The Philly cheesesteak has long reigned as Philadelphia's top culinary artifact. But thanks to one up-and-coming chain of Philadelphia restaurants, fried chicken is working its way up the list.
Eater Chef of the Year Michael Solomonov, his business partner Steve Cook, and local coffee shop owners Tom Henneman and Bobby Logue have been working to establish Philly as a fried chicken Mecca since opening Federal Donuts in 2011. The restaurant specializes in fried chicken, coffee, and donuts. That's all they serve. Henneman says,
"It's three comforts under one roof."
Inspired by Korean fried chicken, the birds at Federal Donuts are twice fried for a, quote, "teeth-shattering" crispiness. The chicken can be coated in a choice of dry seasoning: za'atar, coconut curry, or buttermilk ranch. Or there's a wet glaze of chili garlic, sweet soy garlic, or honey ginger. Whether glazed, seasoned, or plain, the fried chicken is always served with a moist honey donut.
As a slave's granddaughter growing up in rural poverty, Mildred Council, nicknamed "Mama Dip," likely never imagined she'd one day serve her fried chicken to fans including Michael Jordan and President Barack Obama. But she did — thanks to some of the most delicious fried chicken ever.
Mama Dip learned to cook working alongside her mother-in-law in a tiny takeout kitchen that quickly earned a reputation for serving the best homemade country dishes in town.
Since opening her own restaurant in 1976, Mama Dip has become a culinary icon. Before farm-to-table cooking was in vogue, Mama Dip sourced all her ingredients from local farmers. Mama Dip's menu hasn't changed much over the years, focusing on Southern comfort staples such as chitlins, smothered pork chops and fried chicken. Her crispy, southern-style birds are paired with classic sides including collard greens and fried green tomatoes.
Mama Dip passed away in the spring of 2018, but her culinary legacy lives on through her fried chicken, which is still served at Mama Dip's Kitchen by her children and grandchildren.
Federal Donuts: Philadelphia, PA | 0:16
Mama Dip's Kitchen: Chapel Hill, NC | 1:10
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