Behold: one of Lucille's "yardbirds." Not pictured: Eric Clapton.

Image: Cleve Tuttle

Maybe it’s because I’m an East Coast lifer who spent his summer days munching on Nathan’s hot dogs and Shake Shack burgers that I wasn’t ready to be smacked in the face (or tarred and feathered?) by fried chicken. I didn’t realize that the golden-crispy game was elevated to pro levels down here, that 100-degree days weren’t complete without the hoisting of a bird bucket.

Then I stopped by Better Luck Tomorrow on Tuesday. As the doors opened at 3:30 p.m., the popular Justin Yu and Bobby Heugel collaboration filled up quickly with eager foodies prepared to gorge on some poultry. BLT was celebrating its first pre-Independence-Day fried chicken service, called “Batter Cluck Tomorrow,” and it promised at least 60 whole chickens from Tejas Heritage Farms would be taken apart, deep fried, and served by the dozen-piece for all who paid a little less than an arm and a leg ($32.99 for the bucket, $39.99 for the bucket plus fixins).

I figured I could bring some folks back to the bar by 6:30 p.m. for a chicken picnic, but alas, BLT had run out of chickens by 6 p.m. Better luck next year? Heh.

But since it’s summer, the fried chicken festivities carry on here in H-Town. Moreover, Friday happens to be National Fried Chicken Day, another one of those food-friendly Hallmark holidays. To honor thy fowl, a few restaurants in the city are featuring some sort of finger-lickin’ special.

Here's a rundown of what’s cooking this National Fried Chicken Day:

  • Field & Tides is operating a lunchtime fried chicken pop-up from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Chef Travis Lenig’s dish is a three-day process in the making, marinated in buttermilk and double-dipped in flour and batter. Along with the chicken comes mashed potatoes and coleslaw ($15). Heck yes.
  • The venerable Lucille’s on La Branch Street is offering a family style meal with fried chicken three ways: Thai-style brined in lemongrass, ginger and chilis; Nashville-hot-style tossed in a hot sauce with garlic and herbs; and mustard-jalapeno-style that’s bag-battered. Sides include hot rolls, potato salad, creamed corn, collard greens, and mashed sweet potatoes. Then there’s bread pudding. It's $50 per person with seatings at 4, 6, and 8 p.m., plus music from students with Jazz Education’s Summer Workshop.
  • Karaage is a Japanese term for food that’s coated in a flour or starch mix, then deep fried in oil. So, while Ambrosia’s Karaage A’La Orange doesn’t necessarily resemble traditional American fried chicken, it definitely fits the definition. Head to Ambrosia for this skinless thigh punctuated by a tangy, sweet citrus curry ($12).
  • If you’re seeking the quick fried-chicken dinner, FM Kitchen & Bar has you covered. Nab a half chicken with mac 'n' cheese and collard greens, maybe while watching the Brazil vs. Belgium World Cup quarterfinal match ($18.99).
  • Jonesin’ for The Waffle Bus’ buttermilk fried chicken and waffle? The bus will be parked at its 2220 Brazos location starting at 7 p.m. for the late-night bar crowd. Heck, hit the bars and grab a nightcap before the food truck closes at 2:30 a.m. Sure it may not be National Fried Chicken Day anymore, but it’s summer: apparently any time is fried chicken time.
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