Some call them “chicken tenders,” while others prefer the terms “chicken fingers” or “chicken strips.” Whatever phrase you use, you’ll fall for the varied versions of battered, deep-fried, boneless chicken available at these restaurants. By Jessica Allen.
A wildly popular chain in South Korea, Bonchon Chicken has several locations in the United States. All the chicken is cooked to order, including the hand-cut strips of boneless, breaded white meat. Sauces include soy garlic, or a special South Korean spice that offers hints of both smoke and sweetness. Add a side of edamame and fries coated in parsley flakes, house seasoning and Parmesan cheese for a meal that hits just about all the major food groups.
After revolutionizing fine dining with Momofuku and helping change the sweetie game with Christina Tosi at Milkbar, among other endeavors, chef David Chang recently turned his attention to fried chicken. The chicken fingers at Fuku+, sometimes compared to chicken nuggets, are crispy and crunchy, and come with green hot sauce. We like the wedge fries too, thick hunks of potato dotted with salt.
Since 2011, folks have flocked to Queens Comfort for, you guessed it, comfort food, usually with a twist. Case in point: the “Egg McRuffin” features a fried egg, cheddar, smoked bacon and béchamel atop an English muffin, while the “Disco Tots” are smothered in gravy and cheddar — and the “Atomic Fire Balls” are deep-fried bites of mac-and-cheese, ranch, and Sriracha. As for the chicken fingers, they are rolled in Capt’n Crunch cereal, for an extra dose of sweet, sweet nostalgia and crispiness. Utterly incredible meatloaf and chicken sandwiches, too.
Sticky’s Finger Joint may very well be the city’s only restaurant devoted solely to in gourmet chicken fingers, and thank goodness for us. The chicken fingers here are free of antibiotics, hormones and chemicals. Options include the “Salted Caramel Pretzel,” with caramel, pretzel bits and pretzel salt; the “General Sticky Tso,” with sesame seeds, hot peppers, scallions and “sticky tso” sauce; and “Buffalo Blue,” with shredded carrots, blue cheese, and balsamic maple syrup.
Yankee Doodle Dandy’s is a food truck offering American staples like burgers and sandwiches, including the “Louisiana Purchase” (grilled chicken with Cajun seasoning) and the “Hail Tuna” (tuna fish on Texas toast). As far as chicken fingers go, you’ve got a couple of excellent choices. Among them: the “Winner Winner,” featuring the truck’s special Spirit of ’76 sauce and potato salad — and the “Red, White & Blue Cheese” sandwich, where the fingers are slathered in both Buffalo sauce and blue cheese, served on Texas toast. Both come with fries.
The Texas Tenders at Hill Country Chicken are big, really big, and totally juicy. How does something so crisp and so large stay so moist on the inside? We’ll likely never know, but that doesn’t stop us from ordering a few more in the name of research. The chicken comes with ranch, barbecue, or honey mustard sauce. You might also consider an order of blistered corn salad, hand-cut fries, and a pie cup. We’re particularly partial to the cowboy pie, a blend of coconut, pecans, dark chocolate, and butterscotch chips.
Bareburger might specialize in burgers, but this restaurant with multiple locations around town does a mean chicken finger. The panko-crusted chicken tenders come with not one, not two, but three dipping sauces: smokehouse sauce (similar to ketchup), stone ground honey mustard, and thai chili mayo. Whatever you order, it will be all-natural and organic.
The folks at A Salt & Battery sure know their way around a fryer. Nestled among other British specialty shops and restaurants in the West Village, A Salt & Battery offers authentic fish and chips, using locally grown, sustainable products. “In cod we trust” goes the slogan. You can also get “a load of shrimp,” battered beets, onion rings, scallops, a deep-fried Mars bar, and chicken chunks, golden brown nuggets of pure white meat.
Often called “the best fried chicken in Chelsea,” the crispy bird served at Dirty Bird To Go would be among the best no matter where the restaurant was located. Your chicken strips come with BBQ sauce or honey dijon, and you can get such sides as cole slaw or sauteed garlic kale. Conclude your meal with a pack of “freshly baked bad-ass cookies.”