BIRD IS THE WORD

CRY FOWL! THERE’S A DECA­DENT FRIED CHICKEN RE­NAIS­SANCE IN AUSTIN. HERE, THE BEST PLACES TO GET MESSY!

Austin Way - - SCENE | STYLE | SPACE - BY TOM THORN­TON

Once the sole ter­ri­tory of old-guard clas­sics like Top Notch and Hoover’s Cook­ing, Austin’s fried chicken scene is on a de­cided up­swing. Sev­eral of the city’s hottest chefs are de­liv­er­ing per­sonal takes on the clas­sic, adding qual­ity sourc­ing, new tech­niques, and un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated cuts of fowl to bring some­thing new to the (pic­nic) ta­ble. Now that lead­ing lights like James Holmes and Jesse Grif­fiths are serv­ing up fresh fried chicken, even so­phis­ti­cated din­ers can’t re­sist.

J.T. YOUNG­BLOOD’S

The scene: Mueller and Wind­sor Park lo­cals re­cently wel­comed this ca­sual re­vival of the 1940s-’60s Texas fried­chicken chain, cour­tesy of Lenoir’s Todd Du­plechan and part­ners.

The main event: Du­plechan’s high-end back­ground shows through in the crisp but light bread­ing on the fried chicken, which comes in reg­u­lar or “Texas Heat” ver­sions.

On the side: Hop­pin’ John, spicy red cab­bage, and an as­sort­ment of pies. 1905 Aldrich St., No. 120, 512-649-8333, jty­oung bloods.com

LUCY’S ON THE FLY

The scene: At this take­out-cen­tric it­er­a­tion of Chef Holmes’s pop­u­lar Lucy’s Fried Chicken, fam­i­lies line in­door booths and pic­nic ta­bles, while lit­tle ones run the play­ground and ad­mire the chicken coop.

The main event: The “Bucket o’ Bird” is the go-to or­der here: a por­tion of mixed white and dark meat made for four, com­plete with pick­les and jalapeños.

On the side: Fried okra, corn grits with cheese,

and smoked potato salad.

2043 S. La­mar Blvd., 512-2972423, lucys­fried­chicken.com

THE TOWNSEND

The scene: A dressy af­ter-work and date-night crowd sips cock­tails and grazes on a small but smart din­ner menu.

The main event: Known more as a bar, The Townsend’s take on hot chicken is a se­cret too good to keep: a hot curry chicken thigh plat­ter served with pick­les and flat bread. There’s heat, crunch, and acid­ity--each in good mea­sure.

On the side: The Re­ally Big Board of cheeses and char­cu­terie.

718 Congress Ave. No. 100, 512887-8778; thetownsendaustin.com

DAI DUE

The scene: East-siders and lo­ca­vores con­verge to end the week­end in style at Chef Grif­fiths’ ac­claimed res­tau­rant, where fried chicken is a Sun­day-only spe­cial. The main event: The brined and tal­low-fried chicken from

Dew­berry Hills Farm wins raves for sourc­ing and fla­vor. Ev­ery­thing here comes from Texas, in­clud­ing the pick­led jalapeños.

On the side: Sea­sonal greens, house­made bis­cuits, and mashed pota­toes.

2406 Manor Rd., 512-524-0688; daidue.com

GUS’S WORLD FA­MOUS FRIED CHICKEN

The scene: Tourists, busi­ness trav­el­ers, and the work­ing lunch crowd pack one of the rare chain restau­rants em­braced by lo­cals. The main event: Gus’s recipe is a se­cret, but the spicy fried chicken’s notes of pa­prika, pep­per, and cayenne have spawned count­less In­ter­net im­i­ta­tion recipes. This is a sim­ple idea ex­e­cuted bril­liantly, and a true Ten­nessee clas­sic, al­beit one in down­town Austin.

On the side: Fried green toma­toes and Chess pie.

117 San Jac­into Blvd., 512-4744877; gus­fried­chicken.com

Hot take: The Bucket o’ Bird, a mix of dark and white meat served with jalapeños and pick­les, is the pop­u­lar choice at Lucy’s on the Fly.

A leg up: Chicken goes up­scale at The Townsend, which of­fers a yel­lowcurry ver­sion. lrder it along­side the Re­ally Big Board for a full meal at this el­e­gant down­town hotspot.

Winged vic­tory: Noted Austin chef Todd Du­plechan helped re­vive g.T. voung­blood’s, a pop­u­lar Texas brand of fried­chicken joints from the 1940s-’S0s, with this retro-in­spired res­tau­rant in the Mueller and Wind­sor Park area.

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