Aside from the proliferation of mad cute hijabs, one of the great advantages of having the state's largest Muslim population—quite a change from the 1970s, when the city's only mosque was a three-bedroom home in north Houston—is our ever-expanding repertoire of halal foods. Here, you can find everything from halal taco trucks to halal sliders and animal-style fries, to say nothing of the hugely popular halal fried chicken served at Jones Fried Chicken.
Jones Fried Chicken is a microcosm of Houston itself. People strolling into the two-story fried chicken joint seem to be there on a two-fold mission: to attain said fried chicken and to represent as many broad ethnic and cultural groups as possible. During just a short, 15-minute lunch stop today to pick up some fried chicken and kofte kebab to-go, I watched a parade of blue collar and white collar workers; women in hijabs and women in mini-skirts and high heels; black, white, East Asian, South Asian, Middle Eastern—you name it, and they're coming here for fried chicken, which continues to demonstrate a particular ability to transcend all cultural barriers.
The number of people coming in specifically for halal chicken seems to be moot in the face of such diversity, but the point remains: if you want to get halal-approved American dishes, it's becoming easier to do so here by the day—another signal of Houston's easy accommodation of newcomers, a hallmark of the city since the day it was founded.
That said, to be perfectly honest, the fried chicken at Jones isn't the best in the city. It can be tough and overcooked at times, and some may find the environs—an old James Coney Island that's seen virtually no updates since the hot dog joint moved out and Jones moved in a few years ago—a bit shabby. However, Jones is an upgrade from the New York City street cart owned by Mohamed Abouelenein that inspires blocks-long queues for his chicken and rice dishes and inspired Jones Fried Chicken itself. Here, the wait isn't long at all, and though it's not open until 4 a.m. like The Halal Guys in NYC, it is open until midnight six days a week.
But when the chicken here is good—when it's hot and crispy and juicy and fresh out of the fryer—it's terrific. And even when it's a bit dried out, a few dashes of Jones's ultra-spicy red sauce will perk it right back up again.
Jones Fried Chicken, 6633 Fondren Rd., 713-772-7799, halaljones.com