Crispy crunchy, spicy and delicious whether it's hot out of the fryer or cold from being stored in your portable ice chest, everyone remembers the tasty, waiting-for-the-parades-to-roll treat that can only be Popeye's fried chicken. Now you're older and wiser, but you still have staked a place on the route with all of your family and friends and while you're likely to get that Louisiana Kitchen craving, you realize that perhaps there's a better option.
While no one wants to rain on anyone's nostalgia for Popeye's, we know there are other choices out there for our annual parade fare and if you aren't making it at home the night before, here's a few spots you might stake out to get your fried chicken cravings cared for before, during and after the parades roll.
To many Uptowners, driving all the way into Treme to wait in line at Willie Mae's Scotch House is not a feasible option for their fried chicken du jour. But now, with the opening of Willie Mae's Grocery & Deli on St. Charles Avenue, there's no reason to deny yourself a basket (or three) of America's best fried chicken. If you’re rolling with a group, as so often happens during Mardi Gras, you can get your little parade party catered with 12 pieces of spicy, wet-batter fried chicken and a half pan of red beans for a little less than $11 per person. Then all you'll need is spoons, beer and plenty of napkins.
With lots of little ones around, it might be easier to keep their eats little too by scoring a big box of sliders at District: Donuts Sliders Brew. Made from Joyce Farms all natural thigh meat, these crispy chicken bites pack a big punch topped with sweet and spicy slaw and buttered mini-buns. At only $3.75 each, you could get four scrumptious fried chicken sliders – enough for two adults or four little ones – and still have enough for a couple fancy donuts to boot. The question is, will you share?
If you're not into little bites, you can always find a big one at TrüBurger on Oak Street. Though Chef Aaron Burgau's joint is known for its incredible beef burgers and truly awesome hand-dipped corn dogs (which are equally stellar parade-food options, by the way) it's a little known fact that their crispy fried chicken sandwich is definitely something worth driving for. While they'll top it with anything you like, your best bet is to get it “as is” with a crunchy, fried chicken cutlet smothered in Swiss and layered with fresh tomatoes, lettuce and TrüBurger's own dijonnaise sauce all sandwiched between a buttery brioche bun made down the street at Breads on Oak. Go on, get two and you'll still have cash left over for a thick, peanut butter and chocolate shake or a huge pile of hand-cut fries. Either way, it's a win-win.
Whereas it might be difficult to get over to Little Bird and still be in time for the parades, it's a great spot to stop in afterwards for a shot of warming whiskey at Barrel Proof and a feast-fit-for-sharing from the dream duo, Chefs Kristen Essig and Micheal Stoltzfus. Touting #damnfinechicken, Little Bird offers perfect picnic-worthy cold fried chicken sandwiches with their own bread and butter pickles for $10 a pop. But why worry over the small plates? For $40, you and your finest fellow friend can share the whole menu, which includes a Broadbent country ham sandwich, soft pretzel with pimento cheese, crispy boudin balls and blissful butterscotch pudding. Is it Mardi Gras yet?