all its frying. Gus’s is located at 7434 Manchester Rd., Maplewood, MO, 63143. Open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Call 314-899-9899.
A St. Louis standard
Almost right around the corner from Gus’s is Porter’s Fried Chicken, a St. Louis tradition for some 30 years. If your family can’t take the heat of the signature recipes at the other joints, the carryout from Porter’s might suit your less spicy inclinations (although they can also add spice upon request). Take home a chicken dinner or a bucket, both offered with the “regular” mix of pieces or a “special” choose-your-own mix. They offer shrimp and fish dinners, too. Porter’s is located at 3628 South Big Bend Road at the corner of Shrewsbury Rd., St. Louis, MO, 63143. Open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Call 314-781-2097.
Soul food as seen on TV
Visit Sweetie Pie’s for dining with soul. Proprietor “Miss Robbie” Montgomery is famous these days for her show on the OWN Network, but back in the day she was better known for singing backup for Ike and Tina Turner. Today, Miss Robbie and her son Tim Norman serve up amazing soul food at two St. Louis locations. The fried chicken is not to be missed and their lineup of comfort food sides won’t let you leave hungry. Sweetie Pie’s is located in the Grove neighborhood at 4270 Manchester Rd., St. Louis, MO, 63110 and also at 3643 Delmar Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. (closed Monday). Call 314-371-0304.
Mid-week special in St. Peters
For fried chicken without all the fanfare, head over to Hobo’s at the American Legion in St. Peters. As Hobo’s own website states, they are “simply folks with a simple place, serving up simple food,” but don’t let that fool you into thinking the eats aren’t exciting – the fried chicken is a local favorite. Hobo’s dine-in service offers a casual bar atmosphere, and takeout is an option as well. The famous fried chicken is on special every Wednesday, but you can order it any day of the week. They also serve up deli-style sandwiches, wraps, burgers and appetizers. Hobo’s is located at 200 Main St., St. Peters, MO, 63367. Open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 1:30 a.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. and Sunday from noon to midnight. Call 636-278-2828.
For a meal that’s truly family-friendly, visit Eckert’s Country Restaurant in Belleville, Illinois. Eckert’s has a great menu sure to please every age group in your party, but the fried chicken is a specialty. It’s juicy and traditionally prepared, served up “family style” which includes mashed potatoes, green beans and sweet corn. The best part? It’s all-you-can-eat! Eckert’s has a kid’s menu fried chicken portion, too. Top your lunch or dinner off with a slice of homemade pie. Dine in or place a carry out order online. Eckert’s is located at 951 S. Green Mount Rd., Belleville, IL, 62220. Open 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily. Kids eat free on Thursdays with an adult entrée purchase. Call 618-233-0513.
All-you-can-eat Sunday special
Another eastside eatery is also known for its all-you-can-eat fried chicken. Head over to Gallagher’s every Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. for its finger-licking family recipe, served up with mashed potatoes, biscuits, gravy, desserts and more, served family-style all day. It’s so good, that’s all they offer! Of course, you can also enjoy the fried chicken (and all of the other menu items) the rest of the week. Gallagher’s is located at 114 W. Mill St., Waterloo, IL, 62298. Open Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and for Famous Fried Chicken Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. (closed Monday). Call 618-939-9933.
Karen Hill is a Florissant native who spent over a decade in communications at the Missouri Botanical Garden. She's currently a SAHM to three children ages two and under (yes, that includes twins) and resides with her family in Kirkwood.
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